Alas, Bengalooru

Is this not worth fixing more than the name ? I've been a victim of something similar in the past - and in the mob, you're never right. Bangalore is getting less and les civilized - the beautiful, friendly city that we came to in 1996 is nearly gone.

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Bhutan - Land of the Dragon

Pictures first. More later

In short tho - nice 10 day break - 5 days in Bhutan incl Thimpu and Paro. The place needs 2 weeks plus tho - this was merely a trailer! Trekked upto The Tango-Cheri monastery and the really up-there Taksang - the Tiger's Nest.

Education / medium

Depressing. Is the debate over a language [ which is mainly a tool for communication and must not become not an identity - that should be associated with what one does not symbols of a group or community etc ] more important than the basic need of education itself ?

Morover, can anyone really argue that forcibly not teaching in English will inculcate a love for the vernacular, and also not reduce the competitive advantage one may have ?

If the real world primarily operated in language X, that would logically reflect in education. Egoes, language-politics should have no place in this. Languages are a practical tool, not something that should serve other needs.

Bombay Blues

Concrete, filth, chaos. With a glossy lipstick of paint, colourful hoardings, and vibrant clothes. Morose, worried faces and lost souls. Rapid movement of men, material and assorted hopes in buses, autos, swanky cars and local trains.


Or actually, any of our cities.

Bangalore's "High Class" apartments

  • Why's Bangalore still allowing high rises to come up in erstwhile beautiful, green spaces ? 17 floors, for crying out loud!
  • Having been a Mantri customer in the past, and having interacted with some from the family, their claim reeks of a certain nouveau-riche-ness
  • Do all "high-class" people talk like this ?
Especially in a town crawling with unassuming yet successful professionals and a very traditional older generation, who've all seen and sampled a huge variety of cultures, tastes and thoughts, and lend to the cities wonderfully cosmopolitan mix, this whole thing jars, and sounds vulgar. Isn't this the same 'not-high-class' that they've grown on the backs of ? Should you now buy one their 'lower class' apartments ?

Am not the 'high class' clientele the Mantri's are looking for, but if I were I'd want to stay away. But then I do not speak in terms of 'classes' in this day and age, and am not the 'like-minded' peope they seek.

Next time, please use less crass and PC descriptions of the arrived and well-heeled.

Bangalore Flickrd

got this link from

I've been planning to get up early, ride around town and click some snaps of old buildings, landmarks and all thats Bangalore.

Kollu Pati

Yesterday we went to see Shubha's great grandma, who might not turn 100 next March 03rd. She's lost most senses, and her food intake has become near zero in the last couple of days. Just about a year ago we used to marvel at her memory at this age, and were pretty sure of the century.

Its sad to see a human being in the state she is in. One does not even know whether she is in pain or not. Hospitalization seems like a cruel option, with the drips and tubes for the force-feeds etc, and hospitalization for what, anyhow.

I don't want to live to be a 100. I hope shes not in pain.

Trivandrum break

Did a road trip with Ramesh & family to Trivandrum - accomodation courtesy Shubha's folks. The journey to Tvm took nearly 24 hours - including a 6 hour sleepover at Coimbatore!! The return trip was merely 14 hours, including breaks - the road via Madurai is much quicker, tho the Kerala stretch has more for the first time visitor.

Cochin/Ernakulam seem to have boomed like crazy over the last couple of years - massive stores, apartments and traffic jams on the 'bypass' road tell a familiar tale.

Here's some pictures

Highlights of the trip

* kovalam - Akshat and Isika totally soaked up the sun, sea and sand
* Kanyakumari
* Padmanabahapuram palace

Drive within rules = Bloodied nose - Team-BHP

Drive within rules = Bloodied nose - Team-BHP

A lot many amongst us would have come across stuff like this - we need a forum to get these goons to at least get infamously publicised, if not served justice.

Defying SC orders, Karnataka works on Bill to grab country's first private road project

Defying SC orders, Karnataka works on Bill to grab country's first private road project

This is horrible. First the 93rd amendment and now this - looks like the legislative wing has decided to ride roughshod over anything it does thats deemed either unfair, unconstitutional or downright 'malafide', as in this case.

God help the state, country. I don't see any citizen action in this case, unlike the reservations issue.

