Monday, July 31, 2006


Originally uploaded by Tripping in India.
Towards the end of June I had visited Alang, the beach in Gujarat made famous by the shipbreaking industry. Greenpeace and other environmentalists oppose the industry contending that it releases tons of pollutants into the sea, the shipbreaking industry contends that thousands of people get work through the industry and crores of rupees of revenue are contributed to the state and central exchequers. There are several sides to the story, and maybe no definate answer.
Before I get into bhashan mode, let me link to a brilliant article on Alang that an editor of mine advised me to read before I visited the place - The Shipbreakers by William Langewiesche written for the Atlantic Monthly.
Now, let me begin by describing the place, the only way to get to Alang is through Bhavnagar which is on the Gulk of Cambay and the beach actually faces eastwards thanks to India's interesting geography. An idea that the shipbreaking industry in India is in terminal decline is evident from the Jet Airways flight we took. The ATR plane was just about half full, and Indian Airlines has cancelled its flight to the city. The city itself doesn't look or feel very rich unlike many other Gujarati small cities, and almost every second office is seems to be associated with the shipping industry.
The beaches of Alang-Sisoya are another 50-odd km to the northeast of the city and I hired a cab with my photographer to take us there. Before that, I had met with some local big shots in Bhavnagar, who were in the breaking industry. We sneaked into the beach, passing tens of shops on the way that sell anything and everything that can be sold from a ship - bed linens, cutlery, lifejackets, blankets, ropes and even more. One person even told me I could get old pornography from the ships, which I really wasn't interested in. Really!
Alang-Sisoya must have been a very nice beach once, but with most beaches near or on the Gulf of Cambay, the beaches are subject to tremendous tides, and being relatievly flat this means that the beaches can easily accomodate even the heaviest vessels on them. These ships are literally banged onto shore. Some of the roacks on the beach seem to have been leached by the immense amounts of rusting steel.
Many of the 140-odd plots are empty on the Sisoya side, but once we cross to Alang there is a hum of activity, but as the taxi driver tells us, activity today is barely a quarter of what it was during the peak years in the late 90's. Plot owners blast Greenpeace calling them 'blackmailers' and show us the rudimentary steps they are prevent pollution, but the workers are the ones most angry. Despite the risks of trying to chop up a ship using pressurised oxygen and LPG, these guys earn almost Rs 600/day at the top, even the juniormost chaps get over Rs 150-200/day, which is serious money in this country.
Yet, you know that some oil and other chemicals leak into the sea and it can't be good for the environment and no matter what the breakers do hauling massive ships onto a beach can't ever be environmentally friendly. Yet, there is once area of improvement, thanks to huge amounts of pressure from the global media both environmental and safety standards at Alang have improved and is continually improving - the yard even has a permanent landfill where they dump hazardous chemicals and asbestos inside sealed concrete containers. Ships need to broken and ship owners will get the job done in places where they can make the most profit, that is the way global economics work, however, environmental agencies and NGO's will need to understand that ships will need to be broken and breaking them in the west is not feasible all the time. Instead of attacking Alang, maybe working with the breakers to ensure the greenest possible way to dismantle ships at an affordable cost might be the best way forward.
However, the steel recovered from the ships will be recycled and used in buildings as reinforcing bars for buildings or to make utensils. But, because of the rush of primary steel plants in India has made this an unviable business. Ships that are bought for Rs 18,000 a ton only yield Rs 16,000-17,000 a ton. Most ships therefore go to yards in Bangladesh, Pakistan and China where the global media is assiduously kept out of the yards. In these countries, particularly the south Asian countries there is a shortage of primary steel and therefore secondary steel gets more money. Now, if these people can pay more for the ships, because they cut more corners obviously ships will go there and damage the environment more than they would at Alang, as well as take more lives in the breaking process. This is not a job people in the west will do, tactics used by Greenpeace and other people in the west will not work here, because people have to eat, and that is a problem in India. Alang provides for a good life for 20,000 workers, that is a lot of people. And that is the problem, you can't deal with the environmental problem of Alang without dealing with this, something that militant environmentalists rarely understand because they don't think straight.
Shipbreaking is a dirty industry and it is a dirty job. But someone needs to do it and despite Alang being a dirty, messy place, there are no better places to destroy a ship.
Two quick mentions - Shivam pointed me to a post by Soumyadip on condoms which a very intensely researched article and very hilarious. Plus, the blog of the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, a body campaigning for separate statehood for Vidarbha has a list of all the farmers in Vidarbha who have committed suicide since June 2005.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Italian job...

