Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Autocracy


Baba Gyani Triviani said:
"Auto-rickshaws and auto-drivers are unstable, the former because of three wheels, the latter because, well, that's the way they are... What?"

"There is one, go and ask him". "Do I have to? Alright alright, stop poking my ribs" I said. I looked at the auto-driver again. The uncouth man with a shabby shirt and unshaved face was sitting idly, looking at nothing in particular. He scratched his face with all five fingers of his hand, for he didn't have any more to spare. Then he stuck his little finger into his ear and drilled it for a few seconds, pulled it out and without much thought took it to his nose and sniffed at it. I made a face and turned to look at my wife. "What? Stop staring and ask him!" she said again. I began walking towards him, being deliberately slow, hoping against all hopes that he would suddenly start his vehicle and ride away. But no such thing happened and I eventually covered those ten metres. "Basavanagudi?" I said softly. I think I startled him, or jolted him out of dreamland, for his mouth was wide open as he jerkily twisted his neck to look at me. "Eh?" he said. I repeated my destination again. "One and a half" was his reply.

"What? It's just four kilometres and it's afternoon. Why in heaven's name should I pay you extra?" I said. This was day-light robbery. "Too much traffic" he said with a straight face. A rehearsed answer. "Yeah, that's why I am going in an auto-rickshaw. Otherwise I'd have driven myself" I said. "Well, you should have" he said and returned to staring at nowhere again. I was piqued and decided to blow a raspberry at him. Then deciding against it, I walked back to my wife. "Well?" she asked. "Same old, same old. One and a half" I said, shaking my head. "So?" she said.

"So? Why should we pay extra? It's still afternoon and it's the centre of the city! It's not like he won't get a fare from there" I said. I added "Besides, it's just four kilometres. Let's start walking and maybe we can catch a bus" I said. "Are you crazy? Let's go in that auto. It's rare that we get an auto-driver to agree to our destination. Ordinarily you are expected to ask which way they are originally going, and if it happens to be in the general direction of your destination, you hire him and pay him for being kind enough to agree." she ranted. "Yeah, lucky us. Autocracy, what?" I snorted, and with a wounded pride decided to go hire that rickshaw. If I had been alone, I would have walked all the way. Four kilometres is hardly a walk. But with the good ol' ball and chain with me, I would never hear the end of it. "Alright, let's go" I said as I approached him again. He looked at her and then at me, and grinned an annoying grin. He had a missing tooth and I had a mind to add one more to that list.

Auto-drivers are a rummy lot. Imagine the plight of the poor little chappie who's running late one fine morning, and walks up to an auto-stand and tries to hire one, forced into the horrendous task of convincing him with a five point reason of why he should be allowed to hire the auto, and maybe, just maybe, if the driver is satisfied with at least four of the points or if he pities the poor chap, he may decide to take you there at a nominal charge... over and above the actual charge of course. Why, the other day, I was limping away from a hospital to my house, covered all over in bandages having met with an accident a couple of days before, and I frantically waved my hands to flank one. He slowed down and, in a brusque manner asked, "What?" I told him my destination. "No" he said. "Whoa! Have a look at me, my dear man" I reasoned. "Do you expect me to walk all the way in this condition with these bally bandages?" I asked. "What do you expect me to do about it?" he retorted angrily and sped away. "Oh for humanity!" I cried at the white cloud of kerosene smoke he had left behind. I often wonder how it is that they make money enough to fill their faces, for I have never seen a lean looking auto-driver. I mean, they always sit around in their huddles and gossip all day long. Really, how do they make up for it?

Rumours are, though, that most of these are, in reality, goons for hire. And that's where they make their money from. This is just a front, you know, in case their wives are asked by the neighbours, or if that distant uncle asks them, or when the crime branch ask them. They can't very well go ahead and say, "Yeah, I am a hacker, but not the computer sorts, if you know what I mean" as they wink and show their machetes. But they are a rummy lot, I repeat. The other day, I had the displeasure of being stuck at a certain otherwise crowded bus stop with a certain pal of mine, the displeasure being, of course, being stuck at that bus stop, at a very odd hour at night. There were at least some eight other people waiting at the bus stop and we were sure that no bus would arrive at that hour. We had called up our friends to pick us up from there. However, the others, it seemed, were waiting for private buses to take them to their destinations. And whenever a private bus would appear, these auto-drivers who were waiting like a pack of hyaenas behind us would come forth and threaten to break the glass windows of the buses if they dared to stop there, for they wanted to force these poor hapless coves into hiring their services, which of course, they will charge twice or maybe even more. I say. this is hooliganism, and right royally at that. They did so openly, and nobody dared to argue. I mean, they are the kind of people a right minded cove would never want to deal with.

