September 18, 2011

एक बेरोजगार की आह...

क्यूँ पूछते हो मुझसे तुम ?
वही सवाल बार बार

बस थोडा थक गया हूँ,
नहीं मानी है पूरी हार

कल तक कहा 'चैम्प' मुझे

अब कहते हो,हूँ मैं बेकार

अब तकल्लुफ बस करो,
मत पूछो ये मुझसे यार

लो मैं ये खुद कहता हूँ,
हाँ ! हाँ ! हूँ मैं 'बेरोज़गार'.

--कात्यायन पाण्डेय "घायल"

September 17, 2011

The DTC Chronicles

Bus conductor and commuters
अंकल एक 10 की देना...
A few months ago I wrote about That Elusive (Bus) Seat highlighting how difficult it is to get into a bus in New Delhi and get a seat inside it, while talking about time tested strategies that I use to (hopefully) get one. Well, since then I have traveled a lot more and experienced a lot of other things about Delhi Transport Corporation.

Bus Pass
Till now I have been travelling in highly subsidized student bus pass. ROI time period was just 4 days and hence the rest of the month it felt like I was travelling for free! Of course, student bus pass don't work in the new AC buses. And I felt like whenever I needed a bus I could always find the Red one but not the Green one.

So, as soon as the student bus pass period ended, I started buying the daily citizen AC passes. Now, as usually it happens, only the green ones are available in the nick of time.

Over (the top) Crowding
Try travelling in a crowded Delhi bus. It really is an adventure to get mobbed! And that is why I travel backwards to get a seat. And when you get a seat it is really interesting to see how scores after scores of 'junta' would get inside the bus (interestingly seldom does anyone board out!). Just when you think that even a single person can't enter now, the conductor with his excellent crowd management would make way for 10 more! And this is where I learnt about the excellent flexibility of human body and nature :)

Smart travelers
A common DTC traveler has really become smart. He won't get up from his seat to buy the ticket/pass but just pass the money to others. One time, I waited 5 mins for somebody to go to conductor to buy his/her ticket. When no one got up, I had to do the job. To my surprise immediately at least 3 more people gave me the money to buy the ticket! And thanks to overcrowding, I spent literally half of my (50 mins) travelling time buying tickets/passes for others.

I also noticed something interesting. When you travel at night, people would come up to you and offer their passes to you, so that you can travel for free! I know it is illegal but good to see that Delhi people want to help each other.

You would think that AC buses would be empty or at least less crowded due to their higher fare slab. But the scorching Delhi heat and non existent standard buses have made sure that Red buses are as crowded as the green ones (thus negating any advantage you get by paying extra price).

"But at least you get to travel in AC?", you may say. Well try travelling in one during a summer afternoon. At least 2 times I have sweated inside those buses! You won't realise them to be AC until you are sitting just below the machine openings. I have wondered if they work on alternative sources like solar energy or DC-battery operated.

DTC conductors
When I wrote about Bluelines, I gave a special mention to their conductors. Well, DTC ones are no better. Many of them would enter the buses only when the bus is about to leave from it's starting point. What that means is that the everybody would surround him and haggle for ticket for the next half an hour. One time I noticed a conductor giving tickets/passes non-stop for 37 minutes without pausing for even a few seconds!

Recently I noticed a few lady conductors inside DTC buses. Now, I don't know if they really required the job or just wanted to prove to that they are not behind men in any field, or it's a new scheme of Delhi Govt. giving reservation to women in DTC. Anyways, it was good to see that 'junta' behaves properly with them.

And this is not it, there are a number of other instances where you are left wondering if it would be better to have your own vehicle (for the record, I am a fierce advocate of public transport). One thing is certain that buses running on Delhi roads are not enough. And while Delhi govt. is trying to improve the situation (recently it started its first private cluster in Central Delhi) but I still think I was right when I said that Blueline buses shouldn't have exited prematurely.

September 11, 2011

9/11 Promises: Review

Today is 9/11 yet again and it will be gross injustice to the previous 9/11 post if I don't review it today.

