Monday, August 30, 2010

In fond memory of their mothers: Part One

(I am trying something new! Uploading a video is pretty simple, except the inconsistent Internet speeds are frustrating! Add to it the power cuts which happen when almost 90% of uploading is done. Also a blog allows only small clips to be uploaded. Playing it back is also painful with the Internet connection prevalent here!

My bigger challenge was to make small clips out of the full length DVD. My tech savvy childhood friend Narsimha helped, no big deal for the youngsters, but it felt good dealing with the system at my age! Hope you like it! Anyway it is meant for our music loving friends and relatives. As I started uploading I realised it is better to make it into two parts.)

Tara and Vatsala performed in a concert of Hindustani vocal music for a group of invited friends and relatives. The program was dedicated to their mothers' memory.

Here is part one which deals with Tara's portion the concert.

Tara with her mother; Padma Garudachar.

Raji Narayan as the emcee spoke very lovingly of amma.
A small piece of Raghuveera Gadyam, which illustrates the power of amma's voice and the clarity of her diction at her age of 78.
Raji spoke very affectionately about Tara and her accomplishments!

The clips give you an idea about the music. Too happy to make a copy of the full length DVD for anyone interested!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I find this ADB report a bit dubious!

TOI had this report from Rukmini Shrinivasan - Times Insight Group.

NEW DELHI: Despite its shaky empirical foundations, the myth of the Great Indian Middle Class persists. A new Asian Development Bank report lauds the rise of the Indian middle class and projects it as the engine of global growth. However, according to the definition used in the report itself, the vast majority of this middle class earns between Rs 1,000 and Rs 2,000 per person per month. Only 0.0009% of Indians earn more than Rs 10,000 per month.

The ADB's Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2010 report released this week has a special chapter on the Rise of Asia's Middle Classes. Projecting that the Asian middle class will dominate the next two decades (including crossing a billion in India alone by 2030), the report says that Asia's emerging consumers are likely to assume the traditional role of the US and European middle classes as global consumers, and to play a key role in rebalancing the world's economy.

However, the definitions used to arrive at such conclusions scarcely fit with the traditional definition of the middle class, as those who have not inherited wealth, hold regular jobs and enjoy a degree of financial security that allows them to consume and save and support the maintenance of law and order. The ADB report defines the middle class as those earning between $2 and $20 per person per day, measured in international dollars, ie adjusted for purchasing power parity. The ADB does add further nuance by splitting the middle class into three sub-sections: lower middle class ($2 - $4), middle middle ($4 - $10) and upper middle ($10 - $20).

The vast majority of the Indian middle class 82% of it, or 224 million people - however, fit into the first category. Since $1 PPP is Rs 17.256, this means that the vast majority of the Indian middle class earns between Rs 1035 and Rs 2070.

The ADB report shows that middle-class Indians systematically define themselves as poorer than they actually are in surveys. Even by this fairly stingy definition, in all of developing Asia, only Uzbekistan, Lao, Nepal and Bangladesh have a middle class that is a smaller proportion of the total population than in India. China's middle class is 63% of its population, Sri Lanka's 59% and Pakistan's 40%.

The table which is on the printed version:
Poor (Rs 1035 per person per month) ----825 million
Lower Middle Class (Rs 1035 -Rs 2070)---224 million
Middle Middle Class (Rs 2070 - Rs 5177)---45 million
Upper Middle Class (Rs 5177- Rs10,354) ---5 million
RICH (Rs 10354--) ---1 milion--Something is totally amiss here!
Only good news is that there is no one below poverty line (BPL)
HOw did this happen I wonder!

There were a few comments on the web edition of the report which rightly ridiculed this report. Then there is a comment from one Rajiv from Toranto: the ADB report is based on consumption per day, not income and that too on PPP basis. I hope some one will clarify.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Ramola set me thinking!

Ramola disagreed with my idea and sent me this link !
She was Rohini's class mate at J J School of Architecture and is now a PhD candidate in Urban and Regional Planning at the London School of Economics and an Adjunct Professor at the Centre for Development Management, Asian Institute of Management, Manila.

