Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Bangalore Traffic Police Academy

I have heard so much about the much maligned Bangalore Traffic cop that I decided that it is high time someone took up for the fine men in White and Khaki. To begin with the Traffic Police Academy makes sure that they recruit the best available talent from the unpolluted halli’s and ooru’s around Bangalore. This ensures longevity and quality of service. After they are drafted into service these guys are given training for three whole weeks. The training period is divided into three trimesters and each cadet has to pass in all trimesters to be able to don his cap and uniform. I shall briefly take you through the three trimesters and the training syllabus.

First Trimester:

The cadets are made to stand in random order in the middle of not so busy roads like Guttahalli Road and Main Guard Cross Road etc. At the end of the day, the cadets who are still standing are returned to the barracks for a well deserved meal and the dead ones are sent back unceremoniously with a remark on their non performance in the discharge slip. The next step is slightly busier roads like OPH Road, Coles Road etc. The process of separating the men from the boys is repeated. For the final exam of the first trimester the cadets (the handful that is left) have to stand on Richmond Road, Victoria Road, Koramangala 100 Feet Road , Airport Road, etc during peak hours. By the end of the day the successful cadets are given a handshake by the Dean of Academics himself and considered passed.

Second Trimester

This trimester is important as the cadets are taught the basic and advanced courses in checking Licenses, Insurance, Breath Analyzing etc. etc. The first part of this trimester is sponsored by “Kool Guy Cooling Glasses Pvt. Ltd.” Yes the very people who supply those cool cooling glasses that make the Inspectors look so distinguished. The cooling glasses help the cops’ assess you without prejudice and decide on the ‘fine’, which the cadets are taught to take with their arms rigidly held to the sides with the palms turned upward. Cadets are also taught to shake hands while smoothly transferring the money from the offender to their palms. This training is carried out with real money. Of course due to the extensive syllabus the cadets never get to see a license or an insurance paper in training school.

The breath analyzer training is sponsored by Arracks Contractors Association. The olfactory nerves of the cadets are fine tuned during this session to detect the faintest traces of IMFL (Indian made foreign liquor, the branded stuff). By the end of this session the cadets are able to detect only IMFL vapors. The bottles of IMFL is then donated to the Dean of Academics for his own personal ‘refresher’ course.

Third Trimester

Training during the third trimester is held in special gas chambers donated by the Truck Owners Association, KSRTC and BMTC. The cadets have to sit in the special chambers where short burst of Sulphur Dioxide, Nitrous Dioxide and other noxious fumes especially collected from Bangalore roads are pumped in throughout the day. The quantity is gradually increased till their body is able to comfortably handle the toxic fumes. When they show a tolerance level of 92.56 mog/m per day they are declared ‘graduated’ from the academy!.

Due to the large number of ‘drop outs’ the Dean of Academics announced at a press conference today that they intend to increase the number of recruits per academic session. This is to ensure that higher number of good traffic policemen pass out of the academy and relieve the already overworked traffic policemen on Bangalore roads.

( I think you will all agree that we owe an apology to our well trained and hard working traffic cops after this enlightening article. By the way, the Dean of Academics informs me that apologies will be collected in cash and kind.)

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Coffee in heaven :)

You'll be greeted

by a nice cup of coffee

when you get to heaven

and strains of angelic harmony.

But wouldn't you be devastated

if they only serve decaffeinated

while from the percolators of hell

your soul was assaulted

by Satan's fresh espresso smell?

John Agard

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Fathers Day!

This Fathers day was our third because it was around three years ago that we heard about Fathers Day. It’s not your typical mallu festival but we modified it so that our hardworking Dads would get a well deserved break from the joys of fatherhood.

So after many hush hush meetings with cousins we decided that the best gift we can give our Daddies was…….a day away from our mommies!!!!!!.

And boy! Did they hasten to agree with our philosophy! One of my ‘ungles’ even broke down when he heard that. The poor mans wife is a housewife you see!! He is also an advocate for Marital Annual Leave and Marital Casual Leave and Marital Sick leave for which he unsuccessfully campaigns at every family gathering.

So Sunday morning dawned partially cloudy with the Met office predicting that “it may rain or it may not rain”. After breakfast my mom was gently chided to hurry up and pack up for the day. We needed her out so that we could stuff the freezer and the fridge with the beer. Showing unnatural tardiness in getting dressed for her big outing we finally managed to push her out of the house where a car full of highly curious ladies waited for their ‘exciting trip’ to somewhere.

With the ladies outta the way and the beer cooling their heels in the fridge we gave the men the green signal to start trooping in. And they came in… in all shapes and sizes , fat, thin, tall, short, bald, hairy, corporate types and the not so corporate types, one chronic bachelor ( his excuse was that he was celebrating on behalf of his dad in heaven!!!) all united in the singular purpose of enjoying the day to the hilt. And enjoy they did….drinking like dehydrated fishes, singing ribald songs in Malayalam and cracking risqué jokes when they thought we girls were not around …(some of them even got prompted by us to complete the punch line ,which they didn’t notice anyway.)

