Travel

Let there be light!

“Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still” – Dorothea Lange, Photojournalist most well known for her Depression era work

I’ve always been fascinated by the power of imagery to convey meaning and form perceptions. I’m not sure if this was sparked by my interest in comics since I was a kid, or my father being a photography enthusiast himself. Photography is a hobby which I’ve wanted to pursue since I was in high school, when I started observing dad’s Yashica; and I got off to a start a good decade later with a modest Nikon D3200 [Yeah, I’m a Nikon guy :P].

One of the perks of living in the San Francisco bay area is the immense opportunity it offers for photographic pursuits. Throw in a good group of friends, pleasant weather, a love for travel and enjoyable drives; the setting is near perfect to grab my camera and get outdoors to absorb the world on an otherwise lazy weekend.

A bunch of us friends set out last weekend to attempt to capture sunrise from Battery Spencer, one of the many scenic spots in San Francisco. The Golden Gate bridge never ceases to excite me. The mere thought of seeing this grand structure with the sunrise at the background, let alone photograph it; made waking up at 330AM seem a less arduous task. We reached Battery Spencer at 530AM and were greeted by a friendly breeze with a light wind-chill. It was neither too windy, nor too cold; these conditions are a blessing considering we were at an elevation of 150 metres in San Francisco. There were about 3-4 fellow photographers already shooting away in near perfect silence.

From the viewpoint that slips into the bay, the sight is overwhelming – there stands the Golden Gate in all its glory. To me this symbolizes the peaceful coexistence of man and nature. The first sights of the sun bring about mixed feelings. It is a moment of pride, and is humbling at the same time.  I take pride because we belong to a species which has evolved over millions of years, developed intelligence, made our lives better and built this huge bridge to temporarily hone nature to suit our needs. And yet there rises the sun, as it has for about 3 billion years, and would continue to do so for many more millions of years to come. We are here just for a few fleeting moments considering the ‘lifespan’ of nature, makes one feel so small. Being that close to nature brings about an intimate connect and a sense of belonging with the cosmos. Reminds one of his/her place in this self-sustaining system spanning universes where each entity, living or otherwise, is a significant and indispensable part of the whole.

I’ve been fortunate to be among the lucky few who get to live these experiences, here’s looking forward to more 🙂
Serenity The Accession

Bang(allure)d!

Bangalore is my home. I am one of the many obsessive Bangaloreans who has had many a debate about the city that it is.
It wasn’t until I actually set foot in Bangalore again, that I realized how much I had missed it. The cool breeze that ruffles my hair, the various fast food restaurants that tickle the senses with their aroma, the street food that challenges my appetite, the BMTC Volvo buses that roam around with their yellow boards, the corporation parks where you can see the young and old keeping fit; are all trademark Bangalore traits!

My view of Bangalore is clouded by optimism. All I can relate to is all that is left. There have been so many changes lately that have given Bangalore a new identity, a mask I would say, that has buried the essence that Bangalore once stood for. I am not talking about the traffic or the pollution – those are common problems that are present in any city. Commuting continues to be a matter of concern, either due to the non-availability of transport or due to its sheer cost. Long gone are the days of a polite autorickshaw driver, this issue has been around for quite a while; but since I am more dependent on other means of transport, sans my bike, I have begun to feel it more. Auto drivers behave as if they own Rolls Royces. The docile ones that do oblige a ride in their British steed charge you a whopping amount for it, taking you for a ride, literally and figuratively!
. It was about 4 years ago that I wrote a post on how weird autos were at Chennai, and now, ironically, the same epidemic hits Bangalore.

As I sit in the dark and type out this post, the Bangalore lover in me says that it is one of the few cities in India where I could be fairly comfortable without having a fan running at any time of the day! However, the analyst in me says that this is a seething power situation that plagues the drive of this city. Power cuts of 3-4 hours in a city housing about 90 lakh people, at the onset of monsoons, is simply not acceptable.

