Sunday, January 27, 2013

A lay man’s guide to traffic etiquette in Chennai.

If you have just started to drive in namma Chennai there may be times when you find that your reactions to certain situations may be improper because of a communication gap that exists between you and the other road users.

Let me explain a few instances:

(Please note that these instances are from the perspective of the driver of a 4 wheeler & so may not be completely understood by 2 wheeler users)

Instance 1: You drive down the road and then you see a 2 wheeler rider diagonally across nodding his head up and down at you.

You think:  he is saying “You can proceed” or maybe he is nodding to music or even exercising a stiff neck

What he really means is: I am a (porambokku) waste land and I am going to jump across you this second and if you do not want to waste your car you will let me pass

Instance 2: You are driving down the road and there is a 2 wheeler rider on the wrong side nearly blocking the path giving you a sheepish smile

You think: He is saying that he is lost or  he is not come to terms with the new one way diversions

What he really means is: I am a (veenaa ponavan) ruin and I am going to ruin your mood by not giving way as my time is much more important than yours and this IS my father’s road

Instance 3: You are driving down the road in the evening and there is a car on the opposite side with the lights on high beam

You think: He is going to overtake

What he really means is: I am (a kuruttu kabodhi) visually challenged and I cannot see clearly even in bright sunlight, if you think you can see well then ignore the light and just go

By now you must have understood that it takes a lot of understanding to drive safely in namma Chennai. There are many more instances and we will learn them in the next lesson.

Till then safe driving!

Friday, January 25, 2013

On a day like today - Write Over the Weekend (WOW)

People come into our lives for a reason, a season or a life time. Today I met one who has left me still wondering.

It started with the driver behind me blinding me with his headlights, now when you drive with your mirrors if the driver uses the high beam behind it can be very disorienting. So unable to drive I pulled over and flagged the car behind with a polite request to dim the lights. That started of the ugliest 10 minutes in recent times with a stream of profanities, when I refused to back down as I am large and my size can be intimidating the man attempted to run me down with his car, fortunately  he was restrained by his co-passenger. The inevitable good Samaritans materialized out of nowhere ostensibly with the intention of resolving the fight but with the motive of clearing the road so they could drive on.

When the entire scene seemed pointless I simply moved aside and let the idiot pass so that he can make the life of some body else miserable.  

So to come back to the opening line, this man taught me in no certain terms that sometimes actions speak louder and are more effective than words.

P.S. This is a true incident and the car is the one in the picture 

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Hey Auto!!!

Should auto fares be raised?
A seemingly simple question and for anyone living in Chennai the obvious answer would be a resounding YES but there is a need to understand why things are the way they are today with respect to the fares.

-         I do not know the number of autos in the city, but I do observe that several autos that ply in the city are registered outside the city limits and that puts the locals under stress
-         The vague policy of the government in allowing different fuels like petrol, gas and diesel and attempting to uniformly price the fares of autos run by differently priced fuels
-         The rampant overloading of the diesel 3 seater autos that carry anywhere upto 10 passengers is not only unsafe but also denies passengers to the normal auto drivers
-         The lack of regulation of the share autos and maxi cabs deny rightful fares to auto drivers
-         The portioning of the city into small fiefdoms of the auto drivers who organize themselves into stands in every locality, mall, theatre, shopping areas and monopolizing the fares of that area.
-         When an auto driver says that he is going empty for the return journey, he speaks the truth since the above fiefdoms will deny him any available fare

What then is the solution? A few points come to my mind:

