Going Antisocial with an Unsmart Phone

(Note: This is the edited version of my recent Facebook rant)

It’s more than a month since I went antisocial with my phone! Yes, I decided to break free from the social pressures caused by the phone and this decision was primarily triggered by the misuse of an old smartphone recently provided to my now-teen-son who obviously tried to emulate his parents in terms of the best practices of using a smartphone!

In a sudden attempt to set the right example to him (and prove to the immediate world around as well) I, the self proclaimed role model of my son, uninstalled WhatsApp and Twitter apps in quick succession and then removed Facebook & Google Plus accounts from the phone. This was followed by disabling notifications from all apps except email and text messaging which are like bare necessities for the time being. The phone is now used for basic telephony, text messaging and voluntary reading of news via some apps alone! Of course, there is occasional use of maps, camera, portfolio apps, fitness assistants and web browser – all at will – and hence it’s not competely an Unsmart phone yet.

After the initial phase of violent withdrawal symptoms, I must say that the life is coming back to normalcy and very peaceful right now with no urge to stare at the phone all the time or keep swiping on the screen without any particular intent. However, there is both good and bad attached to drastic decisions such as quitting social apps, under-utilizing the phone and turning the clock back by a few years.

The following are some of the positives that I already see by getting rid of social apps and unwanted alerts on my phone.

(+) Suddenly, I am no more hiding from the co-passengers in the lift with the help of the big smartie and even better – I am able to establish eye contacts with them and even smile at them. Wow! I am still social in real life too.

(+) No more weird movement of my index finger along the imaginary unlock pattern of the phone which used to happen earlier even when the phone was not in hand. This symptom was more like those cricket addicted kids doing an imaginary Rahul Dravid style front foot defense with the full-face blade, at an imaginary ball delivered at them. If the phone was in hand, the indication was primarily a sequence of unlocking the phone, swiping the home screens / launching any app, and then locking the phone.

i.e.

while (awake) {
/* for no particular reason */
   thePhone.unlock();
   thePhone.swipe();
   thePhone.lock();
}

(+) Better interaction with the family while at home or away in an eatery, event or outing. The focus changes back to enjoying the moment than capturing and sharing the moment immediately to get likes from the ones who matter less.

(+) There is no more grinning at the phone or romancing with it which used to happen earlier in public places or even while driving. Now, you are more alert without a smart phone!

(+) Not much contribution to those crowd-sourced apps that make money by fooling you into them – Not as many posts, reviews or comments while on the move and such actions, if at all necessary, happens only on the desktop or laptop.

(+) Your Internet bandwidth usage is reduced drastically with some meaningless media/videos (rated ones too) getting out of the way.

(+) Better judgement and ability to distinguish between necessity and nice-to-have things in life. Now, usage of the social media is back in the desktop world alone and hence there’s a fixed time for doing that. Further, no insomnia caused by the connected phone!

(+) Suddenly, the three year old phone seems to perform like a server! Wow, now I don’t need to support China’s economy every three years (every few months for many?) or live with their plastic dumping terrorism.

(+) No more selfies. I was never a selfie fan but I must confess that I might have taken about half a dozen in my whole life. With no immediate sharing possibility, there is no urge to capture even those rare selfies. This may also result in huge savings in the future as there’s no need to procure those Sergei  Bubka like selfie accessories.

Having said all those, I realize that there are some drawbacks as well when you suddenly decide to go against the social flow…

(-) Firstly, you are a friend or relative to someone only as long as you are connected to them socially on these apps. To be frank, I didn’t receive any wish from anybody during this Onam – via call, text message or in person – because I am no more connected and the Onam was celebrated primarily on WhatsApp. Of course, there were many Facebook wishes similar to radio broadcasts which I reciprocated with my ‘likes’. Being antisocial by choice, I coped with it in no time.

(-) You may miss some focused groups that stood for a specific, meaningful purpose. As a matter of fact, two or three WhatsApp groups out of a dozen that I had, before calling it quits, were really useful.

(-) Your decision to reduce mobile usage is effective only if your dear ones and your connected circle take similar actions. It’s sad to see a driver, typically a husband, toiling through the Bangalore traffic while the insensitive ones – typically a wife, teenage kids or colleagues in a pool – in the car contributing heavily to WhatsApp and Facebook traffic through out the journey.

(-) You are perceived uncool and outdated! Your teenager kid might even try to educate you on topics like ‘what is a mobile app?’ or ‘what is meant by software?’. And at times, it is virtually impossible to convince an adventurous youngster friend that some of us – the Software Industry veterans – had actually worked on the first generation mobile applications at a time when many of them were still in their diapers…

and finally…

(-) You don’t get to play an Arnab Goswamy by breaking a news on your favorite WhatsApp group! Now, that’s a tragedy as you lose the chance to play a hero fighting against all injustice in this world. Well, perhaps one can compensate that with some more detailed analysis on desktop social media…

– Yours Truly ‘Antisocial’

(PS: My sincere apologies to those who weren’t informed about quitting my past cool life)

Idiots in Indian Department Stores

(Note: This is the edited version of my recent facebook rant)

On a daily basis we get to see a lot of unethical behaviours in public places in India. Department stores – even the up market ones in our cities – are no exception in this regard either.

