Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Swaraj Road - The Freedom Circle

Crib Season - Episode 4

6.30 in the morning. The silver alto looks like a bullet on the relatively free kunnamkulam - thrissur NH47. 80 km/hr, not bad. I've got an appointment with the doctor. Need to rush! There is a gentle fog, which adds to the eerie early morning experience. Double strong Red Label Tea is what keeps me awake. Out of nowhere, an autorickshaw appears on the wrong side, circles on the middle, breaks, moves forward, breaks again... confused driver? drunken driver? out of control? I dont know. Nevertheles, the universe decided to say "NO" to my best efforts to keep away from him. Thud!( Initial Contact), Chlimblimbilim! (Mirrors), Plop! Spfeeeee (Tyres)

My left fender crumpled and dug a dent into the giant (this was not a normal auto, looked like a tractor with autorickshaws bodywork) autorickshaw's rear, left door jammed, mirror lay scattered, plastics reins holding the engine to the body broke, left tyre punctured, front seat passenger aghast, mud flaps twisted and choked... I came to a punctured halt. The road is still quiet. We parked the car immediately and hopped on to the next bus. The Doctor's appointment is too precious to be lost for the petty thousands we could get from the poor auto driver. On his side, half a day's paint and dent work would do fine.

Why ?

Dividers: There are no dividers. So, cyclists, human beings, dogs, cats, cars or anything mobile can CROSS the road anywhere! You need to be extra alert for the ... CROSSINGS (aargh!) crossings happen left to right, right to left, middle to left, left to middle, middle to right, right to middle, at an angle, may take a parabolic path, may suddenly stop , think and then move forward OR may stop , think and turn a U-Turn to go back to where they started. In short, the possibilities are immense... the best you can do is "SOUND HORN OK PLEASE". Which means, use horn no less than once every 10 seconds, announcing your arrival. Cyclists and human beings dont have REAR VIEW MIRRORS, Autos, Cars and Buses dont use them. So, no-one is bothered about the main road user's priviliges, when he or she enters from a pocket road. The rule is "DIVE STRAIGHT IN.. GOD will SAVE US". No driving school teaches you to use mirrors.

Road Width: The breadth of the road varies from 3 feet to 13 feet. Turn a quick turn on a super highway, and dont be surprised to find a BRIDGE where only ONE vehicle can pass at a time! So, if you grew accustomed to say moderatly wide roads for about 30 minutes and decide to Overtake... hold your horses, you dont know what lies ahead! Caution: This width is not guaranteed ahead. Lets take a normal National Highway, NH47 in kerala. Average Width of the road: 13 feet.Width of 1 Tata Bus: 6.4 feet. So, if two buses are moving in the opposite direction, they have 6 centimetres distance, between them. And the buses routinely do 80-90 km/hr. Wait a minute! Are buses the only vehicles ? The smallest car (alto) has a width of 4.8 feet, so cannot pass through the 6 centimetre gap. If the bus ahead stops for something, all vehicles behind stop. There are no footpaths, so human beings and cyclists sometimes occupy 1-2 feet. Motorbikes take 3 feet or drive in the middle. Which means, there is no choice but to Overtake!

Overtaking: The direct consequence of the above mentioned eeny weeny Road Width. Everybody overtakes. Without it there is no go. Even if you are the slowest vehicle on the road, what if the Gujarat Registration Granite Truck decides to stop abruptly on the elevating road, because he's seen a sign ? "TODDY SHOP". Even your Avanti will have to overtake him, or you have 6 centimetres to pass through, or you wait till he has finished and gets back into the truck. Not everybody has the same control in overtaking. So its wrong to believe that, on the wrong side, a bus overtaking a car overtaking a cycle overtaking a dog (All in the same lane), will safely pass through. Following the width rules mentioned above, you have no space to pass through!!! So you wait, until the bus has passed you. Your speed calculation cannot account for things like, what if the tea drinking bypasser decides to bend down to pick up a 10 rupee note? or what if the motor cyclist loses his balance because of the side stand ?

Autorickshaws: Autorickshaws have one wheel in the front , which makes them believe they have the same privileges as two wheelers, and can squeeze their nose into any gap between vehicles. Autorickshaws are also the ONLY vehicles which can take an abrupt 90 degree turn, when they are running at 60 kmph. Why ? Thanks again to the SINGLE front wheel. If an auto wants to move from your left to right, what does he do? Put his stinky nose a.k.a front wheel in, you dont want to step over that single innocent wheel. But hey, its not only the wheel, there's a body to follow... so wait!

