Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sniffer cops!

With all ill-effects it can bring, recession brought to us — those who work late into the night in Bangalore — one more woe: night-long cab rides. With the company resorting to drastic cost-cutting measures, including removing tubelights in the loo, many times people to all different routes were clubbed into a single cab.

When the situation got worse with the person who is dropped last getting a good two hours of ‘Bangalore darshan’, many lucky ones opted to bring own vehicles. People like me, who have no choice, remained crammed into a Sumo every night with some 10 others, equally hapless as me.

However, we utilize the opportunity to make it as interesting as possible. The hours in the cab turned out to be the best lighter moments we shared as colleagues. Our loud outbursts of laughter would have woken up at least one family every night.

Yesterday it was different when just two of us were there in the cab and the reason for laughter was provided by none other than a policeman on night patrol.

My colleague and I were in the cab other than a securityman and the driver. As our cab reached Cambridge Layout, we saw the road blocked by barricades and a policeman standing in the middle. He was inspecting a motorcyclist who was just ahead of us. We waited for our turn as policeman gestured to stop.

The driver turned back and said: “Madam, please take out your Press cards.”

Soon, both of us dug into our bags and held the Press card in our hand as we seldom get a chance to show that privilege to the world! The hidden ego of journalist murmured in mind: “Are you trying to act smart Mr policeman? See, we are licenced to travel any time in the night...”

I also thought, to the worst there must be some bomb alert in the city. Now the fellow will make us stand on the way at midnight until the whole cab is examined, we thought, least interested in wasting few more minutes of sleep.

The two-wheeler inspection was done and the cop asked our driver to take the vehicle forward and stop near him. He asked the driver to pul down the window. We were ready to wave our Press cards at him any moment.

The policeman came near the driver and asked him to blow on his face. The driver did and we were let away!!!

It took a few seconds for us to decipher what was happening. He was one of the IT city’s sniffer cops with an in-built alcohol detector! With no alcohol detector in hand, he put the driver to alcohol test with much ease!

We burst into laughter and wondered how the policeman would tackle the situation if somebody with a real bad breath was driving the vehicle. Would he be conscious when the next vehicle comes? ;P

Friday, March 20, 2009

Perverts of the highest degree

When Fritzl, who kept his daughter as a sex slave in a dungeon for 24 years, was brought before the law in April 2008, I wished the media hadn’t published it and it was the first and last incident of that genre that had happened in the whole world. The degree of the crime that led to the hapless daughter giving birth to her father’s seven children knew no bounds.

Even the thought about the 24 years of life of Elisabeth Fritzl in a concealed part of the basement of their family home in Amstetten in Austria was disturbing to the core. More thought about it have the potential to land you or me in front of a psychiatrist.

I wished media had never got the news because I feared it may negatively inspire many perverted minds and that it may disturb many girls who had never thought that such a thing can happen.

That was well, a year ago. Now we are all in an even more difficult situation where we have to digest the fact that this can happen anywhere, right under our nose, in our own country, where culture and tradition are held high.The ‘moron dad of Mumbai’ appeared in the front page of newspapers, making our hackles rise and at the same time, sending a chill down the spine. Where is this world heading for...

The 60-year-old dad was arrested on charges of sexually abusing his 21-year-old daughter for a period of nine years. The 47-year-old mother, who was abetting the crime, was also arrested. The father was led to the heinous act by another pervert, an astrologer, who told him that he can boost his business if he raped his daughter! Worst disturbing was the silence of the mother who was often witness to her daughter being raped by her husband.

The case was not a one off incident. It brought to light many similar crimes that happened in the rural areas of Thane. Many more ugly stories of fathers making their daughters pregnant and trying to get the foetus aborted came out.

Now I don’t have courage to think or wish that these were incidents confined to the borders of Mumbai, Thane or Austria. It would be happening anywhere and everywhere. Women should muster courage to spill the beans on such crimes, the worst of all crimes.

I hope no court in this world would even let these criminals see the horizon again. Even capital punishment would be less for these fathers, I feel.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

When I became a drop...

March 10. I saw the hand of a clock pointing to 3 in the morning after years. Didn't find it difficult to take bath in cold water at 4 as Kerala was sizzling in the summer sun and global warming effect being literally felt.