The following are some of the common scenes at super market check-out counters in Bangalore and perhaps elsewhere in India as well. On your bad day, you get to see all three of these idiots at once – just like I experienced earlier this week.

IDIOT #1 is being attended by the tardy checker. When he has to pay his bill of around 2000 rupees, he first gives 1000 rupees in currency and pulls out two or three SODEXO pass books in the lowest possible denominations. He then starts tearing a few from each book, counts them, re-checks twice and sees that it’s not sufficient. He checks his wallet again for change, finds nothing and ask his wife – who has already proceeded ahead – for another 200! And you know how long it’s going to take further from that moment. That’s a good 5 minutes per customer, Thank you idiot!

IDIOT #2 is a lady, right behind the first character, who seems to be stocking up supplies good enough for 3 months for all famine hit regions in Uganda. While she’s about to shift her things from the shopping cart to the counter, she gets a call on her smart phone which is lying somewhere in her Santa bag. With great difficulty she finds it, swipes thrice to pick the call and in the process forgets the priority job. When the checker reminds her twice, she relents but with the phone in right hand, starts transferring the shopping cart items one at a time using her left hand. Needless to say, in between the call she pauses the left hand task to pick an argument on the phone. At the end, she almost matches the record set by the first idiot. Wait, is she pulling out the Sodexo passes too? What an irresponsible idiot!

IDIOT #3 is nowhere in the scene so far. But when it’s your turn and when the checker has almost started attending you, this idiot appears from nowhere and utters “Only three items saaar, Can I? “. One can understand if it’s an old person or physically challenged individual but hey, that’s not the case! It’s just another idiot who has not even learned what a ‘Queue’ is forget alone the sign boards there in. And in all probabilities, you must have seen the same idiot skipping the queue at the vegetable weighing/tagging counter as well a short while ago. What a PITA (Pain In The …)!

Thank you Idiots for making my day!

sigh…

Symptoms of an Indian just Returned from the US

Enough has been said about the US returned Indians’ behavior and their attitude in the mother land. Before I start my version of US Indians joke, let me make a few things very clear:

  • I have myself stayed in the US for a few years and hence a few statements below may be autobiographical (which I didn’t probably understand then)
  • I am not trying to tar everyone with the same brush – people may differ
  • I still have a good number friends and relatives in the US of A and I do not intent to hurt any of them with my post – it’s just meant for plain humor alone

So you have heard and read many stories of Indians about their sudden US accent, usage of miles instead of kilometers, mineral water drinking habits, calorie concerns and diet coke drinking habits etc. Hopefully what I am going to share is somewhat different stories.

Symptom #1: In the US…

Well, for a US returned Indian, invariably almost all topics of discussion should start with ‘In the US…’ or ‘In US…’. Believe me, this symptom fails to disappear even years after them coming back to India. Even worse, those people who have stayed hardly three or more months in the United States will still say this.

By the way, while ‘In the US’ is the statement most heard, you still can’t rule out ‘In Australia’, ‘In UK’, ‘In XYZ developed country’ etc…

Symptom #2: Can I talk to your Manager?

Well, the US returned Indian has a different expectation about the service quality that he needs to get. Hence when he doesn’t see any instant result while talking to a customer support or sales personnel, his rude question after a minute of talking is ‘Can I talk to your Manager?’ (as if that improves the situation dramatically in Indian conditions… May be it’s more of a way of suggesting ‘I am superior to you, so treat me better’)

Symptom #3: Meet-all-Friends-Syndrome

So he returns from the US either for a short visit or for good. Suddenly he becomes a very friendly person and makes it a point to meet all his friends (whom he has forgotten since long during the good old days and wouldn’t even ‘like’ them on Facebook then). The get-togethers usually happen in groups in high end restaurants or theme parks so that the vacation is spent fruitfully with friends as part of a busy schedule to get rid of boredom. As a matter of fact, during their 3 or 4 weeks visit, friends are allocated 90% of the time and the old parents and relatives should be happy to get an appointment slot of few hours with their wards.

Symptom #4: Restaurant bill payment and Tips

While the bills used to be picked by them prior to the recession, these days the restaurant bills are promptly shared by the guests as well as the elite host. Times have changed, you know. Invitations have now changed to Meetings.

However, every amount by default in calculated in US Dollars. This will very quickly happen in mind and one can hear statements like ‘That’s less than half a dollar, it’s very cheap’ or ‘Man, that’s more than a 100 dollars, that’s as expensive as it’s THERE’.

