Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It is all about perception!

Sashi Tharoor is in the news or should I say was news! While he is no more making the front pages, he is trying his best. Latest is that he is asking for a thorough investigation of the Kochi affair. We all know he is very smart with a long track record with the UN. But I hope he is doing the right thing.

He still maintains that what he and his 'J' did was just incorruptible mentoring! But, as I have learnt, it is all about perceptions! Reminds me of my own experiences. Mine was with the police not politicians!

A few times I have strayed by mistake into a one way street, a very common occurrence in Bengaluru! Experienced drivers seem know when the cops are not around to catch and fine them! Even school kids help by warning these errant drivers about cops hiding behind a tree ahead of them. Once I saw a lady driver, who heeded this warning, backing out of the one way street under the benevolent eyes of the cops ! I thought it was very chivalrous of them! It would have been easier on others if they had just let her go thru! Happily even I have escaped being fined a few times by acting confused, which I was, and contrite!

But I also had to pay a couple of times. Once I was taken in by the cop. I stopped at the junction as I was not sure which way to go. May be I was a yard beyond the line, but still within acceptable limits. The cop ahead made a sign and I thought he was allowing me to pass. As I neared him, he stopped me and fined me. They have blackberries to do this job!

I protested saying that it was not fair as he could have just asked me to turn left! But he was not in a mood to listen. Then I noticed that there were more of them on duty including a sub-inspector a little away on a motorbike. Which meant it was a collection day and there was no hope of mercy! Anyway my cop appeared to be a new recruit and I was probably his first Bhakra! (Victim). He looked very thrilled!

The other day, I was fined again and it was the day Sashi Tharoor offered to resign. It happened this way! As I just crossed the line at the junction the traffic light changed and I slowed down a bit and then thinking that as I had already crossed the line, I could go through! Wrong!

As I turned right I saw a horde of policemen hiding behind the pillars of the flyover and I was stopped! I tried to tell them I would have created more problems by stopping! I think they understood that but it was again a collection day and I paid up!

What did me in was the slight hesitation! It was an admission of my guilt according to the cop. He said that I definitely had jumped the light. 'I saw you slow down and then speed up to jump the red light'! 'Not expected of a senior citizen' he added! It was at this moment I realised that I was being as naive as our friend ST! The priorities are very different here, when we deal with either policemen or politicians!

In fact, I was very surprised at Tharoor's very smooth and successful return to India. I guess even the congress party leaders went naive! As any NRI knows, especially when trying to come back to contribute their expertise (Not money!) the path is not that smooth!

We are told frankly that our experience abroad has no meaning here.In fact, they may be counter productive! A typical NRI who is hired to work here has to go through a period of total reconditioning before he is vested with any real responsibility!

Anyway I have high hopes for Sashi, I am sure he will bounce back and do good in the long term! Our only hope of creating a Ramrajya in India is to people politics with persons who have values, which is at the moment is full of the other types. More of Ravanas and Shurpankas, people who play negative roles, as to day there are no villains!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Irritations and Contradictions?

My morning irritant:
Often a car is parked in front of the gate blocking my exit. I cannot go into a ' Road Rage', the much talked about Bengaluru phenomenon! I am not even out of the gate yet and anyway the driver is not there to vent my spleen!

Once it was our neighbour, he was luckily at home, came quickly to clear my way. While he sounded a little apologetic, his comment was typical! He said that he felt there was enough space. Implying that I lacked skills. I was so surprised that I failed to make a quick repartee! I have to practice some good ones to be used in future!'Not surprisingly' most offending cars are owner driven.
The white car had stickers of two club memberships! Fortunately I had to wait for only ten minutes as the driver had gone to a nearby shop. He was profusely apologetic after being caught!

Not all of them are polite. They act as if I am being unnecessarily fussy! We have the usual no parking sign on the gate, donated by some company or other! Once Ram even placed a polite note on one car which was parked in spite of this. I am racking my brain to think of a notice which will really work! Hope I succeed.

I remember that in Bangkok, esp in the narrower Sois, red cones or barriers are placed to stop others from parking. I guess it will be stolen here or moved to the side. I understand legally we have no claim to the place right in front of our home.

