Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I let myself be 'Conned'

Some are known 'soft touch' beings! They are trusting and are an easy prey to con men. They believe the sob stories and fork out money which sometimes they cannot even afford to give away! I am sure we all know at least one person of this type. Surprisingly they never seem to learn!

I believe that I can spot a con but in this case I dropped my guard! I was in Malleswaram when suddenly an auto driver stopped and greeted me heartily, as if he found a long lost friend!

'Have you forgotten me, I am Bhat from ****Bank' he said! While I had no dealing with this Bank, I knew a Bhat from an other Bank! I was politely trying to tell him that he was mistaken, he took my hand and shook it with a lot of friendly vigor. Reminded me of a dog wagging its tail! He looked so friendly and happy!

He continued talking, (The whole conversation was in educated Kannada!), told me that he had taken voluntary retirement six months ago, he was diabetic and his left foot was amputated due to gangrene! He was now making a living driving this auto! I felt sorry for him and hesitated to brush him off.

He then went on to tell me that his mother was being operated in Vellore for a heart condition and it would cost him Rs.60000! He said a Swamiji of his mutt and another well known personality had helped but he was falling short. He again shook my hands and said he was short of Rs.10,000, but floated a figure of Rs.3000, a smaller amount, that was really needed to save his mother's life!

I could guess by then that he was either a con or a very confused person! I believe that the counselling classes I am attending has something do with it. I wanted to believe him! I guessed that he desperately needed money and was using this ploy to collect! Still, I said I will think about it and started to move back, when he pulled up his pant to show me his bandaged amputated foot! That was a clincher! I gave him some money but not what he indicated.

I watched his face as he pocketed the money and realsied that it was a well practiced con. I bet there is no mother to be operated, but the other part of his story about working in a bank may be true!

I am reminded of my walks in Bangkok with Rikhi when he invariably would drop coins into the bowls of beggars on the street! (I do not see any in our area!). I would tell him that these beggars were part of a mafia, planted each morning! I had actually seen the operation! His reply was 'It is OK. They still need the money!'

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Just did it! I voted!

The papers have been full of BBMP election news! Yesterdays TOI urged us to vote with a headline 'It is your chance to make a difference'. Surely a lot of hype!

Today's paper said: 'Bangalore fails to make its mark again'. They were complaining about the poor turnout. Especially from the rich and the educated! I believe I did my bit and wrote to TOI!
Srinidhi Bengaluru 29/03/2010 at 08:45 am
I did make a mark! The bored booth official could not find my name on the list. He said he was not familiar with the area! Finally took the help of the candidates' reps. Walked around many tables and finally one of them helped and I voted. Good to be back after many years! An educated sr.citizen!

In any case a mark on my right finger!

I almost gave up when I discovered that my name was not on the voters list. This meant that I would not be allowed to vote and it would be a futile trip to the voting booth. But I chose to go anyhow and see how they would deal with my case. I am glad I persisted as we finally located my name on the list but there was no photograph! I thought 'Oh no! they will not permit me to vote', but luckily I was permitted to vote and I did!

I am told that I could have sold my election ID card for Rs. 500.

Some intriguing stats published in TOI:
Moola spent in 2009 on the city was Rs. 2438.21 crores! Big compared to Rs 310 crores spent in the year 2003 -04. Outlay for the current year Rs 6700 crore! Huge! No wonder people contest and money is being spent in buying votes!

Rather frightening were the estimates for number of Hyper-sensitive (1032) and Sensitive booths (1534) out of the total 6598 booths. I suppose this meant trouble in 39 percent of the booths! A reflection of the true nature of our democracy! Luckily the polling was by and large peaceful as per the reports. I guess the security men did a good job and were able to curb violence and other acts of undemocratic behavior!

My only disappointment was that I did not make it to the papers like some of the ministers and other significant citizens of Bengaluru!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I will be voting after so many years (45?) in Bengaluru BBMP elections.

(Courtsey TOI)
I was woken up from my afternoon snooze by a campaigners this afternoon. They did not come to our house with folded hands. It was the loud speakers mounted on a moving auto that woke me up! I could not hear them clearly due to the traffic noise and the honking! At the moment the weather is hotter than the campaign and as I am registered in Malleswaram, I hope no one will come knocking on our door!

The election is overdue by four years and honestly I have not really understood why. Frankly I did not try! But I know the higher courts were pushing for it and while the state governament was dragging its feet. 'It was exam time' they objected! There were the usual reports about mess in the voters list, reservation of seats and so on.

I see all the ingredients of politics is in place. Anti-social elements are in fray! A hooch queen and many history-sheeters or their wives are contesting. They are even expected to win!

Some are complaining about the costs they have already incurred! I expect that they will make it up, if elected or get bought over! “I had to give money to a few local Kannada organizations for Kannada Rajyotsava. This being the pilgrimage season to Sabarimala, there is intense demand from people in my ward to arrange vehicles. Women who want to visit Goddess Adi Parashakti in Tamil Nadu are asking me to arrange buses. Paying money to keep voters in good humour is costing me a bomb.’’ (Anil Kumar M, TNN, Dec 16, 2009)

Many contestents have declared assets which appear respectable for corporation candidates! Estimates for election expenses are Rs.2 crores per candidate while the legal limit is Rs. 5 lacs! So big money is being spent and we know where it is going to be used. It will surely be used for buying votes from vote banks!

