Writing is like T20 batting. If you block, you might as well retire to the pavilion! -- Pete Langman
Expat in Germany

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Namma City...Bengaluru!!

I never wanted this to happen. I never thought that this place would feature on my favourites as much as my birthplace or the place I grew up in or the place I badly want to visit. Its not a tourist destination like Mussorie or Manali. Its not a better place for business than Mumbai, nor is it a piligrim center like Madura or Madurai. I don't know why but it caught my attention and imagination. I was sure I would just finish of my two month work there and leave until I set my feet on the Bengalurian soil three months ago. But the Garden city proved otherwise. Whether it is because it is a multi cultured city with non-Kannadigas more than the native Kannada speakers, or because it is green, or because it was the wonderful two months I spent for a project there, I am happy I went to the 'silicon valley' of India.

I did and do feel that Bangalore is nothing like Hyderabad. For one thing, it is very costly. Secondly, I did not find in Bangalore, as much variety of eatables and cuisine at desired rates as I did in Hyderabad. But the most important thing in complete contrast to Hyderabad is, Bangalore sleeps too early, by ten in the night. I was almost struck in one end of the city at 9:40 PM when I saw that the roads were deserted and the transport facility was minimal. And I wanted to go to the Majestic, the central railway station! However, the chief minister of Karnataka kindly allowed pubs to be open as long as one in the midnight. But in Hyderabad, you get buses even at 11:30 in the night.
The climate is nothing like Hyderabads. It is supposed to rain in the rainy season. Be cold in the winter and summers should be hot! But if the temperature does not touch 40 degrees in mid summer, it is a condemnable act!! How do we enjoy the first rain if the summer is not hot?!!?

The food is not as varied as in Hyderabad. Those people know only to add onion and tomato in almost everything. Every possible food item. I ate so much tomato that I got bored of tomatoes now. But I loved the native Thatte Idli. It is very good. One has to eat it in bangalore. The Dharwad peda and Mysore Dosa are quite famous. But Thatte Idli is to be eaten. So is Bisse bela baath. In the end, it is the native food items that are very good. And coffee. Speaking of natives, all the "natives" I met are people who migrated from Andhra Pradesh and long settled in Bangalore. This Kempegowda-built city is full of telugu people and gardens! Every one kilometer or so, you find a garden. Especially the feeling one experiences while walking along the side paths of Indiranagar and through its gardens at six in the morning is wonderful. Every road is lined with trees on either side. And there are footpaths too. And you don't find encroachment of the footpaths by the hawkers and vendors.

Though I do not belong to the field and do not appreciate it, I could do nothing but marvel at the size of population that was involved in the IT field and the separate section of the city devoted for it. But Bengaluru is not only an IT hub. I felt it is the science hub of the country too. The Indian Institute of Science and the Raman Research Institute still give me the goosebumps. They are grand. One appreciates research as soon as he steps into this wonderful institute. I used to just go and sit under that tree of C.V.Ramans at RRI. It is a beautiful institute. I need not mention the science museum or the planetarium. And Bangalore is the aerospace hub of the country. ISRO, NAL, HAL all are based in this city. So, it is wrong to call it just the IT hub of the country. Or silicon valley of India to that matter.
It is Bangalore. Bengaluru! Namma Bengaluru

True, my stay in this city was only for two months and I have seen so less of it to either say good or bad about it. But fifty days is good enough to get nostalgic about this simple, yet a five hundred year, grand old city. I did not like the food and climate here, though every 99999/100000th person does. But I did like the city.
Maybe because of Dr.Kirit Yajnik, the guide I worked with in those two months at National Aerospace laboratories, maybe it is because of F.R.I.E.N.D.S, old and newly made. Or maybe because it is due to the wonderful sense of music the city has. The art galleries I visited. The brilliant music concerts I attended. I enjoyed listening to music, be it Carnatic or western classical or rock. Maybe it is the magic of the city. It accepts everything and everybody and does not ask you where you are from!

Namma team...RCB!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Beyond those 22 yards!!

"ABYSMAL!" is how the Hindu described Indian cricket team's performance in the test series of the England tour. I would say its the best. It is because, now is the time. Now is the time, a time when the Indian cricket team boasts of no legendary player in it, a time when all the players have collectively failed, a time when the women team of India has beaten England, a time when while cricketers are failing, the rest of the sports persons are succeeding. A time when Kabaddi (a 45 minute game, consisting of two seven player teams!) is now followed better than cricket. A time when India, for the first time has got a podium position at the International chess olympiad! Changing times, probably!