"Stop dreaming, we are there" she said. "Quit poking my ribs" I said. "Then get out" she said. "Right ho!" I looked outside. We were at Basavanagudi. The metre reading was 32. "That's Rs. 54" he said. "Rs. 48" I corrected. "Saar, I had told madam in the beginning only that the metre has some flaw. Ask her" he complained. "Yeah yeah, alright" I said. I was getting impatient. I handed Rs. 60 to him. He put it in his pocket and sped away. "Hallo hallo hallo! What about the change?" I shouted at the white cloud of kerosene smoke that was now in the place formerly occupied by his jalopy. "What the deuce! Shopkeepers at least give us sugar-boiled candy as change!" I protested. "Look at this pretty handbag" responded my wife. Wife-beating, I wonder why it's illegal.

"No wonder they sit around making merry most of the time. This chap actually robbed me. Day light robbery, literally" I said ruefully. "You know how they make money? They lend money at high rates of interest. I know this because our maid told us." said my wife, adding "This auto-driving is just a charade, side business, you know, in case the neighbour asks his wife. Or that distant uncle asks at a wedding..." "Or when the crime branch decides to do some investigation about hacking..." I muttered "Did you say something?" she asked. I just shook my head, looked at the watch, looked at the sky and said "It looks like it is going to rain in a bit. Let's leg it, shall we?".

We were waiting to cross the street. There seemed to be a traffic signal and the cars were all waiting. And then arrived a maverick on three wheels. He honked a weak and shrill sounding horn, I was pretty sure I imagined it, for it was that inaudible. And on realising that nobody would respond, he decided to take charge. I was wondering how he would manage to drive past, there didn't seem to be enough space on the road. I really wanted to punch his face, that impatient little blighter. I couldn't see his face with the reflection from his windshield showing me the trees, the clouds, the birds and all that. Suddenly that auto came towards me, and one tyre came on the pavement! I was startled, and before I could react, he sped past, with that one tyre going on my foot. "Why you little blighter!" I started, and again, I was talking to a cloud of kerosene. "I could've sworn he just gave me the bird" I said angrily. "Wasn't it the same guy we hired?" said my wife.

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How has your experience been? I personally loathe auto-rickshaws and avoid them as much as I can...


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Comments from Twitter

lokesh acharya ‏@acharya2
Nice one sir .. Very true"@Gulagulaananda: 'Auto-crats' on three wheels... - http://lifeasiknowit-nik.blogspot.com/2012/10/autocracy.html …" @niranjanl

Niranjan Lakshmanan ‏@niranjanl
@acharya2 @Gulagulaananda nice article. Can add so much more to that list.

lokesh acharya ‏@acharya2
@niranjanl @Gulagulaananda true... There are soo many bad experiences I had at Mysore :( dono about Bangalore :$

Niranjan Lakshmanan ‏@niranjanl
@acharya2 yeah I had at both the places. @Gulagulaananda probably you can write one more article if you feel it's necessary.
@acharya2 @Gulagulaananda about few drivers bad attitude and some tips to people on how to handle them.


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Comments elsewhere

Lokesh:
Again, nice one sir.
here in Mysore also same is the case. :(
U may not blv, aftr 9.30pm they demand 100 rs - fr jus 3.5km.
Also, usually they wil nt take us til home, ll drop at th nearby auto stand only.. :(
As u hv said,better t walk than t hire an auto :)
many times I have walked all the way till home.. Jus recalled al the bad experiences I had with these leeches ..

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Death to the queen

Baba Gyani Triviani said:
"When people are pushed over the edge, expect the unexpected"

This is my first attempt to write a Rondeau. It's titled 'Death to the queen'
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He stood in the darkness like the shadow of the night,
Not caring to be wrong, nor caring to be right,
And then she arrived with some forty men,
Sycophantic chicks around mother hen,
He picked his gun, resolved to fight.

For no peaceful way could befall his sight,
And this was the way to rid this blight
She walked unaware towards her den,
Death to the queen!

He remembered his son, playing with his kite,
Beloved wife, with a future very bright,
Burned them all, he remembered then,
By greedy leaders, who had spoken zen,
And had looted the country for the queen's delight

Death to the queen!

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Epilogue:
Corrupt politicians loot the country, a country where the investigating agency (CBI) is as independent as the ring finger is from the middle. A country where the rich get richer and the poorer just die. And the helpless continue to feel helpless. And when peaceful agitations such as those by Anna Hazare fail to yield results, there will be a rise of radical thinking men, like Guy Fawkes or those who wear his masks (read V for Vendetta) who will arm themselves and destroy those in power - and then there will be death and bloodshed, and people won't care about repercussions, for their frustrations would have exceeded their limits of tolerance. And then, we shall all spiral into doom...


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Comments from Facebook

Swathi Sharma: 
Well written Nik!

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Comments From Twitter
lokesh acharya ‏@acharya2:
@Gulagulaananda its so nice sir.. And true..

