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2008 May 28 [Wednesday]

BIAL sham

On Sunday, we went to drop MA and also to check out the BIAL airport in Devanahalli, only to find there is nothing international about it. If you are expecting another Changi, Heathrow, O'Hare or a JFK, hold your breath --- Its not even a patch on any of them, which is self-evident when you are confronted with a very smallish glass and concrete structure standing in the middle of nowhere with construction debris strewn all around for company.

For an idea of how BIG this structure is :: on the outside, you can walk from one end (departure) of this small structure to the other end (arrival) in 10 minutes flat (It being a Sunday the place was swarming in the evening with curious on-lookers with families in tow to gawk at the nondescript airport in no-mans' land).

[UPDATE1 : the 10 min is walking outside the building only, from the time you alight at the bus-stand to the arrival area, and not the time taken to alight a flight and exit with luggage in tow. Minus the Sat/Sunday on-lookers it should hardly take 5 min and less than that with no luggage. That is how small the international structure is.]

Last year when HU had come over and visited the construction site at devanahalli, i went along out of sheer curiosity. Being a weekday and peak traffic time to boot, it took 2.5 hours just to reach devanahalli. We entered via the runway and speeding on the parallel service track was sheer fun. I imagine the runway would be an F1 track (*grin*) which they ought to be. We climbed the ATC tower, got the obligatory snaps, and midway DA got bored and tired of all the exposure in the hot sun, wanted to leave asap (imagine 2 women in a construction site and you know why). I had seen the terminal then and thought there would be a separate one for international flights atleast. On Sunday, 2008May25 I realised i was wrong.


Let's start again... For a late evening flight (8pm'ish) we left home at 4pm and trudged to the nearest bus-stand, luggage et al. Yeah, driving raises my blood pressure and i dont own a 4-wheeler. So what used to be a hop-skip-and-jump to the airport in 15 min by auto, is now a torturous 2 hour fuel-guzzling environment polluting 50km unnecessary ride. I like to receive/drop my friends and family to the station/airport/bus-stand when ever they come over. That will soon change atleast as far as the airport is concerned. There are 9 bus-stands and it takes 2 hours to get there, not including the time spent idling waiting for the bus to start or the time taken to get to the bus station.

We got talking to the conductor and he said the Majestic Volvo route makes 30,000 rupees per day and other routes too get good earnings. The fares are steep -- Volvo AC bus is 150 bucks single fare one-way and a bmtc bus costs 80 bucks one-way --when you compare the same volvo AC bus from Chennai Central Train station to Tiruvanmiyur (around 25 km) costs just 25 rupees, yeah just 25 bucks ! So do the Bangalore Volvo buses have special wings that they charge three times the amount for the same distance???

The bus conductors are made to do 24 hours duty but only get paid 4 hours over-time on the basic pay and get one day off .... so they work 4 days a week 24 hours at a stretch, which seems harsh.

From the bus-station to the swanky small structure is a distance of a quarter kilometer and if it rains, which is all the time in bangalore, be prepared to get drenched. There are no rest rooms for those who come to see-off their kith and kin...there is one half a km away and if you are hungry of thirsty be prepared to shell out more than 50 bucks for a bottle of water.
[Addendum : Private taxis charge Rs 950-1000/- for a single journey. If you are wondering why they charge you the return fare, its coz they claim they have to make the return journey to the city with no passengers hence you will pay them for a journey you dont make.]

Once inside the airport its chaos, the ground-staff dont belong to the individual airlines, rather they are all contracted employees by BIAL who have not been adequately trained on how to use the computer, printer, and check-in passengers. To their credit they are polite but heck that does not stop the confusion with long queues and irritated passengers left holding confirmed tickets with no flights to board....not nice.

The inside is not very impressive nor is it spacious and departures are on the second level -- local flights to the left and international flights to the right (empty when we were there). After security check tons of floor space has been devoted to malls and shops ...you name the brand and its there. So it does seem that in all this, apparently only the promoters seem to benefit financially at the expense of the tax-paying public, money** is being thrown to the winds. After all the so-called glowing reports the reality is slowly seeping out.

