Tag: India

The Husband

He entered the coach with two huge bags. Actually, one was huge and the other one was just medium sized, but both of the bags were stuffed and I can see by looking at them, that were quite heavy and his shoulders were under strain. I could tell, since I have carried huge bag myself while going home, but that’s not what this is about. His wife (a fair guess) entered the coach behind him and she was carrying one of those shopping bags, which are made of cloth, and you see in India. The bag in her hand, did not seem that heavy, as she was carrying it quite comfortably. 

The coach was not crowded for a Sunday evening, though it was 8 PM, and was mostly cold throughout the day, so many people might not have stepped out of their homes. I was standing and so were they. He was wearing a woolen cap over his head and a jacket. His wife had a cardigan sweater and a shawl to top it off. I could tell that he was a normal worker some place, maybe one of the many factories in Noida. Not very poor, but might be just making his ends meet while affording to keep his wife with himself, rather than leaving her back in his village, wherever that might have been. Though, I would guess that  they were from Bihar. So am I, by the way.

After three stops on the way, a seat was vacated and he kind of fended the seat and asked his wife to have the seat. She took that seat. The bags were close to the door, and he went back there to stand by them. I was looking at him, and for some unknown reason, as it happens a lot with me, was feeling partly pity, partly sympathy for him. I could not tell, why, since he was not that poor, or shabby for that matter, which usually evokes those emotions inside me, when I start questioning the society we live in, the economics, the politics, and every damn thing which is broken with the state he comes from, to earn a living. 

I noticed that he was touching, kind of patting his right leg, below knee. I though, he might be feeling itchy. But then, he pulled up his pants a little bit and I saw that he has a long scratch on his right leg. A scratch, which you get you fall on the stairs or one of the steps, while walking. I can tell that wherever he fell down, it would have caused a lot of pain for such a scratch. I have had something like that, and it made my cry and curse. To top that, it was one of the coldest days, and as you know, it hurts more when its cold. He did not seem to be in pain now, and neither did he looked to be in pain when he entered the coach. But now, I was thinking how and where he might have had taken a fall. Maybe, when was entering the metro station, and was getting off the rickshaw. The roads and steps are slippery at times, especially after last night’s rain. He might have fallen at that time, and scratched his leg, specially while trying to carry those heavy bags. I did not think more than that.

In few minutes, my station was coming and I thought that since he was carrying bags, he must be going to the railway station and would get off at the same station, I was, as that’s the interchange station. Though I was not traveling to the railway station. I had to get out at the interchange station. I was right. He dragged his bags towards the left gate, where I was standing, and signaled his wife to be ready to disembark from the train. He kept one bag over his right shoulder and the bigger bag was by his left side, still at the floor. Then he tried to balance himself with his left hand by the door, and I saw that he had cut marks on his knuckles of the left hand, and at that time, I could tell that he did had a nasty fall, wherever he had that. I visualized the scene quickly in my mind, and felt his pain for a minute, and thought about the reaction of his wife, when he would have been on the ground or the steps. He did not look like the ones, who would have cursed at their wives for not carrying one of the bags, or for overloading the bags. No, he seemed like the ones, who would have asked to carry the bag, even when the wife would have asked to carry one.

The gates opened and I stepped out of the coach and looked back to notice that the couple had disembarked too. I turned around and started walking towards the exit.

Let’s wake up!

The recent heinous incident of rape in Delhi, where the girl is still battling for life with infections in intestine, has caused a mass outrage among public and for a change, supposedly in politicians too.

There has been cries for severe punishment of the convicts, which I (and everyone) perfectly agree with. Castration? Would not befit the crime! Death Penalty? Yes. Life imprisonment? Yes, as long as its till the “life” of the criminals. All I know, is there has to be a severe punishment with a special fast track court to pass on that judgement. It should not get lost in the ultra-slow legal process of our country, because, that in my opinion, dilutes the idea of judgement.
The punishment, how severe, will not “undo” the crime, but it will show that as a society, as a nation, we will not let the convicts enjoy a simple or rigorous imprisonment for a few years, and then again join us back in the free. We have to set an example. Public lynching is not the answer, since we are a civilized society. Nonetheless, it should not mean that we’ll go soft on the punishment for these deranged psychopaths. 

We fail as a collective, as a society in protecting women. Time and again, I see and hear incidents, where people were just dumb and mute spectators to acts of eve-teasing. 

By asking women to not venture out after sunset, is letting them know, that we are not responsible for your safety. I feel, it’s a statement of accepting failure to provide a safe and secure environment, and more than that, it’s a statement to let women know that, we’re not even concerned about you, cowering down to the criminals in our society.

