Category: Life

Indian Super Railways – that's what we need

There’s a dire need to upgrade and increase the capacity of the Indian Railways. When you look at the 6-lane, 4-lane and sometimes 2-lane highways in the US, you feel how could India have had something similar. We don’t need anything of that sort.

India’s answer to the US and European highways would be the Indian Railways. We don’t need to replicate what everyone is doing, we just need to have a way of our own to do it. Every Indian would use the Railways as efficiently as people use the roads or air travel elsewhere in the world. Instead of bailing out Air India, bloody shut it down and use all that money to make a new track between Delhi and Mumbai and Delhi and Calcutta. Just kill the Maharaja.

We have an excellent mesh of Railway network that just needs to be upgraded. There are hundreds of stations in just about an area of thousand kilometre square, which makes it the best point-to-point network that has ever been. More so, the Railways are an automatic way to reach from point A to point B, with minimum risk and fatigue. The advantages are way beyond what anyone could imagine. My point is, India needs a major infrastucture investment in the Railways and not the highways.

Consider this article from SCIAM. The article points to the fact that selfish drivers would do better in an environment of less convenience rather than in an environment that was better suited to their needs. The very fact that they tore down a highway between two points in Seoul and increased the traffic efficiency, is indicator enough of how things can churn out.

Consider the fact that India invests another hundred thousand crores on the highways. It would only add more pressure on the cities and that now the infrastructure is available, fuel prices would go up for want of use of the highways. Instead, let’s build more railway tracks. Here’s what we could do:

  • Build more railway tracks – upgrade two lane tracks to four lanes between major junctions
  • Upgrade all single tracks to a minimum of two lane tracks
  • Re-enforce all bridges along major railway tracks or build alternate bridge routes with hard deadlines
  • Increase the number of central stations that exist in a city – upgrade normal stations to central (or junction) status to de-pressurize the number of passenger boardings on central or city or junction stations
  • Increase the number of general class coaches to a minimum of 10 coaches in short distance trains and a minimum of 5 coaches in long distance trains. Right now, there are at most 3 general coaches in both long and short distance trains.
  • Reduce the number of classes – abolish coupe class, abolish AC first class, abolish First Class (2 tier sleeper)
  • Do away with Pantry cars and catering services – focus on what we have to do – travel.
  • Make mandatory electrified routes between all major stations: Delhi – Lucknow, Bangalore – Chennai, Mumbai – Pune (which doesn’t even have a train route yet), Bangalore – Hyderabad, Bhopal – Raipur, etc.
  • Ensure that if there are more than 36 (half of the number of berths in a Sleeper Coach) waitlisted passengers, then all of them should be guaranteed a seat with extra coaches being added to the train.
  • Run emergency trains to cater to any extra capacity required and increase the number of coaches/engines.
  • Introduce Ultra-super-fast trains for long distances that would run on dedicated tracks and stop only at junctions
    • Target run-time of such trains should be less than 24 hours. It is doable:
    • From Jammu to Kanya-Kumari, the distance is approximately 3500 Kms
    • If a train runs at an average speed of 180 Kmph (which is a doable speed on a new dedicated track), it can do the distance in 19.5 hours.
    • Add to that any extra time taken for boarding/stopping/cleaning etc. and you have another 4.5 hours.
    • If the train stops at 12 points for an average of 15 minutes at every point (which is extremely sufficient), it would have used only 3 hours out of those 4.5 hours.

There are a million other things to do. If even half of my above wishes see light, we would see a much better India in future.

What? Where?