1. Weight 60+ Kgs: I tried for sometime but then just left it. I feel hopeless in this department. I don't even want to talk about it now. Let's move.

2. Promises be kept: In retrospect, I think this was a really vague promise I made. Because there just wasn't any set criteria for what will be considered as a promise, since I seldom use the word "I promise to...". Having said that, I think I did pretty good in the last one year, but still couldn't do a few things I "promised" to do (like meeting after promising!). Promising to keep up the promise all the time is insanely hard. I think it is better to be really careful while making promises.

3. Don't wait to be late: This was once again a disaster. I thought I was late even more times in the last one year than any other year. Total fail.

4. Concentrate to Meditate / Meditate to Concentrate: Tried out a lot of techniques of meditation, including guided meditation, meditation while lying down or walking, meditation while running or even while doing a task. And did get partial success. But still a proper 15-20 mins of meditation everyday is not in my success resume right now.

5. Either be one or forget it: I started revising my programming skills about 3 months back and have been doing regular (though not extreme) programming everyday for last 30 days or so. Not a success yet, but I think I have just made a good start.

6. buzzRSH > 50 posts: Now this is prime reason that I am writing this review :) Full success! (though it came dangerously close to being another failure.

7. It's a funny issue: I think I have done some good progress in this department (though friends will be able to tell better). I have moved on from the sad & painful period, and while set backs still come in life, I think I am getting better at handling them. What's amusing is that some of the issues that were causing discomfort turned out to be a non-issue later on! So, it's funny to say but I am happy :) Don't believe me? Read this!

8. Learn/Do something new: I started learning GIMP sometime ago and I made some good progress in that department. I also shared my progress (secretly!) with a selective few friends. I have also been trying to learn to sleep early and I am proud to say that for about 1 month I slept on or before 9.30 pm and around 10 pm for the past 2 months! Unfortunately, the Anna movement has disrupted the schedule and now will have to build it all over again. But now, I know I can sleep early!

9. Stop being afraid: Again it was a bit vague promise. I think I meant to say as to take far more initiatives, which, I did I would argue. So it was a fairly successful promise.

I made 2 more promises more for others (read family/friends) than for me (and also because 9 + 2 = 11 :) 

10. Get (a) mobile: I tried mates, but like a girlfriend, I think mobiles are not made for me (or the other way around?). The thing is that I really don't feel a need to keep mobiles, they just irritate me. I don't think, I will "never" get a mobile. But when exactly, I can't and won't promise (again). But to compensate for that I did something else "just for friends" (you know what I mean ;)

11. Get employed: I did complete this promise and though I could have done a better (or say smarter) job while getting a job, I am content with what I achieved, for now.

As I said when I started, I wasn't sure of completing even one of these. But I did do a few of them and I am proud of the fact. But, I also found out that I kept slacking initially and the real efforts came only in the last 3 months or so. So, I think instead of giving a list of virtually a new year resolutions, it's better to make just ONE promise and try and complete that before making another.

With that in mind, I will try and learn meditation now and get regular in this skill by the end of this year.

September 10, 2011

AnOSM Blog Story: After One Year

Story behind this blog is a long one and I would try to keep it short, just giving the relevant details and cutting off the fluff (and putting in the facts to the best of my memory).

This all started during the January of 2007. I was preparing for my engineering entrances. Around that time I got my hands on a short book about blogging. I knew just a little bit about blogs, then. I read the book from cover to cover and after reading it, I knew I wanted to have a blog of my own, one day.

But the problem was that I didn't have an Internet connection at home (broadband was just getting popular). And I wanted to have only good comprehensive researched articles on my blog (which, now I know, nobody reads!). And I wanted to have a regular set of readers who would expect consistency. I did make an account on Blogger and reserve a domain, played a little bit with the layout and so on. I also wrote 2-3 lines on the blog, promising to come back and write more but that never really came.

