31 December 2006

The "MIDAS" Touch

Taken somewhere inside the B-Block, Inner Circle, Connaught Place, New Delhi, illuminated by bulbs, the picture coruscates the resplendence like that of auriferous...but it ain't...!!



Do they seem like the Northern Lights near the North Pole?? They are the purses and clothes hanging from one of the shops at B-Block, Connaught Place, New Delhi.


29 December 2006


Does it look like the pupil of the eye magnified X times...?? wonder what is it?? it's the glass door of the Bon Ton showroom in the A-Block, Inner Circle, Connaught Place, New Delhi.



Is it Scary? Does it lok like a dilated predator's eye? It is the pelmet of my room. and the retina that is in the centre of the eye is the curtain that was hanging on it.


OM !!

look carefully in the centre of the image and you'll see an OM (as in the Devanagri sript). It's an image of my room calendar with a red colour heart hung on it. The shot was taken through 1.3Megapixel camera of my Nokia handset.


28 December 2006

THE Minister's Ambitions

The railway minister prided himself on his reputation as a dynamic man. He kept press clippings of himself and loved watching himself on television - inaugurating a new station, announcing new trains, awarding deserving employees. And he smiled modestly as they listed his many accomplishments - the youngest to win a parliamentary election; the youngest to ever become a minister and the most resourceful minister the department had ever had. Of course, he ensured that the press glossed over his love for the good things and his hedonistic pleasure trips abroad. On his return, he would immediately call a press conference, and announce he had gone to study the advanced technological systems in these nations that ensured that their rail systems worked perfectly. Next he would announce the setting up of a committee that would do a feasibility study. There would be another round of jaunts, conferences, media presentations - in the end, an expert committee would be set up to adapt such systems to Indian conditions and the circle would begin all over again.

But this time he was more than enthusiastic about the Japanese made engines - if introduced into the Indian trains, his experts advised, they would ensure that their speeds increased by over 500 kms and more an hour, and they could save immensely on costs and time. 'What are we waiting for?' was the minister's response, and as he made another speech on the need to spruce up the out-dated rail systems, the press photographers clicked away as he banged on the table and freely gestured. At the end, he turned aside to his minister, reminding him that he must have all the dailies the next day, for his photos were now sure to appear on the front pages.

In his speech, the minister has also stressed that the time gap between decision-making and implementation needed to be reduced. Thus, when the expert committee met, he repeated the need for faster action and urgency. He also announced grandiose plans of sending engineers, technicians and drivers to Japan for advanced training.

Another committee was set up to appraise and evaluate the over two thousand engineers, the 5000 and more technicians and the six thousand five hundred drivers in the department. After their deliberations that took over a month, a few hundred engineers, technicians and drivers were selected to travel to Japan for advanced training on the Japanese engines. The minister also said that the Japanese government had agreed to depute some Japanese engineers to India for a year.

The few selected excitedly flew to Japan for a three-month training period. Friends and relatives saw them off at the airport, shouting last minute orders for camcorders, stereo systems, mobile phones, silks and perfumes and the inevitable Pokemon toys for the kids back home. They were told to throw in a trip to the ski resort of Nagoya, take in the pleasure cruises and the casinos.

In three months they were back, having picked up a smattering of Japanese; how to elegantly eat off a pair of chopsticks, and spoke long and loud about the miracles of the freeways and the bullet trains. That had indeed left them little time to acquaint themselves with the engines, but then the Japanese technical coach accompanied them on the trip back home.

In an impressive inauguration ceremony covered by all major television networks, the minister flagged off the trains equipped with the new engines. They were to initially ply on the suburban networks of the country's financial centre, for the engines were expected to substantially cut down commuting time.

The very first day, the complaints were muted. Those laggardly commuters who always dashed to the station at the very last minute found to their dismay that there was no way they could catch up with the train as it eased its way out of the platform.

The vendors were upset because they couldn't get off these trains whenever a cop happened to passing by. And of course, the volume of their business was low, because trains were more, and passengers were less in every train - their schedules went haywire, and they resented their mounting losses.

Soon the drivers realised that it was not really all hunky-dory. They reminisced nostalgically about the old days when they could ask the cricket score of the vendor at every passing station. They could peer into the slums and even catch a bit of the action.

And the grumbles rose and rose but it took a while for the storm to break out. And it all erupted after a tragic accident. A small boy answering the calls of nature was struck down by a speeding train that took him unawares. Instantly a crowd gathered; they did not dare block the tracks, but they tore up trees, dragged boulders and placed them on the tracks. And the first train slowed down and the others followed. In a matter of hours, the suburban network broke down.

The minister announced a hefty compensation package, and announced that the trains would soon be up and running as normal. But then the city developers and the political bodies supporting them demanded a proper rehabilitation of the slum people who lived along the tracks. With the introduction of the new system, their lives were definitely endangered. For an entire week, the slum dwellers association sat in dharnas and hunger strikes before the assembly, demanding resettlement and compensation.

That entire week, the drivers, technicians and the engineers had nothing much to do. When they got bored of playing cards, gossiping at the cigarette vendors, or even drinking, their union leaders finally woke up to the opportunity. The drivers association called a sudden gate meeting. And decided that they would have no more of governmental apathy. The union decided to go on an indefinite strike, putting forward a number of demands - higher pay scales for the technicians and drivers as now they had acquired more skills; insurance as their lives were now under constant threat from the irate slum dwellers. The technicians demanded pay scales on par with the engineers for their jobs too had become complex. The engineers demanded that they be accommodated into the officer category as they had travelled abroad and were sophisticated enough to be granted the grade.

They gheraoed the minister when he appeared at the Western Railway Headquarters. The minister was taken aback when his car was pelted by stones and he heard the angry shouts of banner carrying union workers. With a worried look, he turned to his press secretary who belied his fears with a reassuring "don't worry, sir, we will ensure that the papers and the networks don't carry anything about this demonstration."

He was glad of the reassurance, for he made no headway of the talks with the union. They refused to buy his explanation that the ministry coffers were empty as the loan money and assistance had all gone to acquire the sophisticated Japanese systems. He announced a commission to look into the question of new grades and revised pay scales but the union booed him vociferously and he returned to his seat, the perspiration streaming down his brows.

Things came to such a pass, that he realised that he could deal with it the only way he knew - he set up a commission. They had only a few days to get their act together, so it was obvious that the minister was not happy with their recommendations. What they said almost broke his heart- only until after a slum development policy was announced, a restructuring of the grade system conducted, could the engines be introduced in a phased manner.

But the minister was never one to bow graciously in defeat. He allowed the engine to be exhibited at the international trade fair that the American President visited. And then he came up with the brilliant idea of 'indigenising' the engines, adding the 'Made In India' tag to them and selling them at a profit to other developing countries.

That evening, he appeared on television, announcing how under his able stewardship the railways had become the country's largest global export industry. Another committee soon resolved that the old engines were still good enough to ply on the local network. With that, the unions called off their strike, unanimously. The drivers returned to their jobs, and the slum dwellers to their plastic shacks - with a heartfelt sigh of relief.


In sheer desire of peace
I sit I stand I walk around
I’m simply elevated on the ground
Rustic mind, I sneeze
Moments restless; Oh Gheez!
Stress: it conquers my mind
Strain around, minus the grind
Questions & marks: appear to be
Answers secluded- just for me!
Tic & truk- clock strikes time
I’m here to shine
Thought process on its high
I halt to take a sigh
Perplexed Brain: its standstill
I attain my peace: ecstasy fulfilled!!