Friday, March 13, 2009

Pollution Under Control

Just this Monday I was stopped by a traffic cop for routine checking. As my luck would have it my PUC certificate had expired just a week ago. The initial reaction was one of shock since I thought that renewal was due in April, which later turned to anger at myself and eventually transformed into acceptance of my mistake and resignation to that fact. I did mention to the cop that otherwise I am routine with keeping my PUC updated, and this time I genuinely forgot, but he wasn't willing to listen. He told me that he would 'challan' (fine) me Rs. 100. He was expecting a different reply, he seemed taken aback at my 'ok' as I took out a green coloured note and handed it over to him. After a moment of staring at me, he then pulled out some change from his pocket (Rs. 40), counted it and offered it to me saying that I could use that for getting a PUC test done if I didn't ask him for a 'pavti' (receipt). I told him that I would rather have the receipt. With another momentary stare, he proceeded to open his receipt book and issue me one.
The point of this post is not to portray myself as a hero and evoke a reply of 'cool' (or alternately 'jackass') from the reader, but to reflect as to whether it was the right thing to do. According to some people I happened to mention this incident to, it wasn't. A couple of reasonable questions were put to me:

1. Do you think the 100 rupees you paid will go anywhere else but in someone else's pocket? Will it be put to good use? If not a direct bribe, it will eventually end up in someone's bank account by way of a scam.

2. Does the cop who caught you even know the meaning of Pollution Under Control? Even if he does, is he standing in the middle of the road, catching errant motorists because he cares about enviromental pollution?

3. Does the PUC certificate hold any relevance? How is it that many 'visibly' polluting vehicles on Indian roads have valid PUC certificates?

I know that I can't honestly or confidently give a positive response to any of these questions.
The strange thing was, the guy who eventually did my PUC check didn't even bother to check the exact reading on the PUC machine. He did make the effort of puting in the inlet pipe into my bike's exhaust for a minute, after which he made me a new PUC certificate. Why would he deny anyone a PUC certificate and lose out on the Rs 30 income? For honesty? I know, I would do it for honesty, but I have been repeatedly told that not all people are (stupid) like me.

So here are the answers I gave myself to justify to my action to myself:

1. I don't know for sure. However, there is a definite probability that atleast some of it will be put to good use, after all, the cops ensure law and order (no one can deny that one can live with a reasonable feeling of safety in Pune), they have to use some of the money they are allotted or collect in the way of fines. If I would have paid the bribe, then I would have lost the right to criticise the cops in case some crime was committed in the city. Besides bribing is a two-way crime, both the parties are at fault. Hence, I was right in doing what I did.

2. In all probability the cop has no clue what PUC means, but he doesn't need to. He is doing his duty in checking whether people are following the rules, if I forgot to renew it, that's my fault, and it is my duty to pay the fine and renew the certificate, both of which I did. Hence, I did my duty and hence I was right.

3. It is a rule, and one made with good intention. Evidence of other people breaking the rules is never a good justification for breaking them yourself. (Unfortunately, that is a major problem in the attitude of most people - justifying their wrongs by pointing out that others are doing the same thing. I think this is one of the major flaws holding back India's social development, but that discussion should be a part of another post). I don't want to join the set of people breaking rules which are good for the planet. I will do my bit by following them. Hence, I have convinced myself that I was right again.

One of the good things that comes out of getting the feeling that one has done the 'right' thing is peaceful sleep and I enjoy mine :)

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Life At It Again!