Then I got admission in college and other things took importance, one of my friends by that time had started his own blog and I always encouraged him to write more & more and better & better; because in a way I used to imagine, someday my blog also getting the similar kinds of reactions. In fact, whenever I came to know about any blog of my friends, I have made it a point to actually read it and comment. By doing that I was creating a ready-made followers for my own blog, without even starting it yet! (But my comments were and will always be genuine :).

Then during the winters of 2007-2008, I said "what the heck, let me start the blog, if it fails, then so be it". So, I wrote an article on the ongoing India-Australia test series (Cricket is one of the easiest topic an Indian can get to blog on!). But I never really got to publishing that one (again not having a net connection was the reason and pen drives weren't fully popular by then, so transferring data was also a pain).

So, again it went into a cold bag. Now, there is nothing more stressing than a work half done. While I got busy clearing the semesters, the thought of making the blog always remained buried inside. During the start of 2010 when I finally got an Internet connection, it was a perfect opportunity to start the blog, so I did go around in reserving a domain again and writing a short blog post.

But again there was this flaw in thinking, that my blog posts should be large and comprehensive to be taken seriously. So, once again I couldn't go beyond the first post (which was just an introduction and nothing else).

During the summer-break of 2010, I came up with another idea (I am usually good in devising ideas, it's the implementation that's mainly the problem :). The plan was that instead of writing a blog, why not go short and start a mini-blog of sort. So, I wrote this post to 8 of my closest friends. And after a writer's block of 1-2 weeks it finally started!

Writing blogs also follows the principle of inertia. When you haven't written for a long time, it is just kind of hard to start again. But once you somehow start writing (and posting) and getting encouraging responses, you are on a roll, and you start to crank up posts after posts. If you check out the archives section and see the the dates of my blog posts, you will see that my writing was stuck at least 2-3 times, but there have also been time, where I posted 2-3 times per week.

But persistence is the key. I persisted while facing difficulties and here we are! This blog is over one year old! Today I have a full fledged blog with over 50 posts and set of low numbered but consistent readers (friends :)! Hopefully, in next one year we will make it even bigger & better :)

September 06, 2011

Reserved Thoughts

So much has been said and acted upon reservation that it seems nothing else is left to be said or done. And yet, every year the same question arises again. I always wanted to say something of my own on this flaming topic. I know, a lot of people might not agree with what I say but what needs to be said, needs to be said.

I am from General Category. Which means I have never "enjoyed" reservation of any kind. And that leads to frustration; when you see other "less capable" students reaching where you want to reach. And in reality it doesn't serve any one, since those who eventually get admission also quickly realize that it they shouldn't have!

It is frustrating to see everyone and their dog enjoying reservation these days. Reservation for SC, ST, OBC categories, reservation for migrants, reservation for minorities of all kind, reservation for girls, reservation for handicapped, state quota, foreign quota, management quota, EWS quota... There are so many kinds of horizontal and vertical reservation that I believe General category students should also get a special reservation of their own! Don't get me wrong, I fully support some of these reservations. And had I been getting benefits of reservation somewhere, who knows I might have been supporting all kinds of reservations!

Having said that, I think if reservation has been granted after all, then it is idiotic not to take it. I see scores of seats go empty every year in college since there are no eligible students in the reserved category for them. I see women travel standing in the buses because some lazy ass men have occupied their reserved seats, and they are too chicken to ask for their own right.

Reservation in a way has been good for me too. Some of my bestest friends come from reserved category whom I might have not met if they weren't from their respective categories. Of course, counter arguments can be given that one is bound to find good friends wherever one goes, but as I look back, I am not ready to trade them with any one else.

I think reservation per se is not the main problem. For me the lack of sufficient resources is. Even if you abolish reservation fully, the cut throat competition will still exist. So until and unless we can generate enough resources the headache is not going anywhere. Think about it, if 120 students are sitting in an exam for 100 seats, do they really need reservation?

