Monday, August 28, 2006

Adverse Effects of Bumps

I am writing this post on my Dad's insistence. He is more moved by the inefficiency of the system here. Much more than me.

The distance from Banswara to Pratapgarh is around 85 Kms. But the journey by the bus took more than 3 hours. This time, a passenger is able to do nothing, except sit and wait for his destination. The number of human hours wasted in traveling is so huge in India that it sucks the efficiency out of you. The journey, even a small one leaves you so exhausted that you need to rest another two hours. One day's work takes two days to complete.

I will give another example. When I was studying in Indore, I always dreaded coming home. It was the trip that I dreaded and not the actual being at home. Indore to Mandsaur is about 200 kms, but if you want to leave at any human hour, the journey inevitably takes more than 6 hours. The trains do not run here. They crawl. So what happens is more and more people flock to Indore because of better opportunities and they all avoid coming home.

But, if these trains were fast and if they ran at say, 100 kms per hour, Indore-Mandsaur route could be covered in about two hours. This facility would enable more and more people to remain in Indore during the day and return to their near-by homes at the day-end. The strain on Indore's Infrastructure to support more people than it can would no longer be there. This is a problem with all big cities and not just Indore. Even students could consider making trips everyday for studying if the transportation was fast enough.

All of this would increase the efficiency of us all. People wouldn't have to worry about getting leg room on the last train at day's end. There could be more trains operated on a single track if each train completed its run in shorter time. All along, railways' profits would soar too.

There is so much to do. If only I could raise my head and look around. There was this dialogue in Rang de Basanti- "system ke andar rehkar system ko badalna padta hai".

I don't think I am justified in writing this. India Bashing is not what I am doing. I am just echoing my father's opinion. They are mine too. But at some point we have to start looking for solutions and not just bear.



This last week I've been touring to some places of religious significance. I've been to Rampura, Ahmedabad and Galiakot. Most of you might not even know where these are. But anyways, I went there with my Dad. I am writing about the journey which was in most parts in a Bus.

The bus which carried us from Rampura to Neemuch was a minibus which could seat around thirty passengers. I could not believe my eyes when I saw more than seventy people crammed in there. On each stop which was less than every five minutes more people would get in. They all were so desperate like me to get into the bus that it seemed there was no other bus during the day.

We talk about increased leg-rooms on flights and crave for exit seats. There I understood what leg-room is all about. It is the actual space on which your feet are resting and nothing more. Consider all of this with the fact that, all along the road was nearly non-existent. Heavy rains during the past fortnight had washed all that was remaining. The good part was you could not feel the bumps because the bus was so crowded.

In Madhya Pradesh, the govt has dissolved the road transport corporation. There are no State transport buses, only those licensed by it and operated by private operators. There method of operation can be well understood. I also noticed that these buses won't take school children who are returning to their villages from their schools. The reason is a government policy which establishes a reduced fare for students. If only the administration could see.

The same scene was repeated on the route from Banswara to Pratapgarh. Only this time the bus was bigger and therefore the number of passengers were more than hundred.

After seeing what actually India is and how grim the situation is, even in not-so-rural areas, I am sad that these stories are never in the news. Our news channels and newspapers are filled only with the travails of Mumbai local train passengers and the development or lack of it of the Delhi metro. Moreover nobody, not even us act on it. It would do us some good if we are aware of both sides of the India Shining picture.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


There is such a thing called Honesty- still alive in India, particularly among rickshaw drivers. People show their integrity when you least expect them to and it leaves you delighted.

I came to Indore this morning and was on my way home in a rickshaw. To begin with the rickshaw wallah did not suggest some outrageous fare. What he was offering seemed reasonable to me, so I hopped in without any haggling. When I left the auto at my barber's shop, I didn't realize that my mobile phone was left behind in the auto. It was not until that I had had my shave that it struck me.

Then began some frantic calling to my number but no one was picking the phone. I was starting to get worried, to put it mildly. But at least the fellow had not switched off the phone. My barber and I, both were calling and after sometime he answered the phone.

To my pleasant surprise, he was talking of coming to the place where he had dropped me and return the phone which he had found hidden in the space just below the seat. The fellow sounded very earnest and he asked me to have faith. Of course, at that point, it was the only thing I had.

We decided to meet at my barber's place after an hour or so and when I reached there, I was late. He had arrived before and was waiting for me. We had some heavy talk on value stuff and I thanked him profusely. I will remember that man and his philosophy for a very long time.

In the end, it does not matter how much money you have made, but are you able to face yourselves in the mirror is what counts. My mobile phone wouldn’t have been enough for that man for the rest of his life and he returned it as a matter of principle- "Sabhi rickshaw wale ek jaise nahi hote" was what he kept saying. He along with his few colleagues even had a network, so that if someone came looking for their items left behind in their rickshaws they were guided properly.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Realization of a Basic Truth

It happened over 10 days ago, but this one day will stay in my memory for a long time to come.

During the week prior to the last, it was raining cats and dogs here in Mandsaur without any respite. Power supplies were playing truant too. The power in our area went off at around eight in the evening. It turned out that the distribution transformer of our area had burned down. This spiked me to no end and when I called the office of electricity board, they nonchalantly informed me that there would be no power for the night and the transformer would get replaced if necessary only on the next day. Imagine being without electricity for one whole night.

