Come the rains...

Governance, governance, bad roads.

Such articles make an appearance around this time of the year, every year.
Does it matter who's running things, if nobody is at all ?
I think a lot's been done at a micro level - roads have been repaired, drains cleaned - but its the overall civic/town planning that does not exist at all - and they velleys and natural drainage systems have been interfered with all over Bangalore. I don't even think the guys running the show can think at that level of complexity/abstraction. The problem's bigger than them.

Biased, or merely shallow and lazy ?

Yet another "analysis" of the Kashmir situation without even a cursory read of the various issues, arguments and stances involved.

Yeah India's had the army in there for ages now, and that creates huge issues with the local population (anywhere, be it Naxalite dominated areas, the NE, or Kashmir). But the escalation was not a one way street - though surely not the best way to solve it. We've also had rather hostile neighbours around there, and the time there was lowered presence of personnel, we had to go to war to reclaim territory, and lost a few hundred brave men in the process.

Its also a fact the Kashmir enjoys special powers and an independent constitutional status, something very few countries would've permitted within their borders. Kashmir is almost an independent nation within India - and its been a one way street from that point of view. They've even managed a couple of really free polls and have had a shot at improving their situation with Kashmiris at the helm - how long can they keep on passing the buck to "New Delhi" ? Bihar has been in a worse spot, gets lesser from the Centre, yet cribs lesser, and is not clamouring for independence. If they could not make it work, and I'm not saying it didn't work - they are - within a free, democratic setup, then all the best within a mess like one that Pak is in today.

As for the plebiscite, India owes nothing to anyone, legally. If the Pak army had moved back, and freed up all of Kashmir, and if the vote happened in all of the region, the UN resolution argiment would've been admissible. Right now, it has no bearingon the case.

Also, the Valley is a small part of J&K (&L, if I may dare to include the voice a huge mass of people otherwise unrelated to this issue). Not all of those people are demanding Azaadi.

Yes, I think India should hold a referendum in the Valley - because we should take the higher moral path and try and get this resolved - and because we've tried hard enough and long enough. If they really want out, well, let them. not to honour defunct resolutions, but because we cannot get over their distrust of us anymore, and we'd rather not have them hang around in their current state.

Jammu, Ladakh are Indian, and happily at that. We cannot drag them into this.

And international reporters really really need a little deeper sense on the issue before they pass judgement. Its just too shallow, and presumptuous.

BIAL User Development Fee or What A Pain

Now this.

Oh well, the airline industry is facing massively challenging times. And the users are getting less and less positive about flying, at least in Blore. Its constantly getting more painful, AND more expensive, unlike the pre-low-fares era, where the emphasis, at least, was on the luxury/comfort part of flying.

Is it any wonder that trains are tougher to get reservations in, once more ?

The Choices For Kashmir

Gurcharan Das writes a very simple, straightforward and relevant piece on Kashmir's choices.

I agree (I point to the Valley alone when I say Kashmir). I have a fear that the wrong choice may already have been made - owing partly to poor PR skills on the Indian government and media's part, and to Neanderthal reactions from some political parties seeking to score political points in this issue of serious implications.

However, if the choice is indeed what the cacophony suggests it is, and if its proven to be thus by a referendum that we must conduct, then we must let go. And let go with a complete dissociation. All those who choose the idea of India our welcome. And all those with a parochial outook - bye.

I hope, if the average Kashmiris do think India's a better bet, that they muster the courage to come together and subdue the shrill voices we're hearing right now.

Cycling - aches, pains, postures and glossary

I have had a dull ache in the calf muscles for a week or so - and did some reading up about this. Am sharing what I've learned through this - its not first hand knowledge, and you should talk to a doc if you have specific issues.

  • Learn about Cadence. Yeah its a technical term, but a useful one-read
  • Don't trust your instinct alone - most of us associate "pushing hard" with developing fitness - and there are times where its useful, but mostly counter productive, for bikers
  • Read this
  • And this : The physiology of cycling,, pains, etc is good to keep in your head
  • Stretching not only helps, but is very critical for overall fitness.
  • Other pains, injuries. Correct Saddle height, riding technique, are all important as you start doing longer distances.
Happy riding - and see you on the roads :)

More on the Kashmir now-debate

Reuters picked up the 2 columns, and sparked off a debate.