India's really crowded!
Tell me who among them needs/deserve reservation and who doesn't.
And the biggest malaise for reservation is not the reservation itself. It's the ill thoughts attached with reservation. Personally for me, caste is nothing to be talked about (just like religion). But, reserved category students are still thought of as "lower caste". Casteism is still strongly prevalent in educational structure (which is ironic, since main aim of education is to free us of this third world thinking). People instead of working hard to grab the opportunities are doing everything in their power to either get or stop reservation, which brings further hatred towards each other.

I think to an extent reservation is still needed. And in some cases (PH) it will always be needed. But it's important to not take it for granted. People who need reservation must be given, but it should also be taken promptly from those who don't need them any more without caring for vote bank/protest. Children need to be taught of value of hard-work rather than short-cut. "Quota to hai hi!" thinking must go, for good!

So, what's your own thinking about Reservation? Please let me know in the comment section. (please keep your reservation status away while giving your views!).

September 05, 2011

You "Mean" Teachers...

When I was in 2nd standard, I had a nexus with 2-3 kids; we used to sit close to each other during tests  and cheat from each other. As the time went on, I became better and better as a student but my cheating powers kept on diminishing. In fact, I became so bad in copying, that I have been caught 'cheating' even when I wasn't! And as one can imagine, a lot of my friends have also suffered due to this 'inability' of mine. Sometimes, they used to feel guilty that I was caught helping them cheat (but invigilator always thought it was me  :-/) while other times they would make me feel guilty saying they failed only because I couldn't help them cheat (:O).

Anyways, now that you know I am a path3tic cheater, we can move on to the actual topic for today, shall we!!

Last year, on our Teachers' Day I wrote a post about the teachers I have encountered in my life. I didn't tell you about my social science teacher in 3rd standard. After 2nd class, we got reshuffled in different sections and hence my nexus of cheaters was broken. So, now I was alone in this big cruel world of cheating (believe me this post is not about cheating!). I had never cheated alone, so it was bound to hit back. So, in a simple Social Science test, instead of learning, I preferred to write the answers at the same place of test notebook where I was supposed to give the test. The next day teacher caught me (again with my bad luck with cheating, it wasn't cheating that made her caught me) and then I was beaten with wood stick; so badly that my left ankle was bruised for 2 days.

As I grew up I got better in studies. I being an innocent child, used to think that the teacher by beating me, had changed my life, since I was never inclined to cheat in exams ever again. It's only in the last few years that I have realized that I am what I am NOT because of that stupid incident but because of the good things that happened to me later and I would have remained the same sans that incident.

And that's the whole point of writing this post. I am sure you would have been beaten by teachers as well. But today, think about how many times it was justified. I mean yes, I deserved punishment sometimes (I once tried to copy my teacher's signature on some 'late' work which in fact she was still to check, so I got slapped). But other times it was just plain cruelty (keeping the hands up for 1.5 hours in 4th standard, causing me to cry in pain for the whole next period, just because I didn't bring a freaking notebook).

I won't say that students should be given a free run, some form of restraint is definitely necessary (seeing the new generation and their behavior I think it is even compulsory). But I don't think kids in lower standards deserve such treatment. You must have heard horror stories of how the students got fractured or went into coma, or even died because of cruelty from their teachers. Well, believe me a lot of these incidents go unreported (because kids, like me, think that it was 'their fault'). I have experienced teachers punishing students by making the issues too personal (they won't teach until student X gets out of class).

I am not writing this to bash the teachers. I really respect some of the teachers that taught me, and I know even if they punished me it was for my own good (no, Not that 3rd standard teacher; she once slapped me because I entered her class 10 seconds after her). But they commanded so much respect that thought of letting them down was the biggest motivator for me.

Govt. and courts are doing there bit in making this physical punishment a crime. I hope we as a society also wake up and take notice of this issue. Here is wishing for better disciplined but pain free future for the small kids studying in schools right now (including my little brother).

And for my 3rd grade teacher, Mam I dedicate this to you...

Happy Teachers Day everyone!