I guess that voters in Apartment complexes where for security reasons party workers are not permitted will have no share in this :-).

Many socially concious workers are in the fray with the support of Resident Welfare Associations, independent of polictical parties. It is heartening to see that my old school mate, N. S. Ramakanth, very active in our RWA, is contesting from our area. I Wish him all the luck. We need people like him as corporators. More about him later!

I hope with my vote a conscentious corporator gets elected! I am ready to go with folded hands to meet, if he or she can assure me that the underground pedestrian crossing which is ready but is kept locked is opened! At least on weekends, when I need to cross Sampige Road at the 5th cross junction!

I would go into raptures about them if they are able to restart the swimming pool in Sheshadripuram. I learnt that all the piping and equipment were stolen and it is now in ruins. A pity as it was not even there when I was a kid!

(Looks too small, I hope when they do it up again, they are able to enlarge it! It should be possible with all the big money that is floating around!)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Taking over! Was it right?

This happened yesterday! We took an auto from Malleswaram via pipeline road and were stuck in traffic at the junction as we tried to go up to our home in Kumara Park. Pipeline road is through an area which began as jopadpatti (Hutments!) years ago!

This story, though, is about the present! We chose this narrow street as the auto driver said that the main roads were jammed due to the new malls which had recently opened. The Big Bazar and the Lifestyle malls located in Malleswarm, fairly close to each other and on perpendicular roads!

This is also not about the cupidity of the powerful! It is about a poor policeman. As I was fretting but not fuming, I saw him at one corner of the junction! He looked angry and unhappy and was cursing the drivers of scooters, autos and the whole lot of us in the choicest of Kannada, some of the words I had not heard in ages!

This policeman was of the old mold, pot bellied and not very young. (I have seen some very smart policewomen managing traffic at junctions near schools!). While I hoped that he would step in to melee and start directing the many idiots who had created the situation, he just walked away and stood at a point way beyond the traffic and started speaking into his walkie-talkie. My guess was that he was offering his resignation on the spot! He looked totally beaten!

The situation looked hopeless and we were seriously thinking of walking home. Miraculously, a gentleman appeared from somewhere, got into the epicentre of the mess and put some sense into the idiots. It was inspiring to see him as he cajoled, coaxed them very firmly. Some moved back, some went sideways yielding their hard won advantage and finally the traffic started to move. He continued with his great work all along the narrow street, walking up and down telling people to keep to their line and not get in the way of the oncoming traffic. I would love to nominate him at least for a Padmashri.

While I came home very happy, I sobered down soon as I thought about the situation. While it was a great example of taking charge, instead of just sitting there in the traffic getting frustrated, it is not a very healthy situation when there is a breakdown of order and a citizen takes over instead of the authorities. Will they wake up? I have no clue!

Will the driving public develop more sense, I am not so sure! It seems 'I am not wrong it is the rest' seems to be the general attitude of the public! Sad but true! Any experts out there who can throw light on this type of lunacy of people who drive?

I hope there are studies being made about the psyche of an Indian driver and work on it to educate them to be more human and reasonable!

(Sriram has promptly sent me this link: http://driving-india.blogspot.com/
that is a very positive sign!)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

As I go for my walks!

This has happened a number of times! An youngster who is obviously lost and is also late, asks me breathlessly; 'Where is Gullu's chat'. Earlier I had no clue, now I know. It is a 'chaat' place near our Micro park. I saw this place one evening and was surprised to see it was full of boys and girls, overflowing into the pavement along the park. Obviously a very popular meeting place. I know it is no big deal for the new generation, but for me it was a surprise!

I grew up in this, mostly middle class, locality and this scene was an impossibility in our times! I am not joking when I say that we were expected to go to the other side of the road, luckily no traffic then, to get past girls who were standing and chatting, a very rare event in itself.

I also notice that boys and girls sit together in the park! They are seen with their lap tops, class notes and are ostensibly in serious discussions. I do see occasional twosomes who appear engrossed in themselves, but the moral police would not find any fault in their behaviour!

But surprisingly, my conservatism seems to act up and I wonder if it is really OK. I worry whether they are really matched! I am talking about their religion, caste and what not! I have read stories about how while India looks liberated it is not so when you consider the middle class! That while cities may be a little tolerant, towns and villages are surely very orthodox. I suppose I could go and talk to these kids about my concerns, but have not had the courage to interfere!

Obviously I am not the only one worried, I saw this in TOI recently:

Forget political outfits, which enforce their version of culture on the youth through moral policing. Some colleges in Bangalore too are following suit and have a code of conduct for students on campus. They keep watch on the way boys and girls interact to ensure they don’t cross certain limits.

Do you approve of colleges curbing interaction among students?

Resident Editor, The Times of India, Bangalore


A comment from a parent!

"As a parent, and I am sure that there are not too many who would have responded to this article, being too busy at work, earning to pay for their offsprings education.

Keeping the viewpoint of morals aside, not many would appriciate their child being involved in an on campus romance at the cost of their education, when these parents have selflessly sacrificed themselves from the first day of their child' schooling to the last day of their College. In the only hope that their Child would secure himself or herslf a good future. "