While every possible calculation is in USD, the restaurant waiter tip is an exception here. The waiter still gets a tip of max 10 rupees regardless of the order size and service quality while ‘In the US we pay 10% to 15% as tip’.

Symptom #5: Focus on Sales, Deals and Coupons

While talking about his latest car, gadget that he got from BestBuy or the recent home purchase, he will promptly say ‘I got a good DEAL on that’ there. Getting a deal is a pride factor, you see regardless of how much you spent.

Note: Not to forget that some of them – especially the ones from a particular southern state in India – actually return those things (that they got on deal, heavily showed off and used in India) as soon as they go back to the US. The no-questions-asked-return-policy in some US stores is best exploited by Indians, I think

Symptom #6: Manual Transmission Phobia

Non-stopping whining about the pollution levels and bad traffic conditions in India is a must. And even if he’s in a hired taxi, he will still worry about the ‘manual transmission’ car. If the friends are driving, he will amaze how exactly this thing works (and probably that’s the only Indian skill that he ever admires secretly)

Needless to remind you, ‘In US, everything is automatic’.

So, what doesn’t change?

Despite all those changes, there are certain things that never change (of course, other than the restaurant tip norms).

During the Indian visit, though he often complains that ‘the food is very spicy’, he will still pack back as much Indian spices and curry powders as possible when he goes back.

Formal shirts and shoes are always purchased in bulk from India because they are expensive there while casuals and accessories can be bought ‘ there on sale

Over-courteous behavior (‘opening the door for people’, ‘after you’, ‘excuse me’) is something that is usually present in the US alone. You can see traces of it during the first few days of Indian stay and then ‘Indianism’ takes over. However, when they go back there’s a sudden positive switch.

And by the way, these days some of them have actually stopped drinking coke with Indian meals. Things are changing…

What Indian Politicians Said About Obama’s Win?

So what were the Indian politicians’ reactions after Obama’s won the Presidential elections for second time?

(Please note that these are fake remarks intended for humour alone and hence readers are requested not to get offended by the same)

Indian politicians about Obama

Digvijay Singh

I have solid evidence that Obama took huge sum of money from anti-social elements in order to drive his election campaigns not only this year but in 2008 as well. And the US presidents should not involve their families in political matters and election campaigns (they should instead create political heirs like Indian political parties do)

P Chidambaram

Statistically speaking, although Obama won, there might have been a percentage of technical error that affected the final outcome for Mitt Romney. We intend to fix this over the next 40 years, via stringent measures and policy creations without which the GDP growth of 0.0001 percent cannot be achieved nor can inflation be brought down under 20%.

Mamata Banerjee

Obomo treat Bongol like step sohn. This is not occeptoble and all his peepal are CPI(M) cadres, Maoist cadres…. The real ‘Poriborthan’ is what we need just like we are doing in Bongol.

Arun Jaitley

The voters are entrusted the Obama yet again just like the aam admi did it for UPA in 2009. I am sure they will regret the mandate given by them sooner or later. I believe that the Republicans will form a very supportive opposition (just like we are doing) to take the country to the next level. At BJP, we believe that they have a bigger role to play (to make sure that the house is disrupted in every single session) in this context.

Sitaram Yechury

We will not let Obama take up any development activities in the US – especially anything that affects the common man. Our Polit bureau is closely watching the developments and we intend to come up with our white paper soon. As for Mitt Romney, he’s no saint either. We hope to see a Chinese immigrant or genuine Socialist Russian leader leading the United States soon. (As for us, we will not let anyone rule, we don’t want to rule either, we are just genuine activists concerned about all types of development activities)

Bal Thackeray

Obama won just because of the immigrants who are causing trouble all over the nation. If the US president dares to visit in India again, I warn that Shiv Sainiks will spoil all cricket pitches in India.

Devegowda

Mitt Romney lost because he did nothing for the farmers. Only those who support farmers will be supported by our party (so that we can acquire as many farm lands and farm houses as possible). I hope to see Obama taking up more farmer friendly policies (such as making Ragi Muddhe available in the White House Canteen)

Nitish Bharadwaj

We will fight till Obama gives special economic status to Bihar. However, I will not accept the economic package if Modi is teaming up with Obama.

Narendra Modi

Have you seen his Billion Dollar bailout girl friend err… wife? She did the trick for him. (Obama: If you don’t like billion dollar girlfriend, why don’t you tell us more about your simple school teacher village wife)

Yeddyurappa

This is all black magic. Obama did black magic with the help of two famous Californian and Iowan black magicians. On top of this, he also visited 100 Hindu temples in 10 days and got the job done by bribing gods. I had advised Romney to visit at least 200 temples but he didn’t listen to me, fearing me to snatch power. See what happened now?

Kejriwal

Obama must RESIGN first and face election again. Mitt Romney is no saint either and he should RESIGN as well. And if there are any other contender out there, he is corrupt and they should all resign. Resign! Resign!! Resign!!!