From the comments, its obviously a tough battle - getting people to agree to even put let-Kashmir-go on the list. Years of chest beating have attuned us to patriotism based on weird stuff. It matters not that its an impediment to our march forward as a nation, and drag on resources, and to top it all, the people of the place want out.

The only stakeholders who can think otherwise with some legitimacy are the Pandits, whose home this land was and who've suffered there. But I suspect a lot many will be pragmatic, and look ahead rather than backwards.

At the very least, keeping this out of the scope of the discussion is certainly both short sighted and counter productive. I even think a lot many Kashmiris will themselves wonder about how it'll work out for them once this option becomes a possibility, however bleak. I'm sure they realize how Pakistan's progressed, and how Indian has. Even the Pandits that were pressurized into leaving have done way better outside of Kahmir.

We've got to look beyond the land itself, and boundaries. We've got to move ahead and get to other problems. Too much effort, money, time is being spent on this, with little in return.

Update: Jug Suraiya gets into the act too. Its a pretty strong vote for considering this possibility already. The shrill noises from the other end, as experienced from the users comments to this, mean that a lot of PR work remains if this option is to made workable, but totally discounting it isn't healthy for us, right now.

More on the Shabana Azmi utterances

This happened yesterday.

In the entire speech interview (which is very different, cause the questions often lead down certain paths), she:
  • mentioned the first hand experience of difficulty in buying a house in Mumbai
  • started off with the fact that she considers Muslims safer in India, and that they have a bigger say because of democracy.
  • held that the Muslim leadership needed to do more for an image change
  • clearly said that Muslims "is allowing itself to listen to the fundamentalists , who actually are not their leaders at all".
  • said that there was a gap in understanding the community on the part of those outside it.
Its a rather honest assessment, springing from a bitter first hand experience (not debating whether its true by and large, etc - but its her experience, and she has a right to state it). Its absurd to read any of those points in isolation, as the media have done, and that Mr. V Naidu has promptly pounced upon and denounced as anti-majority, anti-national!!! Pray whats anti-majority/nation in stating one's first hand pain, and reflecting on your own community's problems in addressing issues that impact them ?

I understand the need for sensationalism - but this is twisting things way out context. Way too much.

Disgusting. The media, polity and all of that. So ready to bend anything for their petty PR gains. Yuck.

Increasing Polarization ?

Javed Akhtar and Shabana Azmi unable to buy houses cause of their religious affiliation ?

If true, its a very serious situation. I can say with confidence that Bangalore is way way way better than that (though, because of my name - assumed to be community specific in Bangalore, I have been sometimes asked "the question" when I tried renting a house some years ago. But by and large people live, eat, travel where they want to).

If true - this means to me that Gujarat and now Mumbai have gone down the drain as far as citizen's security is concerned, or even common ordinary folks, or even the leading lights of the places, have all become fundamentalists.

I hope to God she's wrong. I hope to God this was in frustration from a one-off incident. 61st "independence" day ? Hmmmmm......

I'm sticking to Bangalore. Shabana, Javed, you're welcome here too.

The Valley of no hope ?

I've been having similar thoughts to those that Vir Sanghvi expresses. Its only with a heavy heart, and despair, that one is forced to say this. I've always believed no problem is big enough if people are rational, open minded and fair. Sorry, those have turned out to be big ifs.

If we cannot own a people, there's no point owning the land. Tactical superiority and all that be damned - armed defense no longer depends on who owns the higher hill. And our false machismo about "how can we give away even an inch of our land" needs to be relooked at - since the Kashmiris do not consider their place part of "our land", who are we to ?

I'd love to be friends with the Valley and its people, but like Sanghvi, it looks like its gone beyond the point of no-hope. As he points out, plenty and more has been done. In fact I suspect that the special status might be one reason for Kashmiris thinking of themselves as a different country altogether. Bihar has had rigged elections, and pretty much every other state to some extent. A lot many places have less progress, more poverty. Yet you do not see this degree of a desire for secession, and at this scale.