Home Zones

A home zone is a street or group of streets where pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles share the space on equal terms, with cars travelling at little more than walking pace. Home zones subvert the traditional distinction between carriageway and footway. They conceive and define the street as a valuable part of the local community's living space. So whilst in the UK home zones are primarily being promoted as ‘traffic management' projects, they are by definition projects that require a significant programme of community involvement and participation.

UK home zones have been inspired by Dutch woonerf [translates as ‘living yard']. Typically, awoonerf combines shared surfaces, trees, planters and parked cars along with seating, artwork and / or children's play areas to create a street-space so unlike a traditional street that vehicle speeds are significantly reduced by the instinctive, behavioural change in drivers. With vehicles travelling at low speeds, all users are able to establish eye contact and negotiate with one another.

Home zones embody the design principles of safety through uncertainty, whereby an absence of priority along with short driver sight-lines, social activity and a lack of clarity regarding vehicle routes, significantly reduce vehicle speeds. The application of these principles need not be limited to the residential situation: in northern Europe they have been successfully applied to shopping areas and public squares and spaces.

Since 2000 Sustrans has actively been researching and promoting home zones. From 2002-05,Sustrans worked in partnership with Bristol City Council on the Dings home zone in Bristol as part of the Vivaldi project. The Dings project demonstrated how community involvement can enhance street improvement schemes and help to ensure significant support for controversial transport initiatives. The home zone in the Dings has not only created a safer and more pleasant environment to live in but also encouraged residents to use their street for social gatherings and outdoor play, therefore creating a stronger sense of community spirit within the area.

The Streets for Living initiative in Swindon was delivered with the support of Sustrans, addresses anti-social speeding traffic and a high turnover of residents in areas which lack community engagement.

Sustrans continues to work with a number of partners, including the Children's Play Council and the Campaign for Better Transport, to encourage the development of home zones in the UK, both in existing communities and in new housing developments.

Before and after:

This road appears to be a good place to start ! There are many such residential areas which could benefit.

The website gives us a concept which if we could adapt and implement, could be an answer to many more of my serious grievances! Two wheelers speeding with their engines revved up. The continuous unnecessary honking at all times. Dangerous driving by many 2 wheelers, autos, delivery vans and also the cars!

It will surely encourage children to play again on the streets. I would love to see our kids come out and play. They are missing from our surroundings, as are the sparrows. It is only in gated communities are children free to run around and play.

This reminds me of another upsetting feature of our urban growth. (I am now becoming greedy!) Lack of play grounds, not play area, for the young adults! It feels terrible to see the condition and the size of playgrounds in our locality. I grew up in this area and we had a lot more space to play. We had the whole of Gaffar Khan maidan (Hopefully still known by the that name!) and many stretches of open spaces around our house.

But as we grew, we had a glimpse of what the future held for us! We would clear an area for cricket and a week later, the foundation stones and bricks would arrive at our grounds, totally frustrating us. Even though more and more houses were built, we still had the streets for ourselves and we preferred it, as the road surface was much better for our tennis ball cricket.

Here is how the play ground in G K maidan near Sheshadripuram High School appears now! About only 15% of the original play ground is now available for kids. Rest was stolen from them for a market, a post office, a temple and many more. Also a park which is closed during school hours, keeping the kids out!

In my time we had a very nice volley ball court where state level tournaments were held. Couple of ball badminton courts and a few cricket pitches. For some reason we stopped playing real cricket and played only tennis ball cricket. I guess it was more an economic reason.

This is next to the Gandhinagar school. In out times it was known to be a very good school. Hope it still is. The ground is just right for a Basket Ball court. I hope it gets made.

Below are some of the buildings in our GK maidan. All of them were built after I moved out 46 years ago.

The swimming pool, closed after thieves stole all the water treatment equipment!
A corporation run clinic which seems totally shut!
It was a relief to see this! Probably the best maintained among the lot. Surprisingly I saw kids peeing on the walls of their playground. Old habits surely die hard!

