Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Whose money is it anyway!?

When it was found out that petroleum gas could be used as a motor fuel, the world was thrilled. When it was found that the cylindered liquified petroleum gas (LPG) -the domestic cooking gas can drive cars, the middle class was thrilled. Their petrol bills could be cut to as much as 40%-50%. with the upper class anyway using the fuel guzzler limos, they never had too much of worry of their fuel bills anyway.

Now, this was another technological revolution, soon enough, the bootspace in the cars were cleared to make room for bright red LPG cylinders that would save a bunch of money replacing petrol and diesel. A bunch of smart business minds sprang to action. Connecting the cars engines with the cylinder adaptor was a flourishing business for the next few weeks.

But the LPG that government sells in a subsidised price cannot be used for driving, it is meant for cooking food and is rationalised for every family. So the government was quick to proclaim the usage of the cylindered gas for driving as illegal. there were frequent raids on the roads and cars which had cylinders were fined heavily.

Commercial gas was introduced. It was definitely more expensive than the domestic cooking gas, but still a lot cheaper that liquid petrol. Smart entrprising entrepreneurs took up the business of converting petrol cars to LPG operating cars. It was done at a cost of 10,000 - 20,000 INR. Though thats a lot of money, people still got their cars converted with the long term benefit in mind.

So, now we had commercial gas pumps, cars with special internal tanks for the gas. So you think all is good and legal. But, in addition to all this, we also have few more enterprising and entrepreneurial people and we also have few more red cylinderful of subsidized LPG which costs cheaper than the commercial LPG. So what happens?

One good motor, fitted onto a pump. Two pipes - one for suction and one for release. all this in one garage. you have a well earning business. A gas-converted car pulls up into the garage and the driver unloads a cooking gas cylinder from the dickey, which he had probably picked up from his kitchen. The garage boy fits one pipe to the cylinder and the other to the gas tank in the car and starts the pump. the gas is transfered from the cylinder to the car tank in few minutes. It costs 20-30 INR. the garage fills over 50 cars a day, thats good money and less overhead for a business. The car owner saves about 40% on his car fuel. All sounds well.

Though win-win, though enterprising, it is definitely illegal, because all said and done, its the gas thats supposed to be used for cooking that is used for driving and that is definitely not fair. All parties involved know it, thats why these garages are never on the main road, but always in shady corners! and of course, the police who come raiding are bribed by the garage owners. The way it looks, you would think India must have the best Intelligence force, but the truth is, this is the story of the world. We like to make money, out of anything and everything. But it looks to me that we Indians are definitely better at it! and we will stay better at it as long as we know that getting away after getting caught is never too difficult!


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

'I quit'

Few posts ago, I was writing about the most difficult thing to do, this post is about the easiest thing to do. I did not get enough time to do my usual informal survey for this topic, so I will just put in my thoughts. As far as I am concerned, the easiest thing that I have ever felt I could do was, to quit. Just that, simply quitting. Thats one action that gives you immediate relief and that has so far been the easiest thing to do. I am not talking about just me, I have noticed this with lots of people around also.

Im sure you already got my point, but to reinforce it, I will give you an example. Jogging is a great way to exercise, when you start your run, you feel good (because you almost hear your fat cells going 'pop' :) !!). But after you have run a long time, at a point when you are gasping and panting, all you want to do - is to stop running. Nothing else matters. Its as simple as that, You JUST want to quit running! and catch your breath.

If you have ever jogged, Im sure you will agree with me. When you are gasping for air, you think you are going to die or choke, though you know very well that not too many people fall and die on jogging tracks. Still, the facts and the statistics cannot reason with your brain at that time, because you want to stop. that is definitely the easiest thing to do.

It takes people with extra-ordinary will to keep going and not succumb to the temptation of doing the easiest thing. This simple example is very similar to many things that we face everyday. Anything difficult always comes with a loophole - and that hole will be the 'easiest thing to do'. in most cases, its just plain old escape. and everytime we turn our back and flee, we are making a voluntary choice. We know what we are doing, we know the consequences. In short, we know that we are quitting, but we do it all the time, because sometimes in life, you are just exhausted and to quit is the easiest thing to do.

You just want to get over with it, quit it and get on with whatever is left. Easy temptation I would say, desparation - you would say, but you know we have all done that sometimes. Some other times, thats the last thing we do. But we do.

Not to mention, in few cases, quitting would be the best thing to do. Thats the situation I would love to be in. Picture this, its the easiest, its the, how cool is that??


Friday, December 14, 2007

Almost lost

Nowadays my schedule involves a visit to Mylapore atleast once a week. Mylapore which is the cultural heart of the city also has to its credit another status. It has the most dense human traffic, second only to T nagar. or should i call it debit instead of credit? PS: recent researches show that laughing at poor jokes improves longevity ;)

Anyway, certain narrow streets of Mylapore are a driver's nightmare with pedastrians leaving no space for vehicles, small or tiny. The situation on the roads in the evenings is synonymous to pandemonium. So here i was with my weekly contribution to the confusion, wading through the sea of people, occupied with umpteen 'things to do' running in the head.

I stopped at Adyar Ananda bavan for a snack and asked for the standard dahi poori as a matter of habit. i had just settled at the table, putting the numerous bags that i was carrying on the table that I suddenly remembered that in fact, I didnt feel like dahi poori. I wanted something spicy. I took few quick steps to the counter, leaving all my things on the table, and corrected my order before the bavan chap started making the chaat.

