Saturday, 22 December 2007

No Welcome at the cinemas

Welcome to another of the 'leave your brains at home' comedies, again starring Akshay Kumar and Paresh Rawal (God! can we ever have enough of them?)! On second thoughts, stay at home or rest assured that at the end of three hours, something will certainly be wrong with your brains, that is, if you have any! I'm pretty sure that people in the movie didn't have any or they wouldn't have agreed to one of the stupidest movies in recent times. And on top of that, they have their audacity to call their gem a 'masala entertainer'. To just give you a glimpse of what's in store, the movie has characters with names like "Majnu' and 'Ghunghroo' and I thought we are talking of a movie made in 2007!

But no doubt that this film will be welcomed to a good response at the box office like other duds like Heyy Baby (complete with the dirty diaper on Akki's face. God save him!) For, even our audiences aren't mature enough!

Tuesday, 18 December 2007


I just love winters.

The early morning walks with the really cold air brush past my face.

The late night walks with the really cold air brush past my face. This time I have hot peanuts to pop into my mouth. (unfortunate that the moongfali wala is not there in the morning)

The windowpanes covered with fog in the morning (when i was younger, i used to draw all sorts of figures on the foggy glass of my car window)

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Madam President, please set a precedent!

Pratibha Patil needs to visit her hometown at least five times a year. And so the till-now sleepy town will get a whopping Rs 400 crore airport soon. The place I’m talking about is Amravati in Maharashtra, some three hours from Nagpur which already has an airport.

There is nothing new in this. We all knew that Patil would never be able to come anywhere near the high ideals set by the previous occupant of the country’s glamourized but powerless office.

This again brings back us to the question if the President is required at all. Well, certainly the president is required. She, as Head of State, represents the country. She is the figurehead. The Prime Minister belongs to a party whereas the President is supposed to be ‘above party lines’. So, a President is very much required. But, is this sort of ostentatious expenditure required to support her office?

Amravati is in Maharashtra, a state infamous for its farmer suicides. There have been 30,000 suicides in one decade. The Vidarbha region, in which Amravati lies, is the worst affected, even leading to demands for a separate state of Vidarbha. Both the state and central governments have done precious little to tackle the problem of farmer suicides. However, they see nothing wrong in pledging Rs 400 crore for a new airport. The place does have an airstrip. It, by all means, is enough for a small private jet to land. In such a situation, is a new airport really required? Or does the President want to arrive in grand splendor with an entourage of jets?

In India, ostentatious spending by politicians is nothing new. We have numerous examples from across the political spectrum. So, one may ask, why single out the president? But, I firmly feel that it’s time the president set the precedent.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Greedy Gowda

Deve Gowda is one of the masterpieces of Indian politics. He is the latest brand ambassador for the great Indian political factory for he symbolizes greed in its truest form. He has given a whole new meaning to the politics of 'aaya Ram-gaya Ram' , the phrase which describes Indian politics in four words.
Three cheers to Gowda!

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

The Left Hater in me

Dear Mr. Prakash Karat,

You do not care for the middle class for you believe that power lies with the 'people'. You do not hesitate in labeling Narendra Modi as a mass murderer. You call him a modern day Nero. You may be right. Gujarat 2002 is nothing to be proud about.

But, what about West Bengal CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee when he said,
"What I am simply saying is that they were paid back in their own coin”? What about the shameless manner in which you defended him? Yes, what about Nandigram 2007? And, do you remember the source of Mr. Bhattacharjee's first name? Well, you may not. For that is all the Left is about.

You have ruled Bengal for 30 years, returning with brute majority every five years. Is your track record in Bengal outstanding? By no means yes. You are an average performer. But how do you get back each time? It's though the cadre system you have built. The very cadre that now seeks the license to kill in Nandigram. They are the ones who ensure your periodical affirmations of majority every five years. And today, these armed cadres are active in Nandigram. So, what do have to say to the 4000 refugees in a camp sharing three toilets between them?

You speak of anti-Americanism. You speak of anti-imperialism. Your armed cadres block Mamata Bannerjee's convoy. Your armed cadres don't allow the media inside Nandigram. Is this freedom? Or is this the very imperialism you look down upon?

P.S. Mamata Bannerjee is right this time, for a change!