Lawn shot

The Lawn Racket

Hope Adarsh and their ilk take note!
Interestingly, the article has left out the most important argument against 'carpet lawns' - water consumption. Unlike natural grassland and especially trees and plants, lawns do not help retain water - they need a lot and most of it evaporates rather quickly. Given that the next round of global hostilities may well be over freshwater resources - this is unpardonable.

Whither progress ?

The Curse of the Mobile Phone Age: Electronic Smog

Somehow the urban depression, the stress-freeness of the remote jungle all tie in. Maybe, just maybe, we're over the edge and falling already. Its true our body depends on electrical impulses, and its unlikely that a gazillion of these, especially the ones in higher concentration close to us, and all around us have no impact.

An entire generation of long lived (cause of better nutrition/excercise) and alzheimer stricken nervous wrecks is a very scary thought. Scarier is imagining being one of those. Time to move back to the wild ? Maybe nature will ensure we do, or doesn't care if we don't make it anyhow.

Infinite laziness on the blogfront

Lazyman's updates

  • Bangalore seems to be moving a bit on the infrastructure front - the airport, Metro, Peripheral road etc. However, no signs of a sewage or a water line anywhere around our apartment yet.
  • Akshat flew to TVM for a vacation all by himself. His entire generation seems to be fear-proof. He walked past security checks etc with the Jet Airaways staffer reasonably casually, and even managed to ask her some questions about the X-ray screening.
  • Mosquitoes, and mangoes, announced the season bigtime.
  • Nachiket Joshi - the guy whom we met in Ladakh and Spiti and who'd taken a year off to go backpacking across the country - figured on a Times Now programme about people who dared to. When will we dare to ?
  • Holi @ Redwoods was surprisingly nice, if low key.
  • Alankrita's first birthday turned out to be a huge gathering - and the country Club is out of our bad books for now.
  • School fees are beginning to scare the hell out of us - at this rate we'll have to won facr compared to Loyola, Jamshedpur, these all feel more hyped than substance.
  • Need to go on a ride/vacation soon. Been ages!

His father’s son: HDK takes a swipe at IT - Deccan Herald - Internet Edition

His father’s son: HDK takes a swipe at IT - Deccan Herald - Internet Edition

The soundbites were too good to last, and my cynicism was not really misplaced. So decent roads and town planning benefit only the rich - mindblowing.

Here's something noticed that should worry Bangalore: at a recent Alumni meet there were very few 2005 graduates, against the norm. Usually the most recent batches displayed the maximum enthusiasm for such events. When I asked around I was told that most of the batch - hired by the likes of Infy, Wipro, Oracle etc - was in Hyderabad or Delhi or Pune or Chennai!

The slide has started. Whether HDK and the likes want the taps to run dry, or whether they believe that the best way to solve poverty, both monetary and infrastructural, is growth, remains to be seen.

Rhetoric is back in fashion after a brief holiday.

Ride on, ride on

The Hindu : Metro Plus Bangalore : Sixty and she's still vrooming

Gotta do this someday. hopefully before I'm sixty. Salute, Linda!

Potholesome development

The fact that there's fine print to trap eager participants is shameful, in the context of the 'contest'. If you're posing such a challenge, you must be able able to say 'show me *one* pothole in Bangalore and I'll give you a 1000 bucks' - or just shut up and work.

The positive from this is probably more citizen participation, ending of course in more citizen cynicism and despair, and hopefully more citizen anger.

This sucks.

HDK >>> HDDG? Governance capability

The new CM - HD Kumaraswamy is making all the right noises in the media for now - and Bangalore's dying to latch on to even raw hope (laced, I must add, with generous doses of cynicism).

The thing is, I do not believe the babudom which thwarted Krishna, and revelled under Dharam and Siddu, is likely to let things happen. And not just the Bangalore babudom.

case in point:

L&T have proven themselves earlier. Why not give them a lion's share of the work and maybe even overall supervisory control. I think they were key to the Konkan railways too.

Even from a lay person's point of view, there's too much lack of vision/capability/knowledge. Neither short term execution skills, nor long term planning is discernible.

