Moped memories

‘That’s the morning round’, says the milkman when you chat him up. He is quite happy. And sports a perdurable smile that is instantaneously strikingly envy provoking! You notice that it’s a can load of milk. Another can on one side. Yet another in the front.

Zipping in and out of narrow streets. Every household’s door knocked and delivered. An important vehicle in the distribution chain.

That causes you to wonder. How much can you accomplish in two wheels ? Especially when the two wheels are not big fat wheels that would take you long distances or are powered by engines that would equal an entire top notch stable.

There was a time, when going to school in a ‘moped’ was the thing! When classmates used to haul themselves and those heavy satchels into the school bus, you would dream of ‘zipping by’. It is completely another matter though, that the needle on the speedometer moving up by another centimeter would mean the engine having to quiver like a frail patient in an air-conditioned room with 106 degree fever and ratchet up a noise that could wake up someone in Hawaii.

But if anyone cared, it wasn’t you. For, you had a moped! You had mobility. You had freedom. You were a teenager looking into the future filled with possibilities and the two thin wheels of the moped had ‘arrived’ you.

Like all things, this status changed. In a blink of an eye, the big bad bikes replaced mopeds as the aspirational status symbol for boys. As life progressed and as the boy morphed into a man the moped was a relic, alive only in his memory.

But then, the moped continues to live on. Like with the milkman. In a very different avatar though. The moped had now dons the mantle of a partner for businesses.

Quite often, slipping to don the role of a load carrier.

These are small retailers. Hoarding their mopeds with merchandise, that any lay person would think that one more gram could appear to break the chassis. That’s when the man will haul himself atop all of his merchandise and drive off with a palpable disaffection for any sentiments and focused solely on getting ahead with business.

Safe travel is fortuitous and living is more than just merely ‘getting by’! The milkman and the shopkeeper represent a world that not many peep into. Taking for granted all that’s delivered at home when the only bones that are to be moved are those in the fingers, to dial a number.

But there is world out there. Still on the moped. Underpowered and over-delivering ! Spare a thought. Say hello. Sprinkle a smile. Pass an encouraging word. Give way..

If not for anything else, atleast for those moped memories from those teenage years!

Yes We Are !

For a month and a half the nation has been huddled in conversation. You have noticed it. For everywhere from the office canteen, to official meetings to even your own bedroom this topic has made silent entry.

From wickets to balls. From heavy bats to bad bounce. Seam to spin ! Everything of such nature and beyond. The frenzy that accompanies newscasts, has had ready made fodder, for they have been quick to assemble an array of cricketers that once ran between the wickets to now give commentary on the ones that do!

Suddenly one Friday, your team beats Australia. The ensuing Wednesday they beat Pakistan. The following Sunday Sri Lanka is downed. Suddenly, the nation is crowned World Champions.

It’s a moment in cricketing history that must not escape the pages of this blog and hence must be written about.

The last several months have seen several scams. Parliament was held to ransom. A government that seems inept. A parents accused of murdering their own daughter. A overlaying general apathy that seems to have progressed as terminal cancer across the breadth of the population. The list is incomplete, incongruous, progressively more gross. Heaping many permutations of ‘oh-what-will-get-inflicted-on-us-today’ kind of a feeling. Everyday.

This was a divided country. Thick lines of religion interlaced with politics and served with an overarching base ingredient of corruption and moral degradation, over very many years added to continuous woe and misery.

Well, all of the above remain. Infact, nothing has changed. Not the cases that have been filed. The corrupt judges have not had a change of heart. The colourful politicians and their ever so creative means to greater means perhaps has only got new boosts.

Yet, for a few brief hours, the nation suspends its despondence and celebrates. On a sultry Saturday night every square in the country resembles the Tahrir square of Egypt. The nation today erupts in unanimity.

As the composed eyes of the captain scans the stadia to know of the six that is hit indeed clears the ropes, the slum dwellers clap and hoot. The rich pump their scotch drenched viens with little of the refinement that they usually swear by. Hindus hug muslims. Buddhists pump their fists with energy.