According to my dear, and now somehow married friend, the Snake - the true story behind the blog ban is that they all insulted the Italian. Not that I hadn't correctly analysed this theory some time ago, but I'm amazed that a Congressi such as Rajdeep allowed Snake to do this! Kudos to Rajdeep TV, but I'm not exactly gonna take back all the mean things I've said about them.
But, then again there is censorship and there is censorship done wrong - I don't know about you but while debating at the plus two level for good old school, 'the censorship' debate was of the more frequent topics - as was the women's rights thingie - which once led to hilarity at Carmel Convent, but lets skip that.
Anyway, it seems that yesterday that three drunk people breached security at RCR (Undie TV is a bit schizo on this - see this report and then this one). I've always thought that would be quite difficult to do, but when you're drunk it seems you can do a lot of things to impress the girls. Anyway, I watched POTC last weekend and have a semblance of a review over here.
And since we're talking about all things Italian, and this is leading to a major Lasagne craving right now, I thought I'ld just search the 'Italy' tag on Flickr and pick a picture at random. Actually, I just changed my mind, I'll post a picture of a place in Italy I've been to. The Island of Capri, off the southeastern coast of Italy near Naples, stunningly beautiful and ourageously exepnsive and I actually found a picture of the 'Blue Grotto' a cave with the most amazing azure light I have ever seen - the Italians call it 'La Grotta Azzura'
But, our Italian job continues with the vindictive streak that is unheard of in Indian politics. Oh well, we get what we vote for!
EDIT : And I just discovered the following video on Badmash. The Simpsons hit Bollywood!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Ek saal baad...

Last year, to the day I was sitting twiddling my thumbs at the departure lounge of Delhi's Terminal 1A waiting for my Indian Airlines flight to take off. It never did, so the entire sho-sha put on by the Snake and Double T, including mala's and all went to waste. I eventually left Delhi two weeks later. Both my father and my step-father had gone to Bombay on 26/07/2005 morning for a day's work, they were both supposed to be back in the evening, they both returned three days later. My dad who was interviewing a Bollywood superstar spent six hours getting from Mahalaxmi to Bandra. Most of my friends were fine, but some of them had to walk on the roof of cars to get home that day, at least they had power at Pali Naka.
Today, a year on I happened to go to Kalina. It was bright and sunny outside, autos and BEST buses were jostling with each other on the roads and the smell of half-burnt hydrocarbons filled the air. Everything seemed normal. But since last July, civic facilities haven't become dramatically better, sure some roads her and there have improved, but somehow you do feel that a bad rainshower will bring this city to its knees again. That said, 950mm would have brought any city in the world to its knees.
But since 26/7/05 we've had 11/7/06. This city deserves better. Much better! I will miss Bombay when I leave eventually, because I know I will never call this city home like millions of other immigrants - I love this city at so many levels but its attitude and its people above all. Yet, you just can't live here for too long. Something about living in a city like Delhi, despite its myriad of problems spoils you. Godammit, I miss parks and gardens and trees, wide roads, things like that - infrastructure basically.
This city deserves so much better, and I hope to god it gets it. Bombay is not Shanghai, it ain't London or New York. It is Bombay, don't ever forget it!

