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Somethings the Americans could learn from us, Indians

SprayI am writing this post on my flight from Atlanta to San Jose. We have had a blast on this trip even if I was working from my laptop / other devices except during the week I spent in Orlando.

The US has always been on the forefront of technology or so they claim. They preach about conservation of resources. But my question to them is do they practice what they preach? Petroleum products are used like crazy what with those huge SUVs and XUVs running all over the place. The roads are good let’s give it to them and the traffic extremely disciplined but then no public transport at all aside of some cities. Even the intercity buses they have (Greyhound and Megabus are two names I came across) aren’t even heard of by most people. And I don’t even know if they have intercity trains. Everyone just wants to drive. And they sure can drive. We covered a distance of 450 miles from Orlando to Atlanta yesterday in a matter of 7 hours which was awesome but then if I were in India I would have taken an overnight train or if left with no choice I would take a bus. A car is the last thing I want to drive for such long distances.

I honestly have no right to comment on the obesity prevalent in Americans considering my own obesity levels but I should admit that they can reduce obesity in the US by just decreasing their portion sizes. Kavya and wifey had an ice-cream each in Florida. When ordering they were asked small, medium or large and they opted for small. The size of the small ice-cream was probably larger than the largest we could have in India. The three of us shared the two SMALL servings of the desserts but had to discard almost an entire serving as we could not afford to consume any further. Even when ordering food, they prompt you to have a coke or such (Soda they call it!) and add french fries (which then makes it a meal they say). The proposition price wise may sound attractive but honestly it is a complete waste. I would rather they stop this commercialism of Coke, Pepsi etc. and let people drink water. And yes water is the same price as a Coke if not more expensive! In India we consume so much water and hydrate ourselves (maybe due to the weather too). Their coffee is also huge. I always opt for small but haven’t been able to finish one. Maybe they can downsize it further learning from Indians and the concept of Mumbai’s cutting chai.

Lastly which hurt me the most was their usage of paper!!!! Oh my God. They consume so much of paper. I do appreciate their hygiene levels as you have clean toilets (the sulabh shauchalyas can learn a thing or two from them) complete with soap and hot water. Each toilet has paper napkins either through a manual or automatic dispenser. People here tend to use that paper like there is no tomorrow. Maybe they could do with a lesson or two on paper conservation. And my pet peeve. They don’t have a bum spray and use toilet paper. Jeez. How yucky!!! Wastage of paper and you feel so funny. I wish the bum spray makers in India would patent their creation and mass market it in the US. They can improvise and use the hot water too I am sure (Imagine cleaning your bum with warm water). Or then if the Americans need to learn they are more than welcome to board a Mumbai local at 0630 in the morning and stand at the door. They will learn how the ubiquitous lota / any other container is used.

While we Indians can learn a lot from them in terms of roads, traffic sense, hygiene etc. I am sure they can learn from us too in terms of public transport, downsizing meal portions, paper conservation and not to forget my most missed bum spray / lota.

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Rains in Mumbai but I am not complaining

People wade through waterlogged streets of Mumbai after heavy rains in Mumbai on July 2, 2014. (Photo: Sandeep Mahankal/IANS)
After an acute dry spell all of June not to mention the scorching heat, Mumbai finally received rains yesterday. And the rains Gods well and truly opened their hearts out. No it wasn’t like the July 26, some 8 or 9 years ago but it did bring respite from the sweltering heat.

People went ballistic on social media (yours truly included) talking about the rains. Everyone was either posting pictures or discussing rains. Hot topic of the day it was.

As expected, life was out of control with flooding, traffic jams, potholes, you name it and you had that…

But I for one was surely not in a mood to rant. It brought the much-needed respite from the heat. The sun went into hiding for almost the entire day as the grey clouds took over the skies. Just that the clouds opened up so temperatures dropped from the 35 degrees + that we were living in to under 30. May not mean much to all but it meant the world to Mumbaikars.

Air, road and rail traffic was all thrown out of gear. The first rains always do that in Mumbai but we are used to it so the typical “chalta hai” Mumbaikar braved it all. As usual it debunked the usual claims of the municipal authorities that they had done their work and there would be no flooding etc. But still “chalta hai”

As I write at 0630 on Thursday it is raining outside. I could not go cycling as it was pouring hard but I am surely not complaining. Just a hot cup of coffee with R D Burman music would do the trick for me.

Rain Gods, please continue to pour. Mumbai (and the whole of India) very badly needs rains. And also please pour in the catchment areas so that the lakes get filled up. Mumbai’s annual water supply is at stake already.

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Mumbai traffic – getting worse!!

Yesterday, February 13, 2014,Mumbai Traffic I had the misfortune of driving from Andheri East (MIDC) via Dharavi to home. It was an awful drive and thank God for the multiple FM stations, the phone with bluetooth and the AC that kept me company throughout the ordeal. It took me a good 90 minutes to drive the distance which under normal conditions would take me a third.

The bottleneck at Kherwadi junction was so bad that traffic had backed up all the way to the Vakola flyover. I wondered if all idiots like me were suddenly out on the road at the same time. Raised tempers raised, frayed nerves, you name it and it was all visible in abundance. Seriously driving is so stressful now in Mumbai!!! And the new crop of drivers is no better either. I used to think that Mumbai has the most disciplined traffic in India but how wrong I was. Drivers just think they all have the right of way any and everywhere. (my friend, Kiran will say the same thing for me but no I AM definitely better off) Two wheelers honestly are a bane anywhere. No I am not looking down upon them after all I am a fellow cyclist but the motorised two wheeler population think they can go ANYWHERE and I mean it. Most of them break the laws with impunity and think they are consistently right! When you are in the midst of bumper to bumper traffic you feel like taking a machine gun and getting rid of all these 2 wheelers who get in every possible nook and corner of the road. I mean it.

