Sunday, May 17, 2009

18 times and That's a FACHT !

At Anfield 1993-94

At Old Trafford, 2008-09.

May 16th 2009. Liverpool were finally knocked off their perch. A red letter day for every Red- Devil fan.

Pics Courtesy : MK, a friend of mine from Orkut.

Joke .. Sabh aa ..

The Great Indian Laughter Challenge, I thought was restricted to Star TV. But I was mistaken. This is the first time I'm following the Indian Elections seriously, and what a laughter riot I witnessed ! Promises galore. Accusations aplenty. And what not !

People were lamenting about the lack of Bollywood movies in the theatres due to the Multiplex saga and not any worthwhile Kollywood movies releasing due to the elections. But what else do you need when you have a masala movie of the best quality in your hands, right in your homes, replete with punch dialogues and what-not !

'Leaders' get ready with excuses even before the elections are done, lamenting the use of Money, not that money wasn't used, money flowed like water throughout the elections. The Black Money in the Indian market could be seen in full flow. Rs.56000 crore was spent totally for the elections according to few websites ! Woah ! Ask the parties to spend for the development programs, no one does. They come from door to door asking for votes with pages and pamphlets. But once the elections are over, the settle into their cosy air-conditioned homes while the people sweat it out in the sun, without any proper facilities.

The people taking money and voting for parties should think for a moment or two if they are doing the right thing. The 2k or 3k they get would do for a month or at the maximum, two months. But after that ? They'll have to suffer under the 'leader' they voted to the Joke Sabha ! He'll promise to be easily accessible but would become as accessible as the surface of the moon is to a common man or even worser.

Cant the election process be refined? So many of the recently elected MPs have criminal records. We have people who should be in jail, 'debating' the policies of our country. Ages back, people who've been to jail were allowed to contest an election because most of our freedom fighters had been jailed sometime in the course of the freedom struggle. But these corrupt oppurtunists of today aint freedom fighters, are they ? Why do we need such leaders ?

Most of the promises come with a * on the top, just like the ads in newspapers and TV. Rich become richer, poor become poorer is the norm of the country. The politicians with their ever bulging pockets, jump from one alliance to another without any bit of scruples. Last election, they'd have spoken against the same party. This time, they'll praise them to cloud nine and badmouth their previous ally ! Some parties exist just for the sake of power. Like the PMK, till now. They keep jumping to the side which seems like winning and exist in politics with the money bags that are passed beneath the table.

Every promise from one side is bettered by the opposite leader. TVs says one, Laptops says the other. Rice at Rs.2 says one, Rice at Rs. 1 says the other. All this at the cost of the common tax-payer who gets no benefit what-so-ever from this ! And even with all this, the ration shop guy sells half the stock to private shops at a price of his choice and makes some money for his own pockets as well. Half the time, the ration shop says there are no stocks. What happens to all the stock he's supposed to receive according to the need, only he knows.

Power holiday takes an off for the time being. Tamil Nadu suddenly is able to get it's requisite power. How ? Only one person can answer that question, but the whole state knows, he'll just skirt over it. Bus fares are reduced. And the government insists they've not reduced it, only brought it back to the same situation as it was in the ADMK government. I mean, WTF ! Atleast half the populace is educated and can see through this. EC is a blind ally to all this and just asks the government to call back the changes.

I know of people in Velachery who contacted Naresh Gupta and complained that money is being distributed. Apparently he is reported to have said "I cannot do anything" in Tamilnadu. Says Chinmayi in her blog. Woah. So much for ECI being a separate body, away from any political party and stuff. :-(. Sad scenario.

Voting, was a big fracas. The mock poll which is supposed to be conducted before 7 am, was conducted at 7-30 am in the booth where I voted, with a huge queue of people waiting to vote. Suddenly one of the machines in the booth stops working and there is huge chaos. One guy says 49-0 sir. The polling officer asks, What do you mean sir. Nothing like that is there in the voting machine. Instead of all this confusion, why cant they make things easier for them by having a 'None of the above' option in the EVM itself. It's not going to make things too diificult for them, is it? When they can have 43 options like it happened in South Chennai, one more option isn't going to cost them much ! The guy who is supposed to mark with the indelible ink himself doesn't know which finger he is supposed to mark it on. So much for all those photos staring out right in front of him, showing the finger on which it is supposed to be done. And beyond all this, the biggest comedy is that the polling officer is too lazy to search the name in the electoral rolls and wants the 'slip' given by the political parties with the name of the voter and address and stuff for easy reference. Cant they make the rolls a bit more search friendly, listing it address wise or something ? The biggest joke was when the polling officer said he was waiting for the agents of all the 43 candidates to turn up before polling started ! They have a joke of a room with 5 people related with the election process sitting on the tables. In the remaining small part of the room, the polling officer wants to accomodate 43 guys !

But then voting was a unique feeling, where you can determine your so called leader. Well, guess I was with the majority. First time lucky, the guy I voted for won. :-).

Evening of May 13th made it look like the TV channels were so desperate for publishing their Exit Poll results. So much that most of them started dot at the time when the ban was lifted by the EC. And the so called experts started spouting their wisdom all over the place. But in the end, hardly any one got it right. Why waste money on such stupid things when you'd know the actual results in a day or two at the max !