-         Eliminate stands and thereby the monopolies and the associated political affiliations that results in the high handedness of some auto drivers
-         Eliminate the 3 seater autos that ply as ten seaters
-         Ban all petrol & diesel autos and ask the fuel companies to open more auto gas outlets
-         Regulate share autos which like the omnibuses are plying in violation of the laws of the land but in the absence of a viable alternative and the inability of the state to fund more public transport continue to exist.
(For those not in the light, share autos & omni buses do not have the stage coach permit and therefore cannot carry people over stages, they are currently plying with the contract carriage permit only that means they can carry folks from Point A to B without halts in between and cannot display the routes like a normal RTC bus.)
-         Throw the market open to free pricing and let the market dynamics take over if the prices cannot be fixed, it will be a simple case of demand and supply and the survival of the fittest. This will work when a passenger if free to flag down any running auto without the menace of the neighborhood stands like in Hyderbad for instance.
-         Allow cooperatives to run autos, that way collective bargaining for the drivers will be retained along with a fixed salary and a recourse for the users in times of problems

Do not forget:

-That there can be no greater guide of a city than an auto driver for the wealth of local knowledge they posses and there are some very decent auto drivers who make the journeys pleasurable.

-That considering the traffic menace that plagues the city and the challenges in parking an auto is the best form of personal transportation and at the right fare can be the most cost effective in terms of comfort.

-That every auto driver has the right to earn his living; we should permit that, we can only hope that it will be a win-win for all.

-The new call taxis offer additional services and they charge the fare accordingly but it appears that no one complains

So do we raise fares?
No. I propose that we scrap the system of fixing fares, the model has never worked and it does not appear that it will work. Let the government focus on governance and let commercial decisions be fixed by the people involved.

Mind it, I say!

What are we teaching our children these days?

I have often worried about this question as I come up with some shocking answers:

  1. Nothing
  2. Lots of bad things by our actions
  3. More bad things by our words
  4. More bad things by letting the idiot box be their baby sitter
  5. The occasional good thing some where in between

The first school for our children is the home and the lessons learnt at home stay a life time and form the child. It is a big challenge to be conscious of every word & deed because indeed the Young India is watching.

We may have smirked at the ad by The Hindu, even mocked the people in the home of the government but time to spend a moment of introspection into what goes on at home. The future of our children is in our hands.

(Picture of a TOI campaign)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

6 years...

So thanks to Chriz I discovered it is 2190 days since I said I Do. Actually I said I will since the questions were framed as “Will you take… “

The wedding was neither a love marriage as defined nor an arranged marriage and it led to its fair share of complications which are still being resolved.

It has been one long and sometimes difficult journey but as a wise man said it is not the destination but the journey that makes it worthwhile.

The laws of nature ensured that every high was followed by a low and the cycle continued so that it left me grounded and grateful for every moment of togetherness these many days.

The fruit of our love and the apple of our eye will be stepping into school opening a new chapter in our lives and it holds a lot of excitement and challenges for us.

Much was accomplished and heaven willing much more needs to be done but for now it is a time of gratitude and thanksgiving.

I sign off with an earlier post of mine that sums up life post marriage…

“You wake up at dawn and with half open eyes survey the dim surroundings around; the others on the bed are asleep. You spot a very small space near wife dearest, a space that will never be sufficient but you stumble to that side of the bed and snuggle up to drift into bliss. Suddenly you are awakened by a gentle nudge, you open the eyes a little to see two little teeth peeking out in between a cute pair of lips curled into an impish smile topped off by two sparkling eyes. Your heart is filled with warmth as your now not so little bundle of joy looks at you with adoring puppy dog eyes. She manages to squeeze into that small space between her mum and dad and snuggles off to sleep again. You drift off in the tight embrace to something that is closest to heaven on earth with a contented smile... then you hear the alarm. It is Monday. “

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Design a badge for CBC

This post is an entry for a competition by The Chennai Bloggers Club (CBC) for its members in association with CupoNation. CBC is a community of folks from Chennai who are passionate about blogging. CupoNation is India’s largest coupon portal specially designed to meet the needs of all the online shoppers. They can be found at

I am not into design but a Google image search for landmarks of Chennai threw up this wonderful shot of the Napier Bridge. I have put together my contribution for a badge of the CBC.