Majestic/Railway Station/New Offices on MGRoad:
Bangalore seems to be restricted to a 5 km sq in the 'heart' of the city - and I've been hearing the 'growing too fast' for 10 years now!
Why do long distances buses - 100s and 100s of them, drive right through the city everyday ? Surely these can start at the city periphery and reduce hazaar traffic in town ?
Why is the railway station again the only one - Cantonment is still a joke and there's nothing around the 'suburbs'. Tried boarding/alighting at KR Puram ?
A lot of the city is linked by rails - add a little more and u have a railway system ready ? Why dig the whole place up for the metro or waste colossal amounts on monorails etc ?
Why is new construction still permitted in the CBD ? Does it make sense to have more and more offices there ? On a related note, why have traffic cut through Brigade road, Comm street ? They're readymade "malls" if one just paves them, covers them with FRP sheets, and throws in a couple of pavement restaurants, live bands (Chandigarh sector 17, not some distant populationless land being my inspiration).
Why have traffic in the CBD at all ? Have huge lots around it, and FREE/CHEAP electric buses running along circular routes.

The malls: U go and spend hours there. They create tons of traffic, esp once the multiplexes start attracting crowds. Why are these in the heart of the city ?

Hospitals : The already choked, dusty Bannerghata road has just been blessed with 2 humongous ones - Wockhardt and Imperial (bought by Apollo).
a) theres always the traffic issue
b) is there suffficient electrcity supplied from multiple phases ?
c) what about sewage disposal - surely hospitals that big need a special focus on that, for both solid as well as potentially toxic liquid waste ?

The ORR offices:
a) Why isn't the service road done yet ?
b) Why are trucks allowed, sorry, encouraged to park in one lane and effectively block another trying to do this ?
c) Why do most establishments *face* the main road and not an internal access road ?

Can not the Hosur and a few other roads be made into limited access high speed arteries with clean well defined points to enter/exit them at 2/3 places in the city max, NO bus stops, NO shops facing them (so nobody's encouraged to just pick up in a min - "doesn't matter"). Have the hospitals in large spaces along these arteries around the periphery of the city - so ppl can get there in 25-20 mins max - and then have the malls well outside. U go there to spend a few hrs anyhow - whats a 15 min drive ? In fact it might be quicker if its a free flowing road!

Traffic woes: Siemens not to expand in B'lore

Traffic woes: Siemens not to expand in B'lore

This is the second or third news article about companies deciding to ship out or grow elsewhere. And its not JUST infrastructure alone - Bangalore is crazily expensive in terms of acomodation, as well as salaries.

Are we shooting ourselves in the foot ? This is both for the city administration as well the software crowd, who're causing spiralling salaries, real estate costs and a lot else. Some sanity by way of a little bit of a real estate correction, salary hike slowdown etc needs to happen to restore sanity and give Bangalore a fighting chance.

Jameshedpur, the Tatas and corp philosophy

UPDATE: Someone informed me this is NOT from Mittal, but from Suhail Seth. Well, the stuff about Jsr is still right.
This is apparently from LN Mittal:

(I spent the first 20 years of my life there and somehow buy the Tata's version of welfare and employee relations way more than the Western economics version of it)


I visited Jamshedpur over the weekend to see for myself an India that is fast disappearing despite all the wolf-cries of people like Narayanamurthy and his ilk. It is one thing to talk and quite another to do and I am delighted to tell you that Ratan Tata has akept alive the legacy of perhaps Indias finest industrialist J.N. Tata. Something that some people doubted when Ratan took over the House of the Tatas but in hindsight, the best thing to have happened to the Tatas is unquestionably Ratan. I was amazed to see the extent of corporate philanthropy and this is no exaggeration.

For the breed that talks about corporate social responsibility and talks about the role of corporate India, a visit to Jamshedpur is a must. Go there and see the amount of money they pump into keeping the town going; see the smiling faces of workers in a region known for industrial
unrest; see the standard of living in a city that is almost isolated from the mess in the rest of the country. This is not meant to be a puff piece. I have nothing to do with Tata
Steel,but I strongly believe the message of hope and the message of goodness that they are spreading is worth sharing. The fact that you do have companies in India which look at workers as human beings and who do not blow their software trumpet of having changed lives. In fact, I
asked Mr Muthurman, the managing director, as to why he was so quiet about all they had done and all he could offer in return was a smile wrapped in humility, which said it all. They have done so much more since I last visited Jamshedpur, which was in 1992. The town has obviously got busier but the values thankfully haven't changed. The food is still as amazing as it always was and I gorged, as I would normally do. I visited the plant and the last time I did that was with Russi Mody.