Swaraj Round (Thrissur): Truly, The freedom circle. A 20 feet wide circular display of human beings mixed modes of transport every conceived in a colourfull (polluted), musical (horns / swearing), circus! No lanes, Two set of signals, atleast 12-14 entry/exit points. No Lanes! No Lanes! No Lanes! Mixed traffic. The best thing to do here is to focus on what you see in the front. Yes, dont think about your sides, or back, just focus on what appears through the front screen. Hey, watch out for people running helker skelter, cars parked on the right, and taking reverse, buses stopping abruptly to pickup people, autorickshaws changing lanes like sperms, and occasionaly, a traffic police officer wondering why you are not wearing seat-belt!

Crazy bikers: Dear brothers at their own risk. Personally, I dont have the time to think about them, if they are cross cutting lanes, recovering from pot-holes, or balancing at the edge of road and about to fall, trying to balance passenger, luggage, helmet, clutch, break, gear and show an hand-signal. Overtake at your own risk.

Should I stop using Commas and Parantheses?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Snail Mail

Crib Season - Episode 3

Other than the launch of a new logo, some more stamps, and stupid services, Indian Postal service has further deteriorated. I compare the time taken to deliver a letter, and the distance it has to travel.

Incident 1:
Sam receives the hall-ticket and invitation to a common entrance test for B.Sc Microbiology at Calicut University. Interestingly, the letter arrives at 11 AM. The exam which has already started at 10 AM would be an unfair deal for Sam to attempt now, considering that 1 hour makes a huge difference for an objective exam, and that Calicut university is 80 kilometers away. When was the letter (ON I.G.S - India Government Service) posted ? A whopping 7 light years (ok, hold it.. 7 days), ago. Why does it take 7 days for an exam notification to travel 80 kilometers ?

I have been thankful earlier for this delay, because "Parent - Teacher's meet" notifications from Engineering College (305 kilometres away) and School (5 kilometers) away, arrive late (approximately a week late, irrespective of the distance), due to which Parent's never attend them! Thanks!

Incident 2:
ICICI banks sends an important notification to M, via Indian Postal Service. 2 weeks and it hasn't arrived. Since, it requires a signature and M cannot travel, upon complaining, ICICI decides to send it again. 2 more weeks, and it still hasn't arrived. ICICI decides to use a local courier and delivers it in 4 hours ( distance travelled - 18 kilometers approximately). A few weeks later, the first letter sent through Indian Post arrives! 28 days for a letter to travel 18 kilometers ? Sure, they put it on a snail!

Incident 3:
Brother's birthday. We decide to send him a post card. Ignoring my wife's suggestion to send it as "Book Post" (meaning anyone can open and read it), I decided to splurge Rs 30 extra, not for the ugly stamps and stinking paste, but for Speed (POST) and privacy. Yes, I wanted it to arrive no later than 7 days. The counter staff re-assured me that the letter's Thrissur to Pune travel would be completed in less than 3 days. I doubted. The update: He never got it! Something sent through Speed Post, how cruel of them to lose it?

"Sir, Is there a solution ? Do you F***ing really sort the letters based on priority? Do you Blind old dumb A**holes even bother to look at the "SPEED POST" or "REGISTERED POST" written in Bold ? Do you read "Gandiji's Talisman' written at every damn post office?".

"Ho ho ho... Whats the big deal? you didnt get a letter ? Go give a complaint."

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Don't fall sick!

This is the only piece of advice I have , if you are going to live in Kerala. Don't fall sick! Apart from the physical , mental and financial trauma, sickness could also contribute to bankruptcy, rift amongst relatives, hatred for insincere medical practitioners, nurses, pharmacists, hi-tech scans and numerous blood tests, there is but, the endless waiting... and more waiting.

Kerala has the healthiest population in India. Or is it ? Sickness is also a time you realize the need of a car and parking space. To get an appointment with a good doctor, you stand in the queue at 3 am in the morning. But then , you see sick, old , poor human beings, and feel sad.

The only thing that could boost your morale at that time, is talking. If you are not an avid talker interested in how your neighbour in the queue got a disease, which place he/she is from, occupation, life history, children and so forth, you are doomed. All you would notice is the mosquitoes, the cries from the lobbies, the white walls with verses from holy books, smiling nurses, angry attendants, mumbling sweepers, flickering lights, nauseating smells, burnt out accountants and cashiers, confused relatives and emptiness.... as if all the race has suddenly put a full stop. Forget the nosy parkers, you might develop some genuine friendships or concern for your fellow human being. That is the only good thing about being down.

Before the emptiness sinks down, you get a new bill , with which you rush to the counter, 1 hour for the queue to get the written bill typed, 30 minutes for paying the bill - another queue, and another 30 minutes for getting the medicine or say 1 needle ? Repeat this forever and forever.