The reflection and the original looks like C B C, doesn't it? : )

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Kanna Laddu Thinna Aasaiyaa? - Comedy time Powered!!!

When I have some time to kill I watch the comedy channels on TV, beyond the inane rubbish of the hosts, the irritating calls of extremely jobless people and the painful advertisements you can eventually find a few really funny gags and for a brief moment I relax and permit myself a few chuckles or rarely a full throated laugh.

If what you want to do to is just relax then do as mentioned above and you can save yourself a few rupees instead of going to a theatre (yes no thiruttu vcds please) to watch the hit (supposedly) of this Pongal season, Kanna laddu thinna aasaiyaa. From the crowd and the nearly full house at AGS Navalur for a 7.35 pm show it appeared that many folks were piqued as I was on the movie and the promise it held. SIGH.

The movie to keep it short is just that, comedy time running for a normal movie length, the heroine and the dialogues make up for the comperes and their conversations and the songs which are an assault on the ears are like the advertisements and everything else are the comedy scenes, plain and simple. You should really be in another theatre if you expect a plot, script etc.

The reception that the theatre gave for Power Star’s name and his entry scene left me amazed and at the end of the movie I developed respect for the “Power”.  The Power Star fills the movie and he comfortably overshadows Santhanam frame after frame. Power is in full form and it calls for a lot of guts to take pot shots on one’s self and here he scored big time. Only a confident person can handle self depreciating humour and Power does it in style, you need to watch to believe.

Santhanam is his usual self, making fun of others in his drawl and after a point of time it can get annoying. He can take a few lessons from the master of this genre Gounder who is simply unbeatable. The rest of the cast including the hero, heroine, supporting cast are all caricatures and you are simply unable to relate any of them. STR is a surprise guest performer without any impact.

The story is supposed to be inspired by Indru Pol Naalai vaa an yester year hit of Bhagyaraj but since I have not seen it I am not sure how close to the original it is. The plot in a line 3 friends fall for the same girl and they compete with each other to get the girl.

Two songs in the movie are copies of old songs; one is a complete lift off and another chorus reminds you of an old hit, as with so many other movies you wonder about the placement and the requirement of the songs. The costumer of the heroine seems to have worked with a template and every dress seems to be the same. Usually some things stick with you after leaving a theatre this time there was none because the main punch lines are already on TV and there is nothing more to look out for on the screen.

A real pity because there was so much promise. If the best of the Pongal lot is just so-so the other movies must be really terrible. Better to watch comedy time and wait for maybe Puthaandu or Deepavali when this movie and the others will premier on TV.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Of sign boards, white coats, clean hands and some more

Why do they have sign boards on roads? It is to help even the unlearned to understand and in universal understanding the sign above means that you are not meant to go that way. So what is it that makes every idiot learned or otherwise driving on the wrong side of a narrow lane leading to a blind curve? It is providence that no major accident has happened till date.

On the above mentioned curve is one of the landmarks of Chennai mentioned by Sylvian in his quiz question earlier. Our very own Hotel Saravana Bhavan may be many things for many but for its quality it is vouched by many not less my doctor who has been treating me since my diaper days. He has told me if I must eat out it would be better off for me to eat there. Considering that a recent Pizza Hut expedition resulted in a tummy upset it is very sound advice indeed.

Just heard that a pilgrimage group from my church was involved in a road accident and the initial reports suggest a driver fault. Apparently the driver of the tour bus grazed a fuel laden truck while attempting to overtake. It never ceases to amaze me that the many back seat drivers who cannot avoid giving advice when folks they know drive a car tend to trust their lives blindly in the hands of the unknown drivers. It appears that the driver in question momentarily dozed off.

I have been treated by my family doctor for so long and I have never seen him wear the white coat, in fact I have never seen any doctor wear a coat. So why do these ad makers show these fakes in white coats hawking everything from floor cleaners, tooth brushes, diapers to beauty treatments. A Google image search showed that this is neither a local issue nor a recent issue. Incidentally on the topic of white coats, I remember reading that these coats could be carriers of major infections.