Niranjan Lakshmanan ‏@niranjanl:
@Gulagulaananda Good one

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The Face Reader

Swami Nikhilaananda said:
"I was told that I sucked at math... I still couldn't understand what his problem was"

"Well, hullo neighbour! What may I do for you?" asked my merry neighbour. He didn't look particularly smart, but he had a long list of degrees below his name-plate, the one etched in granite that was outside his home-office... - BA, BCom, BSc, LLB, and a couple of finance related degrees, I fail to remember those names. Who even does so many courses? "I was told you are good at palmistry. I also saw the board outside. I was just wondering if you could have a look at mine" I told him meekly. He was also good at numerology. This happened on the last day of my PU exams. "Why, sure. Come on in"

He handed me two pieces of crude cylindrical translucent glassy objects. "Hold these crystal pieces in your hand. They will drive away the evil spirits, the negative energy from you so that I can read it clearly". "What a load of bunkum", I thought to myself as I clutched them. Note that I don't believe in any of these people, though I do have faith in the science for some reason - Science? Did I hear you scoff? Well, I am more of a person who doesn't simply dismiss that it is all plain rubbish, nor do I believe in them. For, I do know that there are a lot of things that go unexplained, and therefore refrain from developing opinions about these.

"Alright, hand it over. Now, let's see... Hmmm" he said as he observed my palms. He saw my face and said "Are you doing science? Because you certainly shouldn't be doing science" he said. Indeed, I was doing science, and I loved Biology, Chemistry and Physics. I wondered why I shouldn't do science. "As a matter of fact, yes, I am a science student. Pray tell me, why should I not be doing science?" I asked out of curiosity. "Simply because you're not analytical. You won't do well in the technical field" he said. I was taken aback. "As a matter of fact, I will bet you're poor at mathematics too!" he continued. I was convinced that all of this was hogwash. "Incidentally I had my maths exam today, and I am expecting centum" I protested, putting up a brave face. He snorted. "Impossible. I wouldn't be surprised if you barely passed".

Note that this man was absolutely certain, his confidence was immense. So greatly confident he was that my mother actually began to worry. "I had asked you to study properly" she chided."He doesn't know what he's saying" I said after I reached home, "I'm expecting full marks" I reassured her. And lo! We had a re-exam scheduled owing to some leaked papers. Great snakes! Is the soothsayer going to be vindicated? The Oracle has predicted my doom! Maybe the first went well, but now I am screwed! Not quite... I did well in my second exam as well, and got a measly 97 in Maths, 98 in Chemistry and 99 in Physics.

I happened to meet another person, a man known as the Antaryami, because apparently he knows everything. He's a face reader, and can tell anyone's future just by looking at their faces. The man looked intelligent, for he wore glasses, and glasses make anyone look intelligent, the operative word being look. His silver beard and saffron robes added more reliability to his job profile. I sat in front of him for a full demonstration of his powers. He looked at me and told "He's an average boy. He'll be nothing spectacular in life. He's a common man, you know, the one you see in a crowd. He'll never stand out and do anything different. He's a nobody. He can't do anything worthwhile, it's difficult for him to get a job" I was surprised, and convinced that I had a stupid looking face. Two different people calling me average!! Unless there was a congregation of soothsayers where they put "Term this guy as average and common, you know, just to screw with him" in their agenda and guffawed heartily, this was not a mere coincidence. It had to mean that I am indeed average, or more likely that I had a stupid face.

As you see, what's also surprising is that they didn't hesitate to say these things. There was no concern for feelings. And I have no words about their confidence. They spoke as if they had it written on the back of their hand, for it certainly didn't seem to be written on the front of mine. One guy said that I will equal the legendary Nala in cooking (remember Nala-paaka?). It's a fact that I can cook Maggi noodles alright, and I can boil water without burning it... That's where my culinary skills end. Another guy said that I will be a tenth of a million rich. There have been numerous predictions about my education, about my life, about my wife, and what not?

Do I believe in these people? Of course not. Why do I go to listen to their rot? It tickles me, I often find myself in need of some good humourous situations and who better than face and palm readers? The only thing that worries me though, is that they decide which guy or girl is best suited for you by matching horoscopes. Oh, I don't say horoscope matching is silly, I say these people are. Imagine if you end up with a completely useless person based on some horoscope matching done by one of these people...

If you are truly clever, you can make 'predictions' by observing. For example, a man looked at my friend's horoscope and made some predictions. He said 'Whatever you wanted to do till now, you have done it well. Got 100 on 100, for you sought a 100. For the next 20 years, if you seek 100, you get around 95, unless you work really hard, in which case you can get a 100. After that, for the next 10 years, you will hit some roadblocks, and after that for the next 20 years, you've the Midas touch. All that you touch is gold' The first prediction has to be true, you know it by observation. The next is also true, because it's a generic statement. The last two can not be proved, because who the heck will remember this prediction 20 years later? The good thing though, is that it is still sensible advice, the work hard to reach your goals part. So it's fine. But there are some who would hoodwink by asking for sacrifices and donations to the Goddess...

To summarise, all these people apparently know squat. It's up to you to decide your destiny, your future, your path. The forces that are superior to you will do what they will do anyway, they are superior and you won't be able to circumvent them in either case. What you can do, you should and leave the rest to God or fate or destiny or chance, whatever suits you. Just because they predict doom, it doesn't mean anything. But if you have a stupid face, well, there's not much that you can do :-)

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Comments from Twitter
Lokesh Acharya
 thumba chennagide sir.! I assume tht "I" in th story is not you.. Lol :) whatever,its true tht v shud nt blv thngs blindly..

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