Thursday, 1 November 2007

You know you've lived in Delhi if

You know you’ve lived in Delhi if

  1. You decide your car on the basis of your neighbor’s recent purchase
  2. You decide your new mobile model based on your friend’s latest acquisition
  3. You decide your house must be made bigger than your neighbor’s
  4. You visit Palika Bazaar to get all kinds of CDs dirt cheap
  5. You attach snob value to South Delhi
  6. You travel by Ring Road but don’t know Ring Rail exists
  7. You frequent your neighborhood snooker/pool club / bowling alley
  8. You are a regular at PVR
  9. You are bothered by a dozen beggars outside every PVR
  10. You are a regular at McDonalds
  11. You are a regular at your street-corner chaatvala (More unclean, more frequent)
  12. You frequent Gurgaon and more recently, to a certain extent Noida
  13. You (woman) are afraid of traveling alone in the dark
  14. You (man) think every woman is your property
  15. You (North-Indian) refer to South-Indians as Madrasis
  16. You (Tam) become happy since you’re actually from Madras
  17. You (Gult/Mallu/Dig) explain that you’re not a Madrasi
  18. You are afraid of a Blueline Bus
  19. You go for a walk in the DDA District Parks
  20. You travel in the metro but lack courtesy to fellow passengers
  21. You prefer your car to the Metro / Bus
  22. You play loud music in your car
  23. You don’t know Old Delhi exists
  24. You name an address in Lutyen’s Delhi when a cop catches you
  25. You are always on the look out for ‘jugaad’
  26. You call a North-Easterner a Chinki
  27. You employ a Nepali as your car cleaner
  28. You call an autowala or shopkeeper as bhaiya
  29. You refer to ‘Malai Mandir’ (Hill Temple) as ‘Malaaai Mandir’ (Cream Temple)

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Monday, 29 October 2007

Alsatian in IIT

Last Thursday, former CEC, Mr. T.N. Seshan delivered a talk spanning over an hour at IIT M. After that, he answered questions for nearly an hour. His energy at his age amazed me.

Here are some of his more memorable quotes (in no particular order) from the talk. Many of them are funny. The fun element may not strike one now but Mr. Seshan’s manner of conveying them made the audience burst into peals of laughter.

  1. ‘What do you call yourselves? IIT Chennai or Madras? Still Madras. One of these days, they’ll pass a legislation and make you change your name!’
  2. ‘From just about 20 universities at the time of independence, we now have 300, some deemed, some doomed, some open, some closed!’
  3. ‘There is an age for making love too.’ – when asked by a student that the minimum age for Lok Sabha should be reduced from 25 to 21. No doubt that the question was stupid and the guy kuntry.
  4. ‘In medieval North India, there were many kings. A fought with B, B with C, C with D and D married A’s daughter.’
  5. ‘The Portuguese gave away Bombay as dowry to get their princess married. What an ugly princess she must be! My father-in-law did not even give me two plots of land. But my wife isn’t ugly.’
  6. ‘I’m not referring to any family.’ – after talking about dynastic politics
  7. ‘Some things are best left undefined.’ – when asked if the Constitution clearly defined the roles of the judiciary and legislature especially in the light of recent controversies and a hyperactive judiciary.
  8. ‘Someone remarked that the Calcutta HC has the right to pass an order to make a pilot flying in mid-air stop.’ – on the Indian judiciary
  9. ‘I will not talk about reservation. OC! BC! BBC!’
  10. On Mughal Rule:
    1. ‘Sher Shah built the roads which Mr. Vajpayee now made four lane.’
    2. ‘Akbar wanted integration of Hindus and Muslims. He started Din-I-Ilahi and for integration, started marrying Rajput princesses. By the time he died, Din-I-Ilahi was gone and the princesses widows.’
    3. ‘Aurangzeb was the first Taliban.’
  11. ‘Follow your dharma always. And don’t tell me it’s Hindu.’

Friday, 19 October 2007

Drive for the worst

For two years in Madras, I was little apprehensive about being behind the wheels. One day, to prove a point, I borrowed the car from my cousin who in turn had borrowed it from his dad. When my cousin's dad saw me behind the wheels from the balcony, he came down and remarked, 'You have driven in Delhi. You'll drive better than him here.'
My cousin looked annoyed but somewhere inside I felt happy. After all, the number of vehicles in Delhi was the sum total of that present in Madras, Bombay and Calcutta. If I could navigate through that, then this was a slice of the cake.
However, soon I was to realize that my biggest problem was that I'd driven in Delhi.