One day, at Carl’s Jr.:

Me: One Veggie burger.
CounterGuy: What? Veggie burger?
Me: Yeah, the one you have listed there – see there.
CounterGuy: Where? (Comes out from the counter to try and see what I am seeing.)
Me: See, the 6th thing in the last column?
CounterGuy: No. I can’t see it. What is the 6th thing in the last column?
Me: What? Really, you can’t see a Veggie Burger below the Potato Wedges?
CounterGuy: No. I can’t see where you’re seeing Potato Wedges either. Are you sure?
Me: Can you see the last column called “Extras” at all?
CounterGuy: Yes, it has got Apple Pie, Crumbles…
Me: What? Where?
CounterGuy: Let’s drop this. There are no Veggie Burgers here.
Me: Can you just make me a Veggie Burger? Just “no meat”.
CounterGuy: If I could do that, why would I deny seeing that Veggie Burger below the Potato Wedges and above the Mash Dip at all?
Me: (Zapped)

It’s extremely difficult to get a Veggie Burger (of my expectations) at any of the fast food joints in California. The best Mc. Donalds did was, gave me a bun with cheese, lettuce and tomatoes in it. Of course, it was a Veggie Burger – “no meat”.

Ok to be gay, but the church says…

Who cares what the church says? The state should not be interfered by any religion. India is a secular country and nobody cares what they think inside the church. They can keep it to those who do not have any choice.

As India matures to yet another line of thought: NDTV reports on the issue. Article 377 is the extreme, there in the constitution to appease religous sentiments. Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism – the religions followed by the majority, do not have any firm lines of thought on homosexuality. Extremists and fascists from these groups might have strong thoughts, but they are not based on any proofs of banishment of homosexuality in any of these religions. Though it is for sure that the BJP would disagree on this, I for one, do not care about them when it comes to this. Both Christianity and Islam have strict opposition to any kind of homosexuality. Nobody cares.

This is most unfortunate that the Indian constitution is being affected by hypocritic ideologies. Statements from Church officials say, “We know and understand the need of someone to be homosexual. What we do not accept is that they have sex.” Hey Mr. Smart A**, if you could write down the spelling of homosexuality, you would understand that it does have the letters “s”, “e” and “x” in it (in that particular order). So go and dig deep somewhere.

For the most part, the problem is not the church. The problem is the other half of our society that is still bothering with control on individual preferences and does not have any inclination to fix other extremely basic problems (related to the mother and child).

Scrapping Article 377 would be yet another police reform and rid the police of any extra annoyances they had to worry about.

Fighting Kingfisher Airlines

Update (Jun 21, 2009): Not going to take this lying down, I registered a complaint with Kingfisher. They did not reply, so I have filed a complaint in the consumer forum furnishing them with all the details. I will supply them with all the receipts (along with the receipt and fee Delta charged me for the same kind of change on another ticket). The difference between the charged fees of Delta and KF is almost $200+. Let’s see.

Original Post (Jun 15, 2009)

While booking your air tickets – from any where to any where, never book through a search agent. Especially, when you’re flying between countries. Avoid Expedia at all costs – even if they give you a ticket for free.

Expedia makes Kingfisher book a Delta ticket on a Qantas-Air India quota.

If you can understand the statement above, then probably you should be awarded a doctorate in international Air ticketing. I spent a whole 8 hours (all night) calling up all of the airlines and Expedia to sort out a change. My blood pressure attained new highs that night and I invented 5 new ways to scold Airline ticketing agents.

My request was to change a Delta ticket from date X to date Y. It can never get any simpler than that. I had two tickets. For one of the tickets, Delta conveniently charged me an amount AA and changed the ticket. For the other ticket, they told me to call up Expedia. As I call up Expedia, they said they cannot change the ticket and I have to call up Kingfisher. On calling up KF, they said they can’t change the ticket and I have to call up Delta. I went into this circle over three times. Then I conferenced a call between KF and Expedia to sort out the matter. The Expedia agent conveniently pushed the ball into KF’s court, who in turn said that Delta has to change the ticket. Both the agents agreed and I was hung (because Delta was not in the conference call).