My school which was rather small has grown into a very big institution. But I see no sports facility. The open quadrangle could house some sports activity, but did not see any!
The school and the park opposite.The park is closed during school hours. Obviously there is a fear that the students will behave irresponsibly! A sad reflection on our students and in turn our schools.

I feel it is now time to introduce a blog from which I have borrowed these picture of a village school, as I was impressed with the space provided there for the children. Varsha, an artist, is a dear friend of ours and her blog about the project she is intiated is worth a visit.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I have a brilliant idea!

I have been moaning about the lack of concern for us pedestrians! To be realistic I know that nothing will be done! We are a low priority item in any case! May be nothing can be done with the way the city has developed both physically and morally.

I imagine a conversation with my well wishers would go this way! 'Why don't you take your car to the park?' and if I reply 'I can't find parking!' I will be told 'Hire a driver! He will find a way.'

This is what my friend Mouli did when he was almost knocked over by an adrenaline rushed young man driving his father's car early in the morning. You would expect an apology from the guy, considering that it was Koramangala, a prime locality! Instead he was admonished by a shout 'Stay home old man!' as the brute of a boy quickly reversed and swung away! The punya ('Merit') that Mouli had collected as a teacher must have saved him!

We all know that our roads are poorly designed, with too many crossings, except in some posh areas of the city. I had read that a corporator or a minister (I am not sure!) had a brilliant idea of creating parking lots, stealing space from the sports grounds reserved for children. I was glad to read later that the courts upheld a public interest litigation and quashed this idiotic proposal! Now you know that the asura's (devils), in spite of the heroic efforts of God Rama, are all still there in many guises. Who but a rakshasa would steal from a child!

Trying to be proactive, I kept thinking of ways of creating parking spaces for the ever increasing vehicle population. Then it suddenly occurred to me! 'Get rid of all footpaths!'

It is not as stupid as it sounds! Primarily sidewalks are not designed with the pedestrian in mind. We will never see a person on a motorised wheel chair, cruising on these footpaths without help. Such people are jailed at home or an young servant or a poor relative is literally chained to them to take care of their needs. A pity as many of them would be active and independent in a civilized and developed country!

Anyway, more importantly, no one uses the footpaths. They are poorly designed and made, except of course at important places, and users are actually at risk. If you walk around our locality, you will be amazed to see the variety of footpaths your feet encounters. If you ask someone to take a census, they may find taking a census of castes much easier!

Here is my evidence, no one uses this footpath. It is reasonably well made, except that the landlord has modified it to suit his needs.
A rare but all to brief example of a good footpath!
This is more typical! No clue what this landowner plans to do. Try walking on the sloping border!
It is an illusion to think that footpaths are for pedestrians only. Actually they have the last priority!
She thinks she is safe as she is facing the oncoming traffic! Luckily it is early in the morning.
Eureka! So here is MY suggestion!

Remove all footpaths, extend the tar road to the walls and mark a two feet path for pedestrians to use! FINE them if they stray! Why not! They don't pay Road Tax like the vehicle owners!

I guarantee it will free a lot more space for cars to be parked and traffic will be a lot smoother! Possibly there will be more accidents! Then of course you can add speed breakers, road dividers! Only way to control the unruly lot of drivers!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Down the 'soccer' memory lane in Bombay!

As I watched the world cup finals between Spain and Netherlands I felt that watching my cousin Prasad and friends Anantram and others playing for Matunga Athletic Club was more enjoyable and commented about it in my blog! And when Prakash, a football aficionado, concurred with me, it felt good. My feelings were not just loyalty!

Finding no mention of MAC anywhere on the web, I approached Prakash:
' Hi Prakash: I was trying to get some material about MAC thru the net! Obviously it was well known only during the pre-internet days. I guess your memory would take care of this lapse! How about giving me your story? It will be fun to talk about them after 50 years or so, I think it will be a good addition to our soccer history, of which very little is written!'

