Monday, 26 May 2014

The Horror-Coaster named BRTS

For those of you who are not aware, BRTS is a public transport system that stands for Bus Rapid Transit System. It is an exclusive system of transport since it runs on its own track that is built in the middle of all the major roads of a city. It has its own platforms, dedicated service routes, rapid availability and is given priority at crossroads. Oh and yes, more than half the buses are air conditioned since it can get pretty hot here in Gujarat, yeah very hot.

Image Courtesy: Google Images.

Leaving the fact that having two public transport systems running on the roads here in Ahmedabad creates havoc with traffic since the police just seem concerned with fining people without helmets; let me get to the point. I had the opportunity to travel in the BRTS on a Sunday evening at peak hour. Here is a timeline of what happened that evening:

08:00 pm: We reach the nearest BRTS platform, buy our ticket and wait for the bus which should have come with 10 minutes.

08:30 pm: The first bus in half an hour arrives with at least 50 people crammed into it. We get into it nonetheless because we don’t want to wait another half hour for the next one.

08:45 pm: We both get separated inside the bus with people jostling to get in and out at the biggest crossroads we stop at. My friend panics since it’s her first time in public transport. She pleads with her eyes for me to stand next to her.

08:55 pm: I finally manage to get her next to me after seizing an opportunity while people were getting down at a stop. She is relieved, a LOT.

08:59 pm: We get off to change buses at a junction where two routes intersect. We breathe in open air after 29 minutes.

09:01 pm: Fortunately, the next bus arrives ‘Rapidly’ and we climb on despite of it brimming with people – again.

09:06 pm: People are swaying from side to side as our apparently drunk driver kept swinging the vehicle into turns that Schumacher would be proud of. I had to literally put both of my hands on either side of my friend and brace myself on the holding bars to prevent falling over her and others the next time he stopped the bus.

09:12: pm: The driver stopped the bus – not at a platform or because of traffic at crossroads, but because our bus had run out of diesel! Unbelievable! And the worst part is that commuters were not even informed of the same. He just pulled over and got off the bus to talk to another driver who had stopped ahead of us.

09:20 pm: it was only after he climbed into his seat and started the bus that he let us know that the bus had run out of fuel and that he’d had to borrow some from the other bus.

09:23 pm: The bus stopped so violently that almost all the people standing in the aisle went tumbling to the floor and some even from their seats. Fortunately I had braced myself so well that my friend and I managed to stay on our feet. There was an immediate uproar among those who had fallen. People accused the driver of being drunk and even threatened to complain about him at the next platform and have his license revoked.

09:24 pm: Passengers up front attempt to convince those in the back that a bicyclist had tried to cross the road in front of the bus and had the driver not stepped on the brakes, he would have been run over. The bicyclist was wearing sunglasses – in the night – I saw it!

09:25 pm: Enraged passengers get off the bus at the very next platform and try to get the driver to get off the bus so that they could possibly beat him to pulp but he managed to start the bus and we were on our way again. One good thing that came out of this mess was that everyone was alive and the bus was relatively empty for the rest of the way.

09:30 pm: we finally reached our platform and got off the bus with a sigh of relief that I hadn’t let out in a very long time.

It took us exactly one and a half hour to get to a place where it would have taken just 45 minutes to reach at the most, had we used our own vehicles. And it would have been without all the unsavoury incidents that took place along the way.

Talk about a memorable Sunday!

My friend Shruti Chaturvedi also wrote a hilarious piece on the BRTS recently, you can read it here: The BRTS.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Selective Censorship in India

Off late, I’ve come to realize that censorship in India is a pretty selective process. Only those things that the panel find distasteful are edited out or cut completely so that Indian viewers don’t have to watch all kinds of “BAD” things and be disgusted or morally corrupted by the same.

Image Courtesy: Google Images.