Soon, cars, scooters, bikes all pour into the road. Waving the Indian flag and shouting Vande Mataram.

The old reminisce 1983 even as the young don’t care anymore. They have a new story to tell. Men jump as though they have been injected with fresh bouts of testosterone.Women hug and hoot with frenzy that would befit little girls in school. The twitter feed is continuous.

Politicians are going slow in their campaigning. Airplanes have gone empty. Governments declare holidays. SMS messages pour in. “We have won” is the overriding theme, as though the victory is a result of the dint of hard labour of every single Indian.

But then, perhaps. That’s not too far from the truth.

This victory perhaps belongs to the faceless Indian cricket fan. Yes, the one that stands in queue to endure lathis and collect just one of the measly 4000 tickets on sale. The faceless fan that will wear the same T-shirt just so that we win !

Oh don’t forget those Non Resident Indians who beat the time zones and zone into You Tube, Facebook, twitter and whatever they could get shreds of information from ! And the abundance of others that borrow money to travel and cheer the team ! The fan puts all else, far below the pecking order that has only one entity up there : The Indian cricket team !

Today a billion people watched. For a moment the despondence disappears. People hug each other and laugh their hearts out. The tireless efforts to divide us all usually succeeds. This time there is some respite ! Our problems awaits us. The cases. The politicians. The judges. The corrupt and the corrupted. The vain and the vanity prone.

Yes. But that’s tomorrow. For today, we have won. We are world champions. As the fledgling hands of my almost four year old nephew struggling to hold a plastic bat, shows the strain, a loud screech escapes his lips : ‘I have never seen such a match in my life”. All of almost four years. Mind it !

Standing as tall as the TV stand, just as his dad claps and his mom hoots. Tomorrow, reality will drift back into our consciousness. But today, we are world champions.

Yes we are.

Wisdom in a truck..

The colour and pageantry of India is a subject of a deep discussion for anyone who lands from a foreign soil. It has always been a comment with sincere and perpetual wonder, often causing ceaseless head shaking and a breathless ‘its so colourful ..’

What was so colourful here didn’t dawn on me for a long while. But, enlightenment can dawn at odd places and often arrives unannounced. The Bodhi tree for instance would have been another tree until Buddha sat underneath it ! Or take the case of the like the just-another-apple that brought appledom great fame by falling on Newton’s head!

Well, read on !

A sultry evening of fiddling with the camera had an interesting picture in the view finder. A moving truck. In all red splendour. As a cleaner hung on to in what appeared to be a rather precarious position. To me, that is. For him, he didn’t seem to have a care in the world as he sashayed like an emperor in his bathtub, with confidence only fit of a trapeze artist in a Russian circus !

Sruprise surprise, I soon lost the plot of staying clued on to the chap that was hanging by the door, but was hooked onto pageantry of the rather pedestrian form of transportation for goods!

As the finger clicked away, beaming red truck carrying what looked like gravel suddenly became an object of wonder. Go on, play close attention to the picture. Play with me, ok ? Go on an spot these for yourself.

The trishul on the bonnet

The yellow eagle on the bonnet

The multi coloured fenderThe chains that hang

The picture of ‘kumb’ on the sides

The invocation for profit (above the headlamps !)

The same invocation (written colourfully in the head )

The Triad of Red-Green-Yellow ( three ) near the windscreen

The Three night lamps kind of bulbs on the header

The psychedelic designs on the header

Ofcourse, all in the name of God !

The intricate curls in the brain could be filled with hyperactivity to articulate a cogent utilitarian reason. Those three bulbs you see ? or for that matter, those chains that hang ? Or the psychedelic design of the header? And so on. Except ofcourse, well, the cultural leaning towards colour !

The truck was oblivious to the zoom lens in action. A rash swerve announcing a turn and bearing the blue design on its behind ! What a combination you would imagine ! A bright red on the bonnet and a bright blue to compliment that would seem an eerie combination as a shirt-trouser combination but somehow this truck seemed to pull it off with elan !

