Category Archives: Civic

Civic issues!

Lakshmi Trading Corporations

A devotee’s concerned letter to Goddess Lakshmi, on the eve of Diwali 2010!
(… And no, there’s no typo in the title of this blog, i.e. “Corporations“.)

Jai Lakshmi maa,

Blessings, are what everyone *wants* from You this season (Diwali). Every devotee of Yours pleads, begs, requests, demands, prays and then, expects a shower (rather, a thunderstorm) of Your kind blessings. Every prayer, every pooja conducted, is only done to appease You. Every devotee of Yours *wants* You to set up a permanent “camp” in their household, and in their life.

Of Your devotees, salaried people like me, are fortunate to have a regular shower (albeit relatively little) of Your kind blessings (with minute annual increments) – even though we also duly share our share of the blessings with the government, honestly/forcibly.

Then there are Your other bunch of devotees, businessmen, most of whom are Your ardent devotees and You also shower them with a relatively decent share of Your kind blessings. They’re further able to maximize their exposure to Your shower by employing certain loopholes in the law, or even by breaking the law. These devotees are a little more casual to their approach of maintaining their devotion – a few being spendthrifts – however, they still continue to stay under Your shower’s fair share.

However – even though these two classes of people, viz. salaried class & the businessmen, form a overwhelming majority of Your ardent, hardworking & karmic devotees — it seems that some of the rest, less than 0.1% of Your “supposed” devotees are the ones who are the ones You seemingly bless the maximum.

I’m wondering & worried, how is it that Your atrociously shameless, un-karmic & lousy “supposed” devotees – the politicians – _*bathe*_ in the thunderstorm of Your blessings almost everyday – while the rest of us, barely get a handfull throughout our lives? 25-30 crores worth of instant blessings are less than peanuts for these parasites, who get exclusively blessed in posh resorts to “do” (their only form of karma) something unholy, untrustworthy & unethical? (Not delving into the lawfulness of their actions – the law is twisted anyway.)

These so-called “devotees” undertake roles/work which they are utterly unqualified for (recently, the CWG) – and still rake sackfuls of Your blessings without actually moving a finger, until there’s some “aakashvani” (media/press) forcing them to act. They do “act”, but just as in “acting” & play around with the money, as well as the emotions of the countrymen.

I can go on… however, to resolve this, I’d sincerely suggest You to get some sort of a UID (Unique Identifier) assigned to all Your devotees, so as to ensure that you shower Your blessings’ ration after careful scrutiny of the karma of Your deserving devotees.

Dhanyavaad!
Pranaam,

A concerned devotee

Dear Readers: Wish you and all your close ones a very Happy Diwali! Feedback/comments requested. Thank you! 🙂

Our jobs, our salaries & us

A couple of weeks ago, I was speaking to an old friend of mine, who’s currently in Delhi. She’s working as a Project Manager with an IT major there. Though she already has a couple of big client products & a large team to manage, she was grumbling over being overloaded by her company with some additional project. She is a good & hardworking resource for her company – so she was annoyed that she was being overloaded with work because of that — even when there were other project managers available. She was feeling stressed out & frustrated that though she was credited with praise, the raise hadn’t come through as expected. She was considering applying for a job elsewhere, getting a better salary offer & then showing her HR what she was “worth” in the market.

This is quite a common scenario – and I’m sure most of the IT professionals would’ve experienced or felt similar at-times, and maybe even worse. At the slightest instance, we tend to take severe decisions – as wild as quitting our current jobs! I call such decisions “wild” because typically they’re taken at the spur of the moment and without giving enough thought, or with a single-track & limited thought.

So next – we immediately approach job sites, placement consultants & friends/contacts. We don a new “3-D Avatar” through our updated résumés and brace ourselves to be a blockbuster at getting a new job too. When asked the reasons why we are looking for a change in job, we give reasons like some of the following:

  • Not much work, or no projects – causing job instability
  • Nothing new and challenging in the current project
  • Change in technology in the current project
  • Change of management or the client’s management, causing job insecurity
  • No raise for xxx period, no promotion/change-in-designation
  • Bad politics in the team/management
  • Want to improve profile/salary by joining a brand/bigger company

After the initial evaluation process in a few companies, we also get through some of the companies. We negotiate hard & collect all the offer letters and then start a rather ugly process: Bargaining! We restart negotiations to get the maximum remuneration package from the companies we’d prefer to join. Sometimes, we even go to our current company & ask for a better package – just because the market has valued us *more*.

