Stepcitizen featured in The HT

November 23, 2010

Meter jammed?

August 12, 2010

The meter jam was a success.
There was widespread awareness regarding the campaign and undoubtedly citizens from all over the city rallied together to make a noise about the errant rickshaw/taxi drivers.

We also ensured that quite a few of these people were being deprived of their daily livelihood. The money earned in a day is used to feed themselves/their families and to pay back the owner’s of these vehicles who allow the driver’s to ply their vehicle for a stipulated amount of time for a fee. That’s not all, a percentage of the money earned has to be paid to the owner’s.

I wonder, if your boss told you to stay back and slog some more – on a day when you have already been over-worked, what would you do? you wouldn’t refuse – not because you can’t, but because you do not want to disappoint your boss.

We don’t own the taxi’s, neither are these driver’s our employee’s. Sure it’s frustrating when they turn you down, but they have a right to refuse us. It’s their time, their vehicle and if they want to refrain from making a buck – so be it.
Lodge a complaint, but don’t hold the entire department for incompetence. There might just be a few families going hungry because of this din.

Why do I care? because in the morning my building watchman (who was on night duty),  shrugged and asked me if he should bother driving a rickshaw today (yeah, they know we aren’t happy with them). That’s when I thought, yeah, that is exactly what he has come here to do, from a few thousand kilometers away, turn down people and not make any money.

Let’s divert this energy towards more meaningful issues.
There’s an oil spill plaguing our coastline and threatening the livelihood of millions. Make some noise about that? Perhaps?

A campaign – gone wrong!

May 26, 2010

Make Sachin #1 exclaims Mid Day, every day. In fact, this ‘campaign’ has its dedicated space in the paper.
Make him number 1 and then what? brag about him being Number 1? Or wait for a call from him saying ‘thanks’?

The humble and hard-working sportsman that he is, he might urge the Mid Day to report some ‘real’ news (which I’m sure he feels is highly unlikely), but nonetheless, there’s far more important things to talk about, or far more trivial news to report (a la Mid Day). But then again, I suppose with a tagline of ‘make work fun’, maybe I am expecting much when I say, ‘Get a hold of yourself ma’an’ (in an accent Chris Gayle would be proud of).

Moreover, do I need to remind the newspaper that close to two-third of our total population lives in the rural areas; amongst which a significant percentage don’t have access to basic health-care facilities, electricity, schools; barring their denial to everyday necessities like food and water.

While the International media is busy talking about Britney Spears overtaking Ashton Kutcher as the leading celebrity in twitterverse (approx. 5 million followers), our Sachin is at a modest 360,000 followers.

Not that Sachin would care, but quite a few of his passionate supporters, from office peons to building watchmen, to the hardworking village folk (who possibly can’t even dream of owning a computer), or the bustling tier-3 and tier-2 city folk who maybe pc friendly, but expecting them to sign up on ‘twitter’ (what, why, how is this beneficial to us? the would retort)- goes to show how ‘flawed’ if not unnecessary this campaign is (read: internet penetration in India).

So,  dear Mid Day, even though I waste 10 minutes of my time to read you everyday, I am not going to spread the word. Also, while we are at it, let’s refrain from calling him ‘God’, he too would disapprove of such a laurel.

Sachin’s ardent admirer,

Perhaps an alternate to cricket?

May 10, 2010

Team India are undefeated in the Azlan Shah Hockey tournament, and they play the champions Australia today. The Indian eves are set to play Sri Lanka for a place in the semi finals; while Vishwanathan Anand is battling his counterpart for top honours at the World Chess Championship.

There’s quite a lot of joy if you are an Indian supporter; alas, the newspapers publish these feats as fillers, while we have to endure seeing myriad pictures of team India puffing and stuttering their way to another loss. Maybe, the publishers aren’t inclined to these sports? or maybe the readers don’t want to know about these sports! I think it’s the former.

While Team India’s shoddy performance continues in the T20 WC, who do we hold responsible for this debacle? The effervescent IPL? I’m sure it’s just that, the players look fatigued and disinterested, they lack the hunger which other teams are showing on the field. Maybe the team members should just stick to club cricket – IPL, Champions League et al; and the reserves in these tournaments should make it to the first team. That would be a better bet I’m sure, and even if these colts do not fare well, at least we would know they tried.

While we sit around watching the players play musical chairs on the field (the winner being decided by the batsman who exits and enters the pavilion the fastest); we might just witness the semis sans any team from the Indian sub-continent. Good riddance to bad rubbish – you can surely say that about our team.

I am going to make sure I tune into something else when India is playing (like I did last evening), whilst the Indians continue to underperform at the office and we waste our precious time watching them do so. Will their employers fire them (BCCI) for their failure? no chance, they endorse the IPL remember.