[** User development fee/toll/service fee, call it whatever you like but the user (common citizens) should not have to pay ridiculous prices/fees for airport related services had the government done an iota of city planning. Instad they give away 4000 acres of real estate almost for free to a private company which is the sole beneficiary, not the government. In what way is the government earning? -- Taxes ? No, ...then its lost earnings and indirectly a waste of public money (read 4000 acres of land).]

2008 May 5 [Monday]

Cauvery? where are you?

Summer in bangalore is weird and the constantly changing weather, sudden hail and rain is grating on my nerves and left me sick and no voice to boot ! After 4 days of power outage last week, not to forget the daily load-shedding that one is subjected to, since last night there is no water....not a drop! Trudging along for a morning tank inspection confirms the worst, water kissing the bottom of the tank. Apparently Cauvery water is supplied only 3 times a week and during summer it reduces to once a week. WTF?

Most times people buy water and i have seen tanks standing in front of houses to supply water to the residents. Karnataka has the famous Cauvery lake which is renowned for its sweet water and perinnial supply, and yet the local populace has to live with limited supply. The government also fought with its neighbouring states over sharing the Cauvery water and yet does not supply enough water or produce enough power for the citizens. That sucks bigtime!

2008 April 29 [Tuesday]

earth weekend update

The Earth-weekend continued till Monday evening, despite M giving umpteen complaints to the Assistant Engineer (AE) BESCOM/KEB, who would keep telling her his line-man would be there in 20 min and after 2 hours still no sign of him. When she got persistent, the AE brushed her off with "you gave wrong address, my lineman cant find it". The fact is the lineman never even tried in the morning but at around 4 pm there was a regular load-shedding and he suddenly materialized, climbed the pole and cut some wires on the pole, mumbled things would be fine and disappeared. Two hours later, NO power.

Fed-up of listening to the line-man's excuses, after 6:30 pm, got the licensed electrician to change the phase on the electric pole. After 3 days in no power mode, rotting food in the fridge, the whole experience of waiting et al was annoyingly frustrating. In retrospect, that haste (after 3 days!!) was a good idea it seems.

Because at 7pm the KEB / BESCOM lineman who came by earlier to cut some wires appeared again....maybe he had heard from the private licensed electrician that we were fine without his help. Well, I was about to go out but decided to wait and see why the Bescom employee was interested in working after his duty hours (which gets over by 4 pm). Most government employees grumble to do paid work during regular office hours so this (un)helpful pretense was indeed strange.

He fumbled around and said the meter was fine (although he knew the main phase was kaput). Annoyed with his charade, I told him to not waste my time and go check the main pole and leave the house meter alone. Down south, men dont like women speaking sternly to them and he gave me an incredulous look but sensing my growing irritation he complied and (on my insistence) checked the main wires. After much hemming and hawing he accepted that there was indeed a problem with the main line and one phase was dead, so yeah it was a KEB problem. Phew, getting him to accept that the problem was from their side was a challenge ! Then he proceeded to give me his AE's cell number and wanted me to lodge a formal complaint (pray tell me, what was the earlier calls all about?) the next morning (i.e today).

This morning, when I called the AE he admonished me for not telling him of the problem yesterday or he would have solved it pronto. He asked me to co-operate (by now i am beginning to love the double-faced attitudes here) with him and give a written complaint blaming the lineman for the work not done. I replied that it was a great idea... i would write a formal complaint about the other mysterious AE (i meant him actually) dwaddling and wasting time for 3 days, giving innumerable excuses about "address not found", harassing women, etc.., to his office and for good measure send it to his senior's too. Three hours later, the electrician appears and tells M the problem was never with the Bescom main phase and that the lineman had accidentally cut our house supply only. So could he change back the interchanged phase (if she paid him, yet again?).

This whole thing seems so fishy that I asked M to just let things be. I presume they must have finally repaired the faulty main and are just trying to cover their b^$$ before we lodge that written complaint.

UPDATE : I got a call about an hour ago saying 3 line men have descended and were __working__ on the main electric pole and restored the connections. Ah...something seems to have done the trick. In this whole episode the thing that bothers me is people's apathy towards everything. Strangely folks in the whole area dont mind living partly in darkness but dont want to be bothered to deal with any government officials (but want jobs there, ofcourse) because getting work done from them involves bribing which they are loathe to do so are unwilling to do anything about it. In case you are wondering i did not have to bribe the officer/lineman. During the whole episode i have heard numerous stories on how not to antagonise the govt' officials or complain against them as they can take revenge by purposely cross-circuting or shorting the connections and it can make life difficult for us women. Gee... i look forward to that challenge too !!

