Friday, March 28, 2014

Chennai Airport- Taxi service_ Aviation Express!

I and my wife returned from a short trip abroad landed at the Chennai International Airport early in the morning @2.30 hrs.  After a wait of nearly an hour our baggage arrived and we went to the Aviation Express counter situated right outside the arrival hall and paid a flat sum of RS 700/- to go to our house in Besant Nagar, a distance of say about 15 kms.

The Aviation Express staff took us to ta waiting Taxi bearing no 4307(Tavera) and woke up the driver who was fast asleep inside the car!  The driver looked at us with kind of disgust for waking him up at such early hours and opened the boot without even moving an inch! We began our tiring journey back home.  We realised that the Taxi driver had not switched on the A/c due to which we felt suffocated and requested the driver to switch on the A/c.  With reluctance he turned the A/c knob into position no 1 which meant low e flow of cold air which was insufficient for us as the weather was very humid.  When we requested the driver to increase the A/c power, he snubbed at us saying the A/c is already on!!  We told him that it was insufficient for us and again requested him to increase the power and the knob position.  He obliged doing that but in turn, pulled his windows down and started to put his neck out and made some unusual breathing sounds which was little scary and suspicious.  I asked him as to what was he up to?  He replied that he was in deep sleep and that we woke him up!  He was trying to take deep breathe and ward off sleep by sticking his neck out of the window and get fresh air!  We were  quite astonished with his behaviour and kept our cool.
We reached home around 4.10 am and the driver was unfriendly even to take out our luggage and put them down.

After we removed all our luggage, the driver stood there staring at us and demanded that we tip him for having disturbed his sleep in the wee hours!  I explained to him the situation and if only he had behaved well and helped us, he would have been richer by our tips.  He snared at us and banged his door and with a screech, he started his car and vanished from the scene!

This is the behaviour of most of the Taxi and Auto drivers in Chennai and they have no respect for the jobs that they do or the customers who engage them. Its really frightening and sad that Chennai that is known for its hospitality and friendliness has come to see this day.  How can one feel happy with this kind of attitude and behaviour from the transport drivers who do not understand their responsibility and respect for the job that they are doing?  The entire happiness that you would have derived from out of the trip would be nullified and negated with this kind of welcome that you get in the city.

Through this blog I wish to alert the appropriate authorities and the owners of the Taxi services all over the State to take a note of this seriously as otherwise they would not be able to stand in competition that is inevitable!


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Bengaluru to Chennai- a journey by Brindavan Express

I and my wife booked ourselves for travel to Chennai on the 6th December by Brindavan Express A/c Chair car and accordingly, we boarded the train at Krishnaraja puram that was close to where I stayed.  I had travelled by this train years back and expected the same picture of the train and the journey.  I was little disappointed to see a different picture of the once beautiful train that was considered a pride to travel?
Brindavan Exp
The interiors of the train had diminished in its glory with passage of time and presented an old dirty look.  The window curtains wore a beggary look and adding to the woes the noise that the catering staff made inside the compartment was something unbearable.  The loud calls of Dosa/samosa and chai that rented the air reminded me of the early morning time in Sabarimala when people stood in line to have the holy glimpse of the almighty Lord Ayyappa ranting and chanting the sacred "swamiye Saranam Ayyappa"!  The only difference was the chant at the hills of sabarimala was blissful whereas the rants made by the not decently dressed catering staff was like hell!!  Each time a staff passed by, his tray or his sides brushed with the passenger sitting on the aisle and often woke up  the passenger and prevented him/her from going to slumber!!  This was unabated as eatables, one after the other, were coming in with a loud announcement that echoed within the compartment throughout the journey!  The railway staff had their role to play and probably enjoyed some free perks for helping the caterers.  The A/c effect was so strong and severe in the first 2 hours of journey that I pulled my jacket from the back-pack and wore it to feel comfortable and I could see many passengers shivering in cold.  Now, this helped the railway catering to increase their sale of coffee/tea and hot vadas and samosas in the first couple of hours of journey!  Is there any written rule that the attendant has to follow and  maintain an uniform temperature within the compartment- god knows??