To sum it up, if I had a choice between the IPL brouhaha and the team performing well in the WC, I’d choose the latter; what would your choice be?

All about the money?

May 3, 2010

When you are good at something, don’t do it for free – how often have u read this line?
I have a problem with this ideology. I’m not implying that a Doctor shouldn’t charge for his services, or that a lawyer fight a case sans his fee (no matter how exorbitant it may be); what I wish to say is that maybe this Doctor can conduct a monthly check up programme for the less fortunate or the lawyer can take up the cause for the betterment of the society.

Sometimes we should do things on humanitarian grounds. Sometimes, we should put forth our human relations above the monies we are bound to earn from our services. I agree that all of us need to pay the bills, but we also need to pay our debts to society, for some of us are far more fortunate than many others. If you have a skill, make sure you also use it to touch other people’s lives, you never know when you might be in the same  position that they are in.

It’s not just about debit or credit, life is also about give and take; human relationships are forged on this basis and thus it’s also important to give back to the society. As they say, ‘charity begins at home’ – it depends upon you, what you call home; is it just the four walls that you live in? or is it your lane, your locality or your city. Now, this is a line i truly believe in.

Love is..

April 23, 2010

Ever tried fitting an elephant into a car? of course not, who would even think of such a thing! owing to its size, apart from the fact that this is the dumbest idea ever, how would something so humongous fit in a can, so to speak.

Love, for me is that giant elephant, and often we are confronted with situations (the scrap books that we have filled while in high school, social networking pages, or trying to fit it in 160 characters) where one is expected to describe their interpretation of love in one sentence. wow! talk about stuffing an elephant into a car.

I’m not talking about the love you have for your favourite pair of shoes, your striped pj’s or the love for your dvd collection. I’m taking into account our love for members of our own species (okay, let’s extend this to the animal kingdom as well).

So while I have always had problems with describing what love means to me in one sentence, I used to be amazed at how easily this came to a few people, who would write the most beautiful sentences. All that I would be able to think was of cheesy one liners which are often found at the rear end of a country vehicle. Nevertheless, I often conjured up something to fill in the blanks and moved to other important stuff like ‘my most embarrassing moment’ ‘what I think about you’ and various other irrelevant and fun details.

Don’t get me wrong, I have met some wonderful people all through my life, and spent memorable moments with them, so I’ve obviously done something right. My point being, you just don’t need words to express how you feel for someone, some people aren’t that good at emoting, so your actions (from subtle gestures to over the top proclamations of love) go a long way in helping your bid for love stay afloat, you have to know what works for you.

Love inspires all, makes your day, makes you smile; it can be tough when it’s all gone awry, but to sum it up in a word or two is not worthwhile. It’s a beautiful feeling, it keeps us alive, so value this feeling, nurture it with care, for this will hold fort when all else isn’t going that well.

Think about it, thousands of books, novels, sonnets have been written on this subject, it’s a good thing there were no scrap books to fill in at that time; what if they had just restricted themselves to typing a line of two, in the interest of brevity?
So I still stand my ground, for me it’s impossible to define love in a sentence; for you can’t define something infinite and trap the feeling of eternal timelessness in mere words.
Maybe, I just did.

One tweet too many

April 21, 2010

Some people learn lessons the hard way; what was meant to be a trivial twitter update for Mr. Modi snowballed into the murkiest political battle (in sports) of all time. I’m not going to use this platform to malign the two men who have been in the centre of the spotlight the past few days.

Although the swift action taken by the Government (which is hanging on the fringes of its allies) was welcomed by the masses; I wonder if they will take the same stand against the kingpins who call the shots via their puppets. How courageous it would be of our Prime Minister if he could also tackle other important issues like rising inflation, food prices, etc. with the same gusto.

In the centre of the storm is Mr. Lalit Modi. He succeeded in bringing forth a model which was introduced in India by Kapil Dev & Subhash Geol’s ICL. This, enterprising man saw the potential and transformed it into the IPL, a truly rewarding move. It does look like he too will have to bear the brunt and succumb to the pressure so that his godfathers are not brought into questioning. The very people Modi often rubbed the wrong way while he was consumed with power, might be plotting his ouster.

Mr Shashi Tharoor, a man who was in the contention for the seat of the UN Secretary General and was the External Affairs Minister was touted to be the new way forward for Indian politics. He possessed the intellect, the leadership qualities and the charisma which is expected of our leaders, to influence the youth in the positive direction, whilst setting a fine example for his followers to emulate. I truly was sad to see him go.