2008 April 27 [Sunday]

exciting weekend

my weekend could not have begun on a more exciting note. Someone in KEB decided to celebrate "earth weekend" and switched off power for a particular phase early saturday morning. so just a few of the houses have no power in the sweltering summer. As if the excitement of doing my bit for the environment by crashing into objects in the darkness was not fun enough, i managed to lock myself out of the house... Oh, Joy !!
/end sarcasm.

2008 April 20 [Sunday]

bcb6

Barcamp Bangalore (BCB6), the 2008 Summer Edition was kickstarted yesterday at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. I reached the venue at 0945 hrs after getting caught in traffic and managing to lose my way in some one way... grr, why do they have so many one-ways in Bangalore? The IIM campus is a green oasis and it was heaven after the traffic outside and I could have spent hours soaking in the peaceful greenery but i shall wax eloquent on that later.

Since things were just starting and i hate missing the good stuff i went in and found more folks walking in slowly. The organisers had a sense of humor and that was really cool. Listening to stuffy, self-publicists gets me bored and looking for the closest exit. They left most of the space (talk time) for people to introduce themselves and sessions they would be conducting.

As is evident on sessions page there were many interesting topics but i could not attend all of them :( There is a blogathon starting today and today's topic is "Infrastructure"- its specific to Bangalore but i guess traffic in every major city sucks. Shall keep the rest for the actual blog post though.

At some talks, i met some old friends, made new ones and the best part is connecting the faces to the nicks and email id's. It was a fun day in all. There was even a dating session but i had no plans to attend it and had to leave early.

Today (20th April) is the second and conclusive day of BCB so be there and have fun. The whole event is well organised, FREE entry, great crowds and i am looking forward to the next BCB7 :)

2008 January 18 [Friday]

indichix meetup@blr

The meet-up is at 3 pm tomorrow (atlast :)) Since suggesting it last month, it was getting postponed, /me was sick and i almost thought it wont happen ...but it is gonna happen tomorrow at Christ College (and i still need to map out my way there...sheesh...if i am late means i am lost.). For tomorrow, I had almost convinced an upstream dev to agree to talk tech at the meetup and almost announced it on the list. Almost because as of now he has some other work so maybe next-time. Heck, I intend to keep bugging him till he agrees (and i know you are reading this :)) to talk about his project.

While i was wasting (a lot of) time googling for a solution to this issue earlier today, i saw a bounce in the mailbox from a journalist. Apparently, he had seen a blog about the meetup in bengaluru and wanted to give us publicity. Nice that mainstream media is taking an interest in technology :) Our little journalistic adventure is archived on the list since i had asked that a draft of the article/writeup be posted there. My assumption being : folks can quickly correct mistakes if any, as we have members from different timezones across the world, so responses will be quick (can i say 24/7 :)) and we can avoid wrong messages going in print. Recanting is always a waste of time and never really useful since the damage is already done. Well, there were not many corrections except crediting the appropriate projects.

Terminology is important and since most people will not know what GNU, GPL, FSF and FLOSS meant (egad....!) I sent him a bunch of links for the GNU and FSF projects and a wiki link on what FLOSS is all about. I hope he includes that in the article since that is the only way we can reach out and educate people. Even if one person takes the trouble to type www.fsf.org in their browser and read, we succeed and add to our ilk :) Let's see what happens tomorrow.
For those not in the know, Bangalore Mirror was formerly known as Vijay Times, a very popular daily providing local gup-shup until it was taken over by BCCL (aka TOI) sometime last year. Strangely they still dont have a website. Heck, even Mid-Day has an e-paper for Bangalore. Since i cant link BMirror here, i asked balu (the journalist) to bring 2-3 copies tomorrow when they attend our meet.
Talking of BCCL/TOI, Mint (an HT group publication) had an interesting article about them the other day. Some years ago i remember reading somewhere that most articles were paid for (as in, a company paid the print-media company to write about them, instead of buying plain visual 60x60 cm adverts, which few people glance at anyway). Check out the list of companies BCCL has invested in.