On what basis/parameters do we compare the various offers? Just the digits mentioned in the salary package? Or a better brand or preferred location or role? Or to work in another country?…

In my opinion, the parameters of choosing the right job should be one or more of:

  • This role is in the right direction of your preferred/ideal career path
  • You like the company and/or the work done by the company
  • This job/role could give you better job satisfaction (however, unless you join, you’d never know!)
  • They seem to value your experience & expertise
  • And, they’re offering you the right salary for it

Also – most important, understand the following points thoroughly. These are also some points I told my friend, who was immediately pacified (I suppose!) and cooled herself down. We don’t usually realize that: Grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side!

  • The new job will NOT get you closer to your ultimate Nirvana
  • As soon as you join the new job, you may have to work harder than ever before, to *prove* your mettle/worth
  • You’ll have to learn & adapt to how the new company/team functions; you’ll need to study & understand the product/project thoroughly, & even put in a lot of extra efforts to be on top of it, within a short period of time.
  • You’ll have to build the rapport with your team members, your seniors, the management; everyone who matters. The new team will *not* change for you, as you’d want them to. Instead, you will have to adapt to them.
  • So, you’ll have to quickly scale up to become a core & valued resource for the company

Think of it now — isn’t your current job better? (Unless of course, you’ve goofed up badly and desperately need to move out!)

If you don’t do things right, & as expected in the new place, you would start grumbling again and restart looking out for a new job, yet again!

Life isn’t easy, isn’t it? Don’t make yours tougher by acting on silly/petty reasons & without deep thought! 🙂

*When* to look out for a new job? In my personal opinion, you should consider looking out for a new job when something like the situations listed below demand for it.

  • NO JOB SATISFACTION: This does *not* point to the salary drawn, but to the work involved — where your expetise lies and what you’re doing in the current role. Typically, when you start your day — if you feel absolutely terrible and awful to report to work — it could be this. However, “satisfaction” is a relative term, every person would treat it differently – so always review yourself through a neutral and unbiased glass, to check if you’re *really* unsatisfied with your current job. Explore ways of fixing this condition, by requesting a change of project and/or team.
  • CLOSURE OF COMPANY or YOU ARE LAID OFF or there’s a possibility of one of these: Obviously, these circumstances demand that you immediately look out for a job for yourselves.
  • DISCRIMINATION, MISTREATMENT AT YOUR CURRENT JOB: Again, these are relative terms. Every person would interpret the situation differently. So conduct a fair review of your condition, and if need be, speak to someone trustworthy in your team, who knows the situation and can offer you genuine advice. There could be ways to fix the problems you are facing without the need to leave your job, explore those.
  • YOU GENUINELY ARE WORKING FOR PEANUTS: Understand this properly, as you might feel this perfectly applies to you. I ask you – how do you justify it? Is a friend or a colleague or an ex-colleague or your junior at college/work – just about anyone else – getting a better package than you? Is this one of the primary parameters for you to look out for a “better job”? SO – aren’t you just comparing the digits here? You could be comparing apples to brinjal – if you evaluate properly. The other person in comparison, could be getting a better package because of many possible reasons. His/Her company could have different policies of calculating salaries. His/Her company could be working in some niche area, and needs to retain their trained resources at any cost – so they pay higher salaries. His/Her company could have done better business than your company. His/Her project could have been more successful than yours. AND he/she could genuinely be a much better resource than you, so getting paid better than you (even being in the same company). In short – unless you are the core resource or one of the core resources in your project/team – this condition does not apply to you. If you’re dispensable, you’re not worth it. Do a just evaluation of yourself and then decide if you’re really not being paid right… i.e. peanuts.

And there could likely be some other situations, which I may not have listed. However, remember that ad-hoc changes to your job, affect your career severely. So think through well, before taking such a decision.

My two cents… and a few more! 😉

Traffic woes, no one listens

I’d sent this e-mail on 26th Oct 2009 to the Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic), Bangalore City (currently Commissioner Praveen Sood) – to highlight the lack of regulatory efforts to improve the traffic situation in Bangalore. There has been no response till date (11th Feb 2010)… Well kinda expected, you’d say. There’s little that we can do, or make an impact about, unless the regulatory body is *serious* about it.