It really is funny to see certain politico’s who themselves were in the papers for their share of misdoings (read havala, fodder scams et al) voicing their disgust over the IPL. Whichever way this battle goes, I have a feeling that our cricket loving nation would rather have a tainted competition rather than not having one at all, and even though the image of the IPL may have taken a beating, a few souls may be sacrificed to keep the tournament alive.

There’s no smoke without fire, agreed. These two individuals aren’t Saints, but then again, who is? So whether the IT sleuths find any irregularities or not, let’s hope they clamp down on the money laundering racket which facilitates political elections and even our stock markets with the same zeal!

We are accustomed.

April 16, 2010

We are prone to a lot of occurences or situations in our live’s which we face on a daily basis. I’m not talking about the laws of physics; what goes up comes down, etc. I’m talking about the regular things; the stuff we have to deal with, without much fuss –

1. IPL & it’s controversies.

2. Traffic jams (more 1 lakh rupee cars’?)

3. The heat (it’s ought to be, it’s the summer)

4. Foothpath’s (use them, they lay empty in your wait)

5. Politico’s (their parties, their shenanigans’, and their expensive garland’s!)

6. Roads (dug up; that’s what we need, more empty skywalks)

7. News (Channels and the Print media alike; sensationalisation of any kind of news; why are they so high-strung?)

8. Facebook & twitter (read: addiction)

9. Indian Football (the state it’s in & other neglected sports)

10. Our city’s Infrastructure (considering a chunk of the percentage of the tax is generated from our city; our roads should be as smooth as silk, we all know how that pans out.)

The above are my top 10 list of frustrating yet inevitable going-ons which we are liable to face in this day and age (not necessarily in an order). These problems are not just confined to our country, they are common to all the bustling metro’s of the world. So, is it a boon that we live in this technological age? Well, the jury is still out on this one, you decide..

A newspaper to sell. At what cost?

April 9, 2010

I recall reading an interesting article which the former first citizen of  India – Mr. Abdul Kalam had written when he was the guest editor in one of our dailies; he mentioned what an important role the media (print,television) played in driving a positive influence on our nation and aid in changing the outlook of the people. The main thrust of his discussion was a wish; that the media would take on a more responsible role by veering away from trivial and outright negative articles and moving towards reporting more positive stories – about hard-working people, our nation’s accomplishments and other progressive news which would not only add more value to the reader’s life but would instill a sense of confidence and well-being in the mind’s of the reader’s.

This was, then, this whole week, the press has hit a new low.
Enter: Sania-Shoaib-Ayesha-their families-their legal advisor’s et al!

Everyone has a newspaper to ‘fill up’, a news channel to ‘cram’; but to cover these individuals whilst they wash their dirty linen in public was enough for me to realise that the little degree of respect I had for this otherwise hard-working industry, had gone down the drain.

As a child, I was always urged by my elders to read the newspapers, watch the prime time news, read about the interesting political debates. Sure, my opinion doesn’t matter, but I’m sure these are the things we will not be asking our children to do – can you imagine explaining the meaning of the words – alimony, bigamy to them.

Whether, this was a stunt created by the PR machinery of the individuals involved, or why the media took to the story like bees to honey, we will never know. It would have been better though if we would have not been subjected to this B-grade film plot; for it’s their life, it’s their own destiny and good luck to them all; but the media has driven itself to a new low with their conduct and whilst the ‘troubled couple’ get busy to celebrate their ‘high’; in the interim precious resources have been depleted to accommodate their shenanigans, which could have been used to report far more relevant stories.

Indian Publicity League!

April 2, 2010

No-ad space here!
There is not an inch of space available on either the jerseys, grounds or even the gear of the teams taking part in the IPL this year. The mandatory strategic timeout has not proved dastardly for the teams or the viewers, as a matter of fact, the 2.5 minutes of time-out serve as a good way to relieve one’s self of the pressure and the tension arising out of a game (or a good way to sample other viewing options in case of a drab on-field affair).

However, the organisers, who have vowed to jar our viewing experience, have done it yet again; enter – the mini ads, appearing while the over is in progress.

These little fillers are an assault to the senses and much to the chagrin of us viewers they seem to be doubling or tripling as the tournament is progressing. It takes away the natural viewing pleasure; of seeing a captain change his field, the batsmen having a chat, or the glamorous team owners/brand ambassadors who relentlessly wave away and blow kisses whenever the camera pans their way (no wonder KKR has so many supporters). But we miss all that so that a few national icons can appear in these bungling adverts to ‘promote’ their products!

I wish they would have consulted us, the public, before spending so much money on these ads.
For I’ve seen them, and I won’t be buying anything that they are selling, even if Viru, Gauti or Akki think otherwise..


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