Archive for September, 2006

How can anybody ride without a helmet?!

I left for work in a tearing hurry this morning and ended up forgetting my helmet. I realized it the second I started my bike- it was a whole new experience!  Here’s a list of things I couldn’t do because I didn’t have a helmet: 

  • I couldn’t keep my eyes wide open. Either the breeze or the dust would force me to make like I was acutely short-sighted.
  • I couldn’t make faces at people who annoyed or amused me on the road.
  • I couldn’t sing with the usual facial expressions that go with the song. I do that to amuse myself and avoid thinking about the homicidal psychopaths who attempt to murder me everyday.
  • I couldn’t confidently glare at the auto-drivers and motorists who honked too much or drove in the wrong direction.

Here are the things that annoyed me more than usual: 

  • My own bike horn sounded far too loud. The noises along the whole way were far too sharp. Far too loud.
  • The exhaust smoke from lorries and autos were blacker than usual
  • Fellow motor-cyclists and auto-drivers seemed closer than usual
  • The sun was far too bright.

Here’s a list of things that made me feel uncomfortable: 

  • I felt smaller than usual- like I was somehow more accessible and hence prone to accidents and conflicts with others.
  • I was more paranoid about driving safe- I couldn’t afford to skid or collide without a helmet!
  • People could actually see my face! I mean, you know…
  • At the end of the ride, my face and hair felt like I had just trekked across the
    Sahara.

The only positive thing about the whole experience probably was that I rode slower than usual. But then I guess that was just me- I saw quite a few helmetless dare-devils whiz by in zillion cc bikes like noisy milkmen in remote villages.  I find all these heated discussions over making helmets compulsory quite amusing. What’s all the fuss about anyway? It’s beyond me how people manage without a helmet! I, for one, will never forget mine back at home, ever again!

kanch

September 27, 2006 at 3:51 pm 6 comments

Lage Raho Rajubhai!

I thoroughly enjoyed watching the movie! ‘Munna meets Gandhi’ is a concept that could have gone horribly wrong! So what made this movie work? My take:

  • There was no preaching! ‘Gandhigiri’ was portrayed as a street smart way of getting things done rather than merely appealing to a higher moral ground!
  • It was paisa vasool entertainment all the way
  • There were no loose ends in spite of a multi-dimensional plot

Cheers to Mr. Raju Hirani! Hope he continues to make good movies

September 19, 2006 at 11:58 am 2 comments

Kumarakom

I’ve been to chilly Munnar
Taken the train to Trivandrum,
Fallen asleep on a boat in Thekkady,
And lazed on the beaches of Kovalam
But none of them could match
Our wonderful holiday in tranquil Kumarakom

If my poetry sucks, don’t blame it on Kumarakom!!

It wasn’t really a trip that we planned from the word go! It started when Citibank offered us free return tickets as part of the ‘Fly for Sure‘ offer – we were rewarded with cheap air tickets for over-spending! We chose Cochin as our preferred destination simply because we had just been to Goa and wanted to go some place else! When we did get the tickets, we were wondering what to do in Cochin!! Thats when I happened to come across a good deal being offered at the Kumarakom Lake resort. It was only then that I looked up the map of Kerala to see where Kumarakom really was and to my pleasant surprise; it was just 70 odd km from Cochin! Fabulous coincidence!!

The next thing was to figure out if we can get a reservation on a houseboat – which was something Kanch and I really wanted to do in Kerala! We spoke to the people at the resort and arranged for the stay at the resort as well as an overnight trip on the Houseboat! Here again, fate twisted things in our favour, when the friendly resort staff told us that we could also go and see the annual snake boat race at Allepey while we were there! Things had just fallen into our plan! 😉

There was one major issue though – Citibank had given us tickets on Air Deccan! Anyone who’s traveled by that it knows that the airline believes that people who pay less have no right to punctuality and seat numbers! And we were travelling free!! However, much to everybody’s surprise, the flight left on time and reached Cochin a few minutes early! Now that was a sure sign that the wind was blowing our way!

The resort itself was fantastic and immediately gave the feeling that it was worth the premium we paid! Our first day was in the houseboat and it was simply superb – overcast skies with the occasional drizzle, soothing backwaters, beautiful sunset view from the sun deck, fresh toddy, scrabble, hot chai, banana chips, cold beer and pan-fried fresh prawns & fish – pure bliss!

On the way back to the resort the next morning, we saw the defending champions of the Nehru Trophy boat race in the Chundan Vallam (snake boat) category – the Kumarakom boat club – heading towards Allepey. Yes – it was race day and the resort had got us a front row position (in a boat) right next to the finish line!

Snake Boat RaceSnake Boat Race

Depending on the size of the boat, each team had between 60 to 120 members. Watching the teams rowing in perfect synchronization racing to the finish line is nothing short of spectacular! Accompanied by good food, chilled beer, constant rain, hot chai and a cheering crowd, we had an absolutely fabulous time watching what could arguably be one of the largest and toughest team events!!

The next two days at the resort were chill-out days! Yoga in the morning, swimming in the pool right outside our meandering pool villa, ayurvedic massages, lots of sleeping, walking & cycling, playing scrabble, reading a book, cultural programmes and of course, not to be forgotten, a lot of food & beer!! ‘Jannat’!

