Sunday, December 07, 2008

Gandhism - Alive and Kicking in Modern India

Purists and so-called "Gandhi-ians" crib that modern India has forgotten Gandhi and Gandhi-ism is a lost cause in Mahatma's own country. I beg to disagree!!Just drive through the roads of Bangalore on a week-day (preferably peak hours) and you would find the Civil Disobedience Movement(Jumping Red Lights, Breaking One-Way rules,Jay Walking, Ignoring the No-U Turn sign et-al!!) and the Non Co-operation Movement(Overtaking from the left, sticking to the leftmost lane to turn right, not allowing anyone to overtake!!) being practised by all and sundry!! Long Live Gandhi-ism!!

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Global Mallu

Mallus a.k.a Keralites are rather notorious for being present in every nook and corner of the world!! There are even jokes abt whom did Armstrong meet when he landed on the moon or abt who welcomes Edmund Hillary on the Everest!! No prizes for guessing who!! :)
Last week, I was checking into a flight from Vienna to Frankfurt. Vienna, the capital of Austria has a very sparse Indian/South Asian population, so much so that people look at you with curiousity and sometimes jealousy (well, we do have a year round tan, without having to bake ourselves live in the sun!!)
At the Austrian Airlines check in desk, the agent was of an origin I quite cudnt put my finger on. She spoke in chaste and fluent German to the lady in front of me. Finally my turn came, I handed my passport n ticket to her, with a cheerful "Guten Morgen", which was responded back with a luminous smile!! She goes through my passport, makes the necessary keystrokes on her comp and then without taking her eyes off the screen, asks me ... "Malayalee annu alle?!" (Thats Malayalam for - "You are a Mallu, right?!!")
Long live the Global Mallu!! :)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Arent we all racists?!!

The recent controversy over the alleged racist remarks against Shilpa Shetty in the Brit reality show, Big Brother got me thinking.. was it all really racial?!

Lets examine what happened.. Shilpa Shetty a Hindi movie actress, with a string of flops n a career that never looked like going anywhere and her biggest assets, her never ending legs!!

Big Brother .. well actually the baap of all reality shows, where a group of strangers or celebrities live together in a make believe house, completely cut off from the outside world and a platoon of cameras capturing every moment in the house. Of course wht we get to see is an edited packaged version of the important happenings of the day.

Big Brother, especially the celebrity version, has always involved B&C grade Brit figures and has been of least interest to the massive South Asian population. To tap this huge audience, they decided to rope in smone like Shilpa, well known among the South Asian population , but in reality near jobless. A paycheck of over 3 crores and a shot at fame beyond the SAARC borders helped no doubt.

Shilpa made her entrance all decked up in a saree n tons of make up n let people know tht she is the "Indian Angelina Jolie"..(yeah right!!) and went abt with her usual filmi nakhras. Reality Check babe.. u r no longer in a film set!!! Of course this is bound to ruffle many a feather in the house and people r bound to react. To top it you go around bossing everybody, stick to ethnic dresses tht mark you out and attempt to cook smthing which you hv never done before in ur life and expect things to be hunky dory..

Housemates did react. Worse people outside, reacted violently to these reactions!! Imagine rallies in Bihar demanding shutdown of the show, which is not even broadcast in India, parliament both Indian and British, ministers n every TDH who has been within 5 metres of Ms. Shetty condemning all tht on prime time TV!! I wudnt be surprised if we had a bandh/strike to protest this!! Indian hypocrisy at its best..

Whats all this abt?!

  • Bcoz smone called her a dog?!.. big deal.. Dharmendra used to call every other person on screen tht !!

  • Shilpa Shetty was called an Indian.. now is tht really an insult?! I wonder..

  • Bcoz smone made fun of her cooking?!.. well it was bad enuff to be made fun of..

  • Smbody refused to pronounce her name... well how many times hv u pronounced Chinese/Thai/European names (try Pongpol Adireksarn or Jeroen Broekroelofs)?! Folks in most part of the world hv trouble saying foreign names with more than 2 syllables.. Bala is easy on the tongue compared to Balagopal.. check out how mutilated names like Dheeraj, Rajneesh, Jyothi or worse Shanmugasundaram , Thenpandizhan turn out when spoken by a foreigner (not necessarily European/American..) or in the last few cases even by a North Indian

  • She was called a Paki... well I hv been called a Madrasi by lots up north, although I hv nuthin to do with Chennai!! Similarly anybody with brown skin and black hair automatically becomes a Paki in UK or a Curry in Australia.