The Bangarpet station witnessed several railway staff forging themselves into the A/c compartment and keeping their bags and suitcases amidst the regular passengers while opting out to stand outside the air conditioned compartment in between the entrance and the toilets!  The Railway staff were seen smoking in the corridors on either sides and the smell of cigarette and smoke often pierced the nose of those sitting inside the compartment whenever someone opened the door to use the toilet.  The place just outside the toilets were being used by Beggars and other handicapped who travelled without tickets and the T T E who is supposed to check such unauthorised entries of people was oblivious to this happening!  While some staff got down at Kuppam, some continued their journey to jolarpettai and vaniyambadi.  The staff sat on the seats that were empty and often joined by other staff members for a chit-chat, standing on the way in groups and blocking the way for the passengers.  There was absolutely no check on this misuse of privilege and causing inconvenience to the other genuine passengers.  I wonder if the railway staff are allowed to use A/c coach for their daily routine travel even if they are on official duties?

The roughly 6 hours journey was a nightmare and the experience would make me shudder even to think of travel by this train which once carried a label of respect!

Even the stations en route had stories to tell about the abuse of its walls with graffiti painted by various trade unions of the railways for their election campaign.  It presented a horrible look everywhere when you see SRMU/RMS/ and other names in bold, eye soaring sizes staring at you whenever your train entered a Station during the travel.  Its time that the Railway unions contain themselves and resort to clean voting and canvassing procedures without damaging the otherwise presentable looks of Railway property walls!

The entrance and sale of eatables by vendors must be restricted for a pleasant journey and one must be allowed to close his eyes for a while and allowed to rest in peaceful atmosphere without any noises or disturbances from the Railway catering and also the Staff of the Railways?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Gravity


The Pre-Diwali interest to keep ourselves amused and entertained took us to the Phoenix Mall in Bangalore where Gravity was being screened.  Unlike Chennai where getting tickets on the spot is almost impossible, Bangalore is dependable and watching a movie as per your desire is possible!  The 3D glasses were distributed as you entered the hall to give you more realistic view of the movie and the shoot.



The movie starts with the breath taking view of the outer space where Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are repairing certain parts of the American Space Station and talking in lighter vein until the ground station warns them of a high speed debris travelling at great speed out of a Russian Satellite that met with disaster.



Before any realisation, the debris strike the space ship and wreaks havoc creating moments of anxiety and nudging everyone to the edge of the seat!  The space situations are extremely realistic and well taken to understand the practical difficulties that these astronauts face every time they are up in the sky!  One realises that Bus depots on earth, space also has several depots of Space Stations sent up by various super powers!



The 3D effects are so realistic that you duck sometimes facing the high velocity objects out of the debris flying past your sides creating spine chilling effects!


The rest of the movie shows the lone woman Ryan Stone fighting a lone battle for surviving in the outer space and trying to reach Mother earth.  The outer space journey from one space station to the other is made very interesting and portrays the grit and determination of the character to fight against all odds following survival instincts. The film has been taken nicely and the space captured and described effectively to the film-goers.
One wonders as to how the fuel tank in the Amercian Space shuttle is empty when the astronauts are trying to escape?  Despite some small drawbacks, the film is sure to be a popular hit amongst the masses who are inquisitive to know about the outer space and its atmosphere.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