Counting day was as usual, fun, especially in TN. With each party having it's own TV channel, the people were left with a wide variety of election results to follow. With each channel insisting it's party was the one in the lead, the people dint know what to believe. The national channels were no better. NDTV and CNN-IBN's website showed different tallies. Even different leaders at times. It was laughable really. NDTV's website showed, at a point of time that Vijaykant's DMDK had won two seats (Tiruvallur and Salem) when it had won nothing ! And it showed the SP leading in Thiruvannamalai when it has no sort of presence even, in TN ! ADMK was said to have won Kanchipuram when the reverse happened.

Chidambaram was another issue totally. NDTV even showed on it's homepage that he'd lost and stuff. And suddenly there's a recount and the guy's 3000+ vote deficit becomes a 3000+ lead for him ! Wow ! I wonder what went on behind the scenes there. Some evening papers had even published that he'd been defeated and then this ! One first-time candidate gives an interview before the polls saying he'll win by such a margin. He finally managed a win by around half the margin. Probably, half his 'now-rich' supporters ditched him in the end.

Democracy went dead almost everywhere. Money was rampant, and in the end, money and muscle power prevailed, at least here in TN.

I hate the Local alliance of the Congress but prefer it at the centre than LKA and NM with their extremist policies. Who can imagine how the country would be with their Hindutva policies ! Somehow, Manmohan Singh, P.Chidambaram, Montek Singh Ahluwalia seem a much better proposition to me than NDA. Waiting for the day, Rahul Gandhi jumps into Prime-Minister candidate fray.

Till then, all I can do is to watch Laloo crack his one liner jokes while presenting the budget, boasting about having made Railways 'profitable', wholesale corruption and Tatkal coaches etc etc etc.

PS: As with the title, it was just a take on Lok Sabha. Joke Sabh aa .. Meaning Joke, everyone come. (For those who cant understand Hindi). Lok Sabha is more of a joke with highly intellectual discussions involving the policies of the country by people, some of whom haven't even completed schooling. Cant they have some sort of discipline code so that they can prevent chair lifting and hitting each other and stuff ! They are supposed to be our 'leaders' for heaven's sake.

And cant there be some 75% attendance compulsary or such stuff in the parliament too ? :-P. Was just reading an article about dismal attendance and participation rates of MPs.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The face of Corrupt India

Laloo Prasad promised that he'd be removing all the side middle berths on trains, well, quoting him, they'd be phased out, as a new year gift to the people. And this was more than a month back. But then, I discovered that the side middle berths have still not been removed on most trains.

While coming home from college on TN Sampark Kranti, I got into an argument with the TTE who says that they have not received any information on the removal of side middle berths. IRCTC doesn't allow booking of Side Middle Berth tickets. (Who would want to book one in the first place!). Not does the booking office allow because the chart on the train doesn't show any allocation for them. But for the TTE, extra berths mean extra money.

Each TTE is incharge for about 4-5 coaches at the least and for each he collects say close to Rs. 600/-, to get the ticket confirmed, all of which goes to his own pocket. It all works out to around Rs. 20000/- or more per train journey for the TTE. Whoa ! Talk about making quick bucks.

People are happy that they have a place to sleep and the TTE is happy that he has extra bucks in his pocket and no one complains except the passengers in the coach for whom it is a big inconvenience, both in terms of sitting space and luggage space. Previously atleast, the money went to the government, but now it all goes into the pockets of the many corrupt TTEs on the trains. They behave as if they know everything and as if passengers are fools. Poor people book their tickets a month or even more in advance to get a berth of their preference and then on the train, the TTE changes all the allocations according to his whims and fancies and passengers who booked tickets 3 months back get alloted a side middle berth and people who pay the money to the TTE on the coach get alloted a comfortable lower or upper berth. So much for RTI and anti-corruption!

PS: Long time since I ranted about something and felt like ranting. So this post.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

From Indoor to Indore

Well. I just saw that my last post was on Jan 1st. And today is May 3rd which makes it 4 months without blogging. My longest hiatus without blogging since I started off.

4th semester in college passed on well. Not without it's share of fun and tears though. I visited Indore and Pune during the semester. Both very memorable trips, just for the fact that we'd not planned anything at all. Dont know what to blog about. So this post will just be a small synopsis of what all I did during my 4 months of hibernation. :-).

Left to college after Pongal, after bunking the first week of college and the very 'strict' college regulations on attendance meant I couldn't bunk too many classes after that. Not that we had too many classes to attend. Economics was a permanent holiday. And no comments about the other subjects. :-p. And the tremendous workload we have in college meant I hardly had any breathing space to blog at all. :-p. And we were so worked up with college that after two weeks of existance in Bhopal, we ran off at the first oppurtunity we had, Jan 26th. The first 'Official Holiday' of the year. ( Unofficial Holidays = 365 - No. of official Holidays).