I called back Delta and told them. They were not very friendly this time and rudely told me to deal with the agents only. I tried one last time and conferenced a call between KF, Delta and Expedia. This time, Kingfisher agreed to change the ticket (they could have done this 6 hours earlier, right?). Both Expedia and Delta hung up from the conference. KF told me that the charges for changing the ticket would be twice AA (the Delta’s charges) plus some other fees. I had no recourse, so I went with it.

On the day of the flight, here’s what the Delta counter tells me at the Airport:

Sir, this ticket doesn’t look right. I think you have to pay another $$$ to actually generate the ticket. The reservation looks Ok, but the ticket ain’t there.

Kingfisher charged me more than double the amount to change a ticket and doesn’t pay Delta the change fee. Delta humiliates me and tells me that I have to re-pay an amount (albeit lower than what KF charged) that I have already paid – plus the premium charged by KF (for harassing me?). Delta finally told me that have my Credit Card information and in case KF doesn’t pay the money, they will directly charge me. At least they let me fly.

You decide if you want to fly Kingfisher or book through them next time. You also decide if you would do the same with Expedia. These guys have taken out the peace from me.

Hero In All Of Us

Bhagwad Gita knows that every man can be selfless, and to find that selfless being in yourself is the true aim of singular lives. To be selfless is to direct all our actions in a way such that we sacrifice anything that is for the greater good and not for a general personal achievement.

A selfless society can progress towards achieving a perfect balance and developments unknown of today. An example of selflessness is the nc6400 I am typing on. It has processing power and can do much more than I can myself. The fact that this laptop is selfless helps me and millions of others achieve a lot more in life – sometimes for the betterment of the entire universe. Could you imagine that all the people would become selfless and work only for the betterment?

“Whose doings are all devoid of design and desire for results (him the sages will call wise).” — Gita 4:19

The concepts in Gita are diluted with the injunction of God – or to speak of the interpretations therein. I agree and disagree with quotes and interpretations here. They’re intriguing as long as God is not introduced as a super-being everywhere and distinct from one’s self. May be Spiderman’s aunt May knows something that pieced together Gita for me. “I believe there’s a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble, and finally allows us to die with pride, even though sometimes we have to be steady, and give up the thing we want the most. Even our dreams…” – May Parker to Peter (Parker). To set things right with all of us, that is the prime thing we need to grow up with – regard ourselves as heroes with noble intentions and being selfless all the time.

I dreamt of Koopa Trooper, what does it mean?

That means that Luigi and Donkey Kong will come visiting you for some adult fun. And if you dreamt of Koopa in the Vanilla Lake, then most probably that also means that Yoshi will do something weird to you.

GIVE ME A BREAK! It really doesn’t mean any thing if you dream about any buckle. You can dream about graves, bananas, dead people coming alive, living people going dead, people getting AIDS, people getting cancer or spondalytis or people coming f**king any thing you like – it doesn’t mean any shit. Please – actual dreams, and I mean when your brain really shows you stuff you’ve never seen – are nothing. Please do not try to interpret your dreams, they really will take you no where.

On the other hand, worst nightmares come true mostly when you repeat them verbally over and again after you’ve seen them just once. So please don’t make your life hard and just enjoy the free shows at night (playing inside your own self).

Ultimate Altima

AltimaWell, a Nissan Altima is not the only thing in life – but this car is just so great that it doesn’t hurt to write a few things about it.

It is a hot cake right now and you can see an Altima more often on the roads  – whenever you see a new car. The transmission is just amazing and has given me about 30 mpg until now. I guess that’s extremely nice considering the spread of speeds I cruise on (from 20 to 65 mph). The best thing is that both the cooler and heater take only about 20 seconds to set the temp right  – really!

Tons of features, things I haven’t even checked out completely yet. I feel so overwhelmed with technology for the first time in life!

I was up for a Pontiac (G5) – somehow it didn’t quite turn right and this was what I chose. I am glad I did.