I endured it rather bravely in my own opinion. But as soon as I was awake in the morning, I started calling the office again demanding an explanation. The image state electricity board in my mind was that of a corrupt institution stuck in 1960's both in terms of attitude and technology.

Mr. B who is the supeintendent incharge of repair works kept assuring me that they are doing their best, given the heavy rains and the submerging of the nearby low-lying areas. This bit of information gave me a whiff of what the actual situation was like. Farmers in villages were about to lose their crops and their houses were in the danger zone of floods. Some people were suffering much more than me who was only without electricity.

In the evening, still without power, I visited the site where the transformer had got burnt. About six technicians were working on restoring the power. Mr. B and his boss were also present. I started talking and he descirbed the havoc rains had caused. From the last four days, he was going to his home at about two in the morning, only to leave seven hours later. There were short circuits, equipent was getting burnt and the danger of a major breakdown loomed large with the rains giving no signs of stopping.

I also found the acute manpower shortage in the electricity board. It is not that these workers are corrupt and not working for want of a bribe which I had imagined. They were working their hearts out within the given resources. They were not wearing any kind of protection, not even raincoat and rubber gloves. There were no high rise ladders, save one and all these men were working fifteen the last four days.

I was too Howard Roarkish to believe such ground realities. I wonder how low my levels of toleration have fallen to. Who am I and what gives me the moral right to consider my problems above the life and death question of many others??


Monday, August 21, 2006

Blogging Tools & Google

Since today morning, I've been searching for the best blogging tool to write blogs and a basic profile. I've found blogspot (obviously) and the other is wordpress (see my blog on wordpress). Going by the ratings of Forbes, wordpress is the best while blogspot which is endorsed by Google is the oldest and the most popular. I have decided to play safe and will stick with blogspot.

So what if it has some issues in its beta version. Doesn't matter much if I cannot find a way for uploading pictures. Blogspot has the widest visibility and I am starting to like the layout of ts website. There is one more thing which has kept me here. It is the association of Google with blogspot.

Currently, I am reading a book about the company which is called "The Google Story". The author has tried to tell the story from the very beginning when google was a Stanford university project with just Sergey Binn and Larry Page working on it. I have been always fascinated by all things Google, be it Gmail, Picasa, Google News or simply Google of course. Then there is too; I don't know how many of you know about it. Try it. It is always fun if you try to search for words like bc and mc. (oops, can't help it!).

Coming back to the book, my opinion of it would be "informative-non-fiction-pulp". One little piece of trivia from the book- Sun in sun microsystems inc stands for Stanford University Network. So that explains "informative". Non-fiction because we all use google and etc while pulp because of the paper quality. (I am reading a pirated version). The original is priced at an outrageous Rs. 695. Not that I'd buy if it were cheaper.

Now I am going to stop and take it easy for a few hours at least.


Sunday, August 20, 2006


Today is Shabe-Meraj. The importance of this day for us lies in the history that on this day Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) ascended to the heavens and came back.

It is said metaphorically, that Rasulullah was made so close to Allah that it was as if he was within the pupil of Allah's eyes. Rasulullah descended to Masjid al-Aqsa again, having seen what was beyond the experience of ordinary mortals and returned with many gifts, one of which was the number of prayers believers would recite per day. (from

When I try to see this in the perspective of my life, I realize that there is a lot of love for us all to give and take. The 'ascending to the heavens' is reaching a state when I am able to understand and appreciate God's creation. What I am able to see now is only a fraction, the other side of the picture is hidden. In heaven, God does not make any distinction on the basis of color and caste. Who gives me the moral right to do this on earth?

Conceded the fact that ours is a secular country and we are supposed to be egalitarian in our outlook. But those cobwebs of the mind which have been there since long, will take time to clear. The sooner they do the better. This mentality manifests itself in the most subtle of forms. When I am in mosque offering prayers, I wonder what it is that I ask from God. He has been very kind to me and I wonder in what way I am different in any basic way from those who have lost their homes and business in these heavy rains. What keeps these people going is the deepest faith in The Almighty.

Coming to more mundane matters, the rains seem to have stopped and going by the opinion here, We've had enough. This is of course an understatement, sitting in the comfort of my home with a computer and broadband internet.


"When you are sorrowful look again into your heart, and you shall see that the truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight." -Kahlil Gibran

The Journey Begins

They have this saying in Chinese that "A thousand miles journey begins with the first step". So here I am, finally writing a blog. As to what I am going to write in here that is a no-brainer. The usual stuff for now.

The journey has begun in more ways than one (or has it?). Most of you who are going to read this blog understands what I am saying. So these days I am just enjoying the last days with my family before I heed off for 'further studies'.

I put the phrase under quotes because after graduating three months ago, it seems that its been a lifetime since I touched books. Consider this with the fact that Dartmouth, the place I am going to has eight libraries on campus. How is that for juxtaposition. By books, I obviously mean only the engineering course books.

Since I am talking about journeys and such, I've always felt a sense of freedom and light-headedness when I realize that wherever I am now or where I will be in future is not permanent. Change is the only constant and this somehow gives me the courage to bear it all. Even the good moments . Things change and I believe they do only for the better.

So that's it for now and a promise for regular updates.