Friday, July 18, 2008

Lets Help Ourselves

I had the chance to travel quite long distances in public transport, pass trough various towns and villages across two states. One common observation all through the travel was that… U can find a place without temple, without hospital, without roads, without cinema halls, without cinema posters, but never without the posters carrying the bright, smart faces and messages of our so called political leaders. I wondered how even the smallest, newest party could manage funds to have posters and other publicity work done covering even the most remote and inaccessible places of the state. Don’t panic…it’s obviously not our hard earned tax money deployed into this propaganda extravaganza of our political superstars. It’s their very own black money released in the name of party funds which caters to their publicity requirements. They call this public relation!

If our politicians were really interested with public development, they can very well reach us easily by laying good roads with their party funds. Who takes your vote? The man with the biggest cutout or the one who straightened your road?

The nation is gearing up to face the collapse of the government or get into a historic nuclear deal. The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas proclaims that the nuclear deal will put us in a very convenient position to resolve our energy related issues. The ministry in its recent advertisement in daily newspapers has requested citizens to drive at optimum speeds, make use of clutch wisely and switch off engines while waiting in traffic signals to reduce fuel consumption. The root cause for excessive clutch driving and traffic snarls is that our roads are not wide enough and smooth enough.

Good wide roads and proper traffic regulation will save so much fuel that we can afford to survive sometime more without a nuclear deal to do the savior role.

Not even a single day passes at Chennai city without fights between commuters and our auto drivers. No meter, Rs.10 above meter charges, flat rates, refusal to traverse inside narrow streets…the list never ends. During my recent visit to a small town near coastal Tamilnadu, I asked a auto driver how much he would charge me to drop me at the Bus stand which was less than 1 km away from my hotel room. He said he wanted Rs.30. Had I walked to that place it would cost me nothing but less than 30 minutes of my time…not willing to take the risk of walking in the hot sun, I settled to travel by auto for Rs.25 (after heavy arguments with 3 auto drivers). Share auto’s charging Rs.5 per trip changed to Rs.10 when RTO officials started penalizing those (raids) for license issues. Now the RTO’s aren’t frequent with their raids against share autos. But still the charge hasn’t come down. We still pay whatever they demand. The amount I spend on my bike and its fuel per day is still less than what I would spend on share auto and public transport if I were to take the latter means to office. This statistics is true even after the scorching rise in fuel prices. Blindly blaming inflation we push on our life with this trauma. But I had to stop and re-assure the fact that we are being exploited, thanks to my recent visit to our neighboring state. I took an auto to travel 50 km. This is equal to circumnavigating Chennai city twice. I’m sure that any auto driver here in Chennai would have charged me not less than Rs.1000 citing fuel price hike, empty return etc as reasons. But there I had to pay only Rs.400 with a clear break up of minimum charges plus rate per km. There is no room for bargaining. Commuters and drivers are very clear about the rates. Another point I observed there was that, there is to some extent the system of queue being followed while boarding buses and the rule that men should board buses through the rear door and ladies through the front entrance is strictly followed there.

Here I see some self discipline playing a clear role in maintaining hassle free travel experience. May be we should also stop complaining and try to follow some discipline if we need some good change!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Irreversible...Based on real life incidents

Few years back @ Asan College of Management Studies

There was only one difference between Mayuri and Mrunal. He showered his love for her openly. She never revealed it except for her eyes which could never hide her longing for him. They knew they like each other but never felt it was strong enough for a life long commitment.

December 25, 2006

It’s been a long conversation since yesterday. 113 minutes talk time over phone, 164 sms’s either way in the past 24 hrs. This is 10 times more than their daily average. At the end of the day Mrunal had to do it. He spoke his heart to Mayuri…asked for her hand forever. He was prepared for both in reply…yes or no. Mayuri was quick and firm in her reply. Mrunal was quite happy and excited about her reply. “If both our parents accept, we can marry. Else no sad faces” this is what she replied. For Mrunal, this was a strong green signal, hint of acceptance from her side. He jumped in joy as though he had conquered the entire world. He felt he was ‘SHAHJAHAN’

October 2007

The talk about marriage broke out at Mayuri’s house. Very hesitantly she revealed to her parents the existence of a very private and prominent space for Mrunal in her heart. The news soon reached Mrunal’s house too. All discussions and decisions were kept outside the purview of Mrunal and Mayuri. Finally what they heard was a strict ‘NO’ from both the ends. The relation and contacts between Mrunal and Mayuri slowly faded away.

July 4, 2008

Mrunal had come with his mom to kanchipuram to attend their family friend’s wedding reception. This family friend happens to be a distant relative of Mr. Durairaj. Mr. Durairaj had come with his family (wife and only daughter Mayuri) for this wedding. He was busy trying to find an alliance for Mayuri there. People of his caste had come there in large numbers. He was confident of finding a good match for her daughter there today. Walking out of the dinner hall, Mrunal noticed Mayuri silently watching him. None of them took the initiative to come close to talk. It was time to start home for Mrunal. With a heavy heart he left the place to get the car. Mrunal’s mom had observed all this.
She could feel the pain in both Mrunal and Mayuri’s eyes. She moved out of the hall without leaving a chance for Mayuri to get a glimpse of her.

Mrunal was driving silently. His Music system was switched OFF, which was quite unusual. After 15 minutes of driving, Mrunal’s mother asked him to stop the car. Mrunal had to drive back to the wedding hall. His mom asked him to do so. On reaching there, she went straight to meet Mr.Durairaj. They both spoke for a while leaving nothing but speculation for Mrunal and Mayuri. Mrunal’s mom was trying hard to convince Mr.Durairaj regarding Mayuri’s wedding with Mrunal. But Mr. Durairaj was strong with his caste based convictions. Finally he agreed to have Mayuri’s wish granted if Mrunal and Mayuri’s Horoscope matched. To keep the promise alive, he brought in a astrologer from the crowd to check if the horoscopes matched. With the available info like name, date of birth and star details, the astrologer tried to the matching stuff. All he had to say in the end was that, it wasn’t good to go ahead with this marriage. Mrunal’s mom quickly asked if there was any alternative to it. The astrologer suggested a name change for Mayuri. He proposed that her name be changed as Puja so that it can be taken as a match in terms of numerology at least. But Mayuri’s father was strictly against this. He said that there was no room for adjustments in terms of her daughter’s life. This left Mrunal’s mom speechless. She didn’t know what to do next but to silently leave the place.

Any decision taken today, good or bad will be irreversible. Mrunal and Mayuri’s life leaves behind many questions unanswered here. I do not know what will happen next. Time keeps tickling without waiting for us. Neither does it give us company to celebrate our victories nor share words of relief during sorrow. The only philosophy left with Mrunal and Mayuri to keep their life going on is… ‘This too will pass’