…and…

Manmohan Singh

Mmm… Grin… Sigh… (Gets up, looks at the match referee Soniaji for approval and hesitantly waves at Obama like a Cricket umpire feebly signaling a boundary hit by ‘The Sachin’)

How to Make a Mountain Out of a Molehill? The NDTV Style!

We have some amazing Live news channels in India – The likes of NDTV24x7, TIMES NOW, IBN-LIVE to name a few.

As an old timer having grown up seeing the Doordarshan News, I must say that I am glad to see some of those refreshing changes in these NewGen news channels such as the advancements in technology to get the news to you earlier, rendering it in a graphical way that people understand and some lively and visibly excited people reading the news.

ndtv-timesnow

However, all the above mentioned positive changes are good only if every NEWS item is assigned the right priority it deserves and delivered to viewers at the right time, quantity and optimum duration – i.e. in a way that doesn’t cause people eye fatigue, hearing loss or increased blood pressure. Also, the way the TV news reader tells the news matter a lot along with how many times the same thing is told. You don’t need to really sensationalize each and every incident like rapes or killings or theft on a national channel. And my dear news reader, you don’t become a national hero by calling politicians (however dirty he is) liars or by other bad words. You can still talk about it because it is a fashion to pick on bureaucrats and politicians and such news will always sell – but the same things said 1000 times don’t make sense. Another important point is that news items need to be delivered in a way that helps people understand it in a relaxed manner. That way, I still love DD News though their news readers could consume a little more of Revital or ‘Dabur Chyavanprash’ on a regular basis.

Coming back to our topic on how some of these 24×7 news channels go about their business…

Dear TV journalist, I know you are smart but your aim should not be to twist and stretch facts that don’t deserve even 30 seconds of your time (and millions people’s too) to 3 or 4 hours or even days until the next small thing happens.

I know your salary is depending on the TRP (Target Rating Point) of the crappy channel that you work for but at the end of the day there’s something called ethics in life (and journalism). Do you have that in you or even heard of it?

I am amazed at the way you have covered the arrest of our great public servant Amar Singh. While the fact that your scrolling texts haven’t changed significantly for the last two days annoys me, I still feel like ROFLing the way you dig out BIG things out of small time incidents. Well, Amar Singh’s arrest is not exactly too small a news but it doesn’t deserve 2 billion man days attention i.e. (2 days x 1 billion people in India)

The Great NDTV News TAMASHA

This is one of the big news items that I got to see on your channel for the past two days in the order of appearance. I am sorry, some text may not be literally exact same but I am sure I saw similar text on your channel.

Scroll news text and zoom effect on NDTV

Amar Singh not arrested yet >>… (for 6 hours) >>

Amar may be soon arrested >> … (Are you working with CBI to grab him?) >>

BREAKING NEWS (in a while loop for 20000 times) >> Amar Singh arrested >> (Thank god, CBI folks got clues from you…)

BREAKING NEWS Amar Singh arrested, sent to Tihar jail >> (Thought you said that crap five hours back, is he breaking down there? )

Amar Singh may be put into jail 1, 2 or 5 >> (Yeah, we know the Tihar jail geography very well like you do. Amazing information by the way) >>

Amar Singh lodged in 15x10ft cell (Thanks for the 15×10 land. Did your father pay for that? Or was it part of the land that Yeddyurappa denotified just before he was kick-butted-out. You never know, but I am sure you can cook up a story out of that…)

It’s not over yet…

Now, the whole crap has to be somehow linked to the Anna effect and what Shakkeela tweeted about this incident. In addition, two or three Page 3 celebrities need to be interviewed on this topic and they can surely compare it with the recent very bad and torturing personal experience that they went through which was related to corruption (For example, they asked for an SPF15 sunscreen in their favorite lady shop but the corrupt shop owner stocked up and provided only SPF14 substandard Indian product. Now they are forced to shop for that in Milan or New York when they travel abroad next week). The celebrity in a closure remark comes back to Amar Singh and swears that nothing will change in India.

The online portal – the domain name of which, by the way, should have been po*ndtv.com or something like that – supports the TV news well with titles like ‘Who is Amar Singh?’, ‘The Amar Singh Saga‘, ‘Amar Singh arrested, but questions remain‘ with ‘Poonam Pandey showing everything video‘ link in between.

Get a life people! Is this what people like Prannoy Roy founded and promoted? The Prannoy Roy whom I knew was a different type of journalist and psephologist.

…and they wait for the next news item…

Evening Debate Edition

The day is almost over but the steam behind the breaking news isn’t yet. So the same scroll news, breaking news and views now need to appear on the evening edition or the infamous Debate circus on these national TV channels.