We spend a third of our life sleeping and when we miss sleep it can be detrimental to us and those we come in contact with. Sleep is a miracle and many people fail to appreciate the benefits of sleep. “Sleep is a required activity, not an option. Even though the precise functions of sleep remain a mystery, sleep is important for normal motor and cognitive function. We all recognize and feel the need to sleep. After sleeping, we recognize changes that have occurred, as we feel rested and more alert. Sleep actually appears to be required for survival.” The above excerpt is reproduced from an article here

We spread infections by shaking hands. Hands carry infections and they can be shared each time we shake hands. There is actually a global hand washing day which will be celebrated in another ten months, if not anything it will give great mileage and increase the sales of the soap companies. Incidentally my daughter is so fascinated by the new colour changing hand wash that she ensured that it was there in our shopping cart before other purchases. Makes you realize how wise our fore fathers were when they devised the greeting as “ Vanakkam”.

So Vanakkam it is and “Iniya Thai Thirunaal Nalvazhthukkal”

Monday, January 07, 2013

Have mouth, will put _ _ _ _ in

Hand, foot, mouth is a disease that is spreading in Chennai. When kids put their hands in their mouths they catch an infection which causes rashes all over. The doctors say that it will subside in a few days and there is no cure. That is with kids who do not understand the gravity of the action;  these days we have grown up idiots who are suffering from foot in mouth disease and they go and put their dirty shoes also for good measure.

I am talking about these idiots who are making inane comments to the media about things which they frankly seem to have no clue about but will still speak because they have been given a VIP status. VIP also means velai illatha p!@#$%^&* and every idle mind lends himself to the devil said a wise man. A spiritual leader has just joined the foot in mouth club with a statement I don’t think worthy of repeating, he was preceded by a political leader insinuating a state for throwing up rapists, another leader has clearly told everyone where he keeps the lady of his house and you know now that you can give a hate speech and holiday abroad if you are a MLA. Sadly the most memorable words spoken by a leader are the words that should not have been, teek  hai.

These opinion leaders govern the thought processes of their respective flocks and I shudder to think what will come of them. It looks like there is no process to muzzle these people and when the supposed law makers cock a snook at the law it appears that there is not much we can do.

On second thought there is something we can all do, we can simply ignore these idiots and influence those we know to do likewise. A “nobody” becomes a VIP only because the people give him importance, time we take it away and encourage others to do likewise. Will it make a difference? I do not know but it is still better than doing nothing. It only takes a spark to get a fire going…

P.S. Watch Jackie do this in style


Sunday, January 06, 2013

On the last day of Christmas season 2012

On the last day of the Christmas season the Epiphany, thought I will share with you a song that I made with my friends in 2011.

This is an original composition by Mr. Samuel Abeysekara, organist for over half a century of the Wesley Church, St. Thomas Mount. He had graciously permitted me to use it as a part of my album.

The singers are my friends under the banner CREW 150: 6, words & music by Samuel Abeysekara.

(P.S. The wife and I have sung also)

Of bladders, schools, overcoats and more

What is it with some men and their bursting bladders that they have to ruin every wall they see? I hate it when I have to see guys relieving themselves as I open my front door. Even my dog (sadly she is no longer with us) was better behaved and well toilet trained. Shamefully today Gods have been reduced to toilet sentinels. If there is anything worse than these men, it will be those who spit from their bus seats. AARGGGHH!

Chennai has been famous for its medical facilities but you can’t help noticing the new fads in medicine these days, fertility centers. Advances in medicine and a desire for children despite the age of the parents have led to centers proudly proclaiming that a 50 year lady has given birth due to their expertise. Not sure this is a healthy trend, there is a time for everything and to beat the cycle of nature can end up self defeating.