Technorati Tags : India Bombay Mumbai

Monday, July 24, 2006


Damn, a year and half on not only is this blog thriving, it has gotten to 420 posts. I'm amazed that I've managed to fill over a million words (approximately) of utter drivel on the interwebs.
It is amazing how 420 means different things in different cultures - the time to light up a fatty in stoner lingo and a conman in desi-lingo. I'm sure, these numbers have other meanings as well. Must be something etched into our brain with 420. But I'm amazed this blog has reached so many posts - can't carry on at one a day anymore but 420 in 19 months isn't too bad I figure!
Back to current affairs.
To be honest, when blogs were blocked I honestly did not know how to react - but rather I wanted to watch the fun. Why react when everyone else is going to anyway - sure there is a level of righteous indignation at the government - "How dare they!" and all that. And of course, since half the journalists in the country also maintain a blog (or an online bitch-board) you would expect a lot of stories to appear in the media against this decision. And the government's excuses - I doubt the government kahani though, but alls well that ends well, and the evil Italian and her minions have been foiled once again.
Now, they will go back to their top secret lair called the NAC and start a plot anew - will the veshti devise some new tax or a 200 page IT form, or will the doddering raja think up some new quota? Wait and watch, in a new episode of 'The Italian' - only at DTTIM.
But seriously, in a country where books get banned at the drop of a hat and where the government wants all sort of control over the media - ask around the newspaper offices and ask them how paranoid all the major dailies are about doing a very negative story on the government because they'll lose the bloody PIB adverts and Tenders. Blogs are well, more free, and we don't depend on tenders, just the few odd cents that Google throws our way once in a while. Must most blogs are inane drivel, and most desi blogs are patently unreadable. Not all desi blogs, but most. Therefore, I've sometimes wondered how a blog like this, which is extremely boring at times, can maintain the huge number of hits it does sometimes?
Anyway, if you're wondering why the template was changed - blame my office. We are saddled with the most godawful computer hardware in the world and we're lucky. I believe that the hardware was even worse before 'an unfortunate incident'. Not only that, our internet connection, that is for ten people is around 128 kbps! What do you in such situations, bang your head on the screen while waiting for a webpage to load - even Google searches take forever. I love my organisations, I really enjoy working for my editors, but for god's sake - computers and IT are supposed to be productivity 'enhancers' not the opposite.
To cut to the chase, I was editing the blog template, when in a flash - a hung connection, I lost it all. So I was forced to change the look. The other blog had this change made to it a few months ago, so I decided to apply it here, updated the links column too, and made Adsense more readable. Any comments on the look?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Karmic Retribution...

Somewhere down there my right-wing heart is smiling. From what I have read, much of the Indian blogosphere is solidly left-wing, other than a couple of people who try to hide their right-wing sympathies behind 'liberal' thoughts and get offended if you call them 'right-wing'. Guys there is no harm in being liberal and voting for the BJP. All that Sushma Swaraj tried to do was to take over as the 'Nipple Police' and the media went all nuts on her, right now many bloggers are a confused lot - how could their own government do this to them?
And I still laugh. Karmic retribution I say, you get the government you voted for and see what they're doing! Serve us right for voting an Italian into power.
I've always felt that this government is possibly the worst government we have had in a long time, full of incompetent idiots, and that includes the Surdie. Sonia Gandhi runs the country and the reason she isn't PM is not because of 'humility' but because she is scared she'll be killed. They've taken bad decision after bad decision, the economy is booming because of what the previous government did and the government before that, not because of Chiddu's economic policies.
So when they blocked access to Blogs, I wasn't really surprised. It falls quite welll under the agenda of the Italian and her sycophants. I figure some blog had called Rahul-baba 'bisexual' or a 'cokehead' and some sycophatic politician or bureaucrat with little idea of what blogs are decides to block them. To make sure, he sells some bullcrap to some media houses whose main job are suck up to the Congress.
At least Indira Gandhi won a war before she declared the Emergency.
Not surprising at all. Of course, if Google offers to move Blogger HQ to Tamil Nadu, maybe the DMK will ask the Minister for Sun TV to change the directive a bit.
Here is the Desipundit Sticky.
And how the international media is reporting this - NYT, WP, BBC
But honestly, it is a bit scary, not only is this government bad, but also vindictive and brainless. Somehow seeing Gujarat on top of the state rankings time after time must indicate something about governance?
PS : Check your blogs with!
Technorati Tags : India Indian Media Politics Internet Blog Blogs Blogging Banned Blocked Government Congress BJP Sonia Gandhi Indira Gandhi Emergency

Monday, July 17, 2006

Ahmedabad, Calcutta, Bombay and now....