Was ready with all essential things to offer pongala to Attukal Devi by 5. While boarding a bus at 5.15 along with my aunts and cousin, I was thrilled as it was after five years that I got the opportunity to make the offering, being one among 25 lakh women who made Ananthapuri a boiling pot.

Chanting ‘Sarvamangala mangalye...’, we reached Statue junction where we alighted and headed to Gandhari Amman Kovil road. After finding a comfortable place near the temple, we went and bought bricks to make the hearth. Everything settled, we sat waiting for the muhurat of lighting of the pongala hearth in the Attukal Temple to light ours.

My cousin and I chanted Lalithasahasranama during the time. Sitting idle after the chanting made us sleepy. The muhurat for lighting the hearth was 10.30. We lit our hearths with the fire which was brought from temple and thus began our offering.

Unlike my earlier experiences when smoke made me cry all the time, I felt the divine blessings more this time. I was least affected by smoke and heat. A group of some 5-6 women of a family, who were sitting opposite to us were offering in 101 pots, heightened my devotion.

When rice began boiling in the earthen pots, jaggery was mixed with it symbolizing the win of good over evil. After the pongala was ready, we had idli, sambar and chutney offered by a family who stayed in a house on the same street.

Then began the wait for the nivedyam (offering of pongala to the goddess) which was scheduled for 2.45 pm. Soon after the nivedyam, we saw women flooding the streets with heavy bags of prasadam balanced on their head, with faces beaming with satisfaction.

I too joined the bunch on the way back, highly pleased with the opportunity that came my way to be a drop in the ocean of devotion.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

An ode to 1100

On an off day, when you don’t have anything special to do, your phone goes out of order. That’s what happened to me on Friday, making me feel handicapped...

First I blamed the Vodafone network for not being able to make any calls or send any messages. Then I realized, my phone was unable to store charge. As soon as I took it out of the charger, it was draining out.

My Nokia 1100, was a priced procession for me, as it was the first asset which I could call my own... which was the first thing I bought after I got a job. And it was with me for the past four years. With tonnes of emotions attached to it, I could not believe that it was just ceasing to exist from my life.

It was not many days ago that I was boasting with my friends who sold off their old handsets for a paltry sum that my 1100 would fetch me a hundred dollars from the makers itself as I would be the only person who has used that model so long!

Anyway, I felt it was impossible to spend an evening alone in my PG without a phone in hand. I went out to get a new one, still clutching on to the 1100 in my hand, hoping it may ring once when I’m just entering the shop... Well, it didn’t.

I went inside the swanky Nokia showroom on CMH Road, just told the salesman what my friend asked me to buy, as I didn’t know anything more to ask for. He showed me some three models with the feature I wanted or rather,what my friend wanted — the facility to record interviews or somethign for a few hours.

I chose my next companion in just three minutes as I was going dizzy with the questions other customers were asking and the way they were explaining about the features they want. I didn’t have any clue about all those. Though there were hundreds of models of phones glittering in the stands, I didn’t dare go near them as I was at a loss what to ask about!

I just picked up one from the three he showed me that had sound recording facility and was at the billing counter. He told me it has all that I wanted, plus I can own a blue tooth besides all the 32 Colgate white I have! My new Nokia 7210 can click pictures too and entertain me with songs. What more I want! The salesman asked me whether I would like to test the phone with my SIM. I readily said ‘yes’ as I knew after going home, I won’t be able to do the process of opening the phone and putting the SIM in on my own! He did it for me and I made a test call too. I just ran out of the store in five minutes after paying the bill.

After I reached my room, I started mastering the new device by going through the users’ manual. I couldn’t read more than two pages before I fell asleep and I felt I’m getting more technically handicapped. I sprang from my bed when I heard a whole band playing from my phone. That was the new ringtone which I had to get used to soon. I tried reducing the volume, but failed. Finally managed to switch it off and sleep peacefully with my ever-dear 1100 beside me, silent.

Next morning, I had to copy the numbers in my old phone to the new one. I managed to put the SIM back to my old one and started checking for the numbers saved in it. To my surprise which soon gave way to sadness, a call came on my 1100. As it rang, I was looking at it in disbelief that it took me few minutes to act and attend the call.

May be my 1100 would have felt bad when I decided to abandon it for a swanky 7210...