Coming to recreation – why is the cost of a movie ticket Rs.250-350, when the same provider, like Inox, PVR etc can sell tickets at Rs.120-150 in Chennai, Hyderabad or Mumbai! These are the rates for Kannada movies as well, which were exempted from tax. [Not sure about the status now though] Be it autos, movies, fuel or real estate; price increase pokes its nose into every aspect! As far as I can see, prices increase here because people are arrogant enough to pay what it takes [I will not drag the IT debate here as it has been discussed many times over on different platforms.]

Bangalore to me is figurative of nostalgia – the climate, the greenery, the eateries and all the roaming around that I have done here are all now just that, a memory. Many changes have come along – good or bad, only time will tell; but as a person who has spent 20 odd years in Bangalore, I am left feeling as an outsider in my own city!

The Mumbai Chronicles

Disclaimer : The events depicted in this write up are purely personal experiences and do not refer to any general public / organization in an offensive manner. Any misunderstanding resulting from this post is NOT to be taken up with the author!

Mid June 2010. Bangalore’s weather at its best.

It had been two months since I had started off the training for my IT job. I was coming to terms with tough times in my educational pursuits. I had flunked a lousy programming test, twice. For our convenience let me codename this test as Chimera [Pronounced Kai-may-ra. FYI, Chimera is a fire-breathing female monster with a lion’s head and a goat’s body and a serpent’s tail – Greek mythology. No specific reason to assign this name though, I can somewhat visualize it this way after having three attempts at that test!] I had two more attempts to go but keeping it till the last attempt would be teasing Chimera to shred my career and confidence to smithereens. I had two exams the coming week; one after the other, one of which was Chimera. On the training front, most of my batch mates had been allotted projects while I hadn’t even got an interview call! As I am used to weird things happening to me; I didn’t take this too seriously and kept giving every available manager I came across a mail/call implicitly showing my desperation to get into a project. With these things running on my mind; something else of a bigger magnitude, which would bring with it considerable solitude and a multitude of issues, was in store for me.

BAM!

One fine morning I get a mail confirming that I have been assigned to a project in Mumbai. No interview calls. No consent asked. Just a plain, irritatingly to-the-point, grotesque mail. Me and two others were given this project [out of which one exactly wanted Mumbai; the other person was finding someone else to swap with] All This, when all other batch mates were getting projects in Bangalore. After making many calls to the big-shots and the “big-shots” [hope you get the difference], I was left with two options; get a person to swap with me or get ready to pack. The big-shots were ready to help me out with the first option. However the “big-shots” seemed to think I was born to take up this assignment; and would be committing a colossal sin of epic proportions combined with treason to the company, if I declined this. Meanwhile I managed to behead Chimera [cleared the test] and successfully completed my training. The first option didn’t work out, although I tried my best. So, second option it was. A hardcore Bangalorean was forced to leave his city, his family, his home and come to Mumbai in search of better fortunes [for himself or for his recruiter or for both, time will tell]

I spent the last few days in Bangalore meeting people close to me and getting ready for the Mumbai episode of my life. Had immense help from mom in the packing phase, made things much easier. Taking my computer with me was inevitable because of 2 reasons –

1. It would rot without anyone using it

2. I would rot without using it. [The same applies to my bike too, but because of registration issues I had to leave it at Bangalore]

Keeping in mind my sanity, I packed the comp in the last minute [thanks to my cousin who turned things around in the nth hour]. This had to be done in the last minute as my ticket was confirmed in the penultimate minute, the previous night. Boarded my Indian Airlines flight from the Bengaluru International Airport with mixed feelings and nostalgia. The elderly air hostesses made sure that my attention towards these feelings wasn’t diverted to them.