stray dogs menace

Members of Environment Monitoring and Action initiating were witness to an attack on a purple swamphen. Photo: Special Arrangement
Birds in the Pallikaranai marshland are facing a new form of threat — stray dogs.
Naturalists say a pack of about 10 stray dogs frequently enter the marshland and devour the birds found among the reeds.  Environment specialists are aghast to understand this behaviour of stray dogs to wade through water and hunt in groups!   If this continues, very soon Palnikaranai marsh land will no longer attract migratory birds and the nature will stand destroyed.
A few months back, stray dogs in groups had hunted a Deer and made a feast right in the back yard of the Governor's bungalow in Guindy!  There are news about the stray dogs attacking the Peacock, our National Bird right within the Governor's campus and elsewhere in the state.  These dogs turn into hunters  and once taste the meat of Deers and peacocks, will eventually start attacking humans in the coming days? There was a news item recently about a boy playing cricket with his friends  going to pick the ball from the waste dump yard in Perungudi, being attacked by dog looking animals which eventually turned out to be the dreaded Jackals!  Luckily, hearing the loud cries of the boy, his friends came to his rescue with the cricket bats and other accessories and rescued the boy from being butchered by the Jackals! The civic authorities should act now and adopt a program by which they eradicate all the stray animals loitering on the streets and enforce a strict law of enrolling the pets and collect a fee so as to fund the program by itself.  
similarly, the much prestigious Old Mahabalipuram Road to connect the IT hub was inaugurated with such fanfare a few years back only to see all kinds of cattle freely roaming on the road and even blocking the roads right in the centre despite the government collecting a toll tax for using the express way!!
Elliots Beach                                      
The Besant Nagar beach better known as Elliot's Beach is no better when you talk about these stray dogs and beggars making your life miserable!  The stray dogs numbering a few hundreds all over the beach keep Cris-crossing the beach walkers and berth themselves on the granite platform meant for seating the beach goers and specially the elders!  There is no guarantee that you will find a neat and clean place to sit as suddenly you will find a stray, infected dog sitting next to you?  I have personally had the experience of sitting on the platform, facing east and doing breathing exercise while closing my eyes... and when i open my eyes after deep inhaling and breathing for about 10 minutes, I find a Beggar right in front of my face, imposing that sends shivers across my body as I did not intend to see the beggar but the rising Sun!! The entire process of healing your body with meditation and breathing gets off the road with such incidents happening on a daily basis!
I visited Dubai recently and stayed there for about 10 days with my son and daughter-in-law.  I was awestruck to note the development the state had made in the last 20 years!  The Emirates claim that there was only one tall rise building in the year 1991 and stands at 999 buildings as of date!!  This is what you term as development.  The roads that have been built right across the desert is worth all praises.  The power produced through Thermal process is amazing and the drinking water supplied is by desalination plants.  The milk is being imported from Saudi and for that matter all the food stuff and other materials are imported from countries all over the globe!  Dubai is only a trading centre and not  an oil producing state to have advanced and developed in such a fast manner!  Amongst the best of best things, you really can not find any stray dog or even a camel for that matter!  The time of my visit coincided with Eid.  I did not see any butchery or goats hanging out of trucks or from the back of a 2 wheeler!  No signs of any killing or blood could be seen and everything was at peace and absolute tranquil.  
Our country must have a uniform system for allowing pets and other cattle which must be monitored strictly and carry out mercy killing of stray animals in order to save humanity which is at peril looking at the way the dogs are evolving into flesh/meat eaters?
The civic authority should de-recognise any body that supports these stray animals and stop their activities terming it as anti-human.  Let us wake up and not allow these pet animals from becoming meat eaters and eventually man-eaters!!??

Saturday, October 12, 2013

International airport @ Chennai

The moods were happy for me and my wife in the sense that we were about to take an International flight to Dubai to be with my son Pushkar and daughter-in-law Taruna!  My older son Capt Neeraj gave us a staff ticket to travel and thrill was all the more as the departure was from the new International terminal that was recently inaugurated at Chennai.

As scheduled, We took a cab at 5.00 in the morning and were at the airport at 5.30am.  The check in took hardly anytime and we were through the immigration and taken to the departure hall at level 2 of the international airport.  The huge, sprawling size and area of the terminal made us look at everything in awe and astonishment!  We were seated in the new row of chairs that looked neat and clean except for the dustbins kept at regular intervals which did not have proper lids and attracted small flying insects in plenty defeating the basic word of cleanliness that counts for gradation of the airport to match international standards.

