Search This Blog

Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Tag of Weirdness

I have been tagged again. This time I am supposed to write about six of my weirdest habits/weirdest things about myself. I say 'weirdest' because, I can afford to pick and choose, being the epitome of weirdness as I am!

I am 'The Original Weirdo'!!

Anyway, here we go:

1. I am awfully thin. To be precise, I am stick-thin. The only thing I have inherited from the clan of warriors that I belong to, is my height. For all six feet of me, my weight fluctuates between 56 and 60 kilogrammes. Now, this does not bother me in the least, but the fact of the matter is that it seems to bug other folks a lot. Not only am I often subjected to expressions of 'concern' by relatives, but I am also prone to being stopped on the street by complete strangers, some of whom even offer to share 'remedies' to cure the 'state of my health'!

2. I have two fake front teeth. My folks pushed me into getting these installed, after one of my front teeth had fallen out, having decayed beyond repair. The adjoining tooth had to be ground to half its size so that a cap could be fixed on it to provide support for the fake tooth that replaced the missing incisor. They thought this might lead some girl to want to marry this weirdo son/brother/cousin of theirs. Little do they realise that I give most girls a complex because of my waist size, which the young ladies find difficult to match!

3. I have a very short attention span. Not only does my mind wander while I am on a bus or train, but also while in a meeting at work or when I was in class at school and college. To beat this, I had to ask questions very often, while in class. Due to this, some of my teachers at school and college even imagined me to be a very intelligent person, who had highly developed reasoning and logical abilities, only to be foxed when my average grades did not match their expectations. Also, my superiors at work have been bugged, more than once, by the uncomfortable questions I am wont to ask during meetings.

4. I am almost incredibly shy, on the personal front, and am unlikely to approach people unless absolutely necessary. Recently, I travelled to Nepal with a group of about 40 people (including my own family) and did not make a single friend and do not even regret it. Until a few years ago, I did get bothered by the fact that most people consider this as abnormal, but am comfortable being the way I am these days. What most people do not realise is that this gives me the unique ability to observe fellow human beings more closely than the majority of homo sapiens. So, 'His Weird Highness' rules his own little world!

5. To say that I have an 'unconventional' sense of humour, is a euphemism. Those who have been subjected to it would testify to that! The ones that manage to survive it become friends and the ones that do not, think I am among the weirdest men to have walked upon this Earth.

6. I try to live by certain principles that I hold in high esteem and have even suffered material losses on that account. That is definitely not the 'in thing' these days. The key word in today's world, perhaps, is 'flexibility' (which is actually 'moral bankruptcy', if you ask me).

So, TAG, I'M IT!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Democracy and the Rule of Law

In the past week, there has been violence in the national capital.

The protests organised by local traders against the sealing of the premises of bussinesses operating in residential areas, on an unauthorised basis, turned violent and four people went on to the happy hunting grounds after being shot by the police.

The sealing of unauthorised premises and the pulling down of unauthorised constructions has been going on intermittently in Delhi, as most readers are probably aware, in accordance with the orders of the honourable Supreme Court of India. This has been going on in spite of the fact that the political class and the bureaucracy have tried all that is within their powers, to create impediments. Attempts have been made to change the relevant regulations as well as to bring in fresh legislation at the state level and now the Union Urban Development Minister has declared that his government will consider a special session of Parliament to amend the constitution, so that those who have been breaking the law with impunity for several years can be protected against it.

On the other hand, the government in the state of Punjab has been acquiring agricultural land compulsorily from farmers with small or marginal land holdings. The compensation that the farmers are being paid in return for their source of livelihood is a pittance as compared to the market price of the land.

I believe there have been instances in some other states, as well, where agricultural land has been compulsorily acquired by governments and sold cheap to industrialists.

It has been reported that the chief of Congress (I) has advised the chief ministers of Congress-ruled states to go slow on the land acquisition, probably in view of the negative press that it has led to. Whether the farmers will get justice in the long run, however, remains to be seen.

The contrast is too stark to be missed. Those holding some of the highest offices in the land are eager to find a way to protect the Delhi-based traders against action ordered by the Supreme Court, even if that means changing the very laws that the traders have been breaking for a long time. The high and mighty, though, do not seem to mind snatching land from poor farmers.

I suspect it is simply because the farmers do not have the kind of money that the traders have and which the traders have been using to bribe the politicians and bureaucrats in return for not taking any notice of their illegal activities.

So much so for democracy and the rule of law!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Auto Rickshaw - A Socio-Mechanical Study

I simply had to link to the wonderful blog entry titled 'Light Within: Rickshaw - A Socio-Mechanical Study'.

It is an absolutely rocking piece about another commonality between India and Pakistan, which is also a popular mode of transport in the cities and towns of the sub-continent.