Pune I believe. Well, not believe I have to go to Pune tomorrow.
Since Thursday I've been spending so much time on the air/road its beginning to take its toll. In a way its good, good not being in Bombay, because the couple of times I did catch the train last week were very weird. The rides were strangely surreal and quiet. Anyway, life moves on, the stories carry on, but by next week everything would have been papered over - and the government desperate to censor dissident views goes after bloggers as well - the number of hits to this blog are down dramatically and people have been emailing in with queries why access has been patchy of late and I'm told through very relaible sources that Priya Ranjan Das Munshi, Indian football's most able administrator and sycophant-in-chief (no wait, that post goes to the Surdie - so make that - the wannabe Goebbels on the ruling committee of sycophants) has decided to censor blogs on the blogspot domain. Awwww.....
Anyway, in Calcutta (and the one reason I really respect Aveek Sarkar is because he hasn't fallen prey to misguided Bengali chuvanism and still calls the city Calcutta) I did something that I haven't done ever in the city of my birth - I went and had offered prayers to the Devi at Kalighat. I'm not a particularly religious person, though if you looked at my right wrist you might think otherwise, but I somehow like going to temples. And yesterday, I thought I had to go because last Tuesday's incidents had really shaken me up, I was scared and knew in the back of my head that had circumstances been different I could have been blown up because someone wanted to prove a political point.
Anyway, I don't know, I felt good about going to Kalighat, though I must admit the temple is a mess compared to temples almost anywhere else in the country and even Dakhineshwar is a million times better - at least it was when I last went there over 15 years ago. But you have to say something about the order and cleanliness of South Indian temples - I went to Guruvayoor on my journey through Kerala and while environmentalists can get all worked up about the condition of the elephants - visiting the temple itself isn't an exercise in manic bribery.
Now my happy life takes me to Pune tomorrow, travelling is actually beginning to take a toll on me. Never thought I would ever say that! Chalo, even though I should chill on the sugar I will make a pit-stop at Kayani Bakery on the way back.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I'm tired!

I'm tired of people saying "Salaam Bombay" and how 'resilient' and 'composed' this city is. Because today isn't normal - I'm feeling shaken, maybe even a tad fearful before I finally gather up enough guts to haul myself onto a train towards Bandra. And I'm angry!
Maybe 300-plus people died yesterday and people are back at work because they don't have a choice. I'm sitting in office carrying on as if nothing happened, because that is the way we are as Indians - desensitised to the level of callousness. Laughing, crying, screaming over the same pointless things all over again - starting to think about the next time I end up in bed with someone. Maybe thinking of sex is a nice diversion from what happened yesterday, keeps your mind off the mangled twisted remains strewn across the tracks at Matunga Road. Remains of people who might have travelled with you yesterday or the day before, maybe even folks who took the train with you in the morning. But we are back to a veneer of normalcy behind a facade of a smile and laughing over the same, silly jokes all over again. Make your colleagues believe that you're this stone-cold cool chap without any feelings - cold and heartless. Heck, I'll even drink a beer right now - and what is that saying about comfort foods?
But somewhere down there, you're sick to the gut. You know it despite the smiling exterior that you maintain, that you're sick and you're freaking tired. Sick that you voted a bunch of jokers into power, sick that more and more Indians must die year after year because we are supposedly a democracy and some idiot somewhere must protect his voteback and the twisted politics of secularism game that people play. Sick that there are vested interests who will sell out your country so that they can get a job somewhere. I'm sick about a lot of things today.
And now the captions on the TV channels go - 'Targeting professionals'? Hah! Quite a laugh there! I mean the government is bothered about emptying your bank account and the terrorists want you bloody dead - but you see since you and I don't add up to many votes (the terrorists and their sympatisers do however) nobody gives a shit.
The last time I cried is when I broke up with a woman I had given my heart to and she trod on it like it didn't exist and then stubbed a cigarette on it for good measure. I didn't cry yesterday, I couldn't, but I seriously wish I did. Anyway, I have a story to write and a deadline to meet, so I'll just carry on and pretend nothing happened. Nothing at all..... and I'll carry on listening to how I'm being 'resilient' and completely emotionless like I live in a silly video game.
PS : Don't mind the rant, I just needed to get it out of my system.
PPS : A friend posted some more pictures to his Flickr photostream. Not particularly pleasant for those with queasy stomachs.