In the live debate, the inclusion of smart spokespersons from BJP and Congress is a MUST along with a couple of individuals like Santosh Hegde or Kiran Bedi. To get the views from across the national boundary, you can think of including a Colonel from Pakistani Army as well to get his views on democracy in Pakistan regardless of the topic of discussion (Though he will keep swearing ‘Kashmir.. Kashmir…’ through the length with his voice intentionally cut off in between with fake technical problems)

The topic could be anything from cash for votes, Sonia going abroad for surgery to Venkiah Naidu’s recent gas trouble issues or How loud Devegowda farts while sleeping in the Parliament. These spokesmen have to make their statements for NDTV or TIMESNOW and keep fighting in between and throwing mud at each other for an hour. At the end of it Bark-a-Dutt or Carnage-Dog-swamy has the last laugh because they ruthlessly cut them off and say ‘THAT IS IT, THANKS GENTLEMEN’ and the conclusion is ‘SO AND SO and I KNOW THAT’ (Though the her/his version of the conclusion is nowhere related to what the guests said or our neighbor guest shouted)

Oh, I almost forgot, they have to take opinion from the good-for-none Left party leaders as well. And one paid statement of Digvijay Singh is mandatory to add to the comedy and spice part of it (and to differentiate between the IQ levels of humans and donkeys) – just like ESPN hires Navjyot Sidhu, that is. Since the show is TRP driven, it’s mandatory that the channel people talk for 90 percent of the time and cut others’ views. If the host has nothing to say they keep saying ‘fair enough, fair enough’ or get a ‘Kalmadi angle’ to the whole issue. At that time some dramatic titles should appear on the screen in bold – something like ‘GET A LIFE, MR. KALMADI’ or ‘LIAR KALMADI’ – especially on TIMESNOW)

…and the next morning…

Fortunately or unfortunately there is another bomb blast somewhere that blew away Amar Singh and now there’s a high TRP opportunity for the next one week.

Wonder if these blasts are sponsored by terrorists or TRP driven channel terrorists…

/me ROFLMAOing hysterically and throws a hammer at the newly purchased plasma TV…

It Happens Only In India

bhaskaran_sonsWell, you must have seen numerous Only in India photos and videos on the Internet. This little post is around the same topic but more specific to funny naming conventions and strange names of people and establishments in India. Since I haven’t traveled too much around India, I may not know a lot about the North and Eastern parts and hence the content may be more relevant to South India alone.

Names of establishments

In India, funny restaurant names are the easiest to spot regardless of where you travel. The following are a few that I have encountered.

Brothers Hotel

Sometimes branded as Hotel Brothers or even Hotel Brothers International, this is not exactly a ‘Hotel’ but more of a small time restaurant or tea shop. ‘Hotel’ in the Indian village or town context means ‘Restaurant’. You can see this ‘Brothers’ brand many parts in India. It’s not a chain of restaurants but just preferred name. And the funniest thing is that ‘many of them are not even run by brothers or siblings’.

Bhaskaran & Sons Jewellery

What’s funny or wrong about it? Nothing, unless you learn that it’s started by a person by name Bhaskaran who is still a bachelor who doesn’t have any son. Adding ‘& Sons‘ to the display board is more for style than for the literal meaning itself. The board would additionally display ‘Proprietor: T.P Bhaskaran‘ and if it’s in Tamil Nadu, probably, ‘ Prop: T.P Bhaskaran, BA‘.

(Fortunately they don’t add more qualifiers to it such as ‘BA First class’ or something like that)

Common names for restaurants around South India include ‘Bharat Hotel’, ‘Sreekrishna Cafe’ and after a coat of painting during Diwali sometimes one of them suddenly becomes ‘New Bharat Hotel‘. Well, there are plenty such popular names for restaurants. Would you like to add more?

Chicken and Poultry shops

One of my villagers (in Kerala) that I know, Mr. Lonappan – a fisherman by profession – decided to setup a poultry shop as he thought broiler chicken business is more profitable than selling fishes. After consulting his ‘educated’ and jobless friends he arrived at a very cool name for his chicken stall and that was ‘Asiatic Chickorium‘. Obviously his fishing background helped inventing that amazing word that rhymed ‘Aquarium‘.

While Lonappan was lucky to have ‘educated’ friends to help him, his counterpart in Mahadevapura, Bangalore wasn’t that lucky. This person had to depend on the knowledge of the sign board artiste to arrive at a small board for his chicken stall that read ‘Chikan Stale‘!

I think the same artist is the creative mind behind ‘Kentaki Fryed Chikan‘ pull cart shop in Majestic, Bangalore. Sounds really majestic, huh?

More examples of impressive shop names include the pancher shop‘ that I mentioned in a recent article, ‘Toylat – Gents‘, Chines fast food – all in and around Bangalore and a ‘Panjapi Dhaba‘ near Selam in Tamil Nadu.