Please share your experience(s) & thoughts in the form of comments to this post.

To: addlcptrafficbcp@gmail.com
Date: 26 Oct 2009 02:07 am
Subject: Traffic Rules, Compliance & the Regulators

Hello Sir,

I have a couple of thoughts driving daily on the Bangalore roads:
1. We, the citizens, do not care or bother about the traffic rules; and even less about civic sense on the roads.
2. Then there are the regulators – the traffic police – who seem more interested to penalize the rule breakers & collect fines, rather than to make the citizens to comply by the law. (Is it true that there is a monthly “collection target” given to all the traffic officers, to be met?)

I’ve always wondered why do traffic policemen only stand inside a one-way, or after a traffic signal, (& such others)? Why don’t they stand at the start of the wrong end of the one-way and ensure that no vehicles come in & break the one-way rule? Similarly at a traffic signal its usual to find many traffic personnel waiting (rather waiting discreetly) *after* the signal to catch any offenders who break the signal. There are more traffic personnel seen waiting to catch the offenders & collect fines, than to regulate the traffic at the signals. Why is it being done this way?

Please understand, my intention to write to you is not as a complaint about these (& such others) – but more with a serious concern about the lawlessness on the road, which is increasing by the day.

My understanding is:
1. Some of the drivers are not aware of the rules. This is a problem caused by the RTO, which has issued them the driving licenses, without their being truely elligible for it.
2. And then, almost all the drivers don’t care much for the rules, because of their awareness of a lax regulatory body.

I do understand there’s a long way to get these things improved at the root level. However I look up to you for as much improvement as is possible by you, especially in the regulation of the roads. If the regulators get serious about compliance, I have a strong feeling that the lawlessness can be dealt with, effectively.

I am ready & available to volunteer as a pro-active citizen, for any help needed by your department, for this.

Thank you,
Rgds,

Nirav Doshi

Expensive celebrity endorsements & inflation

Q1. Have you ever bought something just because your favourite celebrity was endorsing it?
Q2. Have you *not* bought something that *you wanted*, because a celebrity you disliked, was endorsing it?

If you said a “YES” for any of the questions above, you can go back to what you were doing before coming to this article; sorry – but this blog further, is not for you!

Celebrities charging a few lakhs for endorsement deals are passé; multi-crore deals are routine.

Aamir Khan’s in the news, ofcourse. Other than the success of 3idiots, he’s supposedly basking in the glory of making Rs.30-35 crores, being an “idiot”… A *damn* smart “idiot” though! 😉 Obviously, the success of 3idiots should’ve dug a deeper hole in UAE’s Etisalat’s pockets. Aamir is already endorsing a few others, like TataSky, Toyota Innova, CocaCola & Parle G. So more than movies, he’s obviously minting better with the ad deals. Now, why would he want to do more than 1 movie in an year? Eh?! 😉 He needs the time to do ads!

(contd. below)


Luxury chocolate gifts from Hotel Chocolat

Recently, we heard Shahrukh sign-up a new deal with DishTV for Rs.10 crores. We also heard Shahrukh Khan (SRK) received Rs.5 crores for a 10 minute (flying) visit to a marriage reception somewhere in Haryana. (No brand endorsement there, but he did “endorse the marriage”, mind it!)… So, didn’t DishTV get him real cheap? Eh?! SRK could’ve made that much in 2 marriages, or by even staying for 20 minutes in just one marriage instead!) 😉

Do you remember that most trade analysts had estimated the “brand value” of Amitabh, Abhishek & Aishwarya, after the Abhi-Ash marriage, to be around Rs.800 crores?! Unfortunately, I don’t suppose any of the “3bachchans” are milking their true “brand values” though, except maybe for the recent Lux ad series where, we heard, they were paid Rs.16 crores in all (package-deal).

There would be tons of such “crore-lories”! (FYI: lorie in hindi = lullaby)
Note: We’re not talking about broken multi-million dollar deals… The Woody Goody Tiger?! 😉

So, why do brands signup celebrities?