The morning after...

There is a photoset up and running on Flickr, don't want to be gory, but these pictures give you an idea how just how powerful this blast was. If you have never travelled in an Indian Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) train - similar local trains are used in Kolkata, Delhi and Chennai, you should know that these things are solid. No lightweight, fancy construction materials here, these are pretty much pure steel.
And any blast that can open them up like a can of baked beans, has to be a mother of a blast. During the night, after I spoke to more people, their panic and fear for me became more apparent. It might have been me, I take the same trains, in the same First Class compartments every day.
Anyway, I'm alive, but 190 people are not and that is an awful thought.
EDIT : The Western Railway, one of the most effective engineering organisations in the country (in fact, I rank them just below the BRO, which is one of the top civil engineering organisations in the world) has gotten the main Western Line limping but almost back to normal. It will be difficult for them for a few weeks because of destroyed trains, but at least they're running. No thanks to Lalu Yadav and the rest of the clowns in the UPA government we have voted in including our extremely ineffectual Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and lets not even start with with Maharashtra's even worse Home Minister RR Patil, who would rather protect amorphous 'youth' from evil than attack terror - his hipocrisy being apparent on Sunday and if he has any shame at all he should resign. Heck, the entire Maharashtra government should resign.
The media has been carrying on using the term 'resilience' - I call it 'helplessness' - what are you supposed to do but carry on, you cannot afford to stop to mourn? This city will survive, it is a great city, but this was a heart attack it could have done without. Also, taxi and auto drivers played the role of profiteers brilliantly - behind the guise of their unions and traffic jams, many taxi and auto drivers licked their lips at the opportunity to make money while the city reeled.
It is a sad fact of life, but we have been facing Pakistani-funded terror for so many years it is not funny. Every year at least one Indian city is brought to a standstill. The recriminations will begin soon, but I feel we should have gone the whole hog in 2002.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Bombay July 11, another day that will go down in infamy.

So far, from what I've heard there have been four bomb blasts on the Western Line - the first at Khar, then at Mira Road after that at Matunga - the pictures that I'm seeing on CNN-IBN right now. In fact, I just heard from some people at the Times who are talking of six blasts all across the Western Line.
This is not good, anyway I'm in office and there is not much I can do right now but just sit here. I'll update as I hear more. But, I'm fairly sure that quite a few people have died - because some of the pictures I've been seeing on TV aren't particularly positive.
EDIT 1915 : There has been a confirmed blast at Borivili and there is talk of a blast at Sion, the latter isn't confirmed. All blasts were in the Down line going from Churchgate to Borivili and beyond. At least 15 people are confirmed dead so far in the Matunga blast, I would expect this number to rise because this is peak rush hour and the trains are crowded. And now its raining fairly hard as well.
EDIT 2030 : OK, seven blasts confirmed all across the Western Line between 1825 and 1835 and a very well coordinated attack. Cellphone networks are clogged no calls are getting through, some calls are getting through and I've been able to get through to everyone I have to confirming that I'm in one piece. All Western Line trains are closed, it looks pretty bad, many people are confirmed dead, numbers might cross three figures. These blasts happened at rush hour, when over 2500 people cram themselves into every train. In fact, Police Commissioner AN Roy just confirmed 100 deaths on Star News. Cabbies below my Nariman Point office are charging 2000 bucks just to get back to Bandra, but I hear that traffic around Shivaji Park is a mess, nakabandis everywhere.
EDIT 2045 : Eight blasts - Matunga Road, Mahim, Bandra, Khar, Jogeshwari, Borivili, Mira Road are confirmed by Vilasrao Deshmukh, the eight blast is still a bit iffy, but supposedly a second blast happened at Borivili. The Mastunga blast is the one where the worst pictures have come from so far - I've seen quite a few mangled bodies on TV so far. 100 deaths have been confirmed by the police. Adding up what happened at Srinagar today morning, today has been a rather bad day all in all. I don't know what I'll do, going home doesn't seem like a great idea right now, I might stay back at office. All mobile networks are clogged, anyway everybody in my office is fine just in case people in office elsewhere were wondering.
EDIT 2120 : Rajdeep says that 135 deaths, it is looking worse and worse. Seven or Eight no-one knows quite yet. Mobile networkes are still screwed, the worst fears of this degenrating into something communal (given incidents at Bhiwandi and Dadar of late). Shivraj Patil is threatening to come down to the city (and disrupt whatever relief is happening). Tomorrow might be quite bad, I don't know if trains will be running on the Western line tomorrow, but anyway tomorrow is another day and hopefully it will be a lot better than today. I'm still at office, and will continie to update with any more information that comes across.
EDIT 2145 : All the blasts took place in First Class compartments - one reason why my mother went all hyper. I've been told to go spend the night at my aunt's house at Cuffe Parade, which I believe makes the most sense.
EDIT 2245 : There is no panic, the first faxes have started to spew out of the machine, SM Krishna, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Uddhav Thackeray all are sending out faxes condemning the blasts as well as small political outfits demanding action against the 'terrorists'. Traffic is still a mess, getting from town, where I am to the suburbs will take forever. The phone lines, at least this side are working again finally. The Western Railway PRO came on TV and said that skeletal services will be up and running by midnight and full-fledged services should be back up by tomorrow morning. Not only have several rakes been damaged, but overhead wires have also been busted at several places. The number of dead is still not exactly known, the toll is constantly rising, but I heard RR Patil claim it was 139 at last count. There have no reports of any communal violence breaking out anywhere - which is always a threat in this city. This attack seems to be worse than the 1993 blasts because it took out the city's lifeline. Kind of makes you realise how 'on the edge' Bombay actually is. This city doesn't need tall promises of being made into Shanghai, it needs help, and I hope that if one good comes out of today's incidents - a makeover for this city be one of them.
May those who lost their lives in the tragic incidents rest in peace.
Good night, and I hope everyone sleeps well.