2008 January 1 [Tuesday]

More encores

Wishing you all a happy, peaceful and prosperous 2008

Starting the new year with a performance is a first for me. The mridangam artiste who provided the percussion was impressed with our performance on the 14th and held a jam session (with his son on the tabla) on Sunday. Prior to that he had refused to rehearse any session for the first program. But hey, as tiny artists we really cant expect experienced artists to accede every rehearsal request, even it helps us learn and improve.

Usually when we learn or practice, we only keep the vocals in mind and dont provide any breaks for percussion. Since the tutelage is usually separate for individual disciplines, it does not make sense to pause when there is no one to play alongside. Only experienced and established stage artists learn the nuances, others dont. On Sunday we learnt how to keep cycles (of beats) for the percussionists (violin, tabla, mridangam, flute) which gives us the much needed pause to quickly look at the lyrics{*1}.

Yesterday was our last practice session before the performance today and we laughed a lot during practice. Although its involuntary, the head swaying and other gestures looks very funny on stage and most girls dont realise it. So 'B' started parroting and mimicing each funny gesture, actions and expressions and it was good fun :-P.

This is the first time i am in the south in the month of Mazhgazhi (concert season) and i like it, but Chennai has the best concerts. We had to practice and sing 14-15 raagas in 5 different languages (Sanskrit, Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu) with just 8 10 weeks (2 hours practice per week) to learn, no mean task. Last time i had kept a paper with the lyrics but today i didnt keep the lyrics, just a sequence list. Mugging (learning by rote) mere words is neigh impossible for me and the songs make more sense when I know the meaning of the lyrics and the context, although its not necessary in every case. Some ragas are very simple and easy to remember but most times lyrics help since the language dialect is old (read, pure) and not at all used in daily life by people today.

Most times i refer and borrow lyrics from Todd M. McComb's fantastic site on Carnatic music. He has written an interesting article on what Carnatic Music means to him.

In what tradition can the songs be said to be so perfect, both in their grandeur and in their succinctness? There can be no comparison, especially in the directness of the expression and the range of melodic material available. One can find one or the other in many places, whether a simple and beautiful song, or an impressive intellectual construction based on a nonsense phrase or no words at all. Carnatic music accommodates both of these ideals, and does so to magnificent effect. A song can be performed simply and in all humility, or with the grandest elaboration retaining the core of both meaning and melody.At least in the US, we are supposedly equal, and the same should be said for our taste in music. For a professional musician, the idea is somewhat insulting, because how can the ignorant know of what they judge? They cannot, but we are forced to acknowledge them to make a living, if for no other reason.

The above is so true, take the Tyagaraja kriti "Marugelara O Raghava", a telugu song which is sung in praise of LordVishnu , wherein the Tyagaraja asks "why God has forgotten his humble devotee (Tyagaraja)" and so on. Now i am no Telugu language expert but apparently it can also be interpreted as a woman reproaching her love for forgetting her. In Oothukadu Venkatasubba Iyer's "Aalaipayuthe" one can take the religious interpretation but it can also be interpreted as a woman talking about the love of her life. /quote: Of course the meaning of the lyrics revolves around acts of religious devotion. One can rightly ask both concerning the relevance of devotion in our modern age of technology and selfishness, as well as the ability of a Westerner to apprehend and appreciate it. Indeed, it would be presumptuous of me to suggest that I fully understand the songs of the Trinity. I understand parts of them, sometimes after they are explained to me. Nonetheless, I identify with them somehow. The ideas find a personal resonance, not least of which because they are expressed with such musical grace. The sophistication of allusion requires some cross-cultural explanation, but the core idea of devotion meets with receptive listeners elsewhere. /unquote.

IMO, the raga's rhythm and beautiful patterns one can construct is enough to drown away the mundaneness of daily life. It is timeless and the words or linguistic construction is such that one can find meanings relevant even today, especially with respect to emotions. Most times one is caught in the rhythm, melody and the mathematical swaras or poetic beauty of the lyrics. Hmm.. even i dont know the meaning of all the songs i have learnt, although i have always bugged my teachers about it, much to their annoyance ;-). After the advent of the internet, i google (a lot) but dont always get answers.