The last count, you cud argue has racial overtones. But then arent we all guilty on that?! How many of us have never referred to a person from the north east as "Chinky" or smone from Nepal as "Kaancha"?! I have heard fellow infoscions talking abt some of our clients from Africa with similar names. We call westerners "gora", "firang" .if they take offence to tht even tht makes it racial!!

No amount of rules or legislation is going to change all that. Its just a manifestation of our fear of the unknown and the unusual!! Unless that takes life threatening forms of hate crime , all that we are doing is over-reacting!! I can bet next week this time , not even an iota of news reel or a second of news time will be spent on the so-called "Shilpa Shetty controversy"!!

P.S- I am however thankful to this whole brouhaha , which finally put an end to the endless and pointless coverage given to two bollywood actors getting engaged!! Now waiting for the next breaking news to push this one out!!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Air Slovakia a.k.a Air Punjab!!

Caught this amazing piece of news on the BBC site. Apparently Air
Slovakia , a carrier from the Central European state of Slovakia has
been bought over by a UK based businessman of Punjabi Origin.
Unlike the Mittal-Arcelor deal, this one seems to have got lost in the
backyards of newsreel!!

According to the new owner he wants
to transform the 60-employee Air Slovakia into a "Punjabi experience".
That means using crew, food and in-flight entertainment from the
northern Indian state of Punjab and using regional headquarters based
in the Punjabi city of Jalandhar. There will be "dedicated" planes
flying into Punjab too, he said.

That would be interesting.. a lassi for welcome drink and juicy Tandoori Chicken on offer for meal service!!

Chk it out @ the BBC site..

Monday, September 11, 2006

Driving in Bangalore for Dummies

Considering the amount of time I am forced to spend on the roads daily,
I decided to come up with a ready reckoner for tackling the roads of

  • Distances in KM/miles etc do not matter in Bangalore. Always
    measure it using the number of potential traffic jams you are
    bound to face on the way.

  • The white spaced/solid lines drawn on the road is a joke!! Its just one of the things that we ape from the west!!

  • Any lane is the right lane!! You are free to use any lane of the
    road, no matter what type of vehicle you are driving, what speed u r
    driving or where you wanna go.

  • If you wish to take a right or U turn, occupy the left most lane,
    try turning right and block traffic on all the lanes. Feel no shame or

  • Under no circumstances whatsoever, should the indicator be used!!
    Its a waste on your batteries. After all the person behind you would be
    breathing down your neck and would not be in a position to see your
    tail lamps!!

  • Vehicular traffic in Bangalore is fluid. If one opening on the
    road is blocked, it immediately moves to the next available opening on
    or off the road. You have to be a novice or an alien to stick to
    your own lane!! If your side of the road is totally blocked simply use
    the other one. Dont worry about oncoming traffic. A constant flickering
    of your head-lights would do the trick!! :)

  • Two wheeler traffic is more fluid than ones with more number of wheels.

  • If the gap between two vehicles ahead is atleast equal to the width
    of your vehicle (excluding the side view mirrors and the other unwanted
    frills!!) , go ahead and squeeze in. Otherwise prepare for a honk-fest
    from the vehicles behind you.

  • If you happen to be at a red-light at nite, ignore it!! India is a
    free country. Zoom ahead. Else you get the same treatment as above.

  • Pedestrians can and will cross the road anywhere and at anytime.
    You touch them, you pay. After all we are a democratic country!!

  • The most used parts of your vehicle - The Brake, The Horn, The
    Clutch, The Gear - in that order. Its a good idea to drive around in
    circles in a ground once in a while, so that the gas pedal and the
    speedometer get a work out!! It will also help you overcome panic and
    helplessness when you are suddenly faced with a clear stretch of road!!

  • The entire stretch of the road is considered one long bus stop,
    except for the designated stops!! More so if it is a private bus!!

  • Beware of this species of drivers - they usual swarm out of
    certain areas like e-City, ITPL, BG Roads ar pre-designated
    times. Drive Indica, Tata Sumo, Safari,Qualis or Tavera. Often have a
    sticker behind them which contains a 9/8 digit mobile number which you
    could call up to inform abt "rash-driving". They no know fear, They
    know no rules!! They would go to any extent (literally off the road!!)
    to transport their "precious cargo".