Begun with the world cup victory in 1983, cricket had provided entertainment to lakhs, inspiration to thousands, job satisfaction to hundreds and big time money for tens of people. Inspiration maybe from events like the 1998 Sharjah Coca-cola cup or the 2000 Hero cup or maybe from true greats like Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, VVS Lakshman, Ganguly and Kapil Dev to name a few. Those events are past and these people are past retirement. 
Now is the time for the entire country to shift its devotion from only cricket to all sports. C'mon, India is probably the only country to have such a large number of religions. But come to sports, why be loyal to only cricket, consider it your only religion and have only one God? God doesn't retire, he keeps reincarnating doesn't he? Maybe he reincarnated in Tennis? Badminton? or maybe Discuss throw?  Ironically, the shocking and 'impossible-to-achieve-ever' by any team defeats come against the British at the time when we celebrate Independence!!

This is major Dhyan Chand
The home ministry proposed major Dhyan Chand's name, who is considered the 'Hockey wizard' and who was applauded by Adolf Hitler at Berlin in 1936 and praised by Don Bradman as "That guy scores like runs in cricket!"  to the Prime Minister's Office to recommend the President to present the hockey legend with the Bharatratna posthumously. It feels so very sad to know what he said about Indians. "maybe the world will remember me. But I am sure India doesn't!" No more shameful act when his name was put aside for the award. Not that a Bharatratna conferred upon him after some 35 years of his death would do him any good but it would really be an inspiration to thousands(?) who are playing any sport other than cricket and is moreover more appropriate for the highest civilian award in India.

It is clear that any game other than cricket has been neglected in our country till now even though we have known about legends like Dhyan Chand, P.T.Usha, Viswanathan Anand, Vijay Amrutraj and Prakash Padukone. I hate the concept of commonwealth games. However, that we stood fifth amongst the commonwealth countries with medals in various sports is a good sign for athletics in the country. Badminton, squash, boxing, wrestling, weight lifting, discuss throw, shooting and archery. Woah, there are a lot of games which can hopefully be taken up as careers in our country! I would love to see India doing really well in football, tennis, cycling and swimming, all my favourites and unfortunately not the country's favourites! Its time we take such issues as serious as growing more trees!

"Commertialisation of sport is the democratisation of the sport" said Andrew Young. Maybe true but I am not sure if it happened in the case of cricket. How come the Indian Cricket League (ICL) was banned then? However, I feel that "Commertialisation of sport is increased publicity of the sport." But is it not applicable to every sport and not only cricket? Why do we not give ourselves a chance to show our potential beyond cricket? Beyond the 22 yard pitch? Beyond those fifteen and odd countries? Beyond imagination?

Happy Independence Day (I know!!)

Saturday, August 2, 2014


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The great festival of Trees!

Vanamahotsav literally means, 'the great festival of trees.' It is celebrated at that time of the year when the farmer looks for hope in the skies; the school children look for fun, joy and the occasional holiday; the city dweller prays for his and his motor vehicle's safety lest he never knows where a pothole on the road is - the monsoon time. It was initiated by the then food and agriculture minister, Kulapati K.M.Munshi, to increase the forest cover in India. Though at a meager rate(something like 0.5%), the forest cover has been rising through the decades. India is still among the ten highly forest-rich countries. The forest cover is about 24%, higher than the suggested 19%, but less than the golden mark, 31%. But with the GDP and a significant portion of the population dependent on forests, it is in the best interests of any political party coming into power to maintain the forest cover we have.

The brave women of Garhwal, Uttarakhand
Vanamahotsav is a one week festival at the beginning of July. But since the monsoon is always late like most of the Indians and Indian trains, I, a true Indian, generally celebrate it by the last week of July. Fortunately, I was taught to plant a sapling and importantly, take care of it until it grows significantly, instead of chopping down huge trees, plant a million small plants, call the media, gain publicity, enter the Limca or Guinness records and leave those million "just-planted" to rot! I can proudly talk about the plants I took care of, and feel sad for the tree I could not save from being cut! Adieu to Amrita Devi and the women of Garhwal Himalayas in the 1970s, now, in 2014, with increased awareness about nature and deforestation and with the Chipko movement taking various shapes and forms, there is a lot more to feel happy and pleased about.

Some fifty to hundred years back, every one was taking of colonies, slavery, supremacy, war and subsequent industrialisation and probably not many talked about environmental issues, with exceptions like Mahatma Gandhi. Hence, now we are talking primarily about environment, global warming, climate change etc.(sadly, we are still talking of wars too!) Any international conference, climate change is a topic which finds itself in. Realisation I guess, or probably a necessity for survival since we are vulnerable and no longer "the fittest!"

The following pictures of barren Hyderabad in the nineteenth century by Raja Deen Dayal show what the level of awareness was back then. All the Nizams, kings and the British-generals were interested in was only hunting down hundreds of Tigers just for fun and of course posing for a picture (a luxury) with the hunted tiger. I think the world is better now than a hundred years back and really hope it gets better in the coming years.

All but rocks: Secunderabad in the late 19th century

 If Hyderabad was only a rocky place with a lot of water scarcity, we need not feel bad about urbanising it and making it relatively scarcity free.

The surroundings of Hussain Sagar are greener now

It is very much possible to preserve various natural gifts and at the same time develop. A lot of profit can be made from forests.

Hyderabad...but without those high rises!