Of course, the cinema, television and advertising industry in the western nations don’t need to take care of these things because they are already morally void, so they think. But we Indians, no no no no no, we are those who uphold our culture and moral traditions in the strictest sense. We cannot allow nudity, intimacy, slang, smoking, drinking and rape to go up on any type of screen in India because it would horrify the masses because they don’t spew swear words out of their mouths, they don’t smoke or drink and they most definitely never have sex. The population of India has merely increased due to asexual reproduction.

Now if the various censor boards for different kinds of media in India feel certain things should not go up, there must be a reason and I just stated it, but doesn’t bribery and corruption come under the degradation of morals and ethics that they so loudly preach through their scissor-wielding arms that cut of other things from camera reels?

Image Courtesy: Google Images.

I recently saw an advertisement that has been bothering me since the first time I watched it. The ad shows some kids in a classroom trying to decide which one of them would be the opening batsman for the school cricket team. Many people ask for the opportunity but the child on the first bench just makes sign with his hands, the captain goes to him and the former kid shows him his tiffin box which contains chappatis with jam in them. The captain tastes one and makes the kid the opening batsman.

What does this ad portray?

I know that at first glance or in the first reading, it may appear to be a pretty normal ad for jam and appear to be reinforcing the fact that the jam is very tasty. But if one looks into the ad, one might realize that this is a case of clear bribery and that too among children. The kid bribes the captain to give him the opening spot on the team by parting with a jam roll.

And this advertisement is meant for kids.


Dos this ad not show the kids of India that they can get things done by simple bribery? And is bribery not morally and ethically “BAD” for the Indian population?

Oh but that’s quite alright I guess or the censor board might have been too busy editing out naked men and women from perfume ads to notice the blatantly corrupt message that this advertisement gives to the children, albeit very innocently.

The people who sit on such panels should realize that rather than attempting to stop scandalizing the population of India, they should attempt to stop this corruption of children’s mentality.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

The Working Children of India

We, the people of a stable financial standing often notice those who are far less fortunate than us. We see them everywhere, at least here in India, where the number of poor people far outnumbers the population of some small countries.

We noticed them as kids, understood the bitter facts of life and even felt sorry for them. But then we kept seeing them every time we left the house, every time we drove down the road and every time we went to a place of worship. We saw them so often that some of us have got used to them, we feel that they are just part of the background now and they are here to stay.

Have we ever spent a moment in thought of those kids who are born in abject poverty? Yes, we have seen them at crossroads and fairs selling stuff like balloons and stickers and candy; but have we really noticed them?

We see people with healthy bodies begging, we see these people asking for money in the name of God, but do we really see the children? Not the children who are made to beg, but those who enterprise to earn their livelihood through work? Those small captains of industry, those small artists, and those small officers of the service industry who refuse to take handouts without the sweat of their brow?

In my time in this metropolis, I’ve come to notice these children; it’s very hard not to. Children who polish shoes, children who sing, children who perform gymnastics, children who sweep trains and children who wash vehicles are in an alarming number in this city. Unlike those whose who choose to beg, these little ones either choose to or are taught by their parents to earn with a hard day’s labour, such as is not possible for a child of a more fortunate family to do.

I’ve interacted with some of these children, some with just one or two words, some with more and they have taught me more about the fruits of hard labour than I’d managed to in my moral science class. These children do not accept money without doing their work, they do not even ask for it unless one allows them to render their services. I believe that it is these children and not the youth of today who will be the true backbone of this nation one day.

It makes me sad to see them out of school and in the streets fighting to survive another day, but it also gives me hope that if the children of India are ready to work more than those who are supposed to, we will indeed be a great nation once more.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Brandy, Whiskey & all that… FOR ALL!

Well, I wish that was possible, because in that case I’d hand out a glass to each one of my readers and then clink them to the resounding clamour of ‘cheers’ from all around. Today, my blog turns ONE.

It is quite an achievement for me that this blog managed to survive for a year. That been said, it is also an achievement that I’m writing my 100th post on this day. It would hardly have been conceivable to me that I could actually manage this, had someone used this line to exhort me to write when I began. But I’m glad I did, because this day is a feeling I’ve had only twice as yet; the first was when I finished school and the second was when I completed my graduation.