On landing in Mumbai, I took my luggage [which I thought was mine obviously] and took a cab to my guest house, the temporary accommodation which was given by my company. While unloading the luggage at my guest house, I realised that I had flicked someone else’s suitcase; an exact replica of mine. What followed was a series of events which I can never forget or forgive myself for. Rushed back to the airport on the same cab. In the heat of this situation, the airport guards must have thought of me as a random terrorist. They took their time to allow me inside after verifying my identification and boarding pass. Although it was only 5 minutes, it seemed like eternity. [As if terrorists do not have their ID proofs at the ready! Doesn’t matter anyway, I am grateful to them for having letting me inside] Finally, I met the duty manager, apologized profusely and collected my luggage from his cabin. The other guy whose luggage I had taken was on his way to Mecca. I prayed the Gods I knew to give Allah the power to give the other guy strength to forgive me! As far as I was concerned, problem solved, as I had got back my suitcase. I thought to myself, “Great start at Mumbai! Not too bad an incident for a starter.” There was much more to be unlearned and relearned, which I didn’t quite know at that point of time.

Few facts of Mumbai that I have observed –

There are a few oaths taken by people here. [Please don’t ask me if it is in Marathi or Hindi, as I too do not know. My guess is Marathi, as the Shiv Senas rule here. Shall find out in some time]. Details are as follows.

a. Drivers of the BEST Buses [the local city bus] –

i. “I solemnly swear that I shall not stop in a bus stop at the right place“[as is common with other cities]

ii. What sets them apart from the others is this “I solemnly swear that I shall not halt at any stop for more than 5 seconds regardless of the bus being empty or the road being empty or passengers successfully boarding/alighting from the bus.

b. The average Mumbaikar – it is a known fact that an average human being sleeps for 25% of him lifetime. An average Mumbaikar sleeps lesser than an average human. It is almost like Mumbai never sleeps. There is ample activity even at 2 AM, as I noticed after one of my late night movie sprees. It is heartening to see young ladies move around late at night without facing much issues.

Although the sleep is less, I feel an average Mumbaikar wastes that time gained on spitting. Wherever you go, a spit follows, at any time of the day, at the most unexpected moment, at the most unexpected place. Here comes the oath “ I solemnly swear to spit to the best of my ability, as and when possible, wherever possible, as an ardent consumer of tobacco products irrespective of whether I am chewing it or not; and fuel the tobacco industry for future generations to savour”.

Be it from a bus moving at 20 kmph, a train moving at 60 kmph, or while innocently walking on a road; Mumbaikars never fail to spit. The “Stop Spitting, Stop TB” [Tuberculosis] boards do little to help. Ironically, some of these boards are used as canvases by our budding spit artists! [I wonder if it will become a sport in the future, we have an assured Olympic Gold medal on our hands]. It is hard to not appreciate the ubiquitous intricate graffiti formed as a result of these spits.

c. Trains –

A typical scene at the war front. I risked my life to take this pic!

i. “I solemnly swear to not stop at any station other than Kurla for more than 10 seconds.” This is quite understandable as spending an extra 5 seconds would hit the economy and the turn-around-time hard. With these kind of stoppage times, there is a train every 10-15 minutes at every major station, and the minimum ticket rate is about Rs.3. What’s the consequence if it increases by 5 more seconds? Am not too much of a math guy, please do the math yourself.

It is like a battlefield while entering or leaving a train. We have 10 seconds to allow the people to alight from the train and others to board the train! Sometimes one experience rushes from a past life of being an infantry soldier or a gladiator at these moments! Déjà vu, I would say.

d. The Rain God

Mumbai and rains are inspearable; atleast at this time of the year.

I hereby declare that I shall lash Mumbai with rains every day during the monsoon, as and when possible, to the best of my potential; and ensure that the people in Mumbai wade through atleast 2 inches of water at all times.

e. Another one on the average Mumbaikar, to end on a positive note. “I shall go about my business, undeterred, at any time of the day, even if it is raining like the world is going to end today.”

I’m still unravelling the mystery that is Mumbai, shall keep updating . . . .

Wonder B’La’h..!!