/quote: The success of music is ultimately in the mind of the listener, and specifically in the physical and emotional changes which can be provoked. It is a simple fact that Carnatic music has only a positive effect in this way, while the same cannot be said for various forms of popular music. Both the ability of music to build and release tension, as well as its potential to unlock latent energies in the mind are respected and developed. When discussing lofty ideas with people, there are often various mental blocks which must be overcome, and knowing the way around them gracefully is a large part of the art of teaching. /unquote.

Any song can be used to express a range of emotions, situations, intersperse between those and a whole range unknown, just as its open to (mis)interpretation. Most Indian languages are flexible and do borrow vocabulary from each other in some cases. Yet finally, its upto individuals to use their linguistic, cognitive, philosophical, and historical language skills to conjure up their own creative interpretations. Usually such (the latter in Marugelara or Alaipayuthe) interpretations are not encouraged or taught simply because lesser minds can convolute and misuse things they fully dont grasp or understand. For the most part, today i had more fun on stage and the performance went well. Many came and complimented me for Bho Shambho-Revati and BrahmamOkate-Bhowli so my worries{*2} just disappeared. I should remember to use the strong coffee+chocolate therapy to perk my mood in future. It just works :) (tm)

Today the net connection has been very very patchy .... pinging the ISP's server works but still no internet ....*sigh*, hope its not an indication of the patchy service my ISP intends to provide this year :(... besides the power cut we had at noon....*longer sigh*. One way out is to tell myself that our traditional new year is in April, which makes me feel less irritated with the government who provides power here.

--- --- --- --- ---

{*1} For reasons unknown, all performances are impromptu...which means no papers with lyrics or written notations (rather it is frowned upon), so I am wondering how folks would react if we had kept the laptop with lyrics infront of us during our performance today :-P{*2} Had a migrane and sinus all this weekend, which refused to go away even after taking medicines. Strange as it seems while practicing i never felt the headache but the moment the music stops the dull throbbing headache would start.

2007 December 10 [Monday]

foss07 days

After the first day of foss.in, i never got the time to blog. Yeah i could have used the time between the talks to blog but wifi on my Compaq Presario 6000 series does not work on Ubuntu. Crap .......

| DAY 2 |

started with meeting Christian, Sam, Kartik, Pradeepto, Kushal, Alex, Tejas, Aslam, Ramky, Parthan and ?? ... Any missed names are unintentional... its just too many people these last few days so have not really connected each face with their nicks, gotchis and/or mail id's. After we had lunch I attended a talk on Dhvani: Indian Language Text to Speech System by Santhosh Thottingal and also Speech recognition and using CMU sphinx to build ASRs by ShyamK. I found these interesting but it would have been nicer if Santhosh had also kept another talk with some technical details explaining how they create unit selection synthesis, concatenation and collection of speech in the DB, the phonotactics of language which is different for each language and other stuff which i need to think about.

| DAY 3 |

Linuxchix BOF .... The previous night I created a few slides with minimalism in mind, so each slide did not have more than 3-4 words but apparently in any BoF the audience or participants control the discussion flow and since i have never done a BOF earlier, it was decided to let our participants hold fort. I was curious... By 3:35pm we had a decent crowd and for the first 2-3 minutes the women (and men) were reluctant to talk. I am not sure if it was the result of a heavy lunch but soon a discussion of sorts started off around different suggestions and ideas creating a nice web. Among other things, we discussed about women using nicks (btw, using a gender neutral nick != changing gender or pretending to be a man), which i support since its very easy to get away with harassment in India and the last thing I want to see happening to a woman since she would not know what to do about it. The general rule of thumb is that private mail should not be published on a list but imo, women can blog about it and people who abuse private mail lose their right to privacy. As Danese said the next day : "Dont be an a**.".... succinctly put !!

I had related an experience which occurred earlier in the day... We had kept linuxchix stickers at our stall and most folks used to exchange them with a bunch of their 'foo-project' stickers on our table which we didnt remove. Most of us were casually hanging around talking when up walked random dude, asked if he could take 'foo-project' stickers and i gently reminded him to take the lc-in stickers. He picks it up and says "linuxchix" (emphasis, as heard) rolls eyes upward and drops them onto the table and walks away. Ofcourse, 'foo-project' volunteer quickly removed his project stickers but irrespective of whether those other stickers lay there or not this person would have behaved the way he did. Classic case of a closed mind judging us here. Preconceived notions are hard to change so i would not waste my time in educating those unwilling to listen.