Technorati Tags : Bombay Mumbai Bomb Blasts Attacks Terrorism Terror Train Bandra Khar Matunga Borivili India


If this story that appeared in the Daily Mail is true, (thanks Shivam) then FIFA should ban Marco Materazzi for a few months. FIFA wants to stamp out racism from the sport and therefore should act decisively. This does not in any way condone what ZZ did, which was still over the top and no matter what happened, violence on the pitch is still unjustifiable.
Another story which I read on Jalopnik in the morning has also gotten me quite depressed, but I believe it to be false. I just hope, its just stupid prankster like those kids who threw mud on a statue and managed to get Mumbai shut down on Sunday. I don't think very highly of Narayan Rane, but I think he is telling the truth when he accused the Shiv Sena of co-ordinating the 'defacing' - quite like them to do such a thing to get attention.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Pizza for everyone!

I know the talking point will be about Zidane's needless and undeniably idiotic heatbutt on Marco Metarazzi (and Metarazzi must've said something intense), but lets be honest the Italians did play a better game and well the sight of Zidane walking back to the dressing room head down will be a bad way to remember the world cup, this is a time to celebrate Italy. Of course, we in India have been celebrating Italy for the last two years after having voted an Italian into power, but lets look at the nice things in Italy like Pizza, Pasta, AC Milan, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Versace, good Italian shoes, Lemon Cello, Capri, Amalfi, Venice, Vesuvius, the Autostrade, Flavio Briatore, Milan, Sicily, Corleone and so and so forth.
Tonight in celebration I'm ordering lots and lots of Pepperoni Pizza. Congratulations to Marcello Lippi and his team and their absolutely fantastic defence led by my player of the tournament Fabio Cannavaro (ZZ was brillinat - but...), I'm just sad that my favourite Italian player of the recent past - Paulo Maldini wasn't on the team.
Brillianto to Italy. Now bring on the Pizza!

Saturday, July 08, 2006


Its a blue battle - and I wonder who will get the first choice of jersey tomorrow night. Anyway, I'm all for France even though the Italians though make better food and better cars and have hotter women. But there is something about French football and you do want the magician that is Zizou to go out on the highest possible high. Even though that said, a friend mentioned that Germany won in Italy in 1990 and now Italy will win in Germany. I still feel that Italy should have won the 1994 final, but one of my favourite players then - Roberto Baggio missed a penalty. Whatever happens I think tomorrow will see a great game hopefully worthy of the World Cup final.
But any bets on who comes third tonight? I think Klinsmann's boys will take it.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Of men, drivers and rain!