– To help the brand to gain (instant?) recognition (piggyback’ing on the celebrity’s following)
– To (supposedly) inherit the celebrity’s trust amongst the people (fans/followers & others too)
– To ensure easy, quick & sustained brand recall (Who said: “Go get it!” – and for which brand? Got it? :P)

Then?

– The brand gets the identification & recognition, it’d strived for (Unless, that celebrity is embroiled in a controversy or a scandal, a-la Woods!)
– The brand’s sales shoot-up (Everybody wants it? Huge demand, supply supply supply!)

After the initial promotional period, the product’s demand would shortly stabilise (typically reduce, but stablise… So supply stabilises too.). Of course, this assumes the product was good indeed.

Economics…

Now, most important, how would the brand’s company make back the money it paid the celebrity? (Aah elementary Dr.Watson, and did you think they actually liked the celebrity?)

Options (Choose one or more):

– The cost of the product is hiked (Ouch!)
– The cost of the product remains the same, but the quality is deteriorated a little, to save manufacturing costs
– The cost of the product remains the same, but the quantity in the packaging is reduced (Chhota pack?)

(Similarly applies to subscriptions & services too)

By opting for any 1 or more of the listed (and/or unlisted) options from above, the company would stealthily inflate the cost of the product to the consumer. (Sab ganda hai par dhanda hai yeh!)

And in turn, it is finally us – the consumers – who end up footing the endorsing celebrity’s bills! And we don’t stop there, we continue to pay it everytime we buy/subscribe to the endorsed product.

Typically about 30-60% of the marketing budget of companies is allocated for celebrity endorsements. So – if the companies could come up with some better method to gain recognition, build trust & cultivate brand recall in their consumers – the cost of the products could be reduced by atleast 30%.

So the next time you drink a CocaCola® Coke with a Parle® G biscuit in hand, after coming back from your office in your Toyota® Innova and switch on your TataSky® SetTopBox to pay & watch 3idiots – remember you’ve been made one too!

Terror in Mumbai – 26 Nov 2008

** Dispatches – Terror in Mumbai (Video Documentary – ~350 MB) **
The untold story of 2008’s terrorist attack on Mumbai, in the words of its victims and the gunmen. The programme contains graphic images and descriptions of the atrocity which may upset some viewers. Produced and directed by award-winning filmmaker Dan Reed, Terror in Mumbai tells the story of what happened when 10 gunmen held one of the world’s busiest cities hostage; killing and wounding hundreds of people while holding India’s crack security forces at bay.

Featuring footage of the attacks and interviews with senior police officers and hostages, including the testimony from Kasab – the sole surviving gunman, Dispatches reveals what happened, hour by hour, from the perspective of the security forces, the terrorists, their masterminds and the victims.

Download it (about 350 MB) from:
DOWNLOAD 1 (190 MB): http://rapidshare.com/files/315601378/Dispatches.Terror.In.Mumbai.XviD.dnirus.part1.rar.html
DOWNLOAD 2 (160 MB): http://rapidshare.com/files/315601384/Dispatches.Terror.In.Mumbai.XviD.dnirus.part2.rar.html

The same video as above, in smaller downloads:
DOWNLOAD 1 (87 MB): http://rapidshare.com/files/317511069/Dispatches.Terror.In.Mumbai.XviD.dnirus.smaller.part1.rar
DOWNLOAD 2 (87 MB): http://rapidshare.com/files/317513158/Dispatches.Terror.In.Mumbai.XviD.dnirus.smaller.part2.rar
DOWNLOAD 3 (87 MB): http://rapidshare.com/files/317513147/Dispatches.Terror.In.Mumbai.XviD.dnirus.smaller.part3.rar
DOWNLOAD 4 (84 MB): http://rapidshare.com/files/317511070/Dispatches.Terror.In.Mumbai.XviD.dnirus.smaller.part4.rar

A MUST SEE DOCUMENTARY!

