Friday, 26 September 2008

Language Treat

Owing to long hours spent travelling, usually I sleep off in the cab. For a change, I was looking out from the window of my cab and observing things the other day. I was just observing sign boards and advertising slogans and wondering how funny language usage can be at times. :-)

We provide sand, cement, jelly, wood, iron bars, paints, stones, bricks, tiles, etc and also house construction materials... Said one board. So what are sand, cement bricks, etc? Are they not construction materials? :-)

"We oppose metro train coming on MKK road" read one sign. How can a train come on road? It needs tracks right? What they meant was obvious but I could not help smiling :-)

"Madyapaana Maadi"
"Vaahana Chalisa Bedi"
This is the bangalore traffic cops' kannada style of asking us not to drink and drive. But the literal translation is quite funny. The first sentence means - go ahead and have intoxicating drinks. The second asks you not to drive. Isnt it funny they ask people to drink as much as they can and enjoy? No wonder bangalore is India's liquor capital. Whats life without a royal challenge? Right Mr. Mallya? :-)

"Karnataka Super Garage"
Punkchar done here
Dont mind the bad english, but dont we have enough obstacles on the roads that puncture our vehicle tires? Do we need a separate shop for that? :-)

"Fabrication, bending and sizing of home GIRLS" said a board- good heavens! What did they mean by that? I looked at this far-off board carefully. It was home grills and not girls. Maybe my pun hunting mind was working extra time to get such things that it immediately read grills as girls :-)

The best of them all was in front of a furniture shop. It read:
Sheela' s interiors and home furnitures
No comments on this! Maybe its the word 'interiors' that was misplaced :-)

After all these sign reading. I went to a restaurant the other day and was scanning their menu. The chinese section had vegetable fried rice, paneer fried rice, baby corn fried rice, chicken fried rice and finally a beijing fried rice- if veg fried rice is made from vegetables, and chicken fried rice is prepared using chicken, what is beijing fried rice prepared from? :-)

While i was thinking of putting all these thoughts into a post, i got a nice forward from one of my friends. I thought i will post it here. How is it?

So i guess i have mentioned all the wierd signs and boards that i have come across these days. I remembered a phrase we were using during our school days- when one of our friends had his birthday, he used to say , "It is my happy birthday today!" We all used to wait eagerly for sweets then. It is after going to high school that we realised the mistake in sayin that phrase. Anyway the phrase is still considered cute and I dont mind using it even now. Even today I could use, "Today is my happy birthday" and it still would not be a mistake. Right? :-)

Monday, 15 September 2008

Living after death (part 3 of 3)

[.....continued from part 2]
Read part 1 of this article here and part 2 here

So who is this person who has done so much for the nation that not a day passes without remembering him?

He is none other than "Bharath Rathna" Sir M Visvesvarayya or Sir M V - the most famous engineer India has ever produced. You can spell his name in different ways, Vishweshwariah, Visweswaraiah, etc and each of those spelling can have tens of his achievements listed and still the list would not be complete - he was such a great and prolific engineer.

Born into total poverty and deprived of facilities that we today take for granted, Sir M V's journey from being an ordinary school going village boy to achieving the highest civilian awards of the country, is one that is awe-inspiring and worth emulating.

Sir M V lost his father at a very young age but he was very determined to do well in studies. With no money to pursue this dream, he became a tutor for some rich students and funded himself. He was very disciplined and hardworking and naturally, he topped high school and the Bachelors degree at Madras University. Then he joined the College of Engineering at Pune as a Civil engineering student and graduated as an engineer topping in that too and winning a gold medal. He began his career as an engineer with the Bombay government.

His plan for controlling the flooding waters of river Moosa at Hyderabad earned him great laurels and recognition. He was called upon to construct many a dams, reservoirs, irrigation and water supply canals all of which he did with unmatchable efficiency and brilliance. His innovating skills were at their best when he designed and patented a system of automatic weir water floodgates at Khadakvasla near Pune. The world famous Brindavan gardens and the KRS at Mysore are his master-piece!