Frustration. Thwarting ill will. Our Coorg trip got put off indefinitely once again, leaving all of us fuming. We wanted to go out somewhere badly. As a respite, I suggested Skandagiri to the few in our group who too had the same frustration of the trip getting cancelled. Another alternative was to go to Wonder La. I was initially apprehensive as the drive wasn’t a great distance, but later gave in as the others voted for Wonder La over Skandagiri; and My God! It wasn’t a bad choice at all..!!

I left home at about 10 AM and picked Abhi from the hostel, had breakfast from a hotel nearby; and then embarked on “Mission Wonder La” with me piloting my Apache and Abhi being the Co-Pilot. The weather was sunny and bright for a good day’s entertainment. As I started giving in to the temptation of great roads take over my mellowness, we were brutally intercepted by the Kengeri Police who started asking me for my documents: license, insurance, RC Book. Am pretty used to the routine checks done by the police, but this was a tad too much; especially with the police asking me to repeat my address, vehicle Registration number and all that..! He suspected if the vehicle was actually mine, courtesy – my different looks in the photos of my Driver’s License, RC Book and my present look..! Finally, after abusing my convincing abilities, the cop let me go, and “Mission Wonder La” was back on track, with a 10 minute delay.

Wonder La is about 30 km from my place, with the latter part of the drive comprising the Rider’s Delight, Mysore road. We ogled at the NICE road to our left and I earnestly promised my Apache that she’ll atleast get to strut on NICE road. We reached Wonder La at about 1130 AM. The rest of the cavalry : Hari, Srikar, Ajay, Bharath and Yeshavanth, arrived 15 minutes later. We bought the tickets, dumped our stuff in a locker and entered the arena; looking for game.
On the 'Wonder La Bamba'On the ‘Wonder La Bamba’We started off with the ‘Wonder La Bamba” which seats 2 rows of people, and the whole apparatus moving clockwise and anti, with sudden accelerations. This seemed simple at the outset, but me being acrophobic [fear of heights], found this simple ‘walk-in-the-park’ ride itself scary. But determined to get over my fear, I sat through the whole 2 minute session without screaming. We then tried out ‘Wonder Splash’ which has a wooden raft, hauled up the hillock by conveyors, into a tunnel. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and also a steep incline, which ends in a pool of water. The raft hurls down the track at high speeds in to the pool, sending out a huge spray of water; drenching all of us in the water. We did this twice, as Bharath wanted a better pic than the first one. These two rides made me lose my fear to some extent.

That's Maverick.! We couldn't click its pics tho.

Maverick. This was the next; and true to its name, one of a kind ride. It seats two rows of people, about 20 maybe. It has many twists, turns, swivels, rotations and defies gravity; putting Newton’s laws to shame. This ride made me do two things which I thought I could never do. One was that it made my acrophobia get a phobia, so that I was really able to enjoy the ride. The second thing was that I had finally discovered that I could scream. Never before had I heard my voice cross the barely audible mark. Both these events are intertwined. Once the ride started, a voice in my head gave me two choices. One was to close my eyes and stays put, or keep my eyes open and enjoy the ride. But my acrophobia, being the evil that it is, didn’t allow my conscience to keep my eyes open. But my instincts got the better of it, and made me open my eyes. All these civil wars happening in my mind gave way to excess pent up energy; which showed up as a burst of voice.. and voila..! I was screaming..!! Post Maverick, there was a fulfilling feeling that I had achieved something great in life..!

We then finished the ‘Pirate Ship’, ‘Techno jump’, ‘Drop Zone’ and the ‘Net walk’, all of which were dwarfed by Maverick. Later we had lunch and got into the water gear to attempt the water rides.

I am a hopeless swimmer, barely managing to float. The others, barring Ajay, Hari and myself were good swimmers. We started warming up, or rather cooling off, with the Baby Pool, which is about 5 feet high. Then we ventured into the wave pool, and spent about 45 minutes there fighting the apparently ‘gentle’ waves. Then came the other thing which I had never done before. Rain Dance. The beats of the music coming as a crescendo along with the heavy rain in the rain disco managed to make my dead-stiff body make a move or two with great difficulty. We then finished off the water slides, along with our self made ‘races’; and the ‘Water Pendulum’. Water rides were fun altogether.