Names of people

When it comes to the names of people, I know that most Punjabis prefer English names and most Andhrites, who move to their dream land (USA), change their long names to beautiful 3 and 4 letter American short names as soon as they land. However, I think nobody can beat Keralites when it comes to the most innovative names that you can’t even think of.

The funniest names are usually girls’ names most of which sounds like ‘– i – i‘ or ‘– o – i‘ or ‘– i – y‘ and you can mix and match those empty spaces with any consonant or an array of consonants. Some of the names that I have heard of include the following:

Kikki, Titti, Litti, Sisi, Mimi, Lighty, Booby – obviously they didn’t think about (or didn’t know) their meanings when the naming ceremony took place.

And innovative name for Malayali boys will typically end with ‘ju’ or ‘jo’Liju, Siju, Lijo, Sijo, Lyjo, Ijo,…

Mostly this naming convention is prevailing among Christians in Kerala but other communities are catching up well with these kinds of names and aren’t far behind.

Not sure that there’re such naming conventions in other parts of India, if so please do share your opinions.

Note: Please note that my intention here is not to hurt any individual or community. As a matter of fact, I have many good friends with one or the other of the above mentioned names or their variations

That much for now!

Some Common Funny Scenes on Indian roads

The automobile industry in India has gone through a very rapid growth over the past twenty years or so. However, as we all know, the road infrastructure hasn’t quite complemented that kind of growth yet and so is our great driving culture. Our vehicles, driving sense, size of the population and the available infrastructure is a super combo that often offer us some lighter moments on our roads. Also, you can see so many ‘innovations’ and ‘improvisations’ that is specific to some of our vehicles and vehicle models that are found only in India. This post is about some of those funny and peculiar scenes on Indian roads.

sound-ok-horn horn-ok-please

On and inside vehicles

We Indians are very particular about protecting our belongings from dust an pollution. Inside many homes, you can see the TVs and washers protected with plastic covers and even the couches and dining tables topped with a layer of sari or plastic sheet to prevent it from getting dirty. The case is much the same with many people when it comes to taking care of their cars. Some of them never ever remove the plastic covers on their car seats that’s used during shipping & transportation of the new vehicle. Some even keep it for 3-4 years or until the next resale of their cars. Well, you have to get the priorities very clear here. Keeping the car seat dust free (read resale value) is far more important than getting own backside hot by the plastic cover or even transferring the dust and dirt from plastic cover to your bum.

Talking about the vehicle interiors, the dashboard area of most Indian cars is a mini temple. In the best case, you may only see an idol there but sometimes it’s an array of idols immersed in fresh flower garlands that’s changed every day, various other decorations like colorful electric lamps and even lit incense sticks. Again, the priority is not fire safety but bribing the god to get a good day on the road. This is particularly the case with taxi drivers many of whom forget the god, goodwill and well being of other people on road the moment they are off to their working day. Any road is a highway for them.

Now, if the taxi happens to be an old Amby (Hindustan Ambassador), the dashboard there in is like a wall with the left side of the wall shelf (supposedly glove box) mostly open without any shutters. You can see dirty towels, a piece of mirror, incense sticks, comb etc there – basically all that it takes for the driver to survive for a day. The towels have varying uses – from wiping their sweat to clean the cars and cleaning the windshield from outside by occasionally extending their hands out. This is mandatory on rainy days as the worn out 5″ wiper blades don’t do their job. And even if they do, they invariably do this periodic activity.

Well, if the white Ambassador is owned by an Indian politician or bureaucrat who’s a chauffeur, then you can see a lot of white Turkish towels that’s used to cover the seats. Again, the car seat cover doesn’t seem to be good enough to do its job.

I almost forgot about those hanging dolls from the inside rear view mirror – This is something that you can get to see in India alone or in cars owned by Indians abroad. However, very often I found this part interesting because mostly you can even predict the owner’s nativity and culture just by looking at it.

Now, the exteriors of most vehicles are as intriguing as the interiors. One of the common scenes is those cars with both ORVMs (outside rear view mirrors) completely folded in as if they are the most ridiculous and totally unusable inventions ever. Here, you must appreciate two things – one, the driver’s ability to drive the car without having to look at sides and behind. Secondly, if you toss up between safety and potential scratch on those mirrors, safety takes the backseat.

The vehicle owners writing their kids names on either side (left and right) of the rear window is another common scene. Well, don’t get me wrong here. I am not claiming that this is something funny but just an observation.

Autorickshaws are amazing vehicles that completely exploit the improvisation possibilities, especially on their rears. Many autos claim that they are powered by monster engines by displaying emblems of Audi or Mercedes on the back. Also, writings like 2000CC etc are very common. The rear side of those inter-state trucks also exhibit some amazing pictures or genius’ words on top of the usual ‘Sound-OK-Horn‘ or ‘Horn-OK-Please’ writings.