P.S.: This is the same video/documentary referred to by HK Sir in his recent blog. Thanks! 🙂

Appendix

Instructions, how to download from Rapidshare.com:

1. If the site is available to you, it will load up a page displaying the link above, its size & two speedometers.
2. Below the speedometers there should be two buttons FREE USER & PREMIUM USER.
3. Click on the FREE USER & wait for the page to refresh. (If you have a paid PREMIUM account with Rapidshare – login to it! :-))
4. The page should typically reload and display a countdown in seconds. Wait for it to complete.
5. After the countdown completes, it should display the DOWNLOAD button.
6. Click on the DOWNLOAD button to start the download. Save it to a folder of your choice – do not rename the file, save it with the same name.
7. Repeat the same for the second part (save it to the same folder as the first one). However, Rapidshare may not allow you to download the second file immediately. It will tell you to wait for some time before retrying to download the second part. (Free users only!)
8. After the said time has elapsed, download the second part (to the same folder as the first one).

After both the files have been downloaded successfully, double-click the part1 file with WinRAR (www.rarsoft.com) or the latest WinZIP (www.winzip.com)

After opening, extract the file to a folder of your choice and then double-click it to view it. If your media player software cannot play it, download the excellent & FREE VLC Player from www.videolan.org and view it.

Whodunnit: Fictional Relief of Frustration – Part V (Last)

Part V: Continued from Part IV:

Recap:
Five auto-rickshaw drivers are mysteriously killed on the road over a week. The passenger of the first auto-rickshaw, Maanvi Sharma, potentially provided a clue of a bike driver being the potential suspect. The investigating police sub-inspector D. K. Gowda had received a note from the supposed killer which explained the reason for the murders. The supposed killer wanted all the auto-rickshaw drivers to drive responsibly & strictly follow traffic rules. Recently, two cabs had a very bad accident on HAL Airport road – killing both the drivers on the spot. While one of the cab driver was shot by the killer for driving past a red traffic signal, the other driver died when the vehicles collided.

The next day, a letter was published in most of the newspapers across Bangalore.

This is my NO-TOLERANCE MOVEMENT.

This time I got two birds with just one shot! The cab driver drove through the red signal; I drove a bullet through his skull.

My hit count is six, but total deaths are seven. Very low ‘statistics’ as compared to the perpetrators on the roads. So, treat this as an open warning to *everyone* on the road. Henceforth, I will not target auto or cab drivers only, now *ALL* the rash drivers are on my hit-list. If I see you break a rule, you will be shot at, 24x7x365. Simple.

Remember & obey the following 10 simple rules:

1. Strictly follow lane discipline. Do not change lanes without prior indication to the vehicles behind & in front of you.

2. Do not drive through red or amber signals. Respect the traffic signals, obiediently.

3. Do not honk unnecessarily. Honk *only* to inform other vehicles, not to SHOUT at them.

4. Slow down & HONK before a road crossing, and every time you take a blind turn.

5. Respect & give way to people crossing the road. Its their right to walk, while driving is a privilege given to you.

6. Needless to say, DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE.

7. As well as, DO NOT SPEAK ON YOUR CELLPHONE WHILE DRIVING.

8. Do not drive on the wrong side of the road, or especially on the footpath, even for a short distance.

9. Do not drive rashly in a personal rush/emergency; if you’re late for your appointment/work, its not the others’ problem.

10. Follow all traffic rules, and do not bribe traffic policemen to avoid penalty/punishment when you flout the rules. I will shoot both of you dead.

No one knows me. No one has seen me. Don’t dismiss my warnings here, I shoot quite accurately & discreetly. Strictly follow my instructions above, and stay alive.

Soon, there will be many more people like me, monitoring the roads in Bangalore & shooting at anyone who dares disobey my instructions. After here, we will move to other cities in India.

JAI HIND!

With a little grin on his face, Gowda read the associated article. He said to himself, “I think, I like this guy!”

The situation on the Bangalore roads, after the last murder & the published letter, was absolutely hunky-dory. *Everyone* was (suddenly!) very diligent & patient on the roads, strictly following lane discipline, respecting traffic signals and all this without unnecessary honking too! The auto-rickshaws, cabs & even two-wheelers – *all* of them, were demonstrating their best driving skills. Someone breaking a rule or about to break a rule – was immediately chided by fellow drivers. It all seemed right out of an unbelievable dream!

Some reality, coming out of fiction…

  • As is popularly said (in Sanskrit) “Dandam Dashagunam Bhavate” – i.e. Just one ‘stick’ (punishment) can teach 10 good lessons, easily.
  • As goes a very popular, but old Marathi song, “Chhadi lagey cham cham, Vidya yeyi gam gam“, i.e. You learn, as soon as you’re punished. Listen to the original song here, its really good.