The Y-Scream

The best was yet to come. We had left out the mother of all dry rides. The ‘Y-Scream’. We hadn’t got the quorum required to start the ride in the morning, but we had a few seats left when we came back after the water rides. Hari, Abhi and myself were up for it, and seized the opportunity thrown at us with both hands. The Y-Scream consists of 8 sets of capsules suspended from a bow-like structure. The bow swings and whirls like a giant wheel, and the seats spin about their own axis; giving the rider a unique experience, on the lines of co-piloting a Sukhoi..! I could literally feel the blood rushing to my head. The evil Acrophobia popped its nosy head again, but my instincts, now made stronger by ‘Maverick’ routed it out from its roots. Y-Scream was the icing on the cake.

Next was the classic, entertaining ‘crazy cars’, in which we need to keep bumping into each other; followed by a splendid LASER Show. We took some snaps as memorabilia and then dispersed.
What followed was a stupendous night drive on Mysore Road with the night air making its way through my helmet, giving that titillating feeling a biker needs to push his vehicle to its limits. My Apache, listening intently as always, obeyed my orders without any huffs. I dropped Abhi back at the hostel, and returned home at about 9PM, with memories that will last for a lifetime. The Wonder La trip is truly an experience to remember…

The Pune Experience . .

21st December, 2008

The SNAP test which is to be written to seek admissions to the Symbiosis institutes was scheduled to be held at 1400hrs, and my test venue was Christ College. Due to the proximity of the venue to my place, I was happy to leave home by 1300. SNAP started at 1400hrs and was on for 2 hrs till 1600hrs. I was confident that I would get a decent score in SNAP as I got a good percentile in my mock-SNAP. The Microcontroller 8051 semester exam was to be held the next day, and my preparation had a good measure of last minute doings as always. The forums at http://www.pagalguy.com looked all the more inviting, and added fuel to the already kindled fire in me which said “8051 can be finished tomorrow, first find out what chances you have”. I spent the evening mostly going through the online forums and comparing my answers with the ones in the key released by various institutes, according to which I was supposedly getting 82.5/180. I stood a good chance at the two top Symbiosis institutes, namely SIBM and SCMHRD, provided I got the score I expected.

10th January, 2009

The SNAP scores were out. I had scored 72.5/180, a dismal 10 mark difference from the expected score. With this score I was sure that SIBM was impossible, but I stood a fair chance at SCMHRD. Pagalguy’s forums came to my help again. It was reassuring to find that many people had got much lower scores than they had actually expected. There were also suggestions to sign an online petition requesting the Symbiosis authorities to re-do the scores. This happened about a week later, signing of which I did gladly..!

21st January, 2009

The SCMHRD GD/PI call list was out and I got a confirmatory e-mail stating that I had been selected for GD and PI, which was to be held at Pune. The slot selection was left to the students on a first-come-first-serve basis. I gathered information from friends and booked the onward and return journey by the same train, Karnataka Sampark Kranti Express,[SK exp] for the 10th and 12th of Feb respectively, and selected my GD slot at 1330 hrs on the 11th of Feb.

The Pune experience:

Day1 – 10.02.1009

All packed and ready for departure by 1045hrs. Had a heavy breakfast and left for Yeshwantpur[YPR] railway station by 1130hrs, reached by 1300hrs. The train which was supposed to depart from YPR at 1330hrs turned up only at 1445hrs, and was 1515 when we actually left YPR station. The journey is 18-19 hrs, and I had taken some magazines to beat the boredom. The chess playing co-passenger, and also the other loquacious gentleman kept me company for some time. Otherwise it was mostly songs from my battery guzzling mobile or the books that aided me in killing time. As for the food, I didn’t experiment with the pantry goodies that have a tempting aroma but clearly prove the age-old quote “Looks are deceptive”. Had taken some bakery items and other stuff to appease my ‘hunger’, after all how hungry can a person feel if he does nothing but sit/sleep for 19hrs straight !! With my bag as a pillow, I retired for the day, undisturbed, on the upper berth.