During the BoF, Runa & me were mc'ing and Aneesha, Ankita and Barkha did the hard task of taking notes and stuff. I have time and again observed that the commercial (not just propreitary) Indian IT industry has a gender ratio of 50:50 and yet Indian women contributors to the Free software movement is still in single digits. This is where the challenge lies, very unlike the issues faced by other nations. We did find new blood willing to participate and Runa announced the logo contest ... so all the artists reading this can get cracking. Please also remember :

- This is an India specific logo, and even if India lies in Asia, your design cannot be used internationally or for Asia.
- Yeah we want an Indian-ish logo, preferably abstract art.
Do describe your design theme/representation in a few lines along with your logo submissions.

An interesting discussion was after the BoF ... it was pointed out how gradually by the time the BoF was nearing the end the men started 'telling' us what we should be doing... despite a guy saying that he learnt to listen more by stepping back. That kind of sums up the whole thing for me !

| DAY 4 |

After attending Danese's talk which was merrily entertaining, well paced and interesting, C, S and me went shopping and i was too tired to do anything.

| DAY 5 |

Started with attending Sam's talk on the Debian Project, and i kinda agree with the stuff he had to say... Debian needs younger blood where existing members can be excellent mentors. Second, a point i had mentioned in the BoF, we have just 4 DD's from India and this from a country that has the IT industry as its economic backbone. Rather than focus on the 'why' i shall try to enumerate on the 'how to change' in my next post.

Ford_prefect tried to get wireless working but it was time for Rusty's talk and i had to leave for my music class. Thus ended foss.in'07 which i enjoyed and wish i had more time to attend all the talks. Some overlap is to be expected given the short time. Hmm... what about having 24/7 sessions, which has its disadvantages but that might give people more opportunity and time. Maybe a foss.in at 11 other states or cities across India. Now that would be super !

Eek... something went wrong and now all my old entries are in BOLD letters. i am trying but am unable to change it... (thence solved,2007dec11)

2007 December 4 [Tuesday]

day one at foss07

My scalded fingertips [update: swathed in tape look like those of a tavil player] are a good reminder to never jabber on the phone while absent-mindedly touching a vessel on the stove.

Here is a short report on day1 of foss.in2007.....

Last night i had plotted the route i wanted to traverse to reach IISc but come morning am unsure. So I asked a friend how he went home. Changing my route was better as the roads i had chosen were ones with heavy-duty traffic. Ultimately though, asking for road names didnt quite work so well or i was asking the wrong people but asking for SadashivNagar police station worked like a charm...

Along the way another nice guy let me tag along with him so i was spared the trouble of stopping at each signal and saying "SadashivNagar police station yelli?". Needless to say, i got delayed for Christians talk (sorry Christian :)) so my plan to deposit "the stuff" with Runa before going to attend it went to nought. Since that didnt happen, i met Swati who was sending out press invites so i pinged a friend who works for another media group to drum up some support. During lunch time, Sankarshan, Vaibhav, Kushal, Runa and me were chatting away while Supreet worked magic on my laptop, which now runs Ubuntu. Apparently he has a similar model with same issues. Thanks again Surpreet :-)

Post lunch it was Runa's talk on Gnome translation which started of with hardware trouble on her laptop. The talk went off well and i had a few questions but then so did everybody else. There was someone from unicode.org so it would have been interesting but we had run out of time and before the volunteers dragged her off the dias, Runa ended the session but not before /me losing a new silver inlaid black earring ... i should have just dropped the other one too so whoever finds it can wear both :-/ Atleast on my way home I got the roads right and didnt get lost in the myriad gullies.