Q. Why do we Indians learn only when things are taken to the extreme?

Q. Can we only learn with the fear of ‘punishment’, or after receiving the ‘punishment’?

Q. How much can the governments & regulating/voluntary bodies do, if we – the citizens – do not comply by the country’s policies, rules & regulations?

Q. How can we expect *anyone* (governments, leaders, NGOs, volunteers, etc.) to change us when civic sense is *utter nonsense* for us?

  • Coming to reality (from fiction), are we waiting for something drastic to happen to us, before we improve our civic sense & driving skills on the roads?
  • Will we always need a “chhadi” (a teacher’s stick!) to get our acts straightened?

There is a limit to control the frustration… Its still within the limit, as of now.

For how long would such an ideal & dream situation on the Bangalore roads linger, is an easy guess for anyone. Back to fiction…

A month had passed since the last murder. The roads were still satisfactory, everyone was happy with the *drastic* change. Driving was no more war on the road, where you had to use all your skills to survive in life’s reality show.

A clueless Gowda was happy with how the situation had turned, though he regretted not being able to solve the case & arrest the killer. The case had to be closed off, after a few months, as there was nothing which could be done further to solve it.

The biggest festival for most Indians – Diwali – was close, and the ladies were busy scrubbing & cleaning their homes. Diwali was the “annual occasion” when the homes & offices got cleaned and/or repainted – to welcome the New Year (New Year for Gujaratis, Marathis & many others).

On a bright Monday morning, Nirav was getting ready for his office. He wore his dark gray jacket, took his helmet, his brown shoulder bag & climbed down the staircase to the basement parking area. He put on the helmet and kick started his black, silver & golden coloured Royal Enfield Bullet Electra. The bike came alive on the second kick. After warming up the engine for about 25-30 seconds, he rode out of the parking area and got on to the road. Before he could speed away, he saw Swati (his wife) & Stuti (their 5 year old daughter) waving & calling out to him from the balcony of their second floor apartment. He stopped near the main gate of their apartment complex, lifted the helmet’s visor and loudly asked them, “What happened?”

Swati replied, “Stuti found a lot of these old newspapers. They have many articles with their words cut-out. She says she didn’t cut them… Are these yours?”

Nirav paused for a while & then replied, “Yes, these’re mine…”

Swati asked back, “Are they important? Do you need them?…”

Nirav looked back at her, smiled and replied, “No – I don’t think I will need them again. You can throw them out. Okay?… I got to go, I’m late as usual. Bye, see you guys – Have a nice day!”

He waved back to them & rode away! 🙂

(End of the last part, Part V)

Whodunnit: Fictional Relief of Frustration – Part IV

Part IV: Continued from Part III:

Recap:
Five auto-rickshaw drivers are mysteriously killed on the road over a week. The passenger of the first auto-rickshaw, Maanvi Sharma, potentially provided a clue of a bike driver being the potential suspect. The investigating police sub-inspector D. K. Gowda had received a note from the supposed killer which explained the reason for the murders. The supposed killer wanted the auto-rickshaw drivers to drive responsibly & strictly follow traffic rules. Now there’s news about an accident involving two cabs on HAL Airport road.

Alongwith the auto-rickshaw drivers, cab drivers who ferry the various company staff across the city, were also the worst drivers on the road. Unlike an auto-rickshaw, which cannot go very fast, the cab drivers drove their ‘racing cars‘ recklessly on the city ‘tracks‘. Numerous accidents caused by cab drivers were reported on a daily basis, and even otherwise – with their constant honking, menacing driving, blatant & consistent breaking of rules; the cab drivers *were* a serious nuisance on the road.

There was something unusual about this accident worrying Gowda, otherwise he wouldn’t have been informed about it. He was getting anxious as his jeep closed on to the HAL Airport (Old Airport) road – Victoria Road – Trinity Church Road junction.

The junction is a T-Junction where the HAL Airport road ends and the Victoria road starts, while the Trinity Church road causes the perpendicular split & connects them to the M.G. Road. The traffic signal regulates vehicles coming from the old Airport end taking a right turn on to the Trinity Church road, or continue straight on to the Victoria Road. Similarly, Vehicles coming from the Victoria Layout end can take a left on to the Trinity Church Road or continