Tag: People

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.

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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.

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!

New features added in Gmail

This morning as soon as I opened up an incoming mail in Gmail, I noticed a new feature which they unveiled. The feature is named People

New Feature in Gmail
People pane

When you open up the mail, on the right hand side, you’ll notice a pane, titled People, which will mention people who are in the To list of the mail AND also are in your contact list. Each such contact can be clicked upon to show recent activity for that user. When you click on any one user, the resulting pane in the same space, will display the last mails you send/received from that contact, along with options to send mail, call, chat and others.

The feature (algorithm working behind the scenes) also captures if something is being talked about some event, meeting, and neatly grabs the related details, and gives you the option then and there to add the event to your Google Calendar.

Nice neat additions Gmail. Keep up the good work.