Day2 – 11.02.2009

SK Exp was running late, and was expected to reach Pune only at 0900 instead of 0750. I informed dad’s good friend, at whose place I was supposed to stay, that I could come on my own, and that he needn’t have to make the driver wait for me at the station. Pune greeted me at 0840, with its fresh, sunny demeanour. I was told that the Pune was one of the good places to live, as the people were friendly, and also because there was lesser traffic or pollution as compared to other cities. I took an autorickshaw and dad’s friend’s place wasn’t all that difficult to find, as I was given clear directions. After indulging myself in their hospitality, I left for ICC towers, the venue of my GD.

The Process:

I reached the venue about 30 min early, and enquired about the registration for my GD, the slot being at 1330. It was a different environment inside, with the management vibe all over the place. Very courteous volunteers, friendly peers, clear directions and many more indications of a well-managed show. I got to interact with my peers and came to know that of the 15 candidates who had their GD at 1330 [in batches of 5]; 6 of us were freshers and the rest were with work-ex. There was a mini briefing about the process and we were directed to our seats.

The GD was to be held on the 5th floor. The volunteers were helping us to keep our cool. After a 20 min wait, our turn came at around 1400. We were taken to a hall which had 2 panel members and 5 seats for the GD participants. In our group of 5, 3 were freshers. The case to be discussed was “Common problems faced by Start-ups” [as in start up entrepreneurs]. The discussion started after 5 min, by when we must have studied the case.

We had a healthy discussion for about 15 min, with all of us giving mostly valid inputs that contributed to the topic. But somewhere midway, we deviated from the ‘problems’ to the ‘solutions’; which made the panelist to intervene and bring us back on track. I got to do the least amount of talking in the discussion [of the 5 of us], and at the end of 15 min, I was told to summarize the discussion, to which I was able to do some justice.

After a wait of about half hour, I was taken to the PI chamber. There were 2 panelists again. And the interview was a kind of ‘good cop – bad cop’ routine, with the interviewers taking turns as either cop…! Throughout the 15 min interview, I was subject to some ‘throwing me off balance’ questions like ‘why is your score so low in this semester? Your marks are in a geometric progression with a negative common ratio’, ‘As you are a student, don’t you think it’ll be better for you to look like a student’ [thanks to my long hair and beard], ‘your parents have left you to do whatever you want because they know that you’ll not listen to them anyway?’, and many more. I managed to wriggle through such questions with some difficulty.

This was followed by a document verification exercise, and then by tea & sandwiches. The whole show was managed by the first years at SCMHRD, and obviously the panelists were members of the staff. On the whole the experience was a good one, with a ‘feel-good’ aura surrounding it.

That evening, I was taken to the famous ‘Daglu-Seth’ Ganapathi temple; and also to the famous ‘Chitle Bandhu Mithaiwala’ at Pune. After a great Darshan of the Lord, in all his grandeur, and some purchases, we had dinner and retired for the day.

Day3 – 12.02.2009

I left for the railway station after having a heavy breakfast, comprising 5 tasty Akki-Rotis. The lunch and dinner was also packed for me by the extremely hospitable friends of dad. SK Exp was bang on time this time around and left Pune at 1130 sharp..! My co-passengers included a fellow engineering student from Bangalore, and a battalion of about 20 people from rural Karnataka who had supposedly been to Delhi to attend an LIC ‘Kanperence’, for those of us who aren’t fluent with the Kanglish lingo, Kanperence=Conference. It was quite an experience to see them buy literally every other pantry item that passed by; and then litter their own compartment with the food leftovers, paper plates, newspapers, water bottles and many other stuff. This entertainment [sorry to say so] along with my engg friend coupled together helped me beat the boredom blues. To top it all, this battalion of train marauders engaged themselves in liquor towards the night and were subject to some ‘Gyan’ sessions from the patrol police on the train…!