The traffic in Madras is as bad as in Delhi but there is something called lane driving in Delhi. Here, barring Mount Road and a few others, lanes are not marked on most roads including Sardar Patel Road on which IIT is situated. I always like staying in my lane unless I need to overtake. Here, with no semblance of lane driving, I felt crippled.

I had to be extra careful not to bump into the road divider. Here, the corporation's idea of a road divider is a string of hap-hazardly placed stones, most of them out of line. The best example: Cenotaph Road in Teynampet. Do they realize the implication if my front wheel were to hit that? Or worse still if I was driving a two-wheeler. If space is such a constraint, then it's better to have a yellow line rather than a divider. When you don't have a divider on flyovers (even Gemini Flyover just has a line) though that is considerably dangerous when drivers cross over for overtaking, then why have it on a surface road?

There are one-way regulations even on arterial roads which require massive lane changing operations at junctions though they remove traffic signals. Effectively, you need to pause if the car or bus next to you wants to change lanes. Better to stop at the signal! A case in point is the triangular one-way involving Sardar Patel Road from Raj Bhavan to Mount Road crossing, Mount Road from the S.P Road crossing to Little Mount and the road from Little Mount to Raj Bhavan. How does one go from the left-most lane to the right-most in peak hour traffic with buses beaming on you?
The fact is that these roads are wide enough to accommodate two-way traffic. Though the system does away with three traffic signals, you lose the time you save in traveling the extra distance (also leads to extra fuel) and the lane changing in junctions.
If a road needs to be declared one-way, I would say it should be Cenotaph Road which should be made one-way from Turnbulls Road to Mount Road.

The best part was that we still managed to reach our destination safely. Thanks to God, my cousin offered to drive on the way back. I lost the bet but no regrets here.

P.S. How can driving in Delhi be safe when Blue Line buses there claim a victim every second day? Valid question but you forget one thing. They claim pedestrians or passengers. The carwala is relatively safer!

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

We are humans still!!!

Two incidents yesterday re-affirmed my faith in humanity, at a time when all one gets to read in newspapers are details of robberies, kidnappings, rapes and murders. The first one happened when the front tyre of my car got punctured on the busy DND Flyway connecting Delhi with neighbouring Noida. As car after car zoomed past us and as my driver became breathless trying to replace the tyre without much success, I had almost decided to walk the 2-km stretch to the toll gate in the noon sun and look for some help. No sooner had I asked my driver to accompany me to the toll gate, we spotted a guard walking towards us with a barricade. He helped us barricade the area considering that one or two of the cars raced past us and almost handicapped my driver who was kneeling down. Both men got together and replaced the wheel and then the guard walked away. I called out to the guard and handed him a twenty rupee note. The guy just refused the money point blank and walked away. In this day and age, when people are after each other's lives for money, this simple action of the guard who worked for his salary, irrespective of the amount, stunned me.

The same evening I boarded a flight to Chennai and arrived at Chennai Airport around midnight. I boarded a pre-paid taxi to IIT. The driver of another pre-paid taxi from the airport stopped us at Guindy(near Mount Road). He told us that his car had suffered us an accident and he wanted this taxi-driver to ferry his lady passenger to her home in Besant Nagar. The lady and her luggage were transferred to my taxi. The lady in question didn't know Tamil, the local language. As I wondered if I should ask the driver to drop the lady first (Besant Nagar falls after IIT), the driver broke the silence. He asked me if I minded if the lady were dropped first. I agreed at once. The lady was dropped off at her home and she thanked us. I felt it was good thing since the roads were deserted and it was past midnight. But more than that, the sincerity of the taxi-drivers amazed me.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

IIT M: M for Madras

I'm sure none of us likes the name of our institute to be misrepresented. And in this context, reports in some sections of the media have irritated me to a large extent. A common mistake is to refer to IIT- Madras as IIT-Chennai and abbreviate it as IIT-C. And accordingly, IIT-M stands for IIT-Mumbai which incidentally is called IIT-Bombay. The point here is that our institutes cannot change names according to the will of politicians who have their own compulsions of vote bank. We, at IIT-Madras are still IIT-M and not IIT-C and this holds true even for IIT-Bombay which is still IIT-B and not IIT-Mumbai. For the media, it may be trivial but for me it's a brand and brand names are established identities.