Nice of him to respond promptly and it did not surprise me that he had such a good recall about those days! He has a phenomenal memory! Here is his story:

A good idea to write about something which lives only in the memory of those who were part of it and those who were fortunate to have been spectators around that time. The numbers of all these are sadly depleting as time goes by.

I will give what I can recall from my perspective as a spectator. Probably Prasad and others like the ex_India goalkeeper S.S.Narayan (Babu) can give more exact idea as to when MAC started its initial years and the highlights.

My earliest memory was seeing K.P. coaching a group of about 15-20 boys on an empty plot of land beside Amulakh Amichand School (R.A.Kidwai Road) just below where the harbour line train to/from Wadala to King's Circle used to pass. This was if I recall correctly about 1954 (I was only 10 at that time). All those who were being coached were Tamils and K.P. was using only Tamil and I could not even understand what he used to say.

However, I remember seeing all the boys standing in a circle about 40 Metres in diameter with K.P. in the centre and he would give the ball to one and have them passing the ball to his directions and the accent was on 'trapping' the ball and passing immediately thereafter along the ground with accuracy.

The passing would be alternated between both feet. A torrent of abuse would usually follow if anyone 'passed' in the air. This would be followed by passing through 'headers'. Then there would be groups of 3 boys who would be forwards going against 3 defenders and here again they were expected to pass the ball among themselves without having the defenders getting a touch on the ball.

I recall seeing Prasad, Ananthram, R.P.Narayan, M.K.Shanker, Babu Narayan and the youngest a kid named L.L.Mayurnathan who later became M.Rajan.(Babu Narayan was playing for Tata's but he was coming to support K.P. as I recall)

MAC was like many football teams of that time without their own 'club' or ground and was registered probably at K.P.'s residence. Football from high school level upwards in Bombay of those days was being actively supported and promoted by 2 people - Fr. Sean Mcferran of Don Bosco and K.Ziauddin of Anjuman-e-Islam. Ziauddin went on to head Bombay's Football Leagues and also became an office bearer (Hon.Secretary) of the All India Football Federation.

I have digressed from MAC because it was these sort of guys who allowed MAC to join the lower leagues of Bombay's Football playing at St.Xavier's Gymkhana ground at Parel. Fr.Mcferran was the one who allowed MAC to practice in the Don Bosco School grounds. Their practice pitch was bang in front of my house and I would see them from my balcony, sitting on the School wall or from the ground itself.

They used to have practice matches on the main soccer pitch with various teams. I have a recollection of one of their matches around 1958 or 1959 with Caltex who were a First Division team. The reason for the recollection is that one of the Caltex players was a player called Pavithran who had represented India at the Melbourne Olympics in 1956.

I remember that the hallmark of their play was their passing the ball around without using the aerial route except when the 'wingers' would cross the ball into the penalty area for Shanker to do the rest.

Prasad used to be the 'workhorse' not only in the passing bouts, but, also in 'dribbling' the ball to draw the defenders and provide Shanker the space to score. I distinctly recall the totally unflustered play of R.P.Narayan in the middle of the field collecting the ball regained by guys like Ananthram (a fearless tackler) and then driving towards the opponents goal. Very rarely one saw a 'wild' clearance from the defenders as the ball was usually passed to another in the middle of the field.

MAC progressed quite rapidly from the lower leagues to the B Division. The B Division (2nd Tier) teams were allowed to go through qualifying for the Rovers Cup which at that time could be called as the 'Blue Riband" of Indian Football along with the Durand Cup. The top teams in the Rovers Cup were Tata's, Caltex, Western Railway from Bombay, Mohan Bagan, East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting from Calcutta among others.

MAC managed to qualify to the main draw of the Rovers Cup from the B division I think twice! (Prasad please correct me if I am mistaken). Their high point was in reaching the semi-finals in Rovers cup. I remember my classmate Robin Chakravarthy played as left winger in that match. I cannot recall the year but I think it was either 1960 or 1961.