Recognizing his statesmanship, the Wodeyar of Mysore appointed him as the Dewan of Mysore - equivalent to the chief minister these days. As the Dewan, Sir M V was instrumental in the scientific and industrial advancement of the state. He rescued and resurrected the Bhadravathi Iron and Steel works limited from bankruptcy, making a profit of 2 lakh rupees - a very huge sum those days. The profit from these was used to start many schools, educational institutes, colleges and job centers. He set-up the Mysore university, SJP polytechnic institute at Bangalore and the nation's first private engineering college in the year 1917 - the University Visvesvarya College of Engineering (U V C E) which functions even to this day. He promoted education for everyone, including girls, and set up Degree College at Maharani's, Mysore. He also established the Kannada Sahitya Parishad (Kannada Literary Academy). Sensing the growing needs of the finance sector, he started the Mysore Bank which runs even today as the State Bank of Mysore. Even one of these achievements are enough for someone to be remembered long. But Sir M V did all of these and even more.

Today Bangalore is the hub of industrial and technological progress in India. It has grown to be the silicon valley of India with every major IT/Telecommunication company of the world having its office here. It is also a centre for research and defense establishments. It has grown tremendously in aerospace and heavy machine tools sector. Each of these are largely due to the efforts of two people - Dewan K Sheshadri Iyer, the administrator and Sir M V, the Engineer. It was their statesmanship and the ability to see beyond their lifetimes that has helped the progress of our state. Asia's first hydroelectric power project was started at Shivanasamudra in the year 1894 by Sir M V and Bangalore became the first India city to get electricity in the year 1917. It was instrumental in making the city a technology hub many years after his death.

Even with so much political power with him, Sir M V never mis-used it. When he was appointed the Dewan, he called up all his relatives and said that he would accept the post on the condition that no one asked for favors from him! How many of today's politicians would do that ? Once, while he was the chief engineer of Mysore, his uncle asked him to use his powers and give him a promotion. Sir M V did not promote him but ended up paying the extra money to his uncle every month from his own salary.

Yesterday when in cab I saw a huge poster which said some youth association was celebrating the 25th year of public Ganesh Utsav. There were huge larger than life cutouts of politicians who looked like rowdies and a very small picture of the lord Ganesh himself. It made me feel sick immediately by thinking how much these people go in projecting themselves. Very much unlike them, Sir M V led a simple and humble life. He was never interested in medals or laurels. But his deeds were such that medals came looking for him - he was awarded the honorary doctorate from almost all Indian universities. The British awarded him the knighthood and the Indian government - the Bharath Ratna award.

Today is 15th September. It is Sir M V's 148th birthday. It is celebrated all over the country as "Engineers' day". Even years after his death, Sir M V lives on in the hearts of each one of us. The farmers of Mandya and Mysore when they water their fields with KRS water, the workers of iron and steel companies in companies set up by him, the devotees who travel on the road from Tirupati to Tirumala, the people of Hyderabad, Pune and Bangalore, the employees of Mysore Bank, the numerous students who study in institutes set up by him - Sir MV still lives for every one of them. Let us all pay our tributes to him and as Engineers let us all pledge ourselves today so that we too will follow the example set by this great man and serve the society. Happy Engineers' day to everyone!

PS: When I finished writing this article, I remembered a recent debate where people hotly debated the naming of the new international airport at Bangalore. Many argued it should be named after Kempe Gowda, the founder. Some wanted it to be named after Tippu Sultan; some wanted Rajiv Gandhi,etc. There was an article in a kannada paper who wanted it to be named after Sir M V. After all, it was Sir M V who started the Walchand Hirachnad company as far back in 1913 which today is known as Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) - the only aircraft factory in India till date! We can name airports after anyone famous but naming it after Sir M V will be more apt as he was mainly responsible for the flying of planes in India. Don't you people think so?

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Living after death (part 2 of 3)

[......continued from part 1]
read part 1 here
"Sir, there is a small, narrow, steel ladder that will take you up there. It is over seventy five feet till the top from where you can view how the machine works"

The factory head explained the structure of the machine to the group of officials who had come on an industrial tour. The officials were a group of middle-aged men from a developing nation and they had come to visit the advanced state-of the art machine to study the feasibility of its implementation.