The last 4 days of my life have been quite eventful - events which make you realise that life is much beyond what we know, see or hear...
Events which make you realise the value and worth of your situation...
Often, in life, when one is unhappy with their own state of affairs, it is a good idea to take a look around you, n then you will realise how lucky you are. Actually, one may argue that looking around may be among the root causes of unhappiness, after all, it is seeing others living 'seemingly' better lives that makes us unhappy with our own... The problem is that we only tend to selectively look at others lives, we only look at those aspects which are better than ours, or which are good. We don't look at people's lives in totality. No one's life is a perfect bundle of happiness, if one shines in one area, he lacks in the other... Of course, there are exceptions to this - but they are rarely found... When I look at others lives in totality, I often realise that I would not want to exchange my position with theirs.
The last week has shown me that I have a reasonably decent life, and there are some (actually many) parts that I wish to change, but they will come.. in time...
Anyway, here is the account of the various events that left me both shaken and stirred.
On Thursday, I went to see a friend of mine who survived a freak accident quite miraculously. He fell off the terrace of a 13 floor building, and luckily landed on the parapet between the 10th and 11th floors. He did have to undergo a 4 hour surgery of his spinal cord. He was lucky to be alive and to not be paralysed... the doctors said he would be able to walk in about 6 months... At the early age of 19, he is just at the beginning of his life, a talented and well meaning chap, I wish him all the best... Goes to show, how life can take the most unimaginable turns that too at times when it is least expected to.
Friday, for me would be an unforgettable day, March 6th, 2009, the day I finally spoke my heart our after a year and a half... the day I realised that others seemingly perfect lives, are as far from perfection as one can imagine... It was a two hour long conversation, and a conversation in which I realised that I had been put on a road which had no destination, the only purpose for destiny to send me down that path, was for me to learn and understand the finer points of life, for me to get stronger by the pain it caused me, for me to... well there may be more reasons which are unknown to me at this point... Yes, but this road has been the most painful one I have gone through, and yet the most educating... It confirmed that what I roughly doubted were mistakes, were exactly that... Though whether they were necessarily bad or not, I still do not know... but I guess life will tell me that too... The day ended by taking a trip to the railway station... Why I do that, is already enlisted in another post... but that didn't end the day... there were more responsibilities, which involved helping a distraught friend over the phone... the same friend in whose words I had sought to seek solace in my troubled state of mind... life is indeed ironic...
Saturday was the day I had decided that I will do something that I have been meaning to in quite a while but never found the time to. That was to roam in the city I admire - Bombay. I wanted to get lost alone. especially after the events of Friday, but I had already promised a friend, permission to share my adventures... It was good in a way that I had company, good company always keeps one's spirits out of the depths... Yes, but we did exactly that... roamed about aimlessly there... the best part was that we spent a majority part of our day near the sea... with near perfect weather and a wonderful breeze playing a huge part in its efforts to sooth my tormented nerves... the evening was spent at Girgaon chowpatty where the setting sun and my friend's decision to get a feel of the sea left me with time to myself to reflect, ponder and introspect... The conclusion that everything was my fault, was short-lived as my efforts to live according to that, were actively thwarted by fate... I don't know yet whether that is a wrong conclusion or whether its not yet the time to make that conclusion, because there is some bit of the aforementioned road left to be trodden... The day ended with me disclosing more things to people than I would have liked too, but with the way things are going, this seemed like a small hiccup at the moment... Though it may come up as a nice big obstacle at the next turn in the road, whatever I said, I said in total honesty and in good intent, so I have nothing bearing down on my heart...
Sunday was relatively devoid of adventure. I spent time with my folks in Bombay, met up with people I haven't seen in a while and am proceeding back to Pune in a bus at the moment... Foot-board local-train travel, and a fairly good looking (engaged) girl mistakenly sitting for a short while before being evacuated, in the seat next to me were the highlights of the day...

A few inspiring lines from a Hindi song to end this long post:
'Sacha ho dil toh, sau mushkilein ho, jhukta nasiba paun main'...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

100



A nice trip to Bhor's Rambaug campsite for the major camp on Friday night, was the highlight of the week for me. It started with a lovely one and a half hour evening ride from Pune to Bhor on a smooth 4 lane NH-4 highway with the picturesque Sahyadris adorning the landscape on both sides. The night was well spent sitting by a campfire, with old buddies - singing songs, listening to one of them playing the guitar and reliving old memories with jokes about the times that were... And all this in the wonderful rustic setting of a village campsite! Our campfire went on till 4:15 in the morning... after which we had a peaceful slumber in one of the tents. All in all, a good end to the day!
The next morning after getting up lazily at around 9:15 (pretty late for a camp) and having a light breakfast, Viraj and I left for Pune at around 11:30. The previous evening, we had agreed that we would each drive one way, and this time it was my turn to drive.
I haven't ridden bikes on highways much, only thrice before. Twice it was in and around Pune itself and once in Ladakh. On the Pune rides, I've never crossed 100 kmph. I had got to 95 a couple of times on a Pulsar 150 but the bike seemed to be getting a little shaky so I had to back off on those occasions. In Ladakh, I was on a powerful but old Thunderbird, but that had a defunct speedometer. Given the empty and beautiful stretch of road we were riding on in Ladakh, I strongly felt that I must have crossed 100, but I had no way of confirming it. That said, I have crossed 100 on a two wheeler as a pillion on Amit's Thunderbird on a Mulshi ride we had back in 2007, his speedometer needle had gone upto 120, but there is a difference - crossing high speeds on bikes being the driver causes adrenalin-filled elation while the same experience being the pillion rider causes... well, lots of tension :)
But yesterday, 21st Feb, 2009 was the day, I finally broke the 100 barrier being the driver, and that too thrice. It was done on a Bajaj Avenger, with a nervous Viraj on the rear seat. The bike did take some effort crawling towards that magical figure especially with it being 3 years old and having two 75 kilo heavy adults to carry, but it pulled through eventually, managing a little above 105 kmph, after which I had to relax the throttle, to stay within the limits of safe driving.
The attaining of this small personal landmark was a good ending to an eventful week, which had me on another one of life's roller coaster rides of lows and highs....