Soon, a representative of the Indigo airlines came and told us that the flight will depart from gate no 14 and held out her hand like a traffic police showing the directions to reach there.  We followed  the crowd booked by the same airlines and after a brief walk through the new corridor, We were asked to take the lift to reach the 1st floor level and again walked for sometime only to realise that we were walking through the old terminal and the environment was very familiar and nothing new?  The security area had been removed as the screening was done at the new terminal itself.  The same seating arrangements and the same procedure of entry through the old Aero-bridge left an element of doubt about the way the airport authority boast of having made this new International Airport.  The new International airport must necessarily be new for the passengers and they must not be deceived by showcasing the new one and making them experience the old?  It is like the old saying"old wine in a new bottle"!!

The Airport authority should not charge the new levies and taxes meant for the new terminal if the passengers are to be routed through the old terminal at the airport.  The passengers were at inconvenience and discomfort to have entered through the newly constructed building/terminal only to end up walking and walking to reach the old terminal and take a flight from there by paying more taxes and levies!!

This can happen only in India where the Government does not really care for the citizens and do whatever they feel like without any obstruction.

Monday, September 16, 2013

DTEA alumni meet @ Bengaluru on 13/09/2013


(Diwakar/Raghunath/Shiva Lingam/Rajagopalan/Kothanda Raman/Venkatraman)

The Alumni meet of DTEA Higher Secondary School happened on the 13th September, 2013 at the Press Club in Bangalore and nearly 250 students of the past participated in the meet making it an awesome affair where many could identify their batch mates and friends and introduce them afresh in their lives!  The earliest batch was a gentleman from the 1952 batch and the latest from 2000 onwards that enthused the assembled students to take a step forward to introduce themselves with many!  The meet started with a prayer, speeches from the organisers who prevailed upon the students to contribute generously towards the upliftment of facilities in schools through the Alumni Trust.  As I hear the purpose of generating funds for the Trust was quite successful with interested people chipping in their contribution towards the cause.


The date and venue was fixed at least a couple of months back and We, the batch mates of 1968 decided to book all of us by the Bangalore bound double Decker train which commenced its journey at 7.25 AM from the Central Station.  We were pleasantly joined by 2 more students from the 1965 and 1975 batch Prema and Gita from Chennai.  The train journey consisting of 8 of us was so much fun and laughter that the journey appeared to be short!
                              (Students of 1967 batch Jayalakshmi/Uma maheshwari/gita/Lalitha)                                                                      
                                       (Srividya/Lalitha/Jayalakshmi/Vaidyanathan/Ramesh/Srinivasan/)

A massive 250 persons were there at the Press club by about 6.30 PM when the program commenced.  I could see people meeting friends and batch mates with such delight and awe forgetting their present age, with the same feeling that they had many years back!  I also witnessed funny scenes when friends looked stunned seeing each other without words but glee on their eyes and comforting each other that they looked the same when they were in School.  After hugs that lasted for more than minutes, each one stood apart looking at each other and  would analyse the other pointing out certain factors such loss of 'that' pound of flesh/gain in pounds/ baldness/grey hair/ white hair in the eye brows/checking out that its not the wig/wrinkles/pigmentation etc.. slowly culminating in heat that could melt the very purpose of the meet!!  Nevertheless, it was all about friendship and soon everyone settled to be a part of the program that was to begin.  I also noticed some of the older men with colored hair and moustache and desperately trying to tuck their tummies in just to impress the opposite sex batch mates/classmates as if everything is young even now with them??  The girls, now the ladies on their part dressed up their best and trying to present their bygone youth to the assembled Alumni evoked quite a bit of laughter and the scene was comical enough to relish the episode and cherish it for many more years to come!  Of course, there were young and enthusiastic schoolmates who were much younger in age and added that glitter to the function.

