Sunday, August 28, 2016

Totally biased opinions formed in a 7 day road and rail trip

I went on a vacation trip to ostensibly attend a wedding and conduct a religious ceremony and I was to go all the way by train but as events unfold I went on a road and rail trip. By my dates and times folly my best half and the apples of my two eyes were also subjected to this road and rail trip. My car Bhadra took us around and brought us home safe.

Pune Bengaluru by road 
Bengaluru Chennai by train
Chennai Vaitheeswaran Chennai by Train 
Chennai Bengaluru by train
Bengaluru Hubli by road
Hubli Pune by road.

Hubli happened on a whim and knowledge that there were two old temples within it's vicinity. Anyway this is not a trip diary but a series of observations and a unfounded confounding opinion based on those observations. The onward trip was uneventful but for being flagged by the Karnataka Highway patrol cop for over-speeding. I was only on 90KMPH. Alright! alright! I was on 120KMPH. But this chap, he was from a different planet. He was very polite, actually friendly and even addressed me as "Sir". Took penalty amount, gave me receipt and sent me with a gentle warning "drive slowly". My experience with policemen has been far and few and they were not exactly something I would reflect upon fondly. But this one blew my top figuratively speaking. 

Did you know that you can easily tell that you cross over the border from Karnataka or Maharashtra by the time you take at the toll booth. Karnataka side toll booths (why do they have so many of them?)sent you on your way always in less than 5 minutes even if they were couple of windows short of their Maharashtra counterparts. Maharashtra toll booths would take about 10 minutes. Don't ask my why, just happened so.  But then again, Karnataka had more toll points? Itna kya toll lerain bawa? 

Coming to the highways Both side the roadways were well made except for some part of the Maharashtra side where there was WIP.  On the Maharashtra various sign boards pleaded to keep the roads clean per Swach Bharat Abhyan, yet folks threw litter outside their vehicles which then bounce of windows and hoods of automobiles behind....Tch! Tch! Tch! No sense of care at all. The Karnataka side highways had no such board but there was no littering as well.

Cafe coffee day and Kamath group of Hotels seemed to do good business along NH4 (AH47).  How do they manage to keep the  loo so clean and pristine. Missed them a lot (especially because of clean loo) on the Maharashtra side. Talking about Pune and Bengaluru, the citizenry of both cities would be Kumbh mele mein bichde bhai if the sole parameter was to be traffic sense. Both sides drive and ride equally crazy. Bengaluru a notch more I dare say. Bengaluru mein road kiross karna hai na bawa, tho pir Ola ya Uber bulao. Ok Ok! That was my Hyderabadi side exaggerating. Look at their brethren in Chennai; Seem (operating word is SEEM) very orderly in main roads and go moto-cross crazy in inner roads i.e. if you can distinguish between the two. En chennai peepul, come to Pune for training. Wait! Send your traffic police for training so that they can learn how to do nothing when people jump signals.

But why was Southern railways trying to shove Hindi into the minds of Chennai folks with "One hindi word a day". Half the chennai population (C'mon Hyderabadi exaggeration) can beat you dry in Hindi examinations.

On the return leg, I took a break at Hubli instead of driving all day. Learnt that there are a couple of old temples that were being restored by ASI. So went in search of them. Chandramouleshwar was easy to find, but Banashankari gave me trouble. Why are there so many Banashankari in Hubli? Now the temples are so situated that you will miss them even  when you see them at the end of your nose.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Lessons from an unexpected quarter - 2

Date: Long long ago
Location: Signal at Jehangir Hospital, Pune
Teacher: Traffic police constable

Twas a balmy summer morning and I was perspiring under my helmet, my hair seems to have plastered 15 minutes into the ride to work yet I was feeling exhilerated riding my bike-Viru. I had just run over a mobile phone of a person suffering from obtuse phoneckitis and feeling as satisfied after a tot of oldmonk and black coffee. I was nearing the signal just beside my workplace; the signal was green, I increase speed and  making a mad rush(I know! sigh!). I reached a few meters from the junction, the light turns to amber when I throttled from ridiculous to ludicrous speed and crossed the signal just after the light turns red ( I still know, stupid right!?). Just outside my office gate, I get flagged by a portly, uniformed, tobacco crushing, head nodding to the right and yelling all the time "yae ikkde ikkde" traffic constable. At this point the universe was going "serves you right bugger". I manage to stop without hitting him, he gives me a look which deemed me lower than the lowest of life forms and pointed to the inspector standing by. He had already taken the  key from Viru. I get down, put the bike on the stand and walk to the inspector who gives me a 1/2 a millisecond look and issues me a challan. I don't even remember the amount written on it. All this was the context. Now for the learning.