Ofcourse, the tale doesn’t end there, if only you care to look. Yellow and red design layering on the rear may seem out of place for the rather dull gravel in the back but, don’t they make a pretty picture. The ubiquitous ‘Horn Please’, some flowers, and two seemingly replica landscape paintings! Landscape paintings!

If there were any questions in my mind about how colourful a land we are, well, those were dispelled with disdain by another swerve of the truck. Considering the plain monstrous trucks that ply the highways of foreign lands, and where only one man precariously hangs by the door : Arnold Schwarzenegger !

When the eye starts looking, the colour and art that thrives in our everyday lives isn’t funny. Sample this designer danglers that adorn another truck’s door.

And ofcourse, intricate artwork to back it up. If so much of colour can go into porting gravel and such else, we sure were worthy of the tag of a ‘colourful’ country !

Well, that’s the wisdom that came in a truck !

Loud and clear

Malls are sporting colour. New colour. In fact, new Tri-colour. There are special discounts that are on. “The independence day sale”, they scream. Of course, they end on Aug 15th. On the day the British foot left India, store owners are are counting footfalls in our malls ! In the name of the British foot that left India sixty odd years back.

Your phone keeps beeping with messages. Wishing you a happy independence day. For a minute you wonder what you should be doing. Send a message back with ‘wish you the same’ typed in. Or what ?!?

Sometimes these texts are messages to the effect of ‘Feel proud’! ( that 36 % of NASA scientists are Indians and such other random numbers. 33 % , 40 %, 20 %, 17.3 % etc are creating magic as Taxi Cab drivers in NY, software developers in Microsoft / Intel / Others, hair dressers in abu dhabi ! etc etc !). [Of course, the rest of us back here are either writing on blogs or swatting mosquitoes !]

You see the man who spouts parochial politics with a casteist tinge is invited to hoist the flag somewhere. He doesn’t hoist it of course. He just makes a pretense of touching the rope and there are a few others who will do the rest for him! Of course, giving a speech.

Some of the words that you would definitely hear today in those speeches : India, 63 ( or 64). Patriotic. Jawans. Brave. Forefathers. Destiny. Terrorism. Unity. Shining. ‘our country’. Future. Superpower. Jai Hind.

Every TV channel worth its satellite dish, is usurping independence with “Live and exclusive” taped on every show. Video jockeys wearing tricolour buttons on their chest while introducing film songs that would want you to beat your chest in sorrow !

There is a celebrity cast in the news channels. Who are debating what we have achieved in all the years as a free country. Silly contrived and meaningless arguments. Most of the loud mouths there make you wonder if they should be locked up somewhere !

Children at home are mega upset that this years independence day has landed up on a weekend. So are you. A Friday or a Monday, would have meant a long weekend! Newspapers carry pictures of Gandhi, Nehru, Mountabatten and such others. There are columns about our years as a free country. Nehru’s speech is recalled.

Its that time of the year. When the tricolour becomes important. A speech is ever pertinent. A moment of silence, and then, ‘patriotic’songs unleashed on a ever so suspecting (expecting ) population.

As you sit and look into the blue skies. There is activity spinning all around you. The local eatery remains open. The milk man runs around. The domestic help turns up sharp on time. As usual. Life doesn’t change for the majority.

Back at the festivity zone, there is an accented Vande Mataram that pierces the i-day air ! The tricolour seems to stay still. As the voice becomes loud. Clear. Deep. With a heavy accent. But you wonder if there was more to it than just an accent, when its sung as … “One-Day Mataram” !!

Salted history

I used to hate him. Hate him with the bottom of my heart. For what he did to his father. For what he did to his brothers. For what he did to many many thousands of people who he killed and mowed and so on.

Yet today, i want to see him. Kind of go stand where he lies. Its ironical. For my friends don’t want to go anywhere close. Not because they hate him as much.