Frisky

Quite a while back, both Soni and I were getting back home from a dining out. Just as I took the final turn towards home, Soni shrieked out seeing a kitten on the road – which would have been under our vehicle if it weren’t for the alert. That 20cm/10cm thing was drinking water from a pothole on the road. Taking pity, we picked her up and carried back home.

I am not very keen on cats around. After a sip of water and milk with lots of cuddling around, I sternly ordered for its removal. Emotions ran high. Much debate later, I filled in for the kitten’s mother who would be searching for her and it would be really necessary to put her right back in where she came from.

The three of us went back around the corner of the road – all quiet with nobody around. An apartment stands right across the road where Frisky was found (the kitten got a name by then). Pushing Frisky behind the gates of the apartment, we started walking back. A “meow” from her felt like ‘thanks’ to me. As we turned heads to acknowledge, there was shock and terror!

Two dogs rushing towards Frisky from far across while the ignorant thing was wandering out of the gate. A rush of adrenalin got Soni all the power to reach Frisky before those dogs. Street dogs are pretty infamous for what they’ve done often in Bangalore, and this would have been yet another slaughter. Those dogs had surrounded a Soni with Frisky while I rushed to pick up a stone and hurl at those bast****. I hit one, and the cowards they are, both of them ran. But they kept on howling as every other dog of the area got on track. Thus began my first real life Super Mario reach-home-safe-with-the-kitten stage. I picked up as many stones as possible and Soni kept Frisky cuddled up in her arms.

Barking dogs were all around us. I kept on sermonizing, “Don’t run, keep walking straight. Don’t look them in the eye, look straight.” Until that day, dogs were my favorite animals. Status change – not anymore, and my hate for them increased with every dog crossed. The final stage arrived. A big beast ahead had gathered all the courage and grouped two more of its kind, waiting for us to come up. I had only a few stones and if I missed, they would pounce on us and the pack would have a Frisky meal.

Life is a game. All games have special powers. Ours arrived in the form of two men who realized what we were doing. They ran behind the dogs, distracted them and broke the pack. I took a shot at one of these dogs and hit (generally I couldn’t have)! That was it, the squeal was music to our ears and a psychological nuclear attack on every other dog around. The track was all clear and I used a loud “Thank you!” for the special powers.

Always remember, dogs are strong only in packs. When you see a pack, stay clear or try and break it (if you can). Also, there is no way you should stare at a dog unknown to you. They really hate it. Friendly or known dogs will never look in your eye though.

Frisky was home. The rest of the night went by in a lot of cuddling. She peculiarly ran all around the house and followed Soni everywhere. Though I felt for her, I still couldn’t get my acceptance levels up for cats. So I wanted to fix it somewhere. I took out an old TV carton and put Frisky into it. She did meow for a while, but would have gone to sleep later.

Next day, there was a lot of research done on what cats like, dislike and how to groom them etc. But I, researched for just one thing, an animal shelter. I found out one (further ahead from Mekhri Circle) and called them up. They asked how old the kitten was. Disregarding the questionnaire, I convinced them that she was supposed to be with them and not with me.

Back at home, Frisky was being dried up in the sun. Apparently, Soni thought that the little one was very dirty, so bathed her. Pretty well done, but Frisky wasn’t pleased – no meowing or eating anything. Especially, if it came from Soni. As I put my head into the TV carton, a meow came out. Soni shrieked with joy and laughed heartily. We enjoyed the anger we saw and I was quite amazed to see such reactions.

Cats do not like to be washed up often. For that matter, both dogs and cats are given a bath at most once a week.

Frisky had quickly become a pet. Soni had made up her mind to keep her in. It wasn’t to be – and though there was a lot of resistance in the air, we drove to the shelter and let Frisky join a lot of other cats. Once inside her new home, she quickly forgot about us and got engaged with the others. Once again, emotions ran high and Soni kept on cuddling with Frisky in her thoughts. It was a nice experience, especially the running behind I saw on a night and then the “not-talking-to-you” the next morning (because of that water drill)!