Sunday, June 08, 2008

Monsoon Raaga!

I cursed under my breath,as I stood in the bus,struggling hard to pull the wallet from my pocket which was covered by layers and layers of armour (Read rain-jacket and 'rain pant'). The wretched thing showed no signs of coming out and slipped deeper each time. The onlookers a.k.a the seated people watched on as if I was the chief clown performing at the russian circus and it was show-time.One more addition to murphy's laws: The closer the bus conductor is to you, the more time it will take you to dig the damn thing out of your pocket. And by the time you shell out the notes, they are already dripping wet!

Well,the rains are here with the usual bang. Been a week of action.
"Please Dont be santhusht. Thoda aur wish karo", thats what the rain-gods seemed to say as the skies opened up.And we have already got a trailer of what we'll be seeing for the next 4 months. Same story though!
The showers come with pin-point accuracy every year something that the Met dept here is not noted for. And they have been a source of much-needed respite from the near unbearable drip-drop,sweaty and humid conditions that the city experienced during the summer.Mumbai's murkiest, dirtiest, mushiest(pun so obvious),slushiest and perhaps its most romantic season is back.
I had my first drench on my way back from work. Felt nice. It felt so blissful, even after numerous rain-baths, year after year. Mom dint think so.
In most flood-prone areas here, stuff like ropes, boats, nets etc are kept handy days before,to face a possible flood situation 'baywatch ishtyle'. Most people who reside at the lower floors of buildings in such areas vacate days before, to escape a watery grave. Ask even a 4th grader here which places would perenially be under water and he would rattle a dozen names,faster than his geography lessons.

The BMC is at the recieving end yet again for the slippery roads, pot-holed roads and roads under construction which are dug up exactly a day before the rains come. Perfect timing!
And the mother of them all: The American consulate sounded an advisory to all americans who are in mumabi or who plan to visit mumbai in this period. No, not a terrorist strike or blast scare.
It reads "When in mumbai,Beware of open manholes. Dont venture out too much." Ok, agreed that each year the notoreity of the monsoons assumes dangerous proportions. But this is ridiculous man!! Hahahaha, travel advisory!

Hot tips:

In Mumbai everything goes down the drain, except for the rain water. True.Very true during the high tide.
.High tide + heavy rains = full-too flooding + you having to swim in flood waters.

High tide timings are important. Dont venture anywhere near the sea, unless you are serious about suicide.

.Open manholes. Walk in a chain, if you are a group. If one falls, the others are there to pull him/her. If the others fall, not your fault.

.If you cant form chains and you cant see ahead while wading through the water, then play " Follow the leader." If the person before you goes missing after some time, then choose a different path.

. For heavens' sake keep yourself clean after coming home at least! Leptospirosis is now becoming a common word, although people can't spell it. It's caused by rat urine. Obviosuly, you cant stop the rat but you can care for yourself.

.Most importantly, keep off the Eastern Express highway as much as possible,especially the vikhroli-ghatkopar stretch (now nicknamed the 'road to death'). The reason: 136 accidents in just 5 days. A certain chemical called 'mast' turned out to be in surplus while laying the road. Add to that the rains which made sure that the vehicles on the 10 km long stretch were in for a slippery, skiddy ballerina show.

.Try to minimise travel. (I know its its next to impossible)

. When stuck in a traffic jam, dont get too frustrated. The guy in the posh Honda Accord is also feeling the same pinch. See, the monsoon is a great leveller; it teaches you to be patient. (I know, by now you have made up your mind to kick me)

. People who own cars: Carry out pre-monsoon checks of batteries, tyres, maintenance of your car including wipers and top-up the fuel of your car during the monsoon

.Hammer is a handy tool: To break the glass on the driver's window from the
middle/centre, in case of an auto-lock system failure if you are stuck in a car say for about 8-14 hrs.

.Thick long nylon rope at least 20 metres long with a hook to be kept in
the dicky.Just in case..

.Keep dry and non -perishable food items in a vacuum container in some quantity. Dry fruits are recommended for pet-pooja.

.In a disaster- like situation instead of trying to reach home,first reach the nearest acquaintance.

.Also, carry a whistle with you. Remember Kate Winslet in 'Titanic'?

. Last but not the least, get a life. Stop cursing the BMC or the administration. You wont gain much by blaming other people. You are the one in charge of yourself.