By the time I got home yesterday, was so tired that had dinner and slept like a log even as I was talking to Kavya. Sad but true.

Thankfully in Delhi I sometimes make use of the metro and AirPort Express. I find I can travel from one point to another without worrying about the traffic outside or the pollution. Yes it is crowded sometimes depending on the hour of travel but far better than the maddening traffic. Unfortunately the local trains in Mumbai are just not conducive to travel in even in the first class. Why can’t we have a world-class public transport system? Singapore has a damn good one. Delhi metro is good too and Bangalore AC buses are good too. Why can’t we just have a mix of Delhi and Bangalore in Mumbai? Lack of political will I guess. Mumbai May have the monorail and the upcoming metro but no plans to improve the local trains which are then lifeline of Mumbai? Beats me!! But honestly I am frustrated.

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The rains are here with a bang


Mumbaikars were screaming their throats out for some respite from the heat and looks like the Gods sure heard them loud and clear. The past week Mumbai has seen quite a few spells of heavy showers and today, Saturday, June 15, 2013 at 1915 too, the rains show no sign of abating. Yesterday in particular, was extremely heavy and traffic went bonkers. At times like these, policemen too can do little honestly but watch the traffic and the drivers slug it out in the automatic mode. Every driver seems to break any and every law with impunity and this only leads to extreme chaos and it was evident yesterday. Thankfully my car is out for repairs and even if not with a broken wrist there isn’t much driving that I could do. Forecasts too don’t look like a Sunday we could be spending out of home so sit back and enjoy at home. And yes once it begins to pour the first casualty is the Satellite TV so no entertainment either and today is an India Pakistan cricket match too. Let us hope for the best.

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Indigo truly wows customers and how…..

Yesterday was a chaotic evening for sure. I was scheduled by the 8 pm flight from Mumbai to Namma Bengaluru…. Had called for the cab at 1715 just in case so could leave by 1730 max and avoid the Dharavi traffic. I breezed through Dharavi and thought wow I will have a good 2 hours at the airport to work. But I was wrong and how. Kalanagar onwards there was bumper to bumper traffic and not even 2 wheelers could squeeze by. Traffic crawled like that for some time and on inquiring with others by rolling down the window got to know that some tanker had overturned in Jogeshwari so the traffic had backed up all the way to Worli Bandra Sealink!!! Wow that was some back up! I was forced to remain calm as the minutes kept ticking away. Phone calls made, status updates on Facebook done, tweeted, searched for tweets, what does one do? Spoke to the Indigo call centre and the agent rattled off what the screen probably said “The flight has closed so even if you make it to the airport, you won’t be allowed” The next flight was 2115 and there were seats available thankfully even if the price was double. Reached the airport at 1950 and rushed to the counter outside. The counter agent said the same thing. Went inside. Spoke to a lady who immediately diverted me to another counter for Bangalore passengers and found 2 more ahead of me in the same situation. The lady at the counter just put us on to the next flight without even asking us to pay a dime. I was surprised when she asked me if I wanted a window or an aisle seat. Ma’am I would have travelled by the toilet seat too a la Pakistan International Airlines. (For the uninitiated, please read) I sure was relieved but am sure other airlines would have raked in the moolah at this God sent opportunity. Indigo you completely enamoured me and a others too. Small wonder I am a regular on this airline. Indigo you rock!!

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Ganesh Chaturthi 2011

It is that time of the year when the elephant God, Lord Ganesh visits us for Ganesh Chaturthi and as usual I have my pet peeves which has nothing against the Lord but against the celebrations by us, lesser mortals.

Firstly day 1 is a mad house with the traffic going bonkers and then the deafening noise. Every nook and corner has a pandal. What a colossal waste of resources, money, electricity and as the days progress, the environmental damage!!

What was started by Lokmanya Tilak as a means of gathering people against the British regime using natural clay (and hence bio degradable) idols has now become a plaster of paris and chemical paint zoo unfortunately. There is so much noise with the blaring music. Give me a break. Playing aartis loudly is surely not my idea of devotion. On the last day Mumbai practically shuts off as they take the idols for immersion into the sea. The cacophony is killing and there is sea of people heading towards the sea.

And then there are certain famous pandals like Lalbaug Cha Raja This morning I read behind a BEST bus a warning that they expect a very long queue and the estimated waiting period is 25 to 30 hours!!!! Gimme a break!! The Gods must be crazy – it sure applies here and ditto for the devotees.

How I wish people would restrain themselves. It is not necessary to have so many pandals. Save the environment please and save the noise pollution too.

And yes I must add here that I am scheduled to fly out on the last day to Bangalore and so am mortally scared of how I am going to make it to the airport. Local train will surely save the day for me.

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Scant respect for ambulances on Mumbai roads

Happy New Year…. This is the first day and the first post for 2011 and it is thanks to quite an appalling sight. This morning on my way to the office (yes we are working today) traffic wasn’t much but ahead of me was an ambulance trying to make it’s way through whatever was left of the traffic. The point is that the cars, taxis etc. would not give way to the ambulance even with its alarm bells (or whatever they are called) going on and on. Give me a break. We really should be permitting the ambulance to move ahead as here is someone’s life at stake. When will we learn? Isn’t this basic humanity?