2007 December 3 [Monday]

lost in a maze

I spent the best part of an hour or more peering through the bangalore city map at google-maps plotting my route to get to IISc for foss.in tomorrow. From experience, i have a niggling doubt that i wont get there without getting lost in the maze of Bangalore's one-way roads and this is despite asking for directions a million times... I kid you not.... Mainly its the one-way roads here which literally drive me nuts. Coming from a city which has almost no one-way roads and definitely does not have a zillion roads leading to the same destination. TBH, many roads here are really wide (compared to Bombay) so what is the need to make them a one-way, except to perhaps drive up petrol/fuel consumption and thence contribute to global warming.

Another peeve of mine is : Trains - They are fast, economical and literally the lifeline and the best way to travel in Mumbai, but planners of this city do not think so. It does not have a rail network connecting different parts of the city. That really sucks. The MetroRail is under construction but wont see the light of day for another half decade atleast to become operational. Why didnt they do it earlier?

Traversing the one-ways is a challenge and the more directions i ask for, the more confusing the roads seem. I have lost my way umpteen times here which is ofcourse the best thing to happen to an auto driver ... the lucky sod! He could'nt have asked for an easier way to rake in the moolah. Despite giving him the exact landmark on MG Road, he insisted on testing my road knowledge and patience. At each fork i would be asked "straight, left or right turn... do you want to go via street1, street2 or that way... Arghh, gimme a break, I dont know and dont care except for reaching my destination in the shortest way possible.

Now what's with all the main, cross and what have you naming system... Every layout is properly named with a 1st Main street, 2nd Cross road and ... but hey i am not used to systematic, well-ordered layouts. I like directions like this : "Aage road pe seedha jake signal pe left marneka, saamne ek bada building ayega, udhar vapis left turn maro aur doosra galli mein teesra building". Simple na !

2007 December 2 [Sunday]

Run Lola Run

Have you ever been in a situation where you and another person are physically present at the same place at the same time, but he is fine while you feel hunted and stalked ... ?!?!

The other day, I found a man following and trying to stand very close, under the pretext of examining items on display at a store. There was tons of space so knowing what was coming next, i wandered away each time he came too close for comfort. After 10-15 min of "dodge-the-creep", I got fedup and hoping he would go away on seeing me with another man, I returned to stand next to AP who was busy enjoying the antics of a kid playing with a weighing machine.  Even so the creep was audacious enough to saunter next to us (near me actually) and listen in to our conversation. Irritated, i strode up to the weighing machine, banged my fist on it and looking at AP said, "Yeh dhai kilo ka haath jabde se connect hoga toh bahut darrd hoga kya? - Will it hurt a lot if this 2.5 kg fist connected to a jaw?"

Prone to exaggerate quite well, AP went on about how i broke his shoulder the other day, hand-two months ago, blah, blah.... I didnt choose to correct him that the last time he had fractured his hand was as a kid, rather, i enjoyed his exaggerated claims as the creep standing next to him was putting as much distance between us as possible. I don't find anything wrong in re-claiming my private space. On our way home I told him the whole story. So even if two people are physically present, each one is poles apart in terms of what we experience.

Back in Bombay, M and me were climbing down the stairs to the platform one day, when a train pulled in at the station. A wave of men rushed up the stairs from the arriving train. Now overcrowded places are perfect spots for men to misbehave and blame it on the crowds. Usually i use a blocking technique we had learnt in karate but yet this creep got an opportunity. In a flash i turned after him and wove my way up the stairs (i was going down) through the milling crowds, with one mojri on my feet (the other one having slipped off in the bustling crowd). After a few hundred yards when few people were around us, i (barefoot, silent) reached him and was amused to see the shock on his face on facing me. As he crawled away I turned and the crowd around me had frozen in time for a moment, then it was life as usual....all this in less than two minutes.

If ever a victim musters up the courage to question her attacker, the first question (accompanied with an insolent leer) will be "batao, maine kya kiya? (describe what i did?)". Now which woman would want to describe the horrible creepiness she has been through, just so that the perpetrator can embarass the victim even more in public... most women i know prefer to curse a few bad words and walk away, with the assailants laughter or snigger or taunts echoing in her ears.

It would be impossible to pen each incident as i know its not the last and moreso I didnt experience anything different from what every woman in India whether she is from a city, town or village has at one time or the other in the course of her life experienced..... molestation, harassment in public or verbal taunting. Defined by Indian laws as "eve-teasing", each Indian woman is expected to tolerate and not retaliate. If a creep thinks he can physically assault me in public he should be prepared to take a fist to his face peppered with some very colourful language. In public, most men will not help because many guys think it happens to other women and never one's own....which is farthest from the truth.