If indeed most Kashmiris want to join Pakistan, or be an independent country, let them. ONLY the valley, of course. Not Ladakh, not Jammu.

And then, make sure we have NOTHING to do with them. Economically, politically, from the tourism point of view, whatever. Let's see how well they do without the larger embracing idea that India is. Let's see if narrow parochial, diehard ethnicity does better than what India's been managing to do. Even if the Valley then runs into problems, or needs help, sorry, you asked for it, idiots. You think we're out to get you ? Wait till you do it to yourself, or worse, the mess that Pakistan is happens to you. Alvida, guys.

I suspect the resilient Pundits have already kind of given up on the Valley, and in fact, many have done well in other parts of India. I have friends amongst them, and think we should do our all to ensure they are well settled in India. [ Or at least as well settled as the rest of us are :) ]

I hate thinking in terms of a "them", but in case, to hell with them, and good riddance.


Just came across a similar thought expressed by Swami Ankesaria Aiyer too. Reproducing the conclusion of his point of view :

India has sought integration with Kashmir, not colonial rule. But Kashmiris nevertheless demand azaadi. And ruling over those who resent it so strongly for so long is quasi-colonialism, regardless of our intentions.

We promised Kashmiris a plebiscite six decades ago. Let us hold one now, and give them three choices: independence, union with Pakistan, and union with India. Almost certainly the Valley will opt for independence. Jammu will opt to stay with India, and probably Ladakh too. Let Kashmiris decide the outcome, not the politicians and armies of India and Pakistan.

So its definitely not an isolated thought. Its not gained political currency yet, but I guess as a first step, someone needs to make the thought of making this outcome an acceptable possibility - and to ensure this is presented as an extreme one-off step, with disastrous consequences for those who want it - but alas, we cannot really help them if they want out of a nation on the path of greatness. We had promised a plebiscite, so we're just making good on a promise.

Two new BIAS buses to BIAL

Shivajinagar Bus Station Bangalore International Air Port Indian Express, Vidhana Soudha, Cauvery Bhavan, AGO Office, Hotel Lee Meridian, Mekhri Circle, Hebbala, Jn.of Kogilu Cross ( Only Non AC Suvarna Services)

Chikkalasandra Bangalore International Air Port Padmanabhanagar ,Kathriguppe, Hosakerehalli Cross, Deepanjalinagar, Vijayanagara, Basaveshwara nagar 8th Main, Navarang, Malleshwaram Bus Station, Sadashivanagara Bash yam Circle, Mekhri Circle , Hebbal, Jn.of Kogilu cross. (Only AC Vayuvajra Services)

Will be adding this to Zook BIAS schedules by tomorrow or so.

Got a helmet - Bell Venture

Prasant's colleague got a couple of helmets from the UK - both BELL Ventures (reviews here). Picked one up - seems very nice - especially with the adjustable "head-grip" or whatever.

Finally, will look weird riding to work :D

Bangalore Commute Data Update

Update for this:

  • 66 responses so far.
  • 51.5% ppl commute <>
  • 56% take the car(25.8%)/2 wheeler. And this survey first went out to a cyclists' (15.2%) list
  • 71% people have divided roads - Bangalore sure has improved. A mere 10.6% have unpaved surfaces enroute.
  • 30.3% folks go at 8-9am, another 30.3% at 9-10am
  • 77% people leave bet 5-8pm. Shows on the roads
  • Average Speeds: 37.9% < 20kmph, 41.4% between 31-45kmph
  • 30.8% ppl encounter a jam once a day, 29.2% find multiple jams everyday
  • 65%+ folks do groceries within a km! Thats nice. Walk ? Drive ?
  • 39.4% exercise rarely, another 24.4% only "sometimes"
Will put the details up once it crosses 100.

Free Geek Giveaways!

AGP Video Card

These are from a pal - check out and let me know if you're interested.

400kms up!

Got past the 400km (of cycling on the Merida) mark last evening. here's the reading after this morning's ride to work:

Some other random pics of the bike:

Parked @ Work

@ CCD, Behind BDA Complex, Koramangala

Bharath makes cars go at 180kmpl!