I yell why did you let others pass by and only get hold of me. Yeah! I still know I was being a jerk. This time the inspector gives me a 1 second look and returned to whatever he was doing. Twas as if he thought of me as a WOT-waste of time. As if on cue, the portly, uniformed, tobacco crushing, head nodding to the right and yelling all the time "yae ikkde ikkde" traffic constable takes over smoothly. I had already pumped myself to my pretend irate best and was not ready for what transpired next. The conversation went thus-

Constable: तुम  हॉटेल में खाने जाते हो?
Do you go to a restaurant?
Me: बहुत बार( I was not married yet)
Lots of times.
Constable: मेनू में बहुत आइटम होंगेः नै ?
The menu must have listed a lot of items, isn't it?
Me: हाँ  (All confused, where was this conversation going, I get my guard up. I still wasn't ready for the boom to be lowered)

Constable: जितने आइटम है, सारे खाते हो की तुम चुन्नथे हो क्या खाना है?
Do you eat all the items listed or do you make a choice?

Now how does one beat that. I dropped all of my pretenses, calmly make my payment, get my keys, start my viru, get on it and go to work and my life.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Lessons from an unexpected quarter - 1

Date: Forgotten
Location: one of the many malls in Pune
Teacher: One of the security guards in a store in the mall.

We had made some purchases in one store in the mall and we went to this cloth store where we deposited the bags containing our earlier purchases at the baggage check counter. We went in, shopped some and came out to claim our checked baggage. I gave the guard manning the baggage depository my "reminder token" (which I got when I deposited my bags earlier). He went searching in the beehive which was the "depository" and time passed (not more than a minute) and I was getting pensive when he return with some bags. He handed me a couple of bags (huge ones at that). I told him that these are not mine. He took a look at the reminder token and picked these bags and went back into the beehive. Another minute passes and he comes with my bags. I remarked that "If I had not noticed, I would have taken the wrong bags, but what would happen when the rightful owner turns up. He would have berated him and the seven generations before him with a bunch of colourful abuses. He looks me in the eye (did I see a twinkle in his eye) with a calm smile. After  a long pause, he calmly and confidently say "Aisa nahi hoga saab" (Tis will not happen). I am now curious and ask him "aisa kyon nahi hoga"? Again he hypnotizes me with his gaze and the calm smile and replies.
हम ग्राहक को भगवान मानते हैं| और भगवान हमारे सात ऐसा भरताव नहीं करेंगे|

English Translation : I consider EACH Customer to be GOD and GOD will not ill treat or abuse me.

Lesson for me the customer/consumer: I consider EACH customer to be GOD and GOD will not ill-treat or abuse me.

Lesson learnt and more importantly I hope I remember it when I need to. 

Monday, June 03, 2013

Lessons in liking music - Naandi

You can say that I belonged to a genteel poverty period where even a bicycle in the family was called prosperity. In such circumstances, the only music I ever heard in my childhood was boisterous singing from nearby hutments and such. I don't even remember the songs that they sang. 

Long story short appa after much nagging by amma brought home a two-in-one. A two in my dear friends is a radio and cassette player bundled in the same black box. There were no other colors for  be it a hand held transistor radio, a two in one or a table top transistor radio they were all black. With the black box we also got a packaged and bundled audio cassette. Yes only one cassette. Before the young 'uns ask what a casette is, the image below will help mind map. Now TDK was very popular recording media before T-series came into main stream. They were tough and durable.
Anyway back to our story of the packaged cassette. The songs were in english and GOD did not help me comprehend what was being sung. When I listen to the songs even today, I would be stumped if someone asked me to mouth the lyrics. Tis was an album by Giorgio Moroder. Now who Mr. Moroder was or what the song was did not generate much interest in an eight year old's mind. For some reason though the music got stuck somewhere in the deep recess of the mind and stayed there. I even forgot Mr. Moroder's name or the cover of the cassette.  The metallic and robotic rendition of I am left, you are right, she is gone just stuck in the brain and stubbornly stayed there. Later (sic.) or truthfully about a score years later, I remembered the album and the cover and googled for Mr. Moroder using the title "I am left, you are right, she's gone" and came to know that he is the god of Computer disco(old-world title for  DJ mixes I suppose) and Daft Punk (God help me if I understood what that stood for). What more Shall I tell you, Mr. Moroder and the album "From Here to Eternity" was my first lesson in liking Music. 