But today to go close to him, you have to go to a small nondescript place. A place nondescript enough that without direction and desire to get there, missing it would be normal ! He perhaps had all of India under his thumbs. Palaces were built and minor empires destroyed with a casual wave of a hand.

And all who talked thus far, about him, talked with a sense of borrowed spite and frown. The eternal bad chap image stayed fixed. Today, the simplicity of what i hear moves me to think.

Today, another man gives us another angle:

Imagine being born in a royal family. Imagine seeing your head of state dad, spend crane heaps of government money on a tomb for his wife. Imagine you having consternation about it. Imagine having the resolve to fight for simplicity yet scale. Fight anybody.

From an aggressive neighbour to your own father. Imagine ruling the land with great simplicity and methodical precision. Imagine living a simple frugal life when surrounded by royal splendour.

Imagine stitching caps and writing the holy scripture. The proceeds of which, you mandate, is all that would go to making of your own tomb ! I

Imagine, first of all, mandating that there wont be a significant tomb, despite being the emperor of India ! Imagine Aurangazeb.

As the shudder runs down the spine all the way to the left toe, he adds. “History is written by the victor. Its never factual”. The tourist guide moves me.

In some time we reach Khuldabad. In what appears to be another mosque in a predominantly muslim neighbourhood, Aurangazeb’s lies at the feet of his guru. No grand structure. Simple and quiet.

The Taj loses sheen in the mind. Think of it this way: Shah Jahan built the Taj out of government money and emptied the state coffers. His son threw him in jail ruled the land ably and died a simple man.

Well, i dont know what the truth is. None of us will never ever know. But then, i have resolved to read history with pitchers of salt by the side.

And as Dylan says, “All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie”

Pole Power Blessing !

Rural India is littered with sights that get me open mouthed. Well, if you are a regular reader here, i can almost hear you say that i get open mouthed at the drop of a hat. Or at a buzz of a fly or whatever ! Sure. And yes !

Take a loot at this, for instance.

Seen somewhere in rural India. A common sight in urban India too. Power ! I quake in my boots to think of the chap who would climb the pole to fix a electrical problem. (Problems which must be as common place as a puny Tamil film hero fighting of ten people twenty times his size ! On screen of course !)

Here i sit. Not knowing which socket will hold which plug on my computer ! Heck, i cant tell between the printer cable and the phone cable ! Of course i fret and make the odd murmur of how complicated life has become and how powerless i feel !

To think that the chap who climbs the pole, figures out the problem amidst that maze of wires, unplugging the exact wire and replugging after ‘some’ work, is mind numbing to say the least ! Phew !

A chap like me will think that he deserves a ‘life time achievement award’ for just climbing that pole with a combination of ropes, bare hands and some degree of energy .

Oh yes, the other chap does it with no fuss. No noise. Only the odd instruction to his partner on the ground ! Often times, i wonder if i know how blessed i am. On the same keel i wonder if he knows how blessed he is.

On another note, the missus wonders if i chose this post because i relate to the tube light well.

Well. Well.. Blessings. You see !

Loose Stuff

The Indian economy and success.

Viewpoints vary, depending on who you ask. The pinstripe types will speak with elan. Of ‘value’. ‘Intellectual capital’. ‘Knowledge Economy’. ‘Cost Arbitrage.’ ‘Burgeoning middle class.’ ‘Consumption’. ‘GDP’. Etc !

These are words that rings well from a TV . Quite obviously, beyond the common man. For the common man, is usually listening to all of this, taking a break from all the TV ads. Those TV ads, asking him to buy cars and computers. Through service fee free bank loans. Recommended by actors who don’t age and cricketers who are ‘old’ at 30 !

No. What churns the Indian economy is not all that English. The engine of success resides in its bottles. PET bottles

Dont you think so ? Walk around India. Anywhere. Any part. East. North. South. West. People living in small cities tucked away in quiet corners where the Prime Minister flies over when there is a cyclone and the big cities that make much noise about small things. Walk anywhere. Ubiquitous by their presence are the PET bottles !