Some of the other things that you can see on Indian vehicles include bumpers protected by steel bars (to protect the bumber from scratching?), wheel plates or disks tied with plastic twines to prevent theft, multi-colored stop lamps (who said it has to be red) etc. I am sure, you may have a lot more to add here.

Common scenes on Indian roads

Now on to the road and driving style itself. I could write a huge post about it but for the sake of brevity I am just jotting down a few bullet points.

  • Two underpowered auto rickshaws trying to overtake each other and occupying both the lanes on the road with a long trail of of vehicles behind them is a common scene in some Bangalore roads
  • A TVS 50 moped carrying three times its weight i.e. two or three sacks of vegetables or grocery items and moving extremely slowly is another funny scene. Sometimes, the rider is in a diving position with his body resting on the sack in front, and his legs folded backwards. When he pauses in the traffic, he has to pedal hard to take it off further. The type of payload on the TVS 50 varies from state to state. In places like Tamilnadu, it’s those milk jars whereas in states like Kerala it’s fish
  • Overtaking pattern: One thing I have noticed here is that, as soon as a vehicle overtakes you, even if there’s enough width available, the driver immediately blocks you. So it’s like you are being overtaken from either side and them merging in front of you creating some kind of cut onion pattern This along with the zig-zag movement of autorickshaws, bikes and call centre taxis essentially create the traffic clog
  • In the case of a traffic jam, the two wheelers immediately use all available space including the footpath and even small parapets of drains. If it is a one way, the immediate reaction is to squeeze through the wrong side and merge into the next available slot on the actual intended lane. Sometimes this has the blessings of the traffic policemen as well
  • In case you get a flat tire, you may visit the nearest ‘pancher shop‘ which is essentially an encroachment on the road or footpath
  • Although the helmet rules are in place, sometimes it is okay to have a loose-fitting bowl like stuff on your head. The priority obviously is not safety but not to pay a fine. Some smarties, who do not want to get their hairstyles disturbed, hang the helmet on their wrists while riding to put it on only when a serious looking traffic cop is in the vicinity
  • Towing away two wheelers: Okay, so you have several of those two-wheelers or motorbikes parked on road sides where it’s not allowed to park vehicles. At times you witness a mini truck coming in with four-five people in the carrier space along with several bikes. They keep lifting bikes one by one from the road and dumping into the truck. Some of those hapless riders who would have just about parked the vehicles will plead to them but in vain. They have to finally pay the ‘fine’ to the cop who is sitting inside the driver’s cabin wearing a ‘Rayban’ eye-drop shaped sun glass in order to get the seized vehicle back

Well, there are so many other things that I wanted to talk about but it’s already a long post. I am sure you will have a lot more to share on this topic as well. Please leave your comments about those funny scenes that you have got to see yourself on Indian roads.

Happy motoring!

You may be interested in the following posts as well:

  1. Hamara Bajaj – fond memories coming to an end
  2. Tata Nano sedan and Maruti Eeeeeco in the offing

India’s most annoying and overrated personalities

Okay! It’s time for a controversial post. I am going to talk about the most irritating and annoying personalities in India from various walks of life. They are here in this list either because of one or more of the following reasons:

  • Mediocre performance or do not really belong to the profession they are in
  • Content stealing or corporate fraud
  • Public behavioral problems or hate speeches/actions
  • Born skills spoiled by lack of focus or other priorities
  • Shame for India

By the way, it is my hate list and do not necessarily mean that they are in your list and that’s why we have a poll at the end of this post whereby you can select up to three of those personalities that you consider really worst in their respective careers or roles.

And here you go…

The Indians that I hate the most

1. Pramod Muthalik – Religious fanatic

pramod-muthalikAs we all read and saw in the last two years, Pramodh Muthalik and his organization Sri Ram Sena vandalized the pubs in Mangalore and beaten up lady guests there. He is a Hindu extremist, in my opinion, who claims that he’s trying to protect the Bharat Sanskar (Indian culture) in the interest of our nation. Mr. Muthalik, nobody from the government or court has hired you to protect our culture and hence you better mind your own business. Moreover, as per a recent sting operation, your goons disclosed that you can beat up anybody and smash up anybody or any organization if you are paid bucks in lakhs. Hence you are one of the top among in my hate list (and I am sorry to have given you some more publicity to you via this blog post)

2. Raj Thackeray – Regional politician

If Muthalik is an example of religious related atrocities, Raj Shrikant Thackeray is about regionalism in its worst form. Being the nephew of the raj-thackerayShiv Sena supremo, Mr. Bal Thackeray, it is quite natural that he had to come up with his own regional political set up – MNS (Maharashtra Navnirman Sena) – to take on non-Mumbaikars in Mumbai. While Mr. Bal Thackeray in his early life had at least certain principles in life and even possessed some skills (cartoonist) in the field of journalism, Mr. Raj Thackeray is someone who just thrives on his hate speeches and provoking acts. And hence he’s the #2 in my hate list.