But the plant this time was gleaming and far from what it used to be. Greener and cleaner and a tribute to environment management. You could have been in the mountains. Such was the quality of air I inhaled! There was no belching smoke; no tired faces and so many more women workers,
even on the shop floor. This is true gender equality and not the kind that is often espoused at seminars organised by angry activists. I met so many old friends. Most of them have aged but not grown old. There was a spring in the air which came from a certain calmness which has always
been the hallmark of Jamshedpur and something I savoured for a full two days in between receiving messages of how boring and decrepit the Lacklustre Fashion Weak was.

It is at times such as this that our city lives seem so meaningless. Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata had created an edifice that is today a robust company and it is not about profits and about valuation. It is not about who becomes a millionaire and who doesnt'. It is about getting the job
done with dignity and respect keeping the age-old values intact and this is what I learnt.

I jokingly asked someone as to whether they ever thought of joining an Infosys or a Wipro and pat came the reply: "We are not interested in becoming crorepatis but in making others crorepatis."

Which is exactly what the Tatas have done for years in and around Jamshedpur. Very few people know that Jamshedpur has been selected as a UN Global Compact City, edging out the other nominee from India, Bangalore. Selected because of the quality of life, because of the conditions of
sanitation and roads and welfare. If this is not a tribute to industrial India , then what is? Today, Indian needs several Jamshedpurs but it also needs this Jamshedpur to be given its fair due, its recognition. I am tired of campus visits being publicised to the Infosys and the Wipros of the world. Modern India is being built in Jamshedpur as we speak. An India built on the strength of core convictions and nothing was more apparent about that than the experiment with truth and reality that Tata Steel is conducting at Pipla.

Forty-eight tribal girls (yes, tribal girls who these corrupt and evil politicians only talk about but do nothing for) are being educated through a residential program over nine months. I went to visit them and I spoke to them in a language that they have just learnt: Bengali. Eight
weeks ago, they could only speak in Sainthali, their local dialect. But today, they are brimming with a confidence that will bring tears to your eyes. It did to mine.

One of them has just been selected to represent Jharkand in the state archery competition. They have their own womens football team and whats more they are now fond of education. It is a passion and not a burden. This was possible because I guess people like Ratan Tata and Muthurman
havent sold their souls to some business management drivel, which tells us that we must only do business and nothing else. The fact that not one Tata executive has been touched by the Naxalites in that area talks about the social respect that the Tatas have earned.

The Tatas do not need this piece to be praised and lauded. My intent is to share the larger picture that we so often miss in the haze of the slime and sleaze that politics imparts. My submission to those who use phrases such as "feel-good" and "India Shining" is first visit
Jamshedpur to understand what it all means. See Tata Steel in action to know what companies can do if they wish to. And what corporate India needs to do. Murli Manohar Joshi would be better off seeing what Tata Steel has done by creating the Xavier Institute of Tribal Education rather than by proffering excuses for the imbroglio in the IIMs. This is where the Advanis and Vajpayees need to pay homage. Not to all the Sai Babas and the Hugging saints that they are so busy with. India is changing inspite of them and they need to realise that.

I couldn't have spent a more humane and wonderful weekend. Jamshedpur is an eye-opener and a role model, which should be made mandatory for replication. I saw corporate India actually participate in basic nation-building, for when these tribal girls go back to their villages, they will return with knowledge that will truly be life-altering.

Corporate India can do it but most of the time is willing to shy away.

For those corporate leaders who are happier winning awards and being
interviewed on their choice of clothes, my advise is visit Tata Steel, spend some days at Jamshedpur and see a nation's transformation. That is true service and true nationalism.

Tata Steel will celebrate 100 years of existence in 2007. It won't be just a milestone in this company's history. It will be a milestone, to my mind of corporate transparency and generosity in this country. It is indeed fitting that Ratan Tata today heads a group which has people who are committed to nation-building than just building inflluence and power. JRD must be smiling wherever he is. And so must Jamsetji Nusserwanji. These people today, have literally climbed every last blue mountain. And continue to do so with vigour and passion. Thank god for the Tatas!

Productivity etc...

Good points - rarely acknowledged, yet very high impact for our average worklives.