The small stores and the big stores. Brisk business is enabled by PET bottles. Usually holding toffees. buiscuits. Assorted eats. Chewing gums. Pencils. Stationary. All stored in PET bottles.

‘Loose’ items. Sold in ones and twos. Satiating a penchant for buying ‘loose’ stuff. Perhaps we are loose people. You know, people that prefer to buy in loose. In ones and twos. With the population that is growing at a pace that outpaces everything from condom manufacturing to computer chip obsolecence, with delectably embarrasing ease, ‘loose’ is a way of life, for us !

Think of this too. We are indeed loose people that can operate in the grey, and be as comfortable. The great Indian head shake that goes in all directions has been mocked loosely enough. But ‘Loose’ has many meanings. In excess of 20 variations. That must make it comfortable for the average Indian mind !

So, here is the grand treatise. The ability to break anything down into smaller pieces yet, see the pieces as part of a larger whole. To divide yet integrate. That comes principally from the PET bottle ! What say ?

PET bottles are indeed a part of mainstream living. An indelible mark of our households too. Storing everything from sugar to salt. And spices in all sizes. Loose chocolates. Loose biscuits. Loose bread. Loose butter. And so on. Everything loosely stored with a tight lid.

But ‘Loose Petrol’ was something that spun the mind silly, at the Petrol station.

In the morning today! The cops don’t want ‘loose petrol’ to be sold. Well. They must know. They deal with a whole lot of loose characters and have some loose canons in their ranks as well.

In recent times whenever ‘big’ English waffles through the air, on the Indian economy and its resilience etc, the PET bottle has stayed tightly in context !


How many times has it happened with you that you get to what seems to be a ‘vacant’ seat, only to sight a handkerchief, or an old newspaper, or a book or some object of similar value there. Standing in for the ‘owner’ !

In some time the ‘owner’ shows up, indicating that he had ‘reserved’ the seat. And lays claim to the seat with such ferocity that would put the Chinese’s claim of Arunachal, to pathetic shame !

I guess this is a uniquely Indian moment. I guess. I am not sure. Please correct me if i am wrong here. My guess is given shape by the fact that we have a chronicled mythological precedent. Of Lord Ram’s footwear standing in for the gent when he went into the jungle! So.

So, in a busy movie hall (or wherever else, esp if there are no allotted seat numbers) you can stroll around, ogle about, wander with a pop corn or a cone of ice cream. All this while the old dirty handkerchief stands in for you !!

In smaller cities and towns, this scene is so often repeated in inter city buses. Where the clamour to get a seat is only matched by the ability to reach a handkerchief, newspaper, belt, tiffin box to ‘reserve’ a seat !

If a ‘representative object’ (dirty handkerchief, shredded newspaper or whatever) of the dude in yellow trousers got to the seat before you, well, the seat belonged to the dude in yellow trousers ! So we have seen. And heard.

It was ‘refreshingly different’ to see this gent, and his mode of reservation. Aboard the river cruise on Goa’s Mandovi river.

He clearly had outgrown the handkerchief and belongings of low value. For friends of his, for whom he ‘reserved’ seats, he gave it his one whole leg and one whole hand !

And warded off every body else who came close to the seat with a dismissive disdain that perhaps would befit a Taliban war lord looking at his goats, whom he was going to have for dinner !

This is a new standard that must quickly be made known to the rest of the country. We need more people like this gent.

Wont you be happy with friends like these ? Especially considering that they would give an arm and a leg. Just to get you seated.

Its Finally Over !

Small huddles of people stand on the pavement. Peering into phone stores. Restaurants. Offices. Pubs. Et el. At the same time. At pre-appointed hours.

Peering into a restaurant having glass for walls, can be unsettling. Especially for those that eat inside! But they dont seem to care ! And the crowd outside only swells. A foreign eye can mistake this for anything. Including a food deprived nation that gratiates itself by looking at others eat.