"Well. then lets climb it!" said the leader among them.

Everyone including the factory head were surprised. Saying thus, he started climbing the ladder without waiting for the others. Some followed as a matter of duty, but the others gave up. He reached to the top, inspected the furnace closely and made notes. He then came down slowly as the others stood and watched in disbelief. This person was the oldest in the group. Not even the factory head had plans of showing them the top view of this huge machine. The old man's grit and determination was commendable.

All through his life, the man followed a strict and disciplined way of life. When he was determined to do a thing, no hindrance or troubles could stop him. He was a dedicated worker and helped a lot for the nation's cause even before it became independent. He was a statesman par excellence and was largely responsible for the advancement of our nation. He was one of the most illustrious persons that India has ever produced - one of those rare gems of India.

So in how many ways is he living after death?
[.....continued and concluded in part 3]

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Living after death (part 1 of 3)

"This bus-shelter is provided by Honorable MP Sri Jaffer Sheriff under MPLAD scheme"

I was looking out through the window of my cab while coming back form office when I spotted the above line at a bus-stop. It was raining a little and many people were standing under it. The shelter itself was in a very bad shape. The roof of the shelter was leaking at some places and people were getting wet and murmuring to themselves. Before I could observe any further, the cab sped away at the green light and I got back to doing what I do best on the cab- doze off :-)

Today I remember that incident in context of today's leaders. There are banners and poster projecting themselves as super-heroes. They engrave their names on fly-overs, at bus-stops, near airports and whatever they can find space on. Sometimes, they are not even responsible for initiating these development works. In most of the cases, they are just lucky to be in power when the project is inaugurated, as was the case of the new airport. Yet, they shamelessly project themselves as saviors of the country when they cannot even think beyond the next elections.

Jaffer Sherrif, Ananth Kumar, HT Sangliyana, and many others are still alive and into active politics. They have their names put up on as many hoardings / bus-stops / flyovers as you can find in the city. Yet, how many of these visit such dilapidated structures and reconstruct them? In another five or ten years, how many of us would ever remember that these were our leaders? Will we ever remember that they lived at all?

In how many ways can a person live after death?
[....continued in the next post] [Part 1 of three]

Friday, 5 September 2008

Holiday learnings

"Andy is out of office"
Content : I am on happy holidays this week - believe me, it beats school!
I got this automatically generated mail a few days back when I sent a mail to a user group in my office asking for help on a particular topic. Though I was busy with work then, it immediately reminded me that even I was due for a vacation soon. I just hoped it would come close to reminding me of my school days as I badly needed them.

I went on holidays with disturbing thoughts. After joining, It was the first time that I would be off from office for over a week. And the last day at work was an eventful one. Many of our team-mates and buddies were quitting - we had a small gathering to say good bye to them. These people were ones with whom we had the best of times in office, during team trips, etc. and it would be hard to getting used to work without them. Apart from that, a small issue involving money and one of my closest friend at work was bothering me. Though both of us were not wrong, the way the events turned out kept pricking me. And the sad part was there was nothing I could do except to try and forget it as soon as possible.
It was after a very long time that all five of my family members were traveling together. Also, the fact that it was a train journey made it even special. We would be going to the coastal town of Mangalore and from there on to my native at Karkala for the festival. I was really looking forward to a nice time with all of my relatives at the festival and enjoy the scenic beauty of these places.

To begin with, the train journey was real fun. Tosi appeared from nowhere as if using his sixth sense to drop us to the railway station in the evening. Our coach was a new one and not too crowded. My brother got his fourth semester engineering results while we were on the train and he seemed happy. We then had dinner together hearing the rumbling of the wagon wheels on the tracks. It was a nice family bonding time we had.

Ultra is real fun to travel with. From our childhood days, we have been traveling a lot together. We used to stay awake late in the night in bus to look at the dark country side illuminated by faint moonlight. The kilometer stones on the highway and the hairpin curves on the western ghats enthralled both us together. We used to memorize the names of places we visited and the distance from one place to another. Lying on his lap on the lower berth, with the train zooming towards Mysore, and watching the stars far up the sky from the window of the train refreshed many of those joyful memories of my travels with him and it was a fantastic experience.