The food was strictly bachelor fare…..meat, meat and more meat with enough fat to clog up M.G. Road for one whole day. “Boys’ don’t eat carbs” they sneered,” that’s strictly for the women.” The only saving grace for the “tiger hearts” was the green salad which they seem to enjoy with the meat.

The alcohol revealed hitherto hidden talents as the men (unsuccessfully) tried to demonstrate the art of Kalaripayattu and Kung Fu and Kathakali ending in drunken heaps on the floor. We heard hitherto untold stories of college crushes and about Saramma with the lovely hip length hair and reminiscences of one Nair kutty who held an entire college enthralled for the whole academic year and then broke a hundred hearts by getting married to some rich Gulf returnee. Tales of hunting for wild fowl at night and getting thrown in the slammer for participating in college strikes and many more that sounded like fantastic fables. Tears were wiped as the little boys within them came out unabashedly to enjoy youth one more time.

By evening as we said our goodbyes we had forgotten the original purpose of the gathering, i.e. celebrating ‘Father’s Day! But the day had served its purpose judging from the camaraderie it generated in a small group of Mallu men who had left their home and hearth many years ago to seek their fortune.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Weekend is a beach !

The long weekend stretches ahead of me like the undulating sandy beach where I am standing. The sand feels warm and cushiony under my bare feet. I stretch out under the cool shade of a coconut palm. The salty sea breeze wafts away the stress and strain of the week.It feels fresh, free and so full of joi de vivre!

My eyes glazes over and I sink into blissful oblivion .

The cool waters beckon and I step into the water that looks like crushed sea green jelly , my feet sinking into the soft wet sand. The wavelets tickle my feet and the deeper waters beckon invitingly. I step forward gingerly, and then wade into the dark blue water. The ink blue mesmerizes and I swim forward in delight. No traffic jams here, just miles and miles of blue expanse. I am far away from the shoreline. I stop and close my eyes and listen to the sounds of the sea and the waves.

A primal instinct stirs in me and I turn to see the reassuring shore. A cold chill washes over me. The shore is far away, frighteningly far…… I gulp and look back at the sea, the never ending sea and then, my eyes searches for the shore again! It has disappeared!! I have ventured too far into the sea. I search desperately for palm fronds that will give me a clue to the direction of the beach. But there is an inky silence all around……

Then I hear the sound! A coughing, as if someone is trying to attract my attention. And then a voice says “Looks like you had a late night.” I open one bleary eye and see my Boss looming over me. I am instantly awake. He smiles amusedly and walks off. I look at the watch. Yipes!!! Its 12 ‘o’ clock…I have slept through the better part of the day!!!

“Never again” I swear, will I watch those late night travel shows on TV.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Working Relationships

A couple of weeks ago I was married in a simple ceremony. After the paperwork I was given unceremoniously given a ‘Thaali’ and I stepped into my husband’s house at the auspicious time of 9:30 am. Things were good in the beginning. My husband was very kind and considerate. Then things began to change. I was given a lot of work to do. My husband became a cold unfeeling task master and I was made to work the whole day and even late evenings. I had no respite on weekends too. I was given a small amount as pocket money which was barely enough to keep my body and soul intact. Even holidays when everybody was enjoying the break, I worked like a dog. I longed to go home in the evenings and I called my parents when I could take it no more. But my parents like most Indian parents advised me to keep trying to make the relationship work. My friends were sympathetic but many were in a similar situation. And whenever I could steal the time I would meet them and we would weep on each others shoulders.

After a some time I got the courage to walk out of the relationship. I threw away the ‘Thaali’ and savored my new found freedom for a whole new month. Friends and relations were aghast as my husband was a well known person. And then the gossiping about me sitting in the house and all that. I started to feel the pressure of the society. And soon I fell headlong into another relationship…. and another ‘Thaali’.

I guess God felt pity on me because this time my husband was a nice man, who treated me with great respect. He encouraged me to study further and even gave me a better stipend so that I could be independent. Slowly under the guidance I became more confident as a person and began to grow professionally and personally. I was allowed to go home in the evenings and during weekends and I looked forward to getting back to his home every Monday. I am still married to him.

I display my ‘thaali’ (access card) proudly around my neck as I am proud of this relationship (just completed two months of successful Internship in this organization). And the result of this loving union is the big bundle of joy I am holding in my arms now (I just got a raise!!! ).

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Moderation is the key

Monday morning and mail from HR. There is going to be meetings (ominous tidings). The whole co will be divided into 10 member groups and a moderator (a senior manager of course) will chair these meetings. These meetings will be called “Awaaz’.

Essential gear for these meetings:

· At least 3 new viable product or service ideas.
· At least three new suggestions to improve our working life,
· At least three wasted hours when we could be chatting on various messengers.

My turn came this Friday at 3 pm with 9 other ‘Einsteins’. We meet at ‘Everest’ (the conference room), which is on the ground floor because ‘Godavari’ which is on a higher elevation is occupied.

