Friday, February 23, 2007

KBC - unfair question?

I happened to watch KBC last night - and there was a question for Fastest Finger First -

Arrange these periods in ascending order:
a>Ek Ghanta
b>Aadha Ghanta
c>Sava Ghanta
d>Pauna Ghanta

The options were written just like that - Hindi words in English.

Now, if I, for example, had been a contestant, I would have had to first translate these into their English equivalents, and then sort them in the right order.

And this is me, who is pretty familiar with Hindi, and can speak and understand it with ease. But yet, it is not the tongue I am most comfortable with, and so there is a definite time lag between reading these words and translating them into a more familiar tongue. And that leaves me with a major handicap.

So what about those people who do not even know what Sava and Pauna is?

I think that these type of questions are very unfair to the non-Hindi speaking contestants.

What do you think?

[*Ek Ghanta - One hour
Aadha Ghanta - Half an hour
Sava Ghanta - One and one fourths of an hour
Pauna Ghanta - Three fourths of an hour]

Tell me your dreams

..... Asks Payaniga.

My dreams are very ordinary and commonplace, really. Nothing excitingly exotic, or overtly romantic (wouldn't have written about them even if they were, that's another story!).

Anyway, here are three of the dreams I dream most often.

1) Falling off a cliff, and waking up with a start. I'm sure all of you dream about this. I dreamt this dream regularly when I was very young. Then I read about the ability to control dreams, and that we can win over such dreams by, for example, making up your mind that the moment you fall off the cliff the next time, you will sprout wings and fly away. I made up my mind to try it out. But ever since that time, I have never dreamt that dream again - and its been 10-15 years! [Probably I did sprout wings and fly away, and didn't wake up, and that's why I don't remember the dream]. Anyway, this dream has been replaced by a similar one - one where I fall into a pit. Wings sure won't work here. Any suggestions?

2) Faced with a task that is impossible to do. I am in a room, every inch of which is stacked with papers and I am trying to sort them out. Or I am in a field, sitting near a gargantuan pile of pebbles, and am trying to count them all. I try, then become breathless... and suddenly the paper/pebbles overwhelm me like a tsunami and I suffocate -- and I wake up, sweating and breathless. I have observed that I get this dream when I am swamped with too much work, or I have a deadline or I have some kind of worry or anxiety. It is a terrible dream.

3) Food. I dream of food all the time. It is not even like I am starved or on a diet in real life. I dream that I am eating a much-loved food item and then I wake up and I look in disbelief at my empty hands, and run my tongue around my empty mouth.... and I almost weep. There are some happy occasions when these dreams are fueled by the smell of that particular food cooking at home, or the mention of it by someone around me - then it is lovely - I wake up and get to eat that very food. But more often than not, there is no food around, and I can be very restless until I finally get my hands on that food in real life.

Now, the tagging part!

1)Shyam, since she loves tags. [But she has just written about dreams! Will she do the tag??]
2)Viky - weird when he is awake - just imagine how his dreams will be!
3)Supremus - just like that! :)

Friday, February 16, 2007

The wait

She sighed in relief as she sent the final email, and looked at the clock on her monitor. 5 54. She had just six minutes to catch the six o clock bus. She looked around carefully to see if the project lead was around. He wasn't. She just had to get out before the loudmouth caught her again and assigned some other task to her. The date was originally at five - she had called and postponed it to seven already. She couldn't wait any longer. She had waited all week to see him, and she really couldn't wait any longer.

She slid out from her cubicle, aiming to visit the restroom before she could catch the bus. But she heard the loudmouth from the general direction of the restroom, and couldn't risk being seen by him. Besides, her watch now showed 5 57. She would have to hurry if she had to catch the six o clock bus. With a silent request to her bladder to cooperate for another hour, she turned and headed for the door.

Her decision turned out to be correct. The buses were just revving up as she reached the parking area, and she only just managed to get into her bus. She sat down thankfully and watched as the buses crawled out of the campus onto the road.

