Sunday, May 24, 2009
Visited Forum Mall in Bangalore and came to the conclusion that the producers of Slumdog Millionaire and author of Booker prize-The White Tiger, Arvind Adiga, had not seen the other side of India, the prosperous category. They have clearly failed to notice the poverty-to-prosperity march by many Indians. The stinking rich have been openly flaunting their heavy pockets. I do not like this, but enjoy the prospect of everyone becoming rich or at least turning better off.
The scene at the mall was none different from the ones say in Dubai or Hamburg. In fact, people looked more happier and girls hugging boys on the street, which was uncommon earlier, is common now. Sorry red brigade, capitalism has helped India. Nein, of course, no denying there are millions going to bed without proper lunch/dinner, not even a full bread. Like the several red brigade activists who shout slogans against capitalists and end up in America for further studies/job, I am also confused. But I feel they have ample opportunity to rise up and grab the grub. The politicians too should give them a helping hand. Lemme tell you that there are some communists I have seen who have seriously good intentions, unfortunately, they seem to be too tied with their dogma and less flexible. Let the left and right move towards the centre, and watch the fun of "The Middle Path."
Haan, I liked the "Annadaan" programme of ISKCON. My wife is trying to be a regular contributor to this food project and it's good news that they feed thousands of hungry children and even have received a pat from the UN and Obama.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
I was in Mumbai whole of last week and now going over to Bangalore. Have not been posting comments for sometime now, though my great blog friends have been doing so promptly. A thousand apologies on that. Will do so once I am back in Sharjah in a fortnight. Had a great opportunity for the first time to meet blog friends Pankaj and Nikki. More about Mumbai visit later. A little Chennai experience now.
Men and women are seated in separate sections in Chennai buses. When the women’s seats are vacant, it is common for men to occupy them. I was one among them. As we were almost reaching the suburban destination, I thought there would be no hassle. But suddenly there was a rush of passengers as the preceding bus had halted due to a technical fault. I was surrounded by women in a few minutes, old, young, pretty and sisterly types. I was about to rise to leave way for one of them when the man sitting next to me held my hand and cautioned: “Sit back. We will be crushed in this crowd.” I tried to hang on to my seat with my head down, but could hear nasty comments from some women, “why can’t they get up, fools.” My second attempt too was thwarted by the man. At last, I decided enough was enough, got up and moved on. The man refused to budge, but the four-letter verbal mauling by some women made him relent. He reluctantly got up, looked at me like a man whose new dress had been dirtied by crow shit and stood quietly near me till I got off the bus.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Development here is snail-paced. Most places look and smell the same as I had witnessed three decades ago. The IT boom had given a wrong impression that the city had turned rich. The real estate prices shot up beyond imagination. Now that the bubble has burst, prices are sliding.
If you want to give credit to the Chennaiites, it should be for their sense of humour. As I mentioned bus fares were slashed to woo electorate. A bus conductor kept the entire fleet of passengers in splits. “Enjoy, just pay half the price,” he kept commenting. “My mom is stingy. She took an ordinary bus thinking they charge the old fare in luxury buses,” she said. “Go and fetch her,” commented ththe conductor. The crowd was heavy and one guy stamped on the toe of the conductor. “Is this a punishment for offering you lower fares?” joked the conductor.
I hardly traveled by buses during my earlier visits. This time I decided to relish the original charm of city life. But the true reason is also that the auto rickshaws (three-wheel vehicles), which are an alternative to local buses, charge absurd fares. If you pay Rs10 for a bus trip, the rickshaw guys demand as much as Rs350, which is daylight robbery. The fact remains that several rickshaws are owned or patronized by policemen and politicians and hence for decades no ruling party ever dared to rectify this looting pattern.
(PS: Wrote this post last week but could post only today...sorry)