(Rest of the people in my list are generally overrated people from various disciplines)

3. S. Sreesanth – Cricketer

santhakumaran-sreesanthWell, Sreesanth is not as bad as any of the two listed above. But he’s a great example of indiscipline, tactlessness and behavioral problems. It is all about skills not getting converted into numbers and wins that matter for Indian cricket.

I personally believe that, he’s a highly overrated cricketer who has not done anything good to Indian cricket so far other than winning a test match in South Africa. And for that T20 World Cup winning catch against Pakistan, the monkey just happened to be underneath the ball at that point of time!

4. Himesh Reshamiya – Singer?

Himesh Reshamiya, the man who hoots through his nose and broken windpipe is a great example that explains how sound is different from music himesh-reshammiya(Remember, what you studied in physics some years back?). To torture the people of India even more, he sports a custom made bronze coloured poodle wig, a funny cap that doesn’t match his age or looks and multiple layers of clothes made from cotton, synthetic to leather. He usually roams around with gorgeous teenagers of his daughter’s age and that makes me hate him even more. Of late, he has started acting (if you can call that acting) as well. God save Indian music and bollywood movies!

5. Anu Malik – (Inspired) Music Composer

anu-malikI hate Anu Malik because he is one of those fools who claims to compose inspired music but thus far whatever he has done is crap. If he has done anything good, obviously that is stolen. Moreover, I hate him for his singing in his own album and of late for being in the Indian Idol judges panel. He is also the epitome of arrogance – arrogance of a semi literate man in his discipline. He should learn to be as humble as someone like A.R. Rehman.

6. Deepika Padukone – Model, Actress

Well, as a child, I used to like Prakash Padukone, who was really a role model for budding sports persons and and he is an extremely well behaved gentleman. His daughter has not necessarily shown any bad public behavioral issues, but she’s only good as a still model. She’s extremely dramatic, pathetic and over-acting when she does her movies or commercials (BSNL, Fiama di Wills,…). Hence Deepika Padukone in my hate list for doing something that she is not skilled at. In my book, she’s the worst actress in bollywood.

7. Arnab Goswami – Television Anchor

Well, Arnab Goswami is supposed to be one of the most educated news readers but when it comes to moderating live programs on the Time Now TV channel, he is one of the most irritating personalities. The new generation TV journalist are trained to create sensationalism and trash anybody (especially politicians) who come their way to get claps from the viewers. Obviously, those who watch Times Now and read Times of India arnab-goswamiare after page 3 journalism and sensational news rather than gaining knowledge and the right perspective. So, Mr. Arnab, though you possess good skills, it is never properly used. And despite your producer’s demands, you could still behave better with your guests (especially the elder ones) who have seen the world much more than you.

Moreover, I hated him and Barkha Dutt for the kind of journalism they did during the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, which was mainly the cause of those terrorists resisting longer. Times Now and NDTV, despite the Mumbai police’ requests, were providing live visuals of the operations that actually helped the terrorists.

8. Mandira Bedi – Actress, Anchor, Model,…

Just like in the case of Deepika Padukone, Mandira Bedi took up certain roles such as cricket program compere, which is not exactly her stuff – though she tried to distract junta via other stuff. She was definitely a decent TV soap actress and a theatre personality but spoilt her image (whatever she had) via entering cricket – which seems to be the easiest for anybody to make instant money and fame in India. She should have remembered that to host a program in English, at the least, one should be very fluent and flowing in that language.

(Sorry, I could not get a PG13 image of Mandira Bedi)

9. Ramalinga Raju – Industrialist

ramalinga-rajuWell, this one was a tough one – a case of one of my idols getting into the hate list overnight. In one of the biggest corporate frauds in India, the (A)Satyam Computers founder admitted in 2008 that he and his company have been involving in manipulating the company’s results and cheated its investors. While, Mr.Raju did it all for his family run business, what he did is to tarnish the India story and spoilt trust among investors from India and abroad. An unfortunate case but a big time fraud person in my list.

10. Sania Mirza – Tennis Player

I hate Sania Mirza not because she married a Pakistani cricketer. I always thought she was a highly overrated sports personality who was known for things other than her tennis. Another creation of the media, especially Times of India’s Sania Mania campaign. One should note that she’s not won any Grandslam (in the womens category) for India and her best all time rank was 27 or so. Probably she possessed some in born skills that was leveraged the wrong way – just like Sreesanth.
(In order not to distract the readers, I am not publishing Sania Mirza’s image as well)

What is your Hate list like?

Well, I had some more people like Mayawati, Lalit Modi, Bappi Lahiri, Mamata Banerjee and some of the worst politicians in India in my list but I wanted to make it a list of ten. Now let me request you to vote for the worst personalities in this list. Please choose up to three and if you don’t see your person here in my list, please feel free to comment about him/her.

Vote for your least favorite person in India


That was a long post and I appreciate your time and comments.