Try this, ask each woman in your life about her experience and she will have a story to tell. Most women are embarassed to talk about it and have come to accept it as a part and parcel of daily life and frankly when one is groped, pinched, brushed by, verbally abused or commented upon almost on a daily basis, women tend to get stoic and desensitised to the reality of violation of the individual's private space in public spaces.

As for taking legal recourse, its an absolute waste of time, money and energy to approach the police or courts for eve-teasing and harassment complaints. Absolutely nothing positive will result from that. When I heard of the blanknoise project (IMHO, they propagate and advocate passive tactics which very few Indian men will understand) in Bangalore, I thought why does Bangalore need it ... its more spacious than Bombay (and less crowded) so with space available men will forget to accidentally bump, grope, brush against women. Err.. i was/am wrong.

2007 November 17 [Saturday]

swag != freeware

My last post for sticker sponsors, was solved within a few hours but there was a problem with Sulamita's server and I could not blog about it. Thanks Atul (our sticker sponsor) !! I have to agree with Pradeepto that swag does not come free, and just like FreeSoftware (even if given away free, the developer's time costs money in terms of time and resources, hence lost earnings) someone somewhere has footed the bill for it.

I remember Sulamita saying the LC-Brazil tees were so popular that they got over in a flash and Runa mentioned that there was demand for LC-India Tees too. For company sponsored events its easy to get corporate sponsors but in the floss world most of the volunteers shoulder the hardwork, organising, fund-raising (sometimes its personal funds), to keep the flame burning.

While its great to get a free sticker or Tee, when you attend Foss.in please remember to ask the volunteer who hands out a sticker or Tee if you can donate/contribute to the project instead. Won't you feel nice knowing you/your girlfriend/fiance/wife/sister is not wearing a tee paid for by Pradeepto /Runa /Ananth /Sharan /....add contributor name.., think about it...!!

2007 November 9 [Friday]

deepavali shubhakamana

|| deepavali timisaram apasarati ca subham asti || Samvat 2064... May this divali dispel darkness and bring light and prosperity into our lives !

Its been years since i have stopped burning crackers in hopes of reducing the noise and pollution levels but that ain't happening. Besides the environment, children work in those factories using hazardous chemicals, so its another reason to vote with my money.

The thing I am not used to is frequent power-cuts but apparently its second nature in Bangalore. BESCOM decided to do a no power from "8AM-8PM" trial run on Sunday and it was successful so the whole of Deepavali week/end(?) was drowned in spurts of power'less' festivities.....and to think i was living in India's "Silicon Valley"... bah!!

2007 September 23 [Sunday]

nice guys

I had blogged about my bad experiences with auto-drivers in Bangalore which is something I am getting used to over time. In yet another incident, the driver refused to go where I wanted to go as it was a one-way road. That was just an excuse to fleece me, so I told him (repeatedly) that I would not pay the excess fare (above the meter) he demanded if he dropped me in the middle of nowhere, but he didnt take me seriously and stopped the vehicle, refusing to budge, all the while abusing me in Kannada.

Arguing with him was pointless so at this point I got out of the vehicle and he blocked my path and tried to get physical...bad idea ... I warned him that if he touched me i would not hesitate to hit him. Seeing this drama 4 bikers stopped their bikes around me. Seeing the crowd gathering the driver lost his bravado and settled for the meter fare (which is also rigged) and went his way. I just wanted to highlight the kindness of (& thank) those strangers who could have just gone by with their work and ignored someone in distress but did'nt. I wish more and more people would be like those men ... this city is not so bad afterall.

2007 August 11 [Saturday]

almost on page3

There was a media party this week and if anything we were having a blast. The media was there in full force and I almost made it to the page 3 ....I realised it when I saw the pictures in the papers and that too coz I knew where I was standing.

Knowing my distaste for publicity thankfully my face was not fully visible.... but yet i got ribbed for my claim to fame being - the crown of my head ... hehe !

After the earlier bad experiences I must say thanks to all my friends and colleagues who take the trouble to drop me home and/or shove me out of the office....Thanks y'all :)

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