Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Monsters Inc

Growing up under the tutelage of a person who used to think that a 110 km daily drive to work was a walk in the park is bound to have its ill-effects on one’s persona. My dad used to drive a lot and I guess I got bitten by the driving bug when I used to sit in his lap and pretend to drive or while watching car-centric movies like the Herbie series or the Italian job.

Old granny tales on the subject of driving always tell to be alert of those truck drivers. They are made out to be the brutes of the Indian roads with an attitude that the devil would be proud of. The reputation of being perennially being in a state of stupor and always being on the lookout for lesser-endowed vehicles to bully off the road is the stuff that legends are made of. So when I did learn to drive, I was always careful to avoid these on-road t-rexes who have the capability to chew you up and spit you out by the side of the road with the ease of a rottweiler snacking on his new bone. To my surprise, I never found these unsavory vehicles around as my driving was restricted to within the city and 5 years went by. And then I acquired a vehicle and locations outside of a 100 km radius became quite within striking range. With the wife in tow, I planned excursions to such places typically over the weekend so that I don’t feel the pinch of the drive.

To my complete dismay, one of the greatest legends ever turned out to be a hoax, the dampest of squibs that you can ever dream of. THAT truck which was supposed to behave in the most radical of manners while on the road turned out to be the best behaved and most docile citizen of the roads. By that truck I mean almost every truck on the road was typical in its behavior. Sticking to a lane, driving at a consistent speed, driving in a straight line (ergo I can infer that the person at the steering wheel was seeing the road as well as I was), putting up the right hand signals when required, letting me overtake them, and aiding the overtaking process by actually helping me to overtake safely.

This strange observation then struck me with the observation that the monster of the roads is a shape shifter that has since morphed into another form and to my utter dismay, I found that it was my species that is the current monster on the road. The 4 wheeler driven by the yuppie, the father with his family on board, the college kid with his friends in tow, the out of town businessman who took the car instead of the bus, the holiday makers who escape from the from city over the weekends. Powerful vehicles that have the same nature as the gun in Russian roulette, capable of hurting the person wielding it when least expected.

These cars zip along the highways, jousting for space, trying to get ahead at all costs and without much concern about good driving practices. I spotted one such car (a hired one) who was barely a few inches from my rear bumper and honking trying to get me to move out of his though he could see that I myself had a truck in front but unlike him (he was almost in my car), I had 5 meters of space between. “What a colossal waste of real estate!” had to be the only thought in his head as he tried his best to shove me out of the way in his bid to get ahead. I let him pass but the sneaky devil that I am, I took up position behind him and paid him back in kind. I think I managed to get some sense into at least one person as he then let off trying to get past the vehicle in front and did drive like a sane person for 15 minutes, after which he pulled over at a restaurant. That left me and the same truck and to my utter surprise all it took was a simple flashing of the head lights and the truck driver let me sail past him.

Small things do make a big difference.
(end rave and rant)

Friday, June 1, 2007

Over the weekend - 2

Imagine actually experiencing that proverbial "breath of fresh air" and realising that it feels exactly like how you had experienced it in your mind. There is this playful breeze that runs around the estate and keeps coming at you as though it knows that you are there to enjoy the feeling of the air on your face, as though it knows that these are things that you will truly appreciate as you are one of those who dying for a lungful of the crisp mountain air.

Imagine that all that you can see is hedged-in fields that have been ploughed and which await the first showers of the monsoon and you wait for first drops of rain to fall with the same enthusiasm of a 4 year old who has seen his first rains and has had to wait for a full year for the second one. Imagine wishing for the rains to come down just to have the smell of the earth after the first rains fill up the place around you for hours together.

Imagine walking in these fields and forests barefoot, and feeling the cold earth from the banks of a river between your toes. You feel the squishy mud underfoot and expect it to be slimy and slippery but it affords considerable grip to you bare feet much to your surprise. You walk thru the mud and twisted grass and come across the foot prints (and dung) of an elephant that seems fresh to your untrained eyes only for your escort to tell you that these are half a day old.

Imagine no television and none on the mundane news channels or the ultra-soapy soaps that channels insist on foisting on our senses. Suddenly you realize that you have so much time on your hands that a normal 24-hour day seems to be twice as long and you have all the time in the world to go for walks, to stop and smell the flowers, to just sit and stare into the distance with no thought process cranking away at the back of you head. It almost like you have an agreement with time for 24 hours where you are at the receiving end of the bargain.

Imagine, no faces other than the ones that you want to see; a bunch of people who seem appear out of nowhere when you want something and just seem to melt away into the foliage when they are done with their tasks. A welcome change from the congested and crushed daily lives that we live in the cities without any space to even stroll at night without one of those pesky call centre vehicles or those obnoxious autos honking just to announce their presence.

Imagine you are a dog lover who petted every stray and waif in your locality but could never get a dog of your own and you suddenly have access to not one but 4 dogs and one of them is an absolutely adorable spaniel who will flop down by your side with his cute little moist nose on your leg and just expect to be petted for the only reason that he likes it. He will nudge you if you stop and believe you me when i say that those eyes can talk and express contentment like no human can. I say this to anyone who says that spoken language is a need for communication, just look into the eyes of any animal (man discounted) and you will see an emotion, the likes of which you might have never ever seen before and may never see again.

Imagine your surprise when you realize that this estate in a land far far away is much much more environmentally friendly than you ever imagined (yourself) to be. Bio-gas fuel for cooking, management of bio-degradable waste and a mini sewage management unit, which actually cuts out the crap :-) and then sends the water to do better things than ending up in a drain that leads to nowhere!

I did all things and much more at this place called Swarga in Sakleshpur and enjoyed every single moment of it.

Next post: The driving experience.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Over the weekend

So....finding a good starting point for my first post has been the second biggest hurdle for me. The first one was setting up the blog (obviously). But after 3 simple steps, i was already over the first hurdle but the second hurdle was much more trickier than i thought. Once i started to write, i got the distinct impression that the language was more like a "user story"....(ok...I am a analyst and talk to customers to get their requirements). Did a Control-A + Del and then started from scratch and the second attempt was a little better than the first one. I guess i will get better from here on. The thing that still nags me is that the blog title i chose is "Random Raves and Rants" and i have not raved or ranted about anything yet.

So i can now assuage myself by taking the stand that this is after all my first post and i can actually live up to the blog's name in the next post. But then the truth dawned that even the first post is doing nothing more specific than to take up electronic real estate and i felt that good old bad feeling surfacing again. A quick shake of the head and I move the mouse over the Publish Post button and realize that my grammar in the post is definitely something that my old grammar teacher will not approve of.

one last thing was to savor the good feeling of finally starting a blog. The only worry is to keep at it.....where is that button when i want to use it.....