The answer however, lies in the TV that’s on. In a corner of the restaurant , phone store et al. No. Wrong again. The interest is not in the TV but on the cricket match that’s on ! The Indian Premier League is on.

And animated conversation floats in the air. Will Chennai beat Kolkatta? Will Bangalore overrun Hyderabad? Will Mumbai win ? How can he sip beer in the middle of a match ? It is all rigged. Dont you thinks so…etc !

Answers and perspectives on this, will of course bring a paradigm shift to our lives and makes such a big difference to our daily living. But, this is cricket ! And as some cliched pundit astutely puts it…this is religion. OK?

A religion.

Where the same chap, is riled or feted for the same shot he played. Depending on whether the team won or lost.

Where funny coloured costumes, strange team names, wonderful astute commentary from the likes of a certain Ms.Bedi are centre stage

where an 4 year old acquaintance commented on a match, ‘ i haven’t seen this kind of a match in my entire lifetime’. And yes. All of a four year life time.

Where the dance of the cheer leaders is only matched by the beer belly of a certain Mr. Mallya,

where ‘square leg‘ has got nothing to do with anatomy or geometrical shapes. And ‘third man’ does not point to political machinations of cabinet formation.

Where the requirements of winning the cup ( with the history of the two tournaments thus far) are restricted to having an Australian captain pulled out from retirement and the team labeled ‘underdog’!

where the sulk of a certain Mr. Khan is best matched by bringing of the blog world more fame

huh !

What a waste of time. Thankfully, its over. The finals. As they say. And this circus top will fold up. And there are talks of one more season coming your way soon. Thankfully its all coming to an end.

And those soap operas on TV can resume again. Tomorrow strange family issues that would resurface. Stuff that was talked about just before the opening ceremony… And from tomorrow onwards, when the boss asks how was last night, remember he is talking about the meeting and not the match.

Our lives return to ‘normal’ status from tomorrow. Thank God this is all getting over. What madness. Huh.

By the way, did you see how Mathew Hayden batted ! Phew it was worth the Orange cap with a strike rate of 144. And i guess the purple cap will stay with RP. Singh. And if Chennai with +0.94 run rate are any way a better team. And man this Manish Pandey has been a discovery…

Any idea if the dates for the next series has been decided ? Just asking..

Just Miss !

Dear reader, now that you are on this site, please focus your vision on that writing above the number plate ! Please focus hard. Or you might just miss it !!

‘Just miss’ing it can give you a new meaning !

So, lets focus. On that backside !!! Of that lorry.

‘India is grate !’

It proclaims. And i have no reason to complain. It perhaps is such a representative statement of who we are. Where we are. The way in which our politics and business is shaping up, the common man experimentally takes to ‘g-r-a-t-i-n-g’.

“India is great” was perhaps appropriate in the olden times. We have evolved from great to grate. Quite a natural evolution. And as India continues to evolve, grate would also move on. Any suggestions for the future ?


Gyrate ?!?

Seems plausible !

Below, these two were clicked at a particular creative stall at the Kala Ghoda exhibition ! But i guess these have been recreations of real life spotting !

The first one announces a dhaba. I mean, at a dhaba there are toilets, but the main attraction of course is the food. I say no more.

And the second one, well, its Gold, silver and a certain alloy. Three distinctly separate words. I mean, there was no indication that this was to be read together and had to do about some medieval war costume. Or something like that. hmm. What say ?

And what happens when you combine two words. Of ‘tasty and pastry’ ! Well, you get ‘pasty’ ! As a distinct word. Isn’t it ?!? That’s my grand theory !

clicked in Mumbai. Feb ’09

Now, if you are thinking ‘libel’, i must tell you, that cakes are for the eating ! Indeed !

And one snap that i could not get but deserves mention. An ornately written banner. On a speeding lorry. As he cut lanes in front of me, and broke a signal and kept going.


I told myself. Yeah baby. Prise him ! Break the next signal too. And the next one too. Just don’t stop. Until you split him down the middle !