Once, I was traveling alone in Delhi metro in somewhat crowded metro, when I hear two people talking about, why there is need for a reserved coach for women. How it is empty. Why can’t we enter it when it’s empty and all? They did not actually enter. But, what got me thinking about this that time was, about their mentality, that there’s no need for a reserved coach. That they were even thinking why not enter it? They were thinking, some actual do it, and some of those some, actually eve-tease or try to physically assault. Don’t deny this, as this happens a lot. If you would have noticed, there are always people who try to somehow “touch” a female, either during standing, or their best chance comes while boarding/de-boarding, esp at a crowded station.

Today, I read in the newspaper that, when the rape victim was dumped with her friend, there was a crowd onlooking, but not even a single soul out of that crowd had the decency to hand them a piece of cloth to cover them up. A crowd is always there just for tamasha in India. They seldom help, they seldom show signs of empathy

Let’s make this recent case a starting point for having better and stricter laws, having special fast track courts, more policing on our roads and streets. Let’s expect the police to gear up and be more aggressive and for the God’s sake. Let’s not crib when the police stops our bus or car or private vehicle for a checking at a check post. We, as concerned citizens of the society have to “help” as much as we can. We have to be alert. We have to understand that tinted glasses in the vehicles is a security concern. Maybe you want comfort from the sun outside, and you argue that I am not a criminal, and I am and will not do anything illegal. But, if it would have been that simple to figure out who is and who is not a criminal, then this matter would not have come up. Please, help police in ensuring the safety. Don’t be a crybaby for tinted glass, for checking (doesn’t matter how many times), don’t show your displeasure over not having curtains in the buses. All, if you are really concerned, and not just trying to show your fake concern over social networking sites. After all, it’s someone from our society who commits such crimes.!

Encounters with Security Guards

Somehow I have found myself entering into conversations with security guards at work, now and then, where topics have varied from their job to my job, the company I worked for, weather and a lot more 🙂

I would recount two occurrences out of those – 

When I was in my previous company, I remember a guard who was always a lil too courteous to me. Maybe, coz I always returned his Good Mornings and Good Nights with a smile. He was a young guy, may not have been more than 24-25. During that time (back in 2009), he was planning to leave the job as a security guard, and join some other company in some other capacity (don’t exactly remember, what position he mentioned to me). I remember that since he wanted my advice. He told me his current salary and his future salary (at the new place), work timings and what he wanted from his future. I asked him to go ahead and make that switch. And he did! Nonetheless, to my surprise I saw him back on my floor 2 weeks later. When I asked him what went wrong, he said that the job which was promised to him, was not there, and he was being asked to do something else, which he did not want, and so he left to come back here! Thankfully, his contractor took him back here without much ado. He told me that he is planning to learn basic computer operations so that he can apply for other small positions, which open in companies. After some time, I was shifted to another building and I never knew what became of him, as to where he is now, did he get his dream job

Today, it was my last working day at my current company. In the evening, as I was leaving, I got locked out of the ODC (Offshore Dev Center, it’s kind of restricted area for project specific folks), with my bag inside. I told the floor guard to help me get my bag outside, and explained him that it’s my last working day here, and somehow my access has been revoked before 5 PM. He asked me to wait for some other employee to enter the ODC, and then to ask him/her to get my bag out.

While I was waiting, he asked me where I was going, as in which company. I told him that I am going to HCL Technologies (not that I am joining this company, but its more known among common people, than the company I would be joining). What then happened came as a little surprise to me, since this gentleman was very well informed about the state of affairs of my current company. He told me that things are not going good with this company for quite some time, and there is a pay cut for employees, and all that’s visible from outside due to the brand name and all, is not at all present, once you enter this company. I was stupefied for a moment, since he took words out of my mouth! I told him that, this is the reason I am leaving the company and I know that since last 4 years, the company has lost track. Why I said that he was very well informed, because he knew the name of a board member, who left the company back in 2011, when it was widely reported in media that he left the company since he was denied promotion to CEO, even though he was most deserving at that time. I am not saying that this was the truth, but then this is what was the first thing every one thought about, when that board member left, and also reported initially. Anyways, after a few more words, he bid me good bye and I left.

That trip to Nandi Hills

One of the few things I wanted to do in Bangalore, when I wanted to come to this city (and when I finally came down) was going to Nandi Hills. I finally made that trip, around 4 months after I arrived in this city as a resident and not a traveler. Thanks to Nitin and Charu for taking me along. 