The first half of the vacation was in Mangalore. Most part of it was spent in rest and relaxation in my aunt's place. Though we did venture out to visit other relatives, the best part of it was just lying on the bed sleeping and doing nothing whole day. It is really tough doing nothing whole day. But after working for long hours starting early morning, wading past the busy Bangalore traffic, attending meetings and parties at office, it was a welcome change - no managers around to supervise me, no calls to attend, no compulsion to get up early in the morning, no deadlines to meet, no mails to reply to - I really enjoyed it!

The town of Karkala lies in the foothills of the western ghats, making it one of the most scenic places of our state. It is one of the wettest places in the world with average annual rainfall of over 4000 mm. The natural beauty surrounding the town with beautiful green top hills and huge black rocks make it a tourist's paradise. It is a sacred town for the Jain pilgrims for its Gomateshwara statue and also to Hindu devotees for its numerous temples. My connection with this place dates back to the time of my birth as I was born here :)

The festival was celebrated with the regular pomp and gaiety - the whole joint family of around 30-40 people getting together annually for the festival, regardless of their work life or the place of residence, praying the remover of all obstacles for prosperity of the whole world, a great feast cooked in traditional style with everyone in the house participating in the preparation, and offering to the lord - all these make the festival extra special.

Apart from the festival at Karkala, we roamed around the town enjoying the scenery here. There were beautiful hills covered with clouds, the valleys full of coconut trees, rocks and greenery everywhere was a welcome change after the smoke filled concrete jungle over here.

Yesterday I was riding a bike on the country road enjoying the scenery around when this striking fact hit me - I saw the people pedaling past the road on their bicycles and zoomed past them on the bike. Most of their faces looked tired. Obviously they were tired of the difficult life in these places - no power for almost eighteen hours a day; no luxuries of life that we all take for granted - the refrigerators, the washing machines; no 2/3 BHK flats/houses for them to live in; no shelter from the heat or the rain; no transport facilities - their woes ere too much. Life for them depended on the agriculture or a related work which ultimately depended on the timely monsoons. They had no money to dine in expensive restaurants and go on long holidays. I felt sorry for them.

But with the advent of education and career opportunities, their lives are slowly changing. They now crave for those luxuries that we consider for granted. Atleast one of their children is working for either a software company/ settled in a foreign land, which leads to no shortage of money. They now want cars and bikes to roam around, large plots of land to construct big houses with high-end gadgets in it, cellular phones to keep them connected even in remote areas, inverters in the homes to guard against power cuts - it is real good news. But the real sad part of all this is it is coming at a cost - nature. The scenic beauty of the entire western ghats is in danger with forests being converted into residential plots, with illegal mining and looting of forest wealth, plastic bags thrown around everywhere, with ground water table receding to satisfy the growing demand for drinking water - it is again a sad development.

It is ultimately a vicious cycle of life. In cities/ western world, as we are becoming aware of the ill-effects of pollution, we are switching back to natural means - we want to pedal or walk to work instead of the polluting cars. We want paper bags instead of the plastic ones. We want more green spaces instead of concrete jungles. We want to reduce the use of mobiles by keeping them as far away from us as possible. There, in far away lands/ developing countries, they are abandoning cycles for motor bikes and cars, using more plastic than paper, and felling trees for building houses - the earlier we make the whole world aware of this threat, the better and nicer it is for our planet. Isn't it?

I am back today with a whole lot of memories of the trip and a whole lot of learning. The trip in itself has been really rejuvenating. And now, the disturbing thoughts have disappeared and I am ready to get back to work with more vigor. Experience has been the best teacher in my life. On this occasion of teachers' day, I want to dedicate this post to all those teachers in my life for making me what I am today. Keep visiting for more.

1. Tosi is one of my closest school friends along with Gunda, Oie, Vsb and Kulla.
2. More pictures will be uploaded to picassa soon.
3. Names have been changed to protect identities :)