Too pissed of with Hostel food, we all wanted a change. One day holiday meant we couldn't go too far. Sanchi, Indore, Bhimbetka, Bhojpur remained our meaningful options. Sanchi with it's awesome restaurant options and transport facilities (In MP, the passengers dont wait for the buses. The buses wait for you at the bus stops, resulting in a delay of a couple of hours for a 45 minute journey.) was not a viable option. And after ruling out the others cos we'd set our sights on Indore, and needed to eliminate other options, we set off. The train was at 10 pm according to IRCTC and by 8-45 pm, all of us had got into the bathrooms to take out baths. then followed a period of madness after which we reached Bhopal Jn finally, to find out that the train would be late by an hour. (Bhopal Jn was the starting point for the train actually and it started an hour and a half late, from there only. Indian Stretchable Time as they say is what Railways run according to)

Getting seats in the train wasn't all that tough. Just that a cellphone was lost in the melee. The train journey was fun. When you are the only people who know the language in the surrounding, it's real fun commenting about every one around and laughing at the fullest volume which decency permits. Incident to remember on the train : A baby peeing into one of the guy's heads. We were all rolling around laughing seriously. One of the guys who was travelling with us started 'enquiring' about Rajinikanth.

Travelling in General was a new experience. General travel in TN isn't the same as general travel in MP. The levels of decency maintained here are so so much higher. There, sitting in the compartment, we were scared that a huge fight would break out when the guys inside locked up the coach from inside when the train reached any station, thus not allowing anyone from outside to enter the coach from outside. The outsiders, not to be dettered, kept banging the door so much and shouted expletives of all kinds. And for the first time I saw footboard travel on a train. The men and women (believe it or not, even women), kept hanging from the door from outside on the train. Beyond a point, the people inside, opened the door in pity.

We did manage to get a snap as well. And at times, in the freezing cold, they hung around for real long distances even. And of course, the usual experience of sharing your seat with another three people. Against the usual capacity of 10, 25 people or more occupy each row of the compartment. And most of them without tickets. If only Laloo manages to convince a ticket collector to get into unreserved coaches, it'd be a Gold mine for the Railways. ( For exceeding the platform ticket duration by half an hour, I was asked to pay a fine of Rs.300. Imagine the amount of fines for ticket less travel.). But just the minor problem of the Ticket Collector not having any space in the compartment. During the journey, I was reminded of this dialogue by Manobala in ATM .. 100 peru travel panna vendiya compartment la 100000 peru travel pannuvaanga. Neengalum poy ukkandhukonga. How apt it was.

Finally we managed to reach Indore alive at 4 in the morning and were fleeced by two auto-drivers who said they'd take us to a hotel and instead gave us a mini tour of the city before we finally managed to understand their intentions and brought an end to it. They took us to all the occupied hotels in the city and finally, we ourselves used our brains and managed to find a cheap and decent looking hotel, where the owner let us in with suspicious looks. ;-).

A half sleep and a bath later, we were off to this hotel called Guru Kripa. My Indori friends said it was a very good hotel but there was nothing impressive about it except the ambience, and the handwash.

The pic is the 'handwash' in question. The hotel didn't have even mineral water or Cold Drinks. Tissue paper had to bought from outside after we asked for it. The food wasn't too good either. Probably the hotel woke up only after we entered it.

We then took this taxi to show us around the City. Not much was there to be seen. We went to this Ganesh Mandir, which was really serene. And Kaanch Mandir, which was totally made of glass, right from the steps to the ceiling.

Lunch was at McD in Treasure Island which is as good as some of our Chennai Malls if not better. It was an awesome experience window shopping there (due to budget constraints). The Scary House at the top, though not very scary.

It was just very dark and once your eyes got used to the darkness, you could actually have a lot of fun scaring the others and shouting around for fun. :-). We had loads of fun mocking at the kinds of dresses on show and the astronomical rates for everything. A simple hair band cost 75 Rs in Pantaloons. And a baby's slipper, Rs. 750. We had this crazy idea of taking a dress to the trial room, all of us wearing it, getting a photograph with us wearing it and then leaving the place. :-p.

We dint have much time left after the long ordeal at Treasure Island. We had only enough time to have dinner and then go to the station to catch the train. Sarafa, it was for dinner. The whole area was full of chat shops. Was a nice experience eating there. :-).

Back to the station we came, and the train rolled in late and by the time we managed to trundle into the coach, every inch of space that could possibly be occupied by humans was already occupied. And we'd to fight to get a couple of inches space on the upper berth where we managed to position ourselves precariously. By the time a couple of hours passed, my back was dead, seriously dead. It was the most wonderful feeling in the world when we finally got off the train early on 27th morning at Bhopal Jn. I could finally bend my back a bit.

Back we came to the hostel and my usually uninviting bed was so so inviting and off I went to sleep, and I'm going to do the same now too. :-).

PS: I'm looking for a new name for my blog. Suggestions are welcome. More posts coming soon. :)

I'm Back

Well. Long time since I logged on to Blogger even. Too many problems came at the same time. First a writers block. Then exams. Then trips here and there. Then a hard-disk crash on my laptop. Then exams again. And now finally, I'm back to Chennai and back to blogging under the comfort of home. :-). Hoping to be regular from now on.