That trip was great in itself. Even though, we were not able to see the sunrise, which was the main attraction (and our actual intent), due to the dense fog at the peak that day, we had a lot of fun traveling there, and then being there. We became a group of 10 people, thanks to friends of Charu and Nitin. I remember that it was damn windy at the top, and due to the mist in the air, it felt like it was drizzling. We kept getting slightly wet, every 10-15 minutes.

It was the first big outing for my camera, with promising opportunities for a lot of shots. Nonetheless, the fog screwed it up for me and my camera in a big way. Still, I managed to take few good shots of the vegetation – as in trees and sometimes people too 🙂

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I would have loved to go back there, but it never happened. Anyways, there’s always a next time!

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Indian Drivers – Driving on Indian Roads

Back in 2007, when I went to USA for the first time, the first thing I appreciated and fell in love with, was the traffic. I had been a hollywood fan for a long time and so I was not amazed after seeing beautidul roads and 99% of
time orderly traffic. But as its said, its different feeling seeing with you eyes than reading, hearing, seeing pictures or watching on screen.
In December that year, the client was taking the entire team to a party to an Indian restaurant. I did not drive in Us during those days (many of us in the team, who were Indians, did not), and so was supposed to hitch a ride with one of the client managers. While I and 2 more of vendor guys were walking over to his car in the parking, this guy told us that the most frightening and amazing thing he saw in India was that animals (as in cows, dogs, horses and what not) shared the road with automobiles. That was said as a light remark, somewhat like a joke and we did smile on it. Nonetheless, I realized how true it was.
Whenever, I think of that statement, I figure that Indian roads are more like an ecosystem of their own. Maybe, a bio-diversity, where organisms from different species can share the same environment to sustain and thrive. Yes, Indian roads are like that. But, how and why is it like that? And what exactly I am talking about here? Well, I am talking about the dangers of driving on Indian roads and the part heroic, part dumb-ass Indian driving community. Well, don’t be offended, I am not addressing the “few”, but I used those two words for the majority of people driving on roads in our beautiful country.
I wanted to write about this for a long time, but the final push came today, when I was travelling back home in my office bus.
We all know, how dangerous is driving around in India. Some of you might argue that, driving is equally dangerous around the world, and I have no intentions of not concurring. Nonetheless, in India it is degrees higher than in most of the countries (Please don’t compare to under-developed countries. I would remind you all that, one should always compare oneself with someone better, in order to improve).
What are the actual issues here? What Government and we can do to improve the situation?

First of all, most of the times, I feel that in India, people don’t care about their lives, and obviously lives of others. What else could be the reason of jumping traffic signals, overtaking from the wrong side, driving a two wheeler without helmets, driving four wheeler without seat belts, and one of the favorites all over India – driving on the wrong side? We feel that, these things are just to add nuisance to our driving. People don’t want to wear helmets, coz maybe they want to feel the wind in their hair, not using seat belt can be connected to the desire of people to not spoil the ironing of the clothes! Well, these are what I can think of. Maybe there are altogether different reasons – maybe, there are some religious reasons, maybe superstitions, maybe a prophecy! Well, I can just wonder, since I cannot think of one reason which makes sense to me.

The first thing which I want to blame for all this is – lack of awareness about driving rules and regulations. Well, why not – it starts from the rules. Don’t you think. How many of us have seen the driving manual which contains the Do’s and Dont’s as per the Indian Motor Vehicle Act. Do you know all the rules which govern driving? Do you know all the rules which govern the upkeep of your automobile? Maybe a few do, but am sure enough that most of us have never seen that manual. I’ll again draw a parallel with US here. When you go for a driving license there, you need to take two tests (in phases). A computer based test of “rules awareness” followed by (on condition of passing) a driving test. The written test is what I want to focus on here. The DMV (what we have as RTO here) has a driving manual on their website (also available as a printed material from their offices) which lists down all the rules which one should know for safe driving. I want something like that in India. I am not saying that after having that, people will start abiding by all rules. No, they would not, but at least they would know, and at least some of them will try to adhere to rules, who might not be knowing what they’re doing wrong. Knowledge is the first step.

The second problem is lack of enforcement. Mostly, people break traffic rules since they know, they can easily get away without being penalized. I have seen many a times, when the traffic policeman is just a mute spectator (on his own will) to people breaking traffic rules. There are so many times, when these guys prefer to turn a blind eye to the offenders. Obviously, when people see and know their unwillingness, they will break the rules. In NCR, especially in Noida, jumping traffic signals is like a right of people! People in shiny and jazzy cars do it, so it cannot be blamed on bikers and rickshaw-wallas. Traffic police has a critical role to play in saving lives of people on road and unless they enforce the rules strictly and penalize people frequently, nothing is going to change.