Sunday, June 01, 2008

Global Masala!

A few weeks ago, the revered US prez stated that the global food shortage and price rice was thanks to developing economies in asia (Read India and china) wherein the middle class had become 'pretty rich' and more spendthrift towards their basic needs. Well tried Mr. Bush! But we dont celebrate thanksgivings over here!
Not long ago many of us awoke to a terrible phenomenon that India was subject to. It was called brain-drain which cost our country something more than crores n crores of rupees - talent, good talent!! The craze to study in the elite IITs, IIMs and strike it big in "Amreeka" was first and foremost on evry youngsters' mind. US visa, permanent citizenship,Silicon valley, masters, Harvard,Dow jones were the buzzmords. Then came the 'LPG' (Liberalisation,Privatisation,Globalisation) era. India opened up well and truly to the world. Many lamented that Inida was committing harakiri and would never come out of it. India caught a cold each time its big brother sneezed.

But the years to follow were something very unlike it. The India growth story finally unfolded. Bollywood overtook Hollywood. Tata took over corus, JLR. Jumbo vada-pav replaced burgers for a change. Indian fashion flooded international markets.NRIs gave up their high-paying jobs abroad and rushed to india. Bingo!4 of the top 10 billionaires were indians. Bangalore was the new silicon valley the IT heavyweights and chennai the new Detroit for global auto majors. The whole world had to stand up and take notice. Suddenely everyone vied for a share of the India pie.
What better example than the IPL T-20 tournament. The glitz, the glamour, the hype and excitement of IPL has by far overshadowed everything. One and half months later,The "Manoranjan ka baap" has beaten everything outright. Its fast, aggressive, power-packed and its there right before you, staring you in the face.

Shane Warne captains Jaipur. Shaun Pollock captained the mumbai indians. I bet,20 years ago, their "India" knowledge would have been just limited to the Taj Mahal or the poverty-stricken portrait of India featuring sadhus, fire-eaters and street jugglers. The very thought of "firangs" playing on our turf, representing different Indians cities would have just been laughed off as a figment of imagination, when Indians first took to the sport of the bat and the ball. Not that IPL has changed everything overnight, its just one of the many big things that has driven home the point. The colonial inventors of the game would be rolling in their graves if they were to witness the transormation the game has underwent a in terms of the shift of power,the way the game is played, the mooalah etc.
The Hyderabadis cheered when Symonds smashed sixes of hapless Indian bowlers(nothwithstanding his role in the racist 'monkey' controversy Down-under).The Kolkattans went beserk when Shoaib took out Sehwag with a thunderbolt. For that matter,shoaib in current form , wouldnt even dream of getting as much support from the whole of Pakistan as he got from the Eden garden crowds.
Well,just to give you an idea, consider this:
A Paki Batsman, An Australian at the non-striker's end, a West Indian Bowler, A Sri-Lankan wickeetkeeper, a New Zealander as an umpire, sweating it out in a power-packed contest at Wankhede in tinseltown mumbai's humidity. And what more proof does one need of steadfast globalization!! (Er..for your information, the cheer-girls in the opening ceremony were American and the ones who followed in the latter part of the tournament were British).
To me this is globalization at its best(est) form! Indian corporate houses and Bollywood celebrities pumped in billions saying that the game was a bit undervalued.Players were auctioned like horses and each of them had a price tag attached to him. Sponsors chipped in with their moolah. Television right were sold. Broadcaster all around the world had a field time. The crowds got their money's worth. The cheerleaders had a ball . Money changed a million hands. It was no longer cricket. Infact it was branded and marketed as cricket-ainment. New talent was unearthed. Big names bit the dust, unheard names blasted their way to the top.

As they say,change is the only thing constant and its upon us to make it a good change or a bad one. Cricket, fortunately, has adopted changes better than other sports. Move over IPL, just look at ourselves. where are we heading?what have we done? what do we speak today? We are the ones who have successfully married the paneer with the pizza,made a schezwan dosa and mineral water paani-puri.We have the largest English-speaking population in the world. So what if we dont speak it the way the brits do ,adding our own dosage of peculiar Indian accent. The point is when a country of a billion people speaks a language a particular way or adopts changes steadfastly in its own way, the other dont have a choice but to fall in our path. It wont be long before people would be trained to speak 'Indian english'.
That would be true globalization!!