Of course, REAL men have two Z's in their name and should stand to become President of France. I'm thinking of buying a French supporter tee before the final, but usually when I buy a tee that team loses! Anyway, Allez Zizou, Vive La France and thank god they showed those diving Portuguese something. I'ld love to be on Champs Elysse on Sunday evening as the country hails one of their greatest sons.
After my weekend plus two pit-stop to the far drier climes of the capital, the city where the roads are large and there and parks exist, but the drivers are completely insane. And I'm not just talking about auto-drivers who I believe are a community that should put onboard a plane and sent to North Korea or something.
When you speak to people from Bombay or Bangalore or even Calcutta about driving they launch a fusillade against Delhi drivers whom they consider a bunch of uncouth idiots who should not be given licences. It is surprising just how many people hagve this attitude problem, I just call it jealousy. Driving is a pleasure in Delhi, where else in the country can you possibly finish a 16km commute from home to office in under half an hour (beacuse it has roads - nice roads), or even less if traffic was more sparse.
I've driven in Bombay, Kolkata and Bangalore and in other smaller Indian cities - no drive has scared me more than driving inside Goa, but that isn't 'city' driving. Indian drivers are bad, pathetic indeed. Show them a roundabout and they will want to charge through the flowers/fountain/what have you, the concept of 'right of way' is as alien as the speed limit. But in Delhi every bit of insanity occurs at 80kmph in the day and 120kmph at night, which is fast in anyone's book. I'll admit that I'm also guilty of madcap right-foot happy driving quite a few times - I once made it from the University to Saket - and people who know Delhi know that this is almost 40kms in well under half an hour in a canary yellow Opel Corsa Swing.
But, I'm not even half as insane as the cult of 'drivers', people who usually once drove a 16-ton truck now under the guise of what people in the west would call 'chauffers'. Most of these folks don't know the concept of 'overdrive' and when to change gears and usually they do get you from point A to point B with relative comfort and ease, but man when you tell them to drop the hammer you wonder why we sent Karthikeyan to make a fool of himself in Formula 1.
Bombay is a lot drier today, even though I think the television media made a hash and a crisis where there was none (and RajdeepTV being the worst culprit among the Anglais channels) - to the best of my knowledge when do Milan and Khar subways NOT get flooded. Let me make an analogy to Delhi - its like Tuglaq Bridge - that gets flooded every year.
Again, Kalina gets flooded every year - its low lying - the only solution break that area down for the new airport! Yes, the rains and the winds were quite strong yesterday on the way back from the airport when I was travelling over the Reclamation flyover, I often though that the auto (I know, I have to use them sometimes!) would topple over, despite me weighting it down. In fact, when I was flying in to Bombay for the last two hours it felt like someone had poured Erasex outside the plane - even at 30,000 feet.
No doubt when the suburban train you're travelling in makes a bow crest (even at 5kmph) and the rails are under water, you know its wet, but yesterday wasn't that bad. Thankfully I wasn't around day before when it was really bad, but Bombay does shut down at least one a year whenever the rain gods get incontinence. However I'm hoping that this year the gods don't get diaherrea like they did on 26/7. What I am pissed off about is that Bandra's Hill Road is completely destroyed, its like a mine-field out there.
Anyway, the sun is shing outside and it seems a lot more pleasant right now, so let me get back to work.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

A tale of two baldies!