  • "From Here to Eternity" - 5:58
  • "Faster Than the Speed of Love" - 1:54
  • "Lost Angeles" - 2:44
  • "Utopia - Me Giorgio" - 3:24
  • "From Here to Eternity (Reprise)" - 1:45
  • "First Hand Experience in Second Hand Love" - 5:02
  • "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone" - 5:08
  • "Too Hot to Handle" - 4:51
In the album, From here to eternity was the more popular song, but I am left, you're right, she's gone will remain my favorite. 
I was alone at home( Best half and my little 'uns are in mumbai), I was feeling melancholic and bored. I went troweling through my stash (which my best half is yet to declare 'useless') and like a trophy I held aloft my cassette player and after that I could not find Mr. Moroder's cassette. That was a total disaster in fulfilling a wish. I mop around a little, trying to and hoping to find the cassette but to no avail. So I pour myself some rum (old monk what else) and black coffee, pick up my laptop, head to the bedroom terrace and listen to I am left, you're right, she's gone over and over again on youtube. Tis not as good as the cassette, but what the heck, the song to me is soul music. Whats your soul music?


The word Naandi ( नान्दी) means beginning or the start

Sunday, May 05, 2013

...And Pran

This is my acclamation of an actor par excellence and there are others who will write better praise than me. My acclamation though focuses on my favorite Pran character - Ramesh Thakur in the Movie Dil Diya Dard Liya (took pain in exchange for heart)

I saw the said movie on Doordarshan a long time back and the character still sits in my mind, the vehemence, the hatred and the "look" he gives as he eyes Dilip Kumar's character as if he were the lowest of life forms. Dilip kumar was consumed by those eyes.  As I watched the film, the grey cells in the back of my mind were churning "Which book is this story similar to?" I scratched and pondered all the while watching the movie. A few days later I was reading Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights and then it stuck me that I saw a movie adapted from this story and I conveniently forgot the title of the film and there it was back in reverse, reading the book I kept trying to recollect the name of the film. All I knew was Pran playing Hindley Earnshaw with so great an elan that I waited to watch the film again just to watch Hindley Earnshaw brought to life by Pran. Tis was a period of technology ice age. There were no one in my very small circle of friends and acquaintances in Hyderabad who saw b&w hindi cinema and there was no internet to run a query on a search engine. And doordarshan was not very generous in replaying that film again. I waited for them to broadcast it again now that I knew the book and wanted to match frame and page. There is a scene towards the middle where Dilip Kumar's Shankar (Raja saheb) asks for his love (Played by Waheeda Rehman) and towards the end of his suit, he says मैं तुमसे अपनी प्यार का भीक  मांगता हूँ | (I beg you to give me my love)
The camera then pans to show Pran in close up and then draws away but still focussed on the eyes as they grow dark, pained and finally defiant. Ramesh Thakur (nee Pran) goes hysterical (and does nor recover after) and with a lot of glee and spiteful pleasure retorts

 तुम हमेशा से सिर्फ भीक मांग सकते हो। तुम भिकारी ही  रहोगे   | (you will always remain a beggar) or something to that effect. 

The above line is a long monologue and Pran's eyes are in sync with the dialogue as they do a deadly dance ranging from fear, defiance, contempt and finally doing the dance of victory and elation as Ramesh thakur realizes that even though he has lost everything, he still has power over Shankar (Raja Saheb) and he exercises the power to deny Shankar his love. 

After that scene bollywood takes over and spoils the film.

C'est la Pran that stays with me since in later years Pran the actor was replaced by Pran the actor in not so great movies. Movies like Zanzeer, Victoria 203 and many other such stupid roles dented my awe and respect for the actor. But then along came two other movies (but none in class of Dil Diya aur Dard liya) Parichay and Chori Chori. They restored my faith in the actor par excellence and tis no wonder that the film credits would always go "And Pran"

When I am publishing this post, Pran was awarded the Dada saheb phalke award and I am sure the mandarins in our bureaucracy and news media (print and visual) would talk about the inconsequential roles and leave out Pran's pie la mode roles in the age of Black and white cinema...

NOTE: The movies mentioned above are in the chronological order in which I watched them and not in the order of their release dates.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Old Tales- Ramayanam in 7 Lines

DISCLAIMER: I am not taking lessons in moral science or decrying any religion or faith or beliefs, so please just ensure that you drink a a good quantity of sense of humor before starting to read

On the train from Pune to Hyderabad I noticed two children fighting for the window seat and that reminded me of a similar incident of mine. During that incident long back, my grandpa (mother's father) taught me a small shloka which remained etched in my mind. Don't know why it remained etched. Perhaps twas the melody with which he recited it, perhaps because he made me recite it time and again. The story around it was...