This did not trouble me as I had walked to a music concert nearby. But it still kept me from sleeping at night for a while . I have seen this Honda van moving about in the locality. I am sure it is going to be parked again and I plan to show my irritation the next time I catch him! The car has Tamil Nadu registration and all my 'Kannada' prejudices have acted up! Not strange as while we speak a brand of tamil at home, I am a Kannidaga first and storngly believe it is the others who are the problem!

I saw this poster at a shop window:
Good advice! The only contradiction was that the shop was in one of the air conditioned malls!

It is such people who have made a difference.

This is a picture of a dhobi ghat! People here have been practicing the advice given by the poster for a long time! I don't think that they have the time to stroll in malls and look at posters! The clothes are manually washed and dried in the sun.(I must go and see what they do in the rainy season though!)

This takes me to a source of irritation and contradiction at home. I do not want my T- shirts and cotton shorts and jeans to be ironed. It is my way of saving energy and reduce global ( esp Bangalore!) warming. Have not fully succeeded as I see that they still get ironed, argument being I cannot wear such crumpled T- shirts and shorts for golf! I am in a dilemma here! I recall as kids we used to smoothen our clothes before hanging them for drying and place neatly folded clothes under the beds to give them an ironed look. Must try it out again! Anyway I was too lazy then to get the coal fired iron started!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Coonoor via Ooty

We went on a short holiday with Raji and Lakshmi. Raji's sister Sandhya and Dr. Raman also joined. Our aim was to visit a place to walk and relax. Breathing fresh air was also a requirement. Lakshmi found us the ideal location. Coonoor is surely the best place to go in April! (I like the number of o's!)

We had a very relaxed holiday! Walked to and in the exotic Sim's park in the morning. On return had a very sumptuous breakfast, consisting of idli, vada and dosa, all very good! If I had to choose I would say idlies were amazing! (It is my way of defining a trip; with food!)

Ventured out for a drive to ooty after our brunch and promptly returned to play a game of cards! Ooty was crowded beyond belief!
Weather was just perfect for cards. The game was abondoned after a while as we noticed many cars parked on the hill ahead and above the house. The staff of the house we were staying at suggested we go up and see. A cheetah (or a tiger?) was sighted a couple of days ago!
The cheetah was sighted sunning itself on the rock above. It must have been an amazing sight for the lucky few!
As we waited; Tara looking worried, probably hoping that we were at a safe distance, Raman adjusting his specs to get a clearer view. I don't know why Lakshmi was standing back! Raji not in the picture, was probably standing ahead of us. (I am sure she was not hiding in the car!) Sandhya as the Principal of a school had the body language which says 'Better come out fast or you are in trouble!' Unfortunately for us, the cheetah had a reason for not appearing! Earlier it was sighted sunning itself on the rock. The day we were there was clouded and there was also a slight drizzle!
As we waited I sighted this beautiful flower! Some compensation as we gave up after a while and returned!

Our gracious hosts, Dr. Ravi and Sabeena Prakash have a beautiful home! While they were not home at the time of our visit, they kept calling Lakshmi and Raji on the phone to make sure that we were well taken care of and were comfortable! The pleasant and devoted staff were perfect! Raji remarked that the house was in really a beautiful location as can be seen from the pictures below:

I had forgotten my camera and this picture of the driveway is courtsey Raman. My pictures are from my cell phone!
This view was from our bedroom! The girls were busy plucking tea leaves but the music which accompanies such a scene was missing!

We retired after dinner to play a game of scrabbles and word building. Tara cannot sleep unless she plays a game of scrabbles! (Picture: Raman)

Sim's park which was started in 1874 is worth many visits. It is mostly natural and has many exoctic trees from many places of the world.
Hope you notice the people feeding fish from the bridge.
The Tamilnadu brochure recommends a leisurely walk in the park. But Lakshmi thinks differently and that is his style. Raji is not far behind!
Tara is seen taking a walk and I guess she is also practicing her singing!

The trees are tall and beautiful.
This is an unusual tree. Called 'Elephant Leg tree' by the locals! It has also an unpronounceable botanical name as well!
I can call this only in India. The dustbin can be reached easily from the seat! I saw a bird sitting on top and it flew away before I could get a picture!
This again is typical. No one follows notices and the management has an ugly fence around it!
There was a land slide a few months ago and many trees fell!

While it looks dramatic, there is a lesson for us! More than hundred years of work was destroyed in one day!