Meandering Pool Villas

Despite the fact that the Air Deccan flight took off on time (well almost) on our way back, we weren’t all that happy that a wonderful holiday was coming to an end! And as we sat in the flight holding our hands, we were thinking only one thing – our ‘last-in-coach-first-in-flight’ strategy came in handy ensuring that it was each other’s hand that we were holding right through the turbulent flight!

September 15, 2006 at 2:20 pm 2 comments

In the name of God

The other night, I was driving back home only to be stalled in a traffic jam for more than an hour – because people were moving huge idols of the Lord Ganesha towards the lake for immersion! What’s more, the single over-bridge across the railway tracks was blocked for traffic from all directions – to make way for the procession! With vehicles from all directions itching to go, the traffic cops had a tough time managing the situation! But is there anything anyone can do? Of course not! Religion is too touchy a topic in India!

The same scene is repeated a week later – this time for St. Mary’s feast! And I can assure you that the same thing will happen again for Ramzan, Diwali and all the innumerable festivals that we ‘celebrate’! Shouldn’t crackers that produce a noise beyond a certain level be banned? Shouldn’t idols that pollute the water be made illegal? Shouldn’t we have strict laws that ensure that such religious events do not affect everybody else and more importantly the environment that sustains us?

It would be political suicide for any politician or party to ask these questions in our country where democracy has come to mean that people have ‘freedom’ to do whatever they want – even if it is at the cost of denying others their freedom!

September 15, 2006 at 10:19 am Leave a comment

Unfortunate Irony

Steve Irwin – a man who spent a major part of life playing around with crocodiles and pythons – died after being struck by a stingray while filming a segment for a series named ‘Ocean’s Deadliest‘!

To put the rarity of such a sting into perspective – this is one of only 17 fatal stingray attacks worldwide, the last one in Australia being in 1945!

Despite all his antics, nobody can deny that he added a lot of colour and crikey to an otherwise dry and slow paced subject!

September 12, 2006 at 7:19 am 1 comment

What do you mean now or never?!

I figured out what it was about the Apache bike ad that put me off. Apart from the fact that Anand liked it, that is.  

It was the suggestion that there are some things in life that you had to let go off sooner or later. I don’t mean to carry this into a philosophical discussion- I mean it in a very real, material, physical sense.  

 I feel what causes us to age is the act of letting the mundane, the routine take over your life. I had lunch with my friends today and it was a nice one with discussions revolving around all topics friends usually discuss – life, universe and everything. J Something left me depressed at the end of it though. I believe it was how each one of us ended up talking about the hectic lives we lead- cleaning up our homes, cooking, maid problems, grocery-shopping, long office hours, house repairs…..It was worse for my friends- they both are mothers. Do I need to say more?! Somehow the ordinariness of the duties that fill our daily lives got me depressed. Just 6 years back- we were all back on campus- our biggest worry was grades. Maybe the next biggest worry was… I don’t even remember if we had a worry that we could call “big” for more than a few hours! Now we have a million chores all competing for priority- each threatening to mess up our lives if we so much as ignore it for a day or two. It’s not like we don’t have fun. But that sense of freedom, a lightness that comes from not having responsibilities beyond yourself, beyond today, is something else! I think I experience it only when I run off for a vacation somewhere far away! 

Tasks are never-ending. This is from a person who maintains 2 sets of to-do lists at office and one at home, in addition to several visiting cards with notes, tucked away in different compartments of the abyss that is my hand-bag. Give them an inch and they will take over your lives J. Ok I agree that’s a bit melodramatic, but you get the drift of where I’m headed. Fight them. Do something different once in a while.  I forget where I read it- it’s a beautiful question to ask yourself periodically-“When was the last time I did something for the first time?!”  My favourite professor in college, a gentleman well over 60 years I would think, would cycle his way to the class ever day. My uncle and aunt took up psychology as a subject and breezed through with flying colours- well after their retirement. They now run a practice at a clinic. My dad learnt how to use a syringe to treat patients at the dispensary where he volunteers ever since he retired. How many of us non-doctors know how to do that?! The country head of my company chose a day when his entire family was away, sneaked out of the house and bought himself a classy bike J. He rides to office on the bike almost every day.  

What do you mean now or never?!

kanch

September 7, 2006 at 5:58 pm 4 comments

Reclaiming our lives

Slavery is not dead. We’ve just stopped recognizing it!

Those are the words from the latest Tata safari ad! It’s very rare that we find the right words to capture a sentiment or emotion! But the creators of this line succeeded in doing just that!

While I would be the first to put down any attempt to exaggerate the ‘difficult conditions’ faced by people in the software industry, it is true that people across the entire Indian services-based industry are being stretched. There is very little importance attached to the personal life of people! And while we would like to believe that the bosses are the villains, the truth is that we as individuals are the ones guilty of neglecting our personal lives. It’s just a lot easier to convince ourselves and everyone around us that we have no choice!

It is in this context that the line really strikes a chord within! The ad goes one with a couple of sub-lines such as “When did you approve to be watched” and “The only person who can stop is you!” to finally end with the line ‘it takes little to reclaim your life” which is a minor tweak on their main tagline to communicate the reduced price! Together with the background score and the fast-paced video, this ad along with its predecessor are among the best ads I’ve seen in some time! But what gives both the ads their character are its words!

To further appreciate the beauty of this ad, compare it to the one that talks about the latest bike from the TVS stable – the Apache. In both cases the message is similar, but it is clear which one really talks to you and which one is trying to!

anand

September 1, 2006 at 10:30 am 5 comments


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