I walked up to the manager's room and said, "I will pay you Rs 15,000 upfront, please dont make me run around, I am required to be with the patient". He said "Most people wont agree with that, you might come back and question. Sorry boy, here the system is like this, live with it".

So my dear friends, whatever you do .. . please don't fall ill!

Saturday, October 25, 2008


System.Reset (An awfully long and typical neo post with no sense or purpose)

Re-starting blogging is not going to be easy. 2 years after bidding Adieu to programming, the best title I could come up with was "System.Reset".

After thinking, re-thinking, analyzing, re-analyzing, calculating, re-prioritizing, there still are no answers. Probably, the escapist way to define it would be 'Its the journey that defines life, not the destination'.

There have been quite a few revelations. I think I have completed a revolution, and am back to square 1. Every time that I felt that I was getting overly attached with a place, I ran away from there. Unlike Alexander, who became sad that there are no more worlds to conquer, I became sad knowing that there are no more places to run away. And then, I decided to stop, turn around and fight. Stupid. Period.

Fight with yourself, and you can fight anyone. ~ FIGHT CLUB.
After fighting for a while, I realized, why fight ? why persist ? why not give up ? ~ AGENT SMITH
Well, failure turned out to be too yummy. Like caffeine, there was a high rise - Hell yeah! and then a sudden crash, like being blown away from the edge of a cliff.

A quick re-union with classmates turned out to be very interesting. While we all pretend to be confused, unsure about the next step, there is something taking us forward. Whats it called ? TIME ? MONEY ? Dear old Ram was the only one I could relate to. While I selfishly and meekly blabbered about my choices and what lies ahead, Ram's thoughts were about travel, photography, poverty, women rights and so forth. That could be why he is at peace :)

While all the self-development/destructive blogs preach the same thing ~ Dont do the obvious job, take an untreaded path, believe in yourself, all woes can be probably summarized as priyan's cataclysmic conclusion - Get out of the room! Get un-plugged from the internet!

'The greatest of sins are committed, when we feel we are beyond questioning'. There could be nothing more tortorous than that statement. I have tried drowning in code, keeping myself busy, keeping myself free, being totally jobless, doing a couple of freelance projects, and so on. The Tax payer / NRI identity crisis continues.

A rather stupid dream. An Internet Cafe (4 comps), DTP, Web designing, Software Development and Training, Computer Repair / Servicing / Sales. No matter how busy, have dinner with family! What's stopping me from doing it ? My B.Tech degree :) My ex-GULF shadow, That look in their eyes, customs and festivities plagued society, and most importantly 1 USD = 50 Rupees (Holy shit!)

I could brag on and on, crib endlessly, but in the end, it feels like looking at a 5 year younger me in the mirror. And I am not that young anymore. Bua ha ha.

Hopefully, tomorrow morning, everything will be clear. Its raining here, and is refreshingly dark! Clubbed to that is the frequent power-cut, and disrupted communication lines. yeeha!

PS: Spelling and grammar was entirely Blogger's responsibility to correct.
This post violates my new year resolution. Bua ha ha ha.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

How to lose friends and alienate people

A quick look back to my last two and a half years coupled with an attempt to make some sense of the things that have happened in this time, would do complete justice to this post's title. I have grown older and not necessarily wiser in the meantime and have had some experiences that were good, some others that were bad and whole lot of others that were plain mediocre.
As always over-philosophizing without the requisite intellectual wherewithal is a recipe for disaster. And an unequivocal one it was...

In an ever more confusing attempt to understand the purpose of my existence, the future I need to work towards and the ideals that I must aspire to...
In other words trying to figure out just what the fuck am I doing here and now...
I believe I have taken the escapist route of finding within that very real realm of imagination I call movies to find characters who mirror my present situation and see where they go with that, by the time the movie ends.

I have not found a single movie that is an accurate reflection of me which might provide a blueprint for my next steps. Instead I have found myself picking the best answer amongst the options available to me.
So who am I?
Patrick Bateman? pissed off with myself but certainly not as hot or as deadly.
Neo? I can quote him and Morpheus to the point of absurdity but the concept of me be being the world's strongest virus program simply is not appealing.
Sidney Young? quirky, crazy and not accepted - Yes. gets the girl in the end - Hell no!
Jack the Narrator? sick of my life, my work and piled up with an urge to pump several rounds into several heads - Yes. Willing to split myself into Tyler Durden to take me past lines drawn by others - Not yet...I think

So basically what all of these dumb solution-evaluation-shite has done is that I assumed persona briefly and judged the reaction from people. And I have come to the conclusion that I have discovered How To Lose Friends And Alienate People successfully. Liked that movie too by the way...