              We were coming back from Pandalam, Kerala after school's  summer vacation. Amma, my sister and me were being escorted by Thatha(grandpa). Back then train journeys were something we used to look forward to. Priya(Could not recollect calling her akka i.e. elder sister) and me would always fight for the windows seat. Like Aufbau's principle of electrons occupying energy levels in a first come first principle, whoever got into the train cubicle first would get the window seat. I was always second since amma would not let go of my hand and by corollary Priya would get the window seat. She would give me a smug smile which would make me go into tantrum mode. Thatha to console me would take hold of my hand and take me to the compartment door where we would stand a foot behind. It was not fun to watch "between two legs" the world go by. By legs I mean the chap who would be standing at the door smoking and spitting the cud from the betel leaf he would be chewing. So the pitch of my tantrum would raise a couple of notches and thatha would bring me back to the berth. To get a sleeping berth on the train back then was no mean achievement. Socialist regimes ensured that there were not enough rakes and trains to transport the 10 times greater number of people. But then again thatha was so respected that securing sleeping berths for all of us was child's play for him. The next fight was for the upper berth at sleeping time. Again Priya would win because I was toooooo small to sleep on a berth of my own. I would always be paired with somebody.  Back then Pandalam, Kerala to Hyderabad was a three day journey by train which included a 6 hour wait at a station called Guntakal (or was it Renigunta?). At this station another train would couple the Kerala compartments from our train. So the six hour wait for the second train would kill all enthusiasm in a small child. So my tantrums must have reached an octave by now. Thatha then took me on his lap and taught me the shloka. The shloka in essence summarizes the Ramayana. he wrote the shloka in Tamil which I still don't know to read. He then started reciting it to me asking me repeat every syllable. By the end of the six hour wait, I knew the shloka by heart.

 The shloka summarize or explains what you can find in The Ramayana
I have tried reproducing the shloka in Sanskrit (devanagiri script) in which I am pretty sure there are spelling mistakes. Tis has been a long time since I wrote Hindi.

पूर्वम रामा तापोवानाती गमनं 
हत्वा मृगं कांचनं 
वैदेही हरणं जटायू मरनम 
सुग्रीव संभाषणं वालिनिर्दालानम 
समुद्र तरनम लंकापुरी दहनं 
तत्पश्चात रावण खुम्बकरा हननं 
एदत्त रामायणं ||

For those of you who are devanagiri challenged, the shloka in English

Purvam Rama Thapovanati Gamanam
Hatwa Mrigam Kanchanam
Vaidehi Haranam, Jatayu Maranam
Sugriva Sambhashanam, Vali nirdalanam
Samudra Taranam, Lankapuri dahanama,
Tat pashchat Ravana Khumbhakaran Hananam
Eddath Ramayanam.

I will attempt a translation what with my poor Sanskrit skills.

Long ago, Rama went to the forest 
where he went hunting the goldent deer
in that time Seetha was kidnapped
Jatayu tried stopping and was killed
Rama in search of Sita, crowns Sugria king after slaying Vali,
The monkey army cross the ocean
Raze Lanka
And finally Rama slays Khumbakarana and Ravana. 
This is what is described in the Ramayana      

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Old tales - Yudi feeding 8000 people everyday

DISCLAIMER: I am not taking lessons in moral science or decrying any religion or faith or beliefs, so please just ensure that you drink a a good quantity of sense of humor before starting to read