One baldie bowed out on grass yesterday, arguably the best player of his generation and the only player in four decades to win all four premier tournaments. A player whose children (with the best player the woman's game has ever seen) if they get the right genes can potentially whack the living daylights out of anybody once they grow up (and out of the Zappa inspired names). I remember watching the 1992 Wimbledon Final as a impressionable young kid, and I was amazed at how this long-haired impressario played.
Yesterday when Agassi lost to someone I believe is the future of tennis, and possibly the only player out there who can challenge 'FedEx' I flet Wimbledon was letting go of some history and felt a little twang in the heart. Or maybe that was the chicken curry I had for lunch. Who knows!
But yesterday wasn't about tennis was it. It also wasn't about India's best test bowling performance in a test after a long time, not that our batsmen backed it up with anything special. Yesterday was about another baldie , OK, so the Anglo-Saxon media empire would want us to believe that yesterday was all about a red card and attrociously taken penalties.
Kolkata, a city where people claim to know football, yet somehow elect Priya Ranjan Das Munshi back to the Lok Sabha time after time, which makes me suspect this claim of 'knowledge' - PRDM is possibly single-handedly responsible for driving the Indian game into the gutter. Explain why a billion people can't put together a decent team? If it wasn't for Anand Mahindra and Vijay Mallya putting a bit of money into the game, god knows how much worse the game would be. But as long as FIFA gives PRDM free tickets to the final, where he can take his murder accused friends and Congress colleagues, who cares?
Oh yeah, did I mention that PRDM wants to shackle the TV media in a vice like grip so that they can't say anything against the exalted leader? (Thanks to the ToI's brillinat internet team, the article can't be found - but please do read the ToI)
However, back to the point, yesterday was all about another baldie - a man who managed to push his aging legs to the limit. A man who after 54 games finally found the games greatest striker. Did I mention I'm an Arsenal fan, so I do love TH. But yesterday was all about Zizou - the man and the player and elevated France to the top of the pile, again! This after their woeful performance against Switzerland and South Korea (even though the Koreans did get lucky with refereeing decisions, as usual). This maybe his swansong tournament, but Zidane is going to play (almost) the full complement of games (he missed the Togo game when TH and Viera came to the fore). Who would have thunk it? The French, the sputtering, misfiring French and not the Anglais or the plasticated Brazilians. If France win this World Cup, Zidane should quit and stand for President of France, I'm pretty much confident that he will win.
So 32 began and now four are left, who is your money on now folks?
On another note, tonight is the serpentine wedding, unfortunately Snakeman will not give us daaru tonight, so I'm pretty bummed out but that isn't an excuse not to attend. But to Snakeman and Choti - here is to a great life!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Dr. Mindbender

Argie with wig Berlin
Originally uploaded by
Well, Germany won, I'm sorry dude with blue hair. That wig will have to be discarded till South Africa 2010, wher it will likely be stolen.
Yesterday I mentioned that I'll miss the game of World Cup so far, and I did. Well, I did catch it all the way till the 65th minute thanks to a delayed flight courtesy Air Deccan. But I might have missed even that, the televisions at the domestic terminal were showing only Star News - thanks to the evil people at Star TV, but I outsmarted them thanks to my new 'evil' device. Say hello to the Nokia 6708. Now, I really haven't used this phone a lot, and while I'm fairly impressed with the touch screen and handwriting recognition - any device that can recognise my minute handwriting deserves an award, but something else takes the take.
A program called 'Recon' on the phone makes the phone double up as an universal remote - giving you the ability to be truly evil. Imagine what hell you can unleash with such a device. Passengers at the airport were astopunded at my magic ability to switch to ESPN - which was much better than the ugly mugs at Star News - India's most pointless news channel after India TV, but that is another stream of consciousness post altogether.
I suddenly discovered the power of a universal remote, one that you actually are forced to carry with you all the time, because its on your phone. Can you imagine what you can do? You can mess with people's brains with this phone! My brother is already wondering what's going on whe channels change randomly and air-conditioners start getting colder and hotter without any (seen) intervention. I told him that Sun Spots are causing such electrical imbalances, and him being the unscientific sort still can't figure out whats going on.
My god Nokia, what have you done? I have become Dr Mindbender!
*Evil Laughter*
EDIT : P, in a comment to my last post informed me of unattributed theivery of the Vidarbha post by a character called Satish of Desicritics. I have no issues if people use excerpts of my articles - but all out theivery without attribution has to be mentioned. Desicritics here, Satish's Blog here. Those who know me, know I don't go by the moniker Satish. Chodi kiya, pakda gaya, no permission was given by me for this, anyone know how to get this guy to remove chodi ka maal?