Moderator: KG, so what product or service suggestions have you thought for us?

KG ( a sales guy): “I was thinking…and thinking and thinking whole night. I thought we should have a sensor for car drivers !!! ( he exclaims triumphantly). Every time the driver falls asleep the sensor will beep.”

Moderator ( sarcastically): Ahem… in case you haven't noticed we make components and not sensors, and anyway what parameters will these sensors work on?

KG: “ When the drivers head leans to the right… the sensor will go BEEP and when the drivers head leans to the right the sensor will go BEEP. And when the .........

Moderator( quickly):NEXT

VS: okay. But I won’t get into trouble naa? Promise? Okay! Why don’t we make something that will help in the detection of hidden Video Cams? I mean when I go to pee I am always afraid someone is observing me.

Moderator: Ahem… interesting suggestion (a little desperately) NEEEEXT!!!

BB: Why don’t we make devices that will check adulteration in wheat flour” I mean these #^%$#% traders are always mixing rice flour with wheat flour!

Moderator: NEEEEEEEXT!!!

MM: My wife always burns the toast so why don’t we.....

RK( interrupting him): Oh no not the toast whine again!!!!!!! For Gods sake why don’t you hire a guy to blow a whistle when your toast is ready? Cheaper than buying a new toaster I say!!!!

MM shuts up.

Moderator: People...people....please calm down...

CS: How about a component in a mobile that uses the power of another mobile to send messages?

HC: Ha Ha Ha . That’s what I call power theft in broad daylight. Ha ha ha.

CS glares at HC who oblivious to CS is SMS’ing his girlfriend with the joke.

Moderator dialing 110: “Glory? Please get me on the train to Delhi tonight ! I MUST leave tonight.

Meanwhile MS is desperately trying to peep into the Moderators laptop where he is entering our ‘suggestions’ for the record.

He manages to get a peek and and turns to us in glee and whispers hoarsely, “He is playing Solitaire!!!!

The Moderator glares at MS.

Tuesday morning and mail from HR: “Due to unavailability of the moderator, who is proceeding on long leave, we have to regretfully terminate the ‘Awaaz’ programme. Thank you all for your delighful suggestions!”

Monday, June 06, 2005

World Environment Day!

One weekend I received a package by courier. It was a tastefully packed wooden Cosmetic box with ‘Natural’ cosmetics guaranteed to make me look like Mother Earth er...I mean Miss Earth. The dainty bottles were laid on a bed of ‘specially made’ straw. There was a note inside which said that I had won these soul pampering goodies for the best "Letter to the Editor” mail I had sent to a women’s magazine god knows when. I gingerly placed the box and its contents on a table. I had visions of pampering my feet with the Eucalyptus Salts, washing my hair with the ‘gentle’ shampoo made from Himalayan Pine and then anointing my face with the Chamomile Cream. All guaranteed natural of course. I left for a friend’s house in the afternoon blissfully overlooking the fact that the house was jam packed with brats, side effects of cousins from the ’native’ staying with us.

When I came back in the evening, I saw my precious wooden box lying on the floor, with all the bottles broken and the house smelling a like a phenyl factory. The brats were of course stomping on the box and still running around. Clenching my teeth I took the remnants of the box and threw it into the trash bucket outside.

Fast forward one month: My maid delivers the news one morning that a squirrel’s nest had fallen off the tree. And inside the nest were a two baby squirrels still alive after the fall. She had picked them up to avoid my dogs from making a mid day snack of the tiny creatures. The babies looked cute and smelt like ……..Himalayan pine, Eucalyptus and Chamomile!!!!!!! Strange…. I smelt them again. It was definitely Himalayan pine, Chamomile and Eucalyptus. Now either I had a nasal abnormality or this creature’s Mommy had won a prize too from the same woman’s magazine. Then I remembered, that mommy squirrel had made her nest from the straw that was inside the cosmetic box. That explained the smell.

By afternoon the babies were looking sick and the vet was called in a hurry. He said that babies were showing all signs of toxic poisoning. And his surmise was that the now foul smelling babies had either fallen into a cauldron of toxic chemicals or had eaten some pesticides laced berries. He advised me to leave them be so that they could die in peace.

Fast-forward two weeks: The squirrels babies are now competing with the brats (still in the house) to break, smash and shake the house to its foundations. They definitely smell better. The Vet was surprised that they had survived and remarked facetiously that I had raised a bunch of rodents who were now resistant to toxic chemicals! He mournfully recounted his battles with new generation bacteria’s and viruses that were so chemical and antibiotic savvy that they could actually teach our poor laboring scientists a thing or two!

So, on this World Environment Day I dedicate this blog to all those creatures and germs who were lost to environmental pollution (the good ones) and to those who survived (the bad ones). And to the brats in my house who rescued me from an unnatural death / disfigurement by using the ‘Natural’ cosmetics that I had gotten as a prize for writing about Environmental Pollution (now I remember!).