Sunday, May 24, 2009

Where's the soup, boss?

Weather in Bangalore is great compared to the sticky, sultry Chennai. Earlier when I travelled by Shadabdi Express, I used to be thrilled by the various food items served by the train crew. Every hour we were served some snack, beverage or soup. This time I found the soup had gone missing and so did several other items. I saw some passengers complaining, but the reply was, "food prices have gone up sir, the train ticket has remained same."
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

Merely for a bus seat

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

I love you

I love you. You are dynamic, loving, cheerful, sexy, angry, dirty, rich, poor...all packed in one. How can I not but love you Mumbai? Thanks to my hopping from one city to another, am unable to post comments. Kindly do not get furious with me. Blog friends are in my mind 24/7. It's also great to be in touch with a couple of blog friends in Mumbai. Am in this city for another two days. Yesterday, I hopped into a second class train compartment from Bandra to Borivli and found things have not changed at all. The same tired, profusely sweating but cheerful faces, shoutings, jokes, tired men trying to rest their heads on their co-passengers' shoulders and the latter dodging them...I told you, Mumbai will never ever lose its charm. BTW, I went to Chidia ghar zoo in Mahalaxmi yesterday and saw some nice crows, a sick lion, sparrows and elephants..hey joking..there were a couple of lovely birds (you dirty mind, I really mean winged feathers, not the two-legged darlings.) Have to go now, catch up. Keep up your cheers.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Chennaiites - super kings

Chennai (formerly Madras) has not changed. Simple inhabitants who stun you with kindness and warmth, beautiful Marina beach, packed buses, stinking Cooum riverpath, people who piss anywhere even when surrounded by hundred others, politics and movie-addicted populace, slow and steady progress in terms of infrastructure.
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)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Plz bear with me

Helpless. Absolutely helpless. Thinking of you folks all along, but never expected my house hunt in Chennai to be so tough. Am running from city to suburb everday looking for a roof on rent. Should be able to locate one in two or three days. Adding to the problem is lack of Net connection. Vodophone had a wonderful scheme for temporary Net connections but it seems the offer is off at present. Anyway, savouring the delightful life of Chennai and let's share it all soon, esp the bus rides. BTW, they have halved the bus fares and it looks as good as free travel. The reason cited is elections. How I wish elections were held every six months. Ciao. Hey guys, thanks for the invites. Promise I will stay connected.