Festivals are flowing from one to another, on the last day of Christmas season a New Year crept it almost silently due to the Delhi incident and already marketers are looking forward to the big one Pongal. It looks to be a long weekend for me but for the government employees it gets longer with 5 days of holidays starting from the Sunday. After Pongal is the big festival called Q4 or the year end which sadly for me will sweep over the Passion season with Easter falling on the year closing.

It’s that time of the year when school admissions are starting; thankfully many schools have gone the online mode. This has stopped the overnight lines and fights to get the elusive application form. I have got the forms now the big challenge to get the seat begins. Hopefully banks will start a new product, a loan for the admission and the inevitable development fund that is never mentioned but always indicated, this will be a sure fire winner.

The knee jerk and the short sighted reactions and measures that are being announced by those in power after the Delhi incident are worrying and embarrassingly stupid to say the least. Puducherry has asked for women to wear over coats and separate buses for boys and girls. Making co-educational schools the norm and teaching boys and girls respect at a early age and how to relate to each other will go a long way in changing mindsets but heard some parents saying that co-ed schools must be avoided because boys and girls will pair up. Oh and btw my take on the overcoat is there in the images.

Have given up taking the elevator and have found a difference already. Have found that I always had the will to walk up flights of stairs but I just did not notice. Considering that buildings here seldom go more than 10 floors and very few offices / homes I know are on the top it is no big deal. Just wish the jaywalker who dashes across the roads realizes that the ROB staircase can be the bit of exercise that he has skipped so far.

And finally the latest AXE ad playing on TV is an insult to the sensibilities of both men & women alike. These jokers who are passing some insane comments to the media on behalf of their parties must be buying the cans in truck loads I suspect.

 (Pictures courtesy google images)

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Janus - no, not the James Bond one...

Janus is the Roman god of gates and doors (ianua), beginnings and endings, and hence represented with a double-faced head, each looking in opposite directions. He was worshipped at the beginning of the harvest time, planting, marriage, birth, and other types of beginnings, especially the beginnings of important events in a person's life. Janus also represents the transition between primitive life and civilization, between the countryside and the city, peace and war, and the growing-up of young people. Janus was represented with two faces, originally one face was bearded while the other was not (probably a symbol of the sun and the moon). Later both faces were bearded. In his right hand he holds a key. The double-faced head appears on many Roman coins, the likes of what you are seeing in the picture above.

Hey people after that long prologue let me first wish you a belated but nevertheless very very happy new year. May the good Lord bless you and your loved ones with His choicest blessings throughout the New Year.

So why Janus? Well this is the month of January named after Janus as given above. Now what is special about Janus, nothing actually if you compare him with the many multilimbed multiheaded Gods that abound in the Indian pantheon, he will pale in insignificance any time. But what strikes you about Janus is the fact that he is portrayed with two heads one looking behind and one looking ahead. It’s that time of the year when many of us take stock of the year that ended, make new plans and resolutions for the year ahead just like Janus.

2012 was a mixed year for me. Some ups and some downs especially on the health front. No wonder it is said that health is wealth; hopefully I look forward to this year for lots of wealth at least on the health front. Work last year has been so-so and I need to borrow the name of a dosa dish from Welcome Hotel, Purasiwalkam to describe it adequately – “special sadha”. I did manage to knock off a couple of things in my bucket list so that is a start. Some friends & relatives passed away I pray that they are in a better place. So many new families started last year and several angels were born, nowadays meeting friends socially is like stepping into a crèche.  Meeting old friends at the most unexpected places and loosing other friends for the most unbelievable reasons made this an interesting year.

Of course 365 days have passed and most of the days were incident filled so I can’t recount them all. I am constantly being told, you have aged, is it possible to get younger I wonder. And grey is a colour of hair. I am grateful that I still have a crown of hair.

So much has been accomplished but so much yet to do.I look forward to a year that is peaceful & happy and I pledge to be the change I want to see.

Best wishes all!!!