All that apart, the 19 hr journey ended at 0630 on13th Feb, with the train reaching Yeshwantpur on time, and this Pune trip was truly a memorable experience that I’ll remember for years to come.

13th February, 2009 – The Anti-Climax

On reaching home, I got back to my normal activities and resumed my preparation for my project. In the evening, I received a mail from SIBM, with my increased SNAP score [78.5/180] and a call for GD/Group Task and PI, scheduled to be held on 26.02.2009..!!!

Do I need to do all of this again? I haven’t decided as yet…

Chennai’s Auto Blues

I happen to go to Chennai pretty often as my parents are put up there. I usually take a bus from the station to my home, but sometimes am forced to take an auto, as it was this time, due to excess luggage.

Outside the railway station in Chennai, one can see auto drivers flanking people offering their services at an exorbitant rate. As some are unaware of the unfair prices these drivers quote, they unknowingly get fleeced; some who are aware of the ways of the “world” tend to take a bus to their destination; some others take a prepaid auto which has been introduced recently. These prepaid autos are a breath of fresh air for people like me as the fares are fair to some extent.

As usual many rick drivers started chasing me literally quoting a quarter of the price of my bike..! [ this is some exaggeration ] and obviously I declined all of them. Then finally the protagonist of my misadventure turned up, seemed obviously out of place [for a Chennai auto driver that is ]. He was very un-‘Chennai-auto-driver’ish; that is being courteous, helping me load the baggage into the rick, and no language. This thoroughly took me by surprise as I never expect this from any auto-driver, leave alone one in Chennai. He quoted a fair price to drop me off pretty close to my doorstep and we were off, after some bargaining [unwritten rule for all auto passengers there].

As we were percolating through the busy streets of the city, more surprise was in store for me as this guy was following all the traffic rules properly, not skipping a signal, staying within the line, showing hand signal before stopping [this was the limit..!] I couldn’t refrain myself from asking him if he was new to Chennai..! He was 12 yrs old. He also added that one could expect people to follow rules only if he/she individually did follow them. Finally someone who shares my view I thought..!

Halfway through my journey, my already rich Tamil vocabulary [(unparliamentary vocab) due to repeated visits and movies of course] was subjected to a lot of improvement as our protagonist started showing his true colours by yelling at the other commuters who weren’t following the rules as such [you wouldn’t be surprised if you are a Chennai-ite and neither was I] To top it all, we arrived at an accident spot involving an Indica and a Pulsar, head on collision at the middle of the road. One motorist, with a pretty pillion, who I presume to be his girlfriend, nudged his way through the waiting commuters to go in-between the Pulsar and the victimized Indica. This was it. The fuel had been added to the fire. Our protagonist started the auto and whirred towards the accident area and stopped adjacent to the erring motorist. One abuse after another, they kept coming on and on, many of which I dint know. After putting my consoling abilities to maximum use and getting an earful from the others at the scene, both the ‘fighters’ resumed their respective journeys.

After some time, we were at the place where he was supposed to drop me [about 150m from home]. I paid up the amount for which he dint have change. All my efforts to get change from the nearby shops went in vain. I told him to wait at the same place until I get change from home, for which he told me to leave my baggage in the auto. This was obviously risky, as it had all my clothes and also my digicam. He wasn’t convinced and started his whimsical abusive verbose. I also showered some of those I knew, at the same time being careful not to use very bad ones. Finally I had to give in to his demand. He said he’d drop me at my doorstep but I ll have to give 30 rupees extra..! he dropped me as he said, I gave him Rs.20 extra which attracted a “Go hang yourself” kind of a slogan from him [Thank God I didn’t hear it properly]  . I told myself- WELCOME TO CHENNAI.