  • There are slow trucks and then there are slower trucks. The two
    of them are in a constant race to outdo each other , occupying the
    entire width of the road. If you are stuck behind it, simply njoi

  • If your vehicle bumps into your "next-road-neighbour". Stop the
    car wherever it is, get out and pick up a quarrel (if you like some
    variety u can get physical too!!). Dont worry abt the traffic you are
    holding up!! Everybody loves a little fight on the street!!

  • Any part of Bangalore can be considered a parking lot, as long as your vehicle can successfully stay stand still on it.

  • If you are looking for entertainment , simply switch on to the
    plethora of identity-confused FM channels on air rt now. Most of them
    are in the midst of an identity crisis - trying to position itself as
    English-Kannada speaking - Hindi song playing channels!! Entertainment

Hopefully these tips help you survive the traffic in the Garden City of Bangalore!! Happy Driving!!

p.s. Bangalore would have one of the lowest accident fatality rates in
the world!! After all its difficult to mow down a person when you r
driving below 5kmph!!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Back from a month long onsite trip to the Netherlands. Love tht
country... its against the law to make you work on a weekend !! :) Got
to roam around the country n a few of its neighbours.. uploaded the
snap to picasaweb

[Warning : Too many pics n Infy n/w sucks]

P.S. Picasaweb is an amazing offering from Google. You can use it along
with Picasa to upload entire albums in one go.. no more selecting pics
n uploading!!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Growing Up!!

My first memory of the football world cup was some fleeting moments during the 86 one @ Mexico. However the first one that I followed thoroughly was Italia 90 way back as a 10 year old!! As luck would have it, I was recovering from a surgery to my foot and had the entire month off from school!! :)

So there I was watching soccer matches at the dead of night, with my red-eyed parents popping in every now n then to remind me of the unearthly time. Watching Lothar Matthaeus, Maradona, Scilacci n the rest create magic with their feet, I dreamt of being a football star!! ;) ok smirks n grins accepted.. i was just a 10 year old who still had hope growing up.. Hope of doing almost everything when I grow up!! From a football star to playing in the Wimbledon to starring in Hollywood/Bollywood to being the UN Secy General to Winning the Nobel and what not!!

Fast Forward 16 years.. Done with school n college n hv been earning for abt 5 years now!! As I watch World Cup 2006, I realize tht 99% of the stuff that I wanted to do as a kid might just never happen.. If I am lucky i cud end up with atleast 1%!! But hey all is not lost .. I cud potentially still be the UN Secy General or might even notch up a Nobel.. As they say.. Umeed pe Duniya Kayam Hain!! :)

Free Visa Entry into Singapore For Indian Citizens

On my way back from Melbourne, I planned to stop over at Singapore for a coupla days to meet up with a very close friend of mine. So called up the Singaporean High Commission in Canberra to enquire on the process of applying for a tourist visa. To my pleasant surprise, the lady at the other end informed me that I did not require a visa to enter Singapore as I held a valid Aussie work permit!! That entitled me to a "Visa Free Transit facility" for 96 hours.

Whoa.. thts music to ur ears.. I re-confirmed with the lady and just to be sure shot off a mail to the High Commission for clarification. Copying the reply tht i recvd back.

To cut a long story short, landed in SGP , cleared immigration with ease (keep ur onward confirmed tkt in hand for inspection) and spent two gr8 days in Singapore.

Here's the mail from the High Commission:
96-hour Visa Free Transit Facilities (VFTF) for PRC and Indian nationals

For a limited period starting from 1 October 2005, 96-hour visa free transit facilities (VFTF) will be available to PRC and Indian nationals without the need of letters of guarantee by airlines if they are in possession of a valid onward air ticket departing within the next 96-hours and satisfy the following criteria:

Possess a valid visa/long term pass (validity of at least 1 month) issued by any of the following countries*:
a. Australia
b. Canada
c. Japan
d. New Zealand
e. United Kingdom
f. United States of America
g. Germany
h. Switzerland

The 96-hour VFTF is eligible to PRC and Indian nationals who are in transit to or from any third country. However, transit passengers who satisfy the above criteria are not guaranteed entry but are still subjected to Singapore's prevailing entry requirements.

Transit passengers who satisfy all the above requirements and allowed entry will be granted a stay of up to 96-hours (4 days) in Singapore. Extension of stay for transit passengers under this VFTF scheme is strictly not allowed.

* More countries may be added. Please check with the Singapore Visitors Centres at Changi Airport for more information.