My brother and I nearly laughed our heads off, while reading it!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A bundle of contradictions

The other day I had to attend a job interview.

The venue was a good thirty kilometres away and it had been quite a few days since I rode the bike. I had to get the air pressure in the tyres checked and, as expected, it turned out to be lower than the prescibed limits. It is always a good feeling to get the bike's tyres filled up with compressed air, since the ride feels so good afterwards.

I checked the oil-level as well, before leaving the petrol-pump, and it was fine.

There is a traffic signal on the highway just after one leaves that petrol-pump and I had to stop there on account of a red light. As soon as the light turned green, however, I just took off with a grunt of the bike's engine. I love the way my bike's engine grunts and then sort of settles into a steady growl (I own a small Yamaha with a 135cc, two-stroke engine and sometimes can not seem to understand how those who own the four-strokers that are so popular these days, make do without the distinctive exhaust note that only a two-stroke bike can offer.). Of course, when we go beyond a certain speed the engine's sound becomes inaudible and all I can hear is wind whistling past my ears. It's an adrenaline rush that is very, very hard to beat!

I often wonder as to what could possibly beat the fun of riding a fast motor-bike. I think it could be something like flying an aeroplane like the one that Indiana Jones flew in the movie 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade' i.e. one with the cockpit open at the top.

Anyway, for a few minutes, I completely forgot that my bike's insurance policy had expired a few days ago and that being unemployed as I am, crashing the bike could land me in deep financial trouble, in addition to all the trouble it takes to restore the bike in terms of locating replacements for the damaged parts, as I found out to my chagrin the last time the bike and I took a tumble. I acquired some scars also, the last time, including some on the face, but then it's not as if I was a handsome hunk before that.

After the initial few moments of ecstasy, when the memories of the last road-accident did flash across my mind for an instant, I decided to control my agression just a wee bit, though not enough to spoil the fun completely (and limited the speed to about 85 kilometres an hour).

Later on, I was not selected for the job and the main reason given was that I was not found to be sufficiently aggressive (even though I fail to understand why on earth a Human Resources executive is required to be 'aggressive'). Perhaps I should have invited the lady who interviewed me, for a spin with me on my bike!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Opinions, Beliefs and Irwin

It seems like Steve Irwin induced strong reactions quite often, not only among animals, but also among people.

Here are a couple of articles, which appeared in a prominent Indian daily soon after he passed away and which represent two very different points of view regarding his life and times, besides his death:

I think when one has strong opinions and beliefs and lives by them, one is bound to draw strong reactions, often bordering on the extreme, from others.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Irwin, India and the Stingray

The other day, the Animal Planet channel aired a 'marathon special' tribute to Steve Irwin that lasted for 24 hours and I managed to watch a good part of it.

Meanwhile, I have been following newspaper coverage related to Irwin's death in a tragic accident.

Here is one article that I found particularly interesting:

A slice of ‘Irwin’s killer’ for Rs 30

Mumbai, September 7

For millions of animal lovers who watched the antics of Steve Irwin on Animal Planet, stingray may be a villain that claimed his life. But in Mumbai’s fish markets, slices of stingray are being sold for between Rs 20 and Rs 30.

“We cut up its tail and clean the fish thoroughly as soon as we catch it,” says Anita Koli, a fishmonger at the market in Central Mumbai’s Dadar. The fishing season is at present on and at least two vendors were selling stingray or ‘pakhad’, as it is called in Marathi, at the market. “There is not much demand for ‘pakhad’ as this fish has a funny taste,” says Koli.

Fishmongers say chefs from the big speciality restaurants buy pakhad and prepare it in a variety of ways. According to Ratna Koli, another fishmonger here, pakhad is filleted and each slice sold separately.

Since it does not move fast, pakhad has to often be kept in cold storage. Rather than being fried in a ‘rava’ batter like pomfrets or kingfish, pakhad is smothered in a rich coconut and tomato gravy to mask its taste.

Though the stingray available off the Western Coast is smaller in size, the fish catch may go up to 300 kg, according to fishmongers. They are, however, surprised that Irwin was killed by its sting. “It is poisonous and the skin turns blue,” says Ratna, though she has never heard of people dying following contact with it in India.

Inquries at popular Mumbai seafood restaurants like Apoorva and Trishna revealed that stingfish or pakhad is never on their menu. “Of course, if anyone places an order we can prepare any fish,” says Ramesh Karkera of Mahesh Lunch Home in downtown Mumbai.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Book Tag

I have been tagged by a blogging-buddy and am supposed to write a bit about the books that I have read. I am not much of a reader, though, and have not read a book for quite some time now.

Anyway, here goes:

A book that changed your life

Sri Guru Granth Saahib, the holy book of the Sikhs, however, I have not read all of it as yet.

