Monday, June 25, 2012

A realization

Pustakastha tu ya Vidya
Parahasta Gatam Dhanam
Karyakaale Samutpanne
Na Saa Vidya Na tat Dhanam

Knowledge that exists in a book and money that is in another's hands
Is not knowledge nor money - cos when you need it its not there!

So true! Damn you Sanskrit Pundits for such foresight! :-(

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Urbanization or reverse ruralization?

"The soul of India lives in its villages" goes a famous saying by Mahatma Gandhi. He was a champion of village development, and believed that India would progress only if its villages progressed. Nehru on the other hand was of the view that urbanization and rapid industrialization alone would carry the nation forward.
Innumerable debates rage about the benefits of either model. If one were to crudely generalize, politicians tend to prefer village areas, and the so called "air conditioned room arm chair specialists" prefer urbanization. There is even a book called "Triumph of the City" which champions urbanization. Before reading the book, I too loved and dreamed to the "suburbian" lifestyle. Big sprawling house with a drive down to a less congested city centre. This vision satisfied both my aesthetic and my environmentally conscious mind; but after reading the book I found that there was nothing environmentally friendly about the "suburbian" lifestyle. More on this book in another post.
One interesting trend that has emerged from the rapid construction boom in all cities is the extent to which the apartment complexes have spread to the far outskirts. Most of these areas used to fall outside the municipal limits of the "original" city. Once a upon a time you would have classified them as "rural" areas.
So, would you define the process as urbanization of the rural areas or a return to ruralization for the urban dweller? Keep in mind that we are just dealing with semantics here. True re-ruralization would actuslly mean one getting back to agriculture/animal husbandry etc and living like a true villager - a simple life without malls/24 hour electricity (wherever it exists) :-)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The vagaries of Meru Cabs - or radio cabs in general (in Mumbai ONLY)

When radio cabs (the likes of Meru, Mega, Easy) were launched a few years ago, it promised a brand new revolution - the revolution of clean taxis, courteous drivers who were on time where you wanted them to come, honest billing - in general a hassle free ride of course for a slightly greater charge.
These radio cabs were dreaded by the normal black and yellow taxis - there were stray incidents of violence and the like, proving the adage that if people are abusing you, you must be doing something good!
Then - the slide started. Was it the rising demand encouraged by efficient services not being met due to an old licensing procedure of the state? Was it the unionization of the driving pool? Was it the general hubris that sets in when the going is good?
It could be any of them - whats more puzzling is that I have heard cases of all the companies failing to pick up the customer after confirming a booking. It's as if all of them sat together and decided "OK, time to screw the customer!".

OR MORE SINISTER MOTIVES - The black and white cabbies have infiltrated the radio cab ranks and are deliberately under(non) - performing to bring them a bad name. Sounds good for a spy movie, but not for this blog :)

I absolutely have no issues if a cab company tells me when I call that they do not have cabs available. But what irks and angers me is when I am given the details of the driver only to find that he doesn't turn up; or if the company unilaterally cancels the request a little while before the alloted time!

The ultimate height (or nadir) in this case was a couple of weeks back when I had booked a cab to go somewhere. As usual, things were confirmed and we had planned our schedule accordingly. 15 minutes before pickup I start calling the driver and there was no response. I finally had to give up after 1/2 an hour and find alternate means of traveling. Luckily, this is Bombay and there was no problem finding an alternative!

Sometime in the afternoon the driver called me and said that he was extremely sorry, he had gone to sleep; please don't complain etc.

Sure dude, I won't complain, but reject the pick-up broadcast if you are really tired; atleast someone who could have come will certainly benefit.

But again, some things will never change!