It always seemed like the bus drivers were too fast and rash. But today, their driver seemed to be taking his own time. The bus danced merrily across the humps and potholes, and the driver made no attempt to hurry. She couldn't bear it. She willed him to go faster. But neither the roads, nor the traffic aided that. She just sat and watched the trees go by slowly, painfully slowly.

The traffic built up and slowed to a crawl. The bus driver started steering towards a side road that had lesser traffic, but was so narrow that it was prone to traffic jams. She prayed fervently that he wouldn't take that road, and if he did, that it would be free of traffic. But the driver just had to take the side road, and within a couple of minutes, they were in the midst of a terrible jam. She sighed, and leaned back in her seat. She just had to relax. There was no point worrying - it wouldn't help clear the jam. She closed her eyes. He floated into view in her mind's eye, and she involuntarily smiled. And then she felt the urgency again. When will this blasted jam clear up??

After an unbearable ten minutes, the bus moved again. It cleared the major bottleneck and reached the wide main roads. She sighed with relief. Now only if all the signals were in their favour - she would be there in time. But no, they did have to get stuck at the first major signal. Now they would have to stop at every signal for sure. She looked at her watch, and wished that the traffic would move as quickly as the minute hand in her watch.

After interminable waits at innumerable signals, they reached the final stretch. Just one more signal to go, and then she could alight, and he would be there. It was already fifteen minutes past seven. She was late, and she knew he would already be waiting. The bus stopped at the final signal. She resisted the urge to jump out and run the last few meters - it was far too foolish, and dangerous. The light finally turned green, the bus moved and arrived at her stop. She was already at the door, and was jumping out even before the bus stopped.

She walked quickly to the usual meeting place. Turning the corner, she saw him, a lone figure, standing patiently, watching the traffic go by. As she trotted up to him, he turned, and their eyes met. He smiled.

A wave of warmth swept through her. She relaxed completely in the comfort of his presence. It was worth it, she found herself thinking. The agony, the urgency, the tension, the endless wait - it was all worth it.

Now all she had to do was find a loo.

Update: What would "He" have been doing all this while, waiting for "Her"? Viky tells you. Read his fabulous story here!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Ruled by machines...

A neighbour dropped in unexpectedly in the evening two days ago. "No cable TV, something wrong - couldn't watch any serial... was feeling bored, so thought of just dropping in to say hi".

My mother's cousin called her last night after ages. "No power since morning - no TV, no radio, no computer... was feeling really bored... so thought I'd just call to say Hi".

My friend called this morning. "Am not able to connect to the internet - don't know what is wrong. That's why I couldn't mail you - so I called you instead."

Now you know why the art of socialization has disappeared.

When machines fail us, we remember human beings.

Friday, February 09, 2007

The precious liquid

A little while ago, on the night that the Cauvery tribunal gave its verdict, I went to sleep, only to be awakened at dawn by the sound of water flowing. I woke up to see that the water was overflowing from the overhead tank of a house, a few houses behind ours. They had perhaps forgotten to switch off the pump. There was no way I could contact those people, so all I could do was stand there helplessly, waiting for them to realize what is happening.

As I watched the thick column of water going to waste, I could see in my mind's eye, thousands of farmers, starving and suffering from lack of water. I also saw villagers waiting with rows of empty pots, near the lone tap of the village - waiting for a few drops of that precious liquid to gush out - waiting in vain.

I couldn't go back to sleep until the water stopped flowing.

I woke up to the news that the decision of the Cauvery Tribunal would affect Bangalore too - much of its population would have to face waterless days.

At least now, will people use water wisely? For I have seen how irresponsibly people use, or rather, misuse water.

I can understand if uneducated people waste water - but how about all those educated people around us? How is it that they do not have even a little awareness?

I have seen people turning to talk to me while washing their hands. The tap is open, water is gushing out, and they are turned towards me, explaining something.
I know people who boast that their bath takes 2 hours and 10 buckets of water. Are they so dirty, or are they that huge??
I have seen people washing their cars with water from a pipe.... wasting hundreds of litres of water .... where one bucket of water would suffice to wash one car.
Oh I have even seen Water Supply Tankers going about the roads leaking water all through the roads (like one little cousin of mine had said, "Hey, that lorry is pissing!")