I was back at the table in a matter of few seconds. I finished the pav bhaji, paid and started to collect my things to leave when i realised that my mobile phone was not with me. I was almost sure that someone had taken it during my short absence at the table or had someone picked my pocket? I looked everywhere near the table and gave a tough time for the waiters there. Most of them were quite sweet and finished searching the whole stretch of the floor. My phone was nowhere to be seen. The weather was infact very cool and it was drizzling, but i was sweating.

So many times in the past, I had come close to losing the mobile, but had never really lost it. I would search for some time and would ultimately find it. But this time, I thought, I had finally lost it. Who would want to steal a basic nokia? how much can the stealer sell it for? two grands may be. I was glad that I did not invest too much on the phone.

Losing it was not weighing too much on me, it was the fact that it got stolen that troubled me. After the thorough search, exhausted and disappointed, I sat down to ease my nerves. I knew that it was not a huge loss, that it was just a mobile phone for which i had spent hardly 4000 rupees, but most of us have this tendency of treating any loss that is slightly valuable to be life threatening, its pretty normal. I slowly calmed down, and I tried calling the number continuosly and it went on ringing. I was puzzled. If it was stolen, the first thing the person who stole it would do is to switch it off. Then to my great relief, my roommate answered the phone. I had dropped it at home before i started to go out. whew!!!

This taught me few lessons: one is that, i am never going to invest too much on something that i can so easily lose, and of course I will keep a back up of all contacts. two- no loss is actually life-threatening. we can lose anything that is valuable to us and still live through it. the only thing that we cannot live after losing is, of course our life!

By the way, today I almost lost my walet(just one day after the mylapre mayhem). yeah, i left it at home. But didnt someone say 'losing is part of a good life'? to put my original thoughts to that, 'almost losing' is more a part of life than actual losing. (applause, applause)



Sunday, December 9, 2007

too many reviews, too bad

Eventually, I read the book, 'The Alchemist'.
Few posts ago, since i got interested in the book, i was contemplating whether to buy the book or use the money for something else- that is, to buy a chicken biryani instead.

A kind soul who read that particular blog was exasperated to see me bring down one of his favourite books to chicken biryani levels and offered to lend me his copy. Thanks pal, people like you make the world go round ;)

Getting back to Alchemist, its a very sweet story of a shepherd boy who literally follows his dreams. He has a repetitive dream of a treasure and decides to follow it and ultimately gets his treasure. Full stop.

What got me interested in the book was the countless reviews that I had read on book sites like amazon and shelfari. If I had not read all those reviews, I would have really enjoyed the book. All the reviews, except a few handful, glorified the book so much and elated it in such a way that it increased my expectations sky high.

While reading the book, with every turning page, i was waiting for the contents to reach my expectations. But as I neared the end of the book, still waiting for the tryst, I realised how influenced i had been by what other people thought and told. That very fact prevented me from enjoying a book that is actually pretty cute by itself.

Certain things in life are best enjoyed when you just look at them with your own eye, critical or not. you should just do justice to your tastes and just forget what your friends and people around you think about it. Ultimately, each one of us are built differently and have different tastes. Some stuff i like, you may hate and vice versa. The same thing affects two people in two completely varied way. Well, we are just made liked that, different people, different opinions. ahem, im not advertising HSBC here.

A last word on the book. I felt its strength is simplicity. though it is a translated book, the language does not sit away from the context. it has got some passages that are thought provoking. On the whole, its a book thats put together beautifully, and the beauty lies in its simplicity. dont expect it to blow away your mind and pick the pieces up again to build a brand new you. Just enjoy it.


Thursday, December 6, 2007

honey, I shrunk the media!

Media - a magical word. The plural of medium - the agent or instrument that communicates/conveys. While the television and newspapers and similar agents still act as the mass media, there arises a highly volatile, still powerful ‘personal media’.

Getting your writing published in any of the media was considered rare earlier. I still remember my first ever write up that was published in the daily newspaper, I had kept the cutting for a long time before I eventually lost it. The whole school was proud of it for the few days that the item appeared. And today, I write a blog and it is on the Internet!, for the whole world to see! (the whole world doesn’t want to read this rubbish, of course), but technically, it is there to be seen, whether anyone wants it or not. Something so unreachable is now available to anyone who has the interest and time. The very fact is amazing.

You cannot talk about personal media without mentioning the I-pods. These Apple’s kids are amazing and have brought lot of attention to personalising music. The other day, I saw a gadget that can play your ipod music on your car stereo, it can be used on static radios also. All you have to do is attach the transistor to the gadget which is already attached to the I pod and set it to a frequency that is empty(not used by other transmitting stations). Anyone in the radius of 50-100 feet can tune into his/her radio on the frequency that you are playing the music and listen to your music. and the people who use it, are not transmitting just music :)

Coming back to my blog, though I can call it ‘media’, it is definitely not mass media, it’s a highly personal media, I project only what I think is interesting and the things I think are important gets mentioned. Similarly I find millions of other people in this same media, they share the internet space and are part of the media.

Their views gets published, turns up at internet searches(google,msn) – this way, other people get to read it, some people who read it, think over it, sometimes act over it, and that is great. Sometimes, its not so great also. Anything that can be used, can be abused also. Internet probably is the most abused medium among all the media. The positive and the negative of this medium is the same, that it is ‘Available’. Available for use, available for abuse.

But for now, lets look at the bright side of it! Think what great things we can do with this gold mine. Viola! The media is personal