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire - Thoughts And Lessons

I just saw this fantastic movie which has become a buzzword in coffee table conversations in India since the last two weeks. Leaving aside the hype (which in my opinion serves its own merit), I definitely felt that there is a lot of substance in the movie. The portrayal of how a slumdog answers questions in a quiz show to become a millionaire winner, which he has learnt the hard way in his tumultuous life, showcases the ironies of life. Life has its own way of surprising us - no one has a perfect life. People blessed with certain gifts lack others. Often they have no regard for what they have blessed with but remorse for what they lack. Until of course they either lose what they have or gain what they don't.
One of the main things I picked up from the movie is that - whatever life throws at you - never give up - the good times never last forever and neither do the bad ones. Take every moment at it comes up as a challenge to live through it and learn if it is bad or enjoy it to the fullest if it good... True there is something called destiny - but fortune nevertheless favours the brave and persistent and patient... Happiness is a relative term which depends on the way you treat what life gives you.
In short - Never give up!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Searching at 25

An interesting point in my life, this 3rd day of the 10th month of the year 2008. I have completed 25 years of my existence a few months ago. Today I ask myself the point and purpose of my life. Though I would definitely say that the last 12-13 years of my life were reasonably well spent (with a couple of exceptions), there are a few things that I think I may have missed out on. Some of these were a compromise over the things I chose to do, whereas some were just plain oversights. I don't really know whether I regret not having these things in my 'Been there, done that' list, which isn't very pleasant, since this knowledge is needed to plan the remaining years of my life.
Now the task lying before me is to decide my priorities and draft up a plan towards attaining my goals. This hopefully should be done in the next 48 hours since I am running out of time...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Random Musings Of A Sleepless Mind...

Writing after a break makes me feel a little rusty, but the title of this post gives me the necessary slack to write away without worrying about the result. I still have a log of my Ladakh trip pending, a trip which gave me much needed refreshment and which got my mind to a state of fresh enthusiasm and vigour. The sleeplessness to which the title alludes is not due to turbulence within the confines of my cranial cavity, but due to some crazy idiot outside my building screaming some nonsense on a loudspeaker. Supposedly somebody decided that staying on a cycle for 6 days is among the best things to do with one's time. The local corporator decided to second this decision, and the idle public living in the cow-sheds next to my house got another reason to bring out the loudspeakers. This time, they hired somebody to 'compere', and since the last 6 days, he has been screaming arbitrary nonsense on the loudspeaker preventing the hardworking public of my area from exercising their fundamental right to sleep.
So, what should I muse about? Should it be about India's first gold medal at the Olympic Games after 28 years? Congrats to Abhinav Bindra for that! Should it be about the way the civic administration has dug up the approach roads to my workplace, so that my travel time has doubled? Should it be about my experiences while learning to drive a car (Good for me, but not for the poor innocent vehicle) ? Should it be about plans for the long weekend coming up ahead? Should it be about the software engineer who committed suicide (incidentally the chap was my batchmate's brother - God bless his family!)? Should it be about India's victory at the AFC cup (Congrats to them too!)? Well, I'm so sleepy that I can't even think of what to write about!! Thankfully, I can abandon the search for a purposeful solution to my quandary since the loudspeakers have finally fallen silent, and I can retreat into a peaceful slumber...

Friday, June 06, 2008

I Don't Know!

I was never afraid to use this phrase when it came to questions about knowledge. If you don't know, it is a good idea to say so rather than dole out wrong information. However, in times of decision, especially those decisions that concerned me, I never used it - and never thought that I would need to. I was always in control of things, even if I knew I wouldn't be able to come out on top, I knew that I would be able to handle the situation and had a good idea about how to weigh the options and chose the best possible one.
The last one year has changed everything. The number of things not going my way, have now left me in doubt of my own abilities to 'find the way' in testing times. Many of these events and outcomes occurred for no fault of my own. As a matter of fact, they were just quirks of fate, which I could do nothing about.
Even now, fate is not off my back - it keeps putting a big red stop sign in front of all my fresh starts, keeps putting what I want right in front of me but just beyond my reach and cutting of all my means of attaining it. Now I really understand the meaning of the phrase 'So near yet so far'.
So what now? What next? Well, I don't know, I don't....
... but, there's no giving up on life - so I am raring to go and find out and do my best to come out on top!