                                                 (students of 1967 batch of various schools)

The prepaid amount at the time of registration included food and drinks on the house!  I could see a small crowd thronging the Bar counter and never stepped aside gulping their favourite drink like "Jal Jeera"!  I could spot some of the batch mates who would never even write the word alcohol or even utter it, holding the glass on their hands and saying cheers!  I wondered if the changed profile was due to excessive thrust of religious activities and upbringing by their households who were so pious and god fearing?  On the whole, it was very interesting to see people change for better and mingle with open mind with everyone present there. I also got teased and advised  constantly by another classmate of mine who kept on reminding me about loosing weight and this happened every time I bumped into him in the venue till such time, I requested him to change the topic and find some other parameter!!  Some habits never die and many of the old batch mates never thought that they also sail in the same Boat!!

It was a great experience to be with old friends and classmates and I am sure everyone will cherish these memories for life!!

Friday, August 30, 2013

disruption of traffic in Andhra Pradesh- dist Chittoor

Normally, driving down to Bangalore and back is considered a pleasure but not in these days as there is uncertainty of reaching your destination due to anti-Telengana protests in pockets that fall in between the journey!
                                                        
I decided to take the old Madras route from Bangalore to Chennai on the 29th August, 2013.  My mother who is 85 years also travelled with me only on assurances that I will stop the car as and when she wants to ease herself.  I started with my wife on my side and my aged mother at the back of my Toyota Corolla and everything seemed fine as we reached a place called Mulbagul on the border of karnataka with Andhra.  We reached Mulbagul within 50 minutes of our drive and wanted to cross Chittoor Dist in Andhra from where the present Chief Minister of andhra Pradesh, Kiran Kumar Reddy hailed!  we reached Palamner and the trouble started.  soon we found hundreds of trucks parked on the sides and there was no traffic coming from the opposite direction.  I mustered courage to drive right up to the point where protesters were shouting and arguing amongst themselves for nothing, I guess!  I requested the so called self styled chief of the movement to let us go as my aged mother required consideration.  Nothing could squeeze even a bit of their hearts and the mob consisting mostly of young boys and men with sticks in their hands were showing their "mob-might" to people by banging the sticks on the road and sometimes showing signs that they may even hit your car or the glasses.  I reversed my car and reached the Palamner town and asked a police man on duty about an alternate route to Chennai.  The cop said a few rumbling words in Telugu that frightened me a bit and I decided to use my IQ instead.  I cut across a road and aimed at reaching the Hosur highway driving through some eye soothing paddy fields and well maintained villages.  I reached a stretch that would lead me to a dist in Tamilnadu known as Gudiyattham.  Believe me, the car was tested for all its rigidity, endurance and safety as I had to drive through roads that were battered due to rains and had huge craters which made a roller coaster ride!  After a patient one hour drive through the muddy, water soaked slush, sand and craters, I reached Gudiyattham and from where I reached Ranipet and then to Chennai.  I was delayed by nearly 1 1/2 hours.

My personal feeling is that it is time that our country is either given to China or exchange our Government and import General Musharraf to clean up our mess and restore normal functioning of the country.  The boys and young men who were blocking the roads, instead of going to school/college were tail-wagging as a mob and threatening all the road users with sticks and loud exchange of words amongst themselves.  These people must be taken to task and jailed indefinitely for causing nuisance and preventing free movements and affecting fundamentals of Freedom.  The politicians behind the scenes must be arrested for contributing and destruction of peace in the area.

I fail to understand as to how the road blocks can solve a problem that is confronting the state?  One of the youngsters who spoke Tamil told me that the Chief Minister hailed from Chittor dist and the blocks and hurdles were created only on his instructions?  I asked him as to how he will earn his income for the day if he indulges in such unproductive activity?  He replied that each boy/man is given food and drinks besides some money which he did not specify?

I am convinced about the depreciation of Indian Rupee and the poor economic plight of the country given these circumstances!!