It is not like I haven't tried to tell them. But people more often than not laugh or don't take me seriously. Years ago, While I was walking to school one day with a couple of friends, I saw an open tap in one of those cylindrical community water tanks - so I crossed the road to go and close the tap. I was ragged about that for years to come. I still don't understand why.

When we try to tell people to avoid water wastage, the typical questions are:
* Why? We have no water problem in this area.
* Why? Everybody wastes water anyway, what great difference will it make if I save water.
* Why? Anyway by the time there is real water scarcity, we will anyway be dead. Why take all the trouble now?

I honestly am rendered speechless at this.

And this is the response of educated people. If we try to tell the domestic help at our place not to waste water, she thinks we are stingy. If you cannot explain to educated people, how can you expect this illiterate woman to think of the big picture?

For all my awareness, I hadn't realized that when I wash vessels at the kitchen sink, I keep the tap open more than it is necessary - S showed me how I could wash the same vessel with quarter the amount of water that I use. And now I consciously do that.

This is just about saving water at home. There are many ways in which water can be used wisely for irrigation too. The first technique that comes to my mind is Drip Irrigation. Drip Irrigation is a process in which water is routed through pipes and valves to the fields, and water is released drop by drop to the plant, instead of all the water at one go. This reduces water wastage due to evaporation, and due to water run-off.

I have actually seen this at work in some farms in the Malnad area in Karnataka - and it is amazing how much less water is required compared to ordinary irrigation. I am aware that this might be a slightly expensive method of irrigation, and you might also argue that anyway the water from normal irrigation doesn't really get lost - it goes and settles as ground water or goes back to the atmosphere. True. But that particular farmer's pressing problem of water shortage is solved to a certain extent by drip irrigation, right? And if the farmer has the means and interest to implement this, then great - every drop saved matters.

What does it take to create awareness among people? Not education, for sure. Then what? Maybe they should just step up water rates - levy high prices for each litre of water. At least if people feel the pinch that way, they might come to their senses. Or will they?

Note: Let's not use this platform to debate on whether the Cauvery Tribunal Order is just or not. Thanks.

Friday, February 02, 2007

A request from Arun Kumar Bhardwaj - The Ultrarunner

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will remember the Ultrarunner Arun Kumar Bhardwaj.

Here is another message from him, which I am reproducing verbatim.

Dear Shruti,

By the medium of your blog I would like to inform the people that I am going to undertake The Great Delhi to Shimla Ultramarathon, 375+km within 100 hours (in total that means including all the elapsed time)starting on 1st Feb at 2 PM from the India Gate. We are taking the route Delhi-Chandigarh-Shimla. The last streth of 70 kms gain an height of 1500 meters, i.e. after Kalka. One of my friend is sharing the expenses of the run (I am again without any sponsorship and please let me take to liberty to use your blog to invite any potential sponsor to come with me in this work of great cause to our mother country). After this run I plan to do a Delhi to Goa, 2100km in 21 days.

- Arun

(“You don’t have to be a runner to appreciate it when someone goes beyond the limits. And when someone runs a hundred or a thousand miles one doesn’t have to be a genius to see that the entire human potential has just been expanded. Such examples give people hope and inspiration to change themselves, to be better, and to expect and strive for something higher, something beyond them. Perhaps, they think, if those guys can run a hundred miles then I can do something worthwhile, I can do something good. The world changes more by deeds then by words.” – Tarak Kauff)

As I post this, he will be running the first marathon. If you, or your organization, would like to support him or sponsor him, please do so.

Here are his contact details once again.

Name: Arun Kumar Bhardwaj
Email :
Cell Phone : +91 9213 964 901
Postal Address: Planning Commission, Parliament Street, New Delhi 110001.

Thank you.
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