One book you have read more than once

Several...I used to read my comic books many times over, when I was younger, besides the 'Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection' and some of 'The Hardy Boys' series...

One book you would want on a desert island

Er...why just one...I would prefer a library, actually, complete with a chaise longue and a rocking chair, as well, besides a warm rug in front of the fire place, if you please...

Coming to think of it, a beach-chair and umbrella should also prove useful, for reading out of doors...

One book that made you laugh

Several...comic books mostly...

One book that made you cry

Don't recall any...

One book you wish had never been written

I am all for the freedom of expression!

One book you are currently reading


One book you have been meaning to read

None...Even as, at one point of time, I used to read any book I could lay my hands upon...

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The abominable face of terror

There has been a series of bomb blasts in Malegaon in the Indian state of Maharashtra, last afternoon. Evidently, these were aimed at people who had gathered for the friday namaaz (prayer). Several children are reported to be among the dead and injured.

Thankfully, just as in the case of the recent train blasts in Mumbai, the incidents have not been followed by any communal flare-up so far.

Sometimes, it seems to me that we, the citizens of India, share at least some of the blame for such violence. After all, we have not learnt to live in harmony even after 60 years of independence and our society has deep fissures along the lines of religion, caste, etc. Before independence, the blame was conveniently passed on to the British rulers and their so-called 'divide and rule' policy. Now, it is the various political parties and their vote-bank politics that are supposed to be driving wedges among us.

Will the Indian people never realise the truth and never learn to live in peace with each other and will those who deal in terror continue to try to take advantage of that?

The history of independent India does not offer much hope, I am afraid.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Steve Irwin, R.I.P.

Steve Irwin is dead.

I have enjoyed watching his television series titled 'The Crocodile Hunter Diaries' on the 'Animal Planet' channel, for a long time now.

I sincerely hope that his death will not lead too many people to conclude that there is any thing wrong with the kind of work he was doing and that they will realise that accidents can and do happen.

Also, I hope that many more will imbibe his love for animals and take on the unfinished task of acquainting humans better with their co-habitants on planet Earth.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Nepal Visit (Part 3): Vroom...

The greater number of automobiles in Nepal are imported. I can not say none are manufactured in the country, for I suppose that a couple of motorcycle models are now being produced there in collaboration with a Chinese firm, but these do not appear to have a substantial market share, as of now.

Most automobile models that are available in India are available in Nepal as well. So, I came across quite a few familiar two and four wheeler models, upon reaching Nepal. There were a fair number of Maruti-Suzuki, Honda, Toyota and Hyundai cars, as well as Hero-Honda, Yamaha, Bajaj and even Royal-Enfield motorcycles, among others, that had obviously been imported from India. Besides these, there were trucks and buses produced by Tata and Ashok Leyland. Also, most of the taxis in Kathmandu are Maruti 800's.

However, I suppose the Nepalese started importing cars from India only after some of the popular international brands set up shop in the country, since I did not see any Premier Padminis or Ambassadors in Nepal.

A large number of vehicles are imported into Nepal from countries other than India, as well. I came across a large number of motorcycles, cars, trucks, buses and vans from Korea, Japan, Germany, China, etc.

In addition to the large and medium-sized SUVs (Sport Utility Vehicles) or 4x4s (Four Wheel Drive Vehicles) like the Toyota Landcruiser, Mitsubishi Pajero, Isuzu Trooper, Suzuki Vitara, etc., what caught my eye were the small ones like the Suzuki Jimny and the Daihatsu Terios. The only mini-SUV that I had seen on road before was the mini Pajero. I am not sure if these vehicles would be as much fun to drive as the mini Pajero that has a 2.8 litre engine, as compared to the 1.5 litre (approx.) engines that these have, but I definitely like the look of them.

Among the saloons (sedans) and hatch-backs that I saw in Nepal, some of Kia Motors' and Daihatsu's products looked really cute!

I also wondered why Hino has not launched its products in India, so far.

Another thing on wheels that I saw in Nepal and wished that it would soon be launched in India was the ubiquitous trail- or dirt-bike. Since the kind of surfaces that one often has to ride over in the Indian sub-continent quite closely resemble those on a motocross track, I am sure riding these bikes would be a lot of fun. I remember a couple of such models being displayed by Bajaj Auto during a recent Auto Expo, but these were never launched in the market for some reason or the other. I recall that one of these was to have a liquid-cooled 250cc engine.

I was also impressed by the medium-sized vans (mainly Toyotas, as seen in the photograph I have posted along with this blog entry) that are used for public transport in the capital city of Kathmandu. These seemed like luxury vehicles, when I tried to compare these with the run-down buses and mini buses used to ferry common folk in Indian cities, towns and villages.