Bharat - one of Shubha's cousins - was involved in the above project. He's been pretty passionate about it - and good to see the young team manage both the tech and the PR this well. I'm hoping they are able to impact the auto scene in India building upon ideas demonstrated here - all thats needed is some faith and a free hand given by the suits at the auto companies. Or maybe there's value in striking out on their own - creating a consulting and maybe a components startup that helps multiple automakers achieve better efficiencies.

Alien Alert - Holy Cow!

C`est La Vie: BREAKING NEWS indeed!!!

Holy Cow - and broken news :)

Now we know why milk's more expensive....

Commute Data for Bangalore

Am trying to gather commuting data for Bangalore. The idea is to see whats happening, and whats possible. Of course, will pass this on to those promoting cycling, and hope to see a lot more pedallers on the roads :)

Will keep this open till there's enough data and then publish it here.

Please take this survey and pass it on to colleagues/friends.

Survey : Commuting in Bangalore


  • 66 responses so far.
  • 51.5% ppl commute < 15kms to work
  • 56% take the car(25.8%)/2 wheeler. And this survey first went out to a cyclists' (15.2%) list
  • 71% people have divided roads - Bangalore sure has improved. A mere 10.6% have unpaved surfaces enroute.
  • 30.3% folks go at 8-9am, another 30.3% at 9-10am
  • 77% people leave bet 5-8pm. Shows on the roads
  • Average Speeds: 37.9% <>
  • 30.8% ppl encounter a jam once a day, 29.2% find multiple jams everyday
  • 65%+ folks do groceries within a km! Thats nice. Walk ? Drive ?
  • 39.4% exercise rarely, another 24.4% only "sometimes"
Will put the details up once it crosses 100.

This is weird : SIMI ban lifted

SIMI is now an officially acceptable organization.

Given how many blast related articles this org's name has appeared in - this is extremely weird. Perhaps they were just following the law literally - as they should - or maybe the govt decided they'd be easier to track if they are official, and record whatever they do (they hardly fizzled out just because of the ban). But even so - almost sounds like an endorsement. While I'm loathe to tie community specific org's to specific activities, SIMI is highly suspect and this does not sound right.

Edit: On the other hand, there is a silver lining, however disconnected to the main story. It does show that the executive cannot influence the judiciary directly, and that can only be a confirmation for our democratic health. Not to imply that I agree with the judgment itself, but this aspect's certainly positive.

Akshat's first bike trail

This was organized by some really enthu bikers from 12+kms x 4 laps was the full race - and I thought it would be both inspiring and fun for Akshat to see a bunch of riders and a real trail.

Perfect weather, and Akshat managed to get up in the nick of time. We filled up on fluids, chocolates and were off. Took him through the bigger roads rather nervously - he has not yet figured out directional control that well - and made it to the starting point ok - about 2.5 kms from home. Over the next half hour over 25 people joined, and Akshat was easily the youngest of the lot!

Ravi and gang had been working hard, recce'ing the trail and marking it in detail for the rest of us - and there were arrangements for a toolkit, snacks and I even got a spare helmet. We started off around 9 - and everyone pretty much dissapeared within minutes while I kept pace with Akshat to get him comfortable riding given the new bike and new terrain. we soon hit a major stretch of slush, which he found extremely tough to negotiate - and perseverance on his part and some motivational effort on mine saw him not only carry on, but with a firm resolve to just ride through any slush he encountered later!

The trail was a great mix of slush, tarmac, grassy flats, tracks along lakes, hard rocky bits, a small 'drop', and a ride through closely planted trees - and well marked with chalk signs all the way.

Akshat completed a full lap - a little over 12kms - and was not too tired at the end. I did another lap by myself - a lot quicker - and then headed home. Total ride for the day - 30kms for me and 17 for Akshat - not bad for a first attempt :)

A great way to spend a Sunday morning. Most importantly, Akshat proved to be a way better rider and showed much better stamina than I'd expected.

Edit: Some trail pix courtesy Pradeep.

Free Stuff ?

Started yet another blog - to connect people who want to get rid of stuff, to people who want to help them get rid of it.

This is part social experiment, part curiosity, part a need waiting for a solution. Also, want to see whether the spirit of giving has any virality built into it.