Image Courtesy: Google Images.

All those who have followed my writing since the inception of this here blog, they will probably know that I started it just because I was getting bored at home and staring at a four month long vacation with absolutely nothing to do except for eating and watching what I like to call ‘my big ass’ TV. And so began this incredible journey of jotting down my feelings, my experiences and sharing those of others in the blogging world and outside of it. It was the first time that I came to realize the responsibility of being a writer and the joy of sharing my work with those who really want to read it.

It was somewhere around the six month period when I first experienced ‘writer’s block.’ I no longer knew what to write and I’d already exhausted all that I wanted to put out. But then it was this self-same blog that helped me realize what I wanted to write. Well, the blog and some people:

Namrota Mazumdar who found a novel way to keep me on the keyboard in times I didn’t feel I could write something worthwhile; she started poking me on Facebook and this inconspicuous yet highly effective nudging gave me the motivation to write again.

Then there was Sumedha Sharma who connected with me on a more professional and personal level and gave me newer insights into things one might just write off as normal.

Shruti Chaturvedi was I think my original inspiration to start the blog and it was she who helped me take my baby steps in the Blogosphere.

Farheen Raaj, one of my most intriguing and talented juniors at college is the one person younger to me whose opinion really matters.

My readers, especially those who commented and reviewed my work have also been my constant critics and support who helped me write better. A few of these people off the top of my head are Naini Khajanchi, Trisha Das, Debjani Ghosh, Dr. Shirish Kashikar and all those who have been reading but not let me know of their presence.

I’ve had inspiration from many great writers in the blogging world and to name all of them would take another post altogether, but chief among them are Sakshi Nanda, Tomichan Matheikal and Nabanita Dhar.

Thank you all very much and all those whom I’ve forgotten to mention.

Yours, in writing,
Brendan-Anton Raphael Dabhi.

Friday, 2 May 2014

If you didn’t Vote…

Gujarat was in anxious anticipation to vote for the Indian General Elections on the 30th of April. And why not? Their Chief Minister is in the race to become the Prime Minister of India. The man who hopes to become the leader of the largest democracy in the world is counting on his state to propel him from Gandhinagar to New Delhi.

If you are one of those who are called, ‘enlightened and responsible’ citizens of India, you might have wanted to vote too or are going to. You want to do something for your country, do your part in bringing about a good government unlike those who don’t give a rat’s ass about the same. You actually think that one vote makes a difference; well that’s the difference between them and you.

It is very fortunate that today the number of educated and aware citizens who want to vote is considerably more than those who either do not realize the importance of it or are too lazy to cast their vote. It is the former group of people who are in the ascendency and it helps realize the basic premise of living in a democracy.

Image Courtesy: Google Images.

But there are people who cannot vote. There are reasons why they cannot go to their constituency and cast their vote on the day of elections. This may be due to a variety of reason. These reasons are in some cases valid, but there is no point noting them down since they will just be taken as some more excuses to avoid fulfilling one’s national duty.

But let’s assume that some people had a real reason not to vote, what can they then do to absolve themselves of this guilt? I know some people who did not vote and then could not put up their inked finger photo up on Facebook, but I also know that they wanted to – vote that is. But since they didn’t, talking about it is a moot point. What they did in lieu of voting then become a support for them to still believe that they did their duty in some measure at least.

Did they make other people aware of their duty and right?

Did they try to explain the importance of the same to the uninitiated?

Did they inspire even one other person to take the trouble to vote?

Did they do their part in ensuring that the voter list becomes longer?

If they have in any way partaken in these activities, then I believe that they can absolve themselves of blame, even if society doesn’t.

I didn’t vote, but I’ve finally manage to stop the dam of guilt that was threatening to spill into the other areas of my life. I believe that I’ve done my part for my country, have you?