While Prakash
does remember most of the details, I reproduce Prasad's version:

(Hi Nidhi: I did not think one would have such vivid memories almost 50years back. Prakash's recollection of the practice sessions we had are almost correct. There are a few corrections however: The team won the lower division in Parel in 1958 and were allowed to participate in the Rovers cup. We did take part in the Rovers cup in 1958 and lost to a team from Bangalore TDE, an army outfit in the second round.

But the next year in 1959 when we participated in the Harwood league in Cooperage we beat the Indian Navy team in the first round round of the
Rovers cup, beat the TDE team from Bangalore in the second round and in the q-finals met Mohan Bagan.

The first game ended in a draw, thanks mainly because of free kick Shankar took from outside the box who let loose a scorcher of a kick directly into the goal. Sett the Mohan Bagan goalkeeper who also represented India did not see the ball enter the net. The next day during the replay Mohan Bagan scored first and Shanker equalized to make it 1-1. Midway during the second half I got a pass from RP and was able to avoid a defender and scored the goal which happened to be the winning goal. We lost to Mohamaden Sporting in the S-final.)

To continue with
Prakash; After 1961 the team lost guys like Shanker,Prasad.
I think R.P.Narayan had to stop playing from 'knee' problems. R.P.'s brothers Bala and Seshadri came in along with Shivram Iyer, K.N.Sastry, SVS Mani (goalie), Tahir Merchant (Rashid's brother), Sudhir Chodnekar and others along with the old hands M.Rajan and Rashi Merchant.

Gradually MAC went into decline.MAC had the misfortune that it was the dream of one man, K.P.,and with declining health and total paucity of funds and without any 'structure' to sustain it despite the 'beautiful' football they displayed on the fields it had to go into decline. .....Prakash

( Prasad adds: After the season many of us left MAC. RP joined Caltex, Shankar, Rajan and I joined Mafatlal. After one year I joined Caltex and played for two years and then left for Sweden at which point I retired....)

(Prasad sent me the pictures and said: "They were taken by press photographers and are mostly from the times I played for Mafatlal and Caltex!" They are still relevant as they belong to that period!)

While I cannot recall details like Prakash, I do remember the impact the very young team made as they entered the field in their smart outfits. You could see that they were a disciplined lot! It is no mean feat that they beat a top team like the Mohan Bagan! This really created waves amongst the soccer fans.

I believe that K P could have contributed much more as a coach training legions of players over the years, similar to Nick Boleteri in tennis. It is a pity that this did not happen in a big scale, but many of the players he trained were later picked up by the top teams in the senior league and most of them played for the State and a few represented India. There could have been more!

I guess that this would have happened if he had changed his ways a bit and had encouraged his players to get on to the bigger stage and participate in the national arena sooner. I had heard that he discouraged his players from going for trials for the state when they were in their prime. We know such things happen with coaches. They cannot let go!

But it does not take away the very signal contribution he made for soccer and the very positive influence he had on a group of educated young kids! It is certain that the discipline drilled into them helped! They learnt to have a better focus and did very well in their lives!

I hope to get more inputs about the team and more blog a real tribute a group of youngsters and their dedicated coach.

On a personal note: my dear uncle and Prasad's father, B V S Iyengar, made it a point to attend almost all the games played at the Cooperage. He was very proud of his son and his team mates. I was a witness to this whenever I had the privilege to be with him at the members stand! He would be totally involved with the game! A true and a passionate soccer fan.

It is also satisfying to write about my big brother Prasad. Years ago he found out that he was a month or so older and claimed seniority! He also played Basketball at the national level and played for India as well! It is maninly due to him that I started playing Basketball and into playing sports, which luckily I still do!

I remember fondly the times we spent together in Bangalore, when he and his friends, Anantram, T A Bala and Chellappa came for an extended visit. I visited Anantram while he was working in London and sadly he left us while very young. Recently his daughter Priya moved to Bangkok, she and her husband Shrikanth are very dear to us and I am reminded of Anataram whenever Priya smiles.....Nidhi

Pictures of Anantram Priya sent me, hope we will find some on the soccer field!