People driving on high beam is like the most common thing in India – as if they don’t even know what “high beam” is and they too stupid to know that there is another “mode for the headlamps”. How often you’re blinded by the high beam of the moron driver coming from the opposite side? I can bet that, there would not have been a single day, when you would not have encountered this. I have never seen traffic police penalizing people for this, when they should. It has to be an offense which needs at least a warning!

Then many people, think that the side view mirrors is damaging the looks of the car, so some of them prefer not to open it while driving, and some intelligent ones, simply get the side view mirrors removed. After all, why the hell should they care about what’s coming on their right or left? A related thing here is, not using indicators. Well, but aren’t the indicators just supposed to be used on special occasions – that including when we park on the road (in such a case also, it should be used occasionally). After all, why does one want to care about other vehicles on road, which might be totally unaware of which turn I might take the very next second. After all, it’s their responsibility of knowing when the hell will I turn and not mine, even though the manufacturer has provided the indicators for this very specific purpose.

Driving on the wrong side of the road it totally cool and fun and makes you look smart in eyes of others on road, as far as it is saving you maybe a guided U turn which was far away! After all, why to take all that pain and spend fuel, when one can drive on the wrong side without being penalized? And what about, the oncoming traffic and safety of people who are coming from ahead, being on the right side of the road? Why should one care about them – Don’t they have eyes to see that there’s a car/jeep/truck/bus/bike coming towards them? Well, aren’t they paying attention to the road? Point taken douches!

Right of way – Yes, they know about right of way. It’s so simple. What’s not to know about it? Right of way, simply means that “I have the right of way always”. Others can go and screw themselves. If I’m travelling straight, and there is an intersection, obviously I have right of way. If I have to take that turn on that intersection (uncontrolled), then suddenly the “right of way” is transferred back from people going and coming straight to me, since “right of way” always belongs to me. I will never stop, if I see from a distance, someone trying to make a turn. Instead, I’ll speed up so that in case that other vehicle was planning to stall in middle of the road, I would be long gone! I will never give way to emergency vehicles as long as none of my family, relatives, friends are in need.

I can park anywhere. That also means right on the moving road, even though it can stall traffic and cause inconvenience to others. Others? huh?

Coming back to animals – I can (and I should) write an entire blog on stray animals in India. It looks so cool to have cows, buffaloes, old horses roam on the road. Once cows, buffaloes have been milked in the morning, they can be freed to roam on roads -after all, they also need to take fresh air and see the city. Leave them on the roads to block traffic, to cause accidents. As far as the animal is not harmed – the owner doesn’t give a damn!

Well, don’t think that I am all complaints about everything related to driving in India. I am not. Nonetheless, I am firm believer in that fact, that unless we confront the problems/issues, we cannot fix it.

I just wish and hope that, one day traffic and driving on Indian roads will be more smooth, more safe!

One roll, ten rooms…

Back in 2008, when recession started, many companies had waged cost-cutting initiatives all over the world (at least the countries affected by recession). Back in India, in IT companies, these initiatives ranged from cutting the free cab rides, keeping a tab on free stationery (rationing the stationery or completely doing away with it).

One thing, which irked me most was the removal of paper tissues (not from the stalls, but paper napkins for drying your hand) from the restrooms. Obviously being environment friendly was one of the reasons which was given at the same time for taking that decision. Well played, I would say!

My personal take on that “go green initiative” was that it was nothing but a cost cutting initiative which was to stay forever. Many a times, you need a napkin in the restroom – maybe to blow your nose, to wipe your face when you’re in a city where dust touches your face before wind. You can not blow your face dry by putting it under the hand-dryer! Well, technically you can, if you torment yourself by bending your neck and making a fool of yourself before others.

What I have noted in my current premise is, there are five floors, 2 restrooms on each floor, 10 in all (for men). At times, I have been surprised to find a roll to pat my hands dry but when I visit the same restroom again after few hours, it’s gone! I used to curiously think – “Where did all that paper go? Did others use it in excess, just coz it was there today, a fair surprise for all?” That curiosity was answered today, when I saw the janitor taking out the roll, putting it in a plastic bag, and telling the other janitor who entered behind him, that he has been ordered to take it on the second floor! Well, there was my answer for days when I was thinking how the hell the paper roll finished so fast?