Long long ago, very long ago, so long ago, nobody knows how long ago, after the war at Kurukshetra Yudi is crowned king of sampurna Bharatavarsha (sum total India then) and he would pursue a habit he picked up during the time he and his brothers (pandavs) spent in exile. The habit was to feed 8000 (why 8000 people I am not sure) everyday. Imagine 8K hungry people would turn up at lunch time( I am assuming Lunch only) and Yudi as host would first wait for them to finish before gobbling his lunch. This fact of Yudi spread far and wide and inflated his ego so much so that his ego grew bigger than Godzilla and king kong stacked. Krishna in far of Dwaraka comes to know of this and he ponders "me thinks I will pay a visit to Yudi, his 8000 fame and his inflated ego. Just as Krishna was thinking this, Garuda comes along and says "Let's get moving, why the wait". So Krishna smiling hops on Garuda and off they flew towards Hastinapura. As would always happen, whenever Krishna came visiting people would throng for his darshan.  After a couple of hours Bhimasena(Of the shaanth Gadadhari Bhim fame) would lose his patience and would take his mace and swing it a couple of times and create a path from Krishna to the guest palace. Krishna had a separate palace in Hastinapura (even though he dissuaded and disapproved of it) which was bigger and grander than Yudi the emperor's palace. 
          The next day as usual Yudi would place host to 8K folks waiting for lunch. As they stood watching Yudi asked Krishna, have you seen a grander sight than a king gain satisfaction watching his praja being fed. The pride was not to missed when he said it. Krishna smilingly asked permission of Yudi (since Yudi is emperor and Krishna was very particular about such protocols) to go visit his best friend who was waiting to have lunch with him. I will be staying here for sometime anyway. Yudi pestered him with "go tomorrow, but lunch with us today. Why do you insist on going today?" When suddenly he goes "whoa!!! Who is this best friend we have not heard of? I used to think that us Pandavas are your best friends". Krishna could have boasted, "I am Krishna, the Lord of the Cosmos", but no, he simply said "Oh! he is a simpleton whom I meet once every year down south. Would you like to come and meet him?" Now Yudi who was tickled by doubt, jealousy and even more by curiosity said yes. They hop on Garuda who by the way gave Yudi a cold steely look. They flew down south (now remember this is a lore) and in a few minutes landed in the place called Kerala today. When Mahabali saw Krishna, he came running overjoyed like a small child being offered candy. He prostrated before Krishna. Krishna picked him up and gave him a fraternal hug. Mahabali went into raptures and started singing paeans about Krishna, the lord of the Cosmos. By now Yudi got bored and was itching to know who this minstrel was and what made him Krishna's best friend.
        After about three or four songs (as per south Indian mythology movie standards) Mahabali again prostrates in front of Krishna. Krishna picks him up and bids him "Mahabali, my friend, my best friend a very Happy ONAM to you". On hearing this Mahabali became ecstatic and prostrated again. After some more prostrating, hugs and songs, Mahabali notices Yudi and became very apolegetic. "Ayya forgive me, this is a lapse on my part for not noticing you earlier. A guest is the Lord in disguise and I have not noticed you. Please forgive me." He was very earnest when he said this while Yudi was both curious and bored to notice the breach of protocol. All the time Yudi was thinking; "OK he is a big fanatic of Krishna and his bhakti is apaar, So how does that make him Krishna's best friend."
               All this time, Krishna was aware of the turmoil in Yudi's mind, but naughty as he was he let it play for some more time till Mahabali noticed Yudi. Yudi, you know about the grandson of Prahalada who donated me three steps of territory. Well this is Mahabali, who comes to visit Kerala every year on ONAM. Mahabali interrupted, and again started a song about Krishna. Yudi now got very irritated and turned towards Krishna and waited for him to complete the introductions. Krishna turned towards Mahabali and said "Yudi is the grand emperor of sampurna Bharatavarsha. His greatness has spread far and wide. So much so that many people are mirroring his habit of feeding people everyday. He alone feeds 8000 people every day. People sing songs of his greatness everywhere. Krishna went on and on about how this practice ensured that people would not stay hungry and that they would get at least one sumptuous meal everyday." By now, they were seated under a banyan tree surrounded by the bounty of nature partaking a ONAM sadhya together.
               Yudi bore a proud mien during this discourse which extolled his greatness in feeding 8000 people everyday while Mahabali lost all his child like happiness and became sombre and thoughtful. Mahabali very agitated and embarassed because of the thoughts running through him broke another protocol of not seeking permission before breaking from a group meal. He just got up and walked away to sooth this ruffled pili and emotions. He returned soon and prostrated in front of Krishna and Yudi and sought their forgiveness for his yet another breach of protocol. He folded his hands and sought their attention and said 
        "Ayya I seek your forgiveness for what I am going to ask and say now. Lord! Parandhama! Mokshkunda! How is feeding 8000 people greatness when it means that 8000 people have no other way of feeding themselves. Lord! You know how for my yagna's and homams I would find it difficult to find even one person in all the three worlds who would accept my grants and bhiksha. The lord also knows that in my final yagna, people were aghast when you came and asked for three steps of territory since it was considered a shame to ASK for anything. Ayya! forgive me but feeding 8000 people means that either there is not sufficient means of earning or people in Bharatavarsha no longer value the the greatness of working and of being empowered. Ayya! Forgive me, tis not greatness but a real shame when the king has to provide food instead of empowering the praja to get their own food. Ah! People of Bharatavarsha how low have you fallen?". BY now Mahabali was running tears so much that they rivalled the Gautami and Godavari rivers in their flow.

     The lord smiled, Yudi was speechless. He regained his composure and prostrated in front of Mahabali and said "Mahabali! Krishnamsara! You have opened my eyes. Devakisuta, my friend! I thank you for opening my eyes. I will rectify the situation immediately. As if on cue, Garuda presented himself for the journey back home.

EPILOGUE: Last time it was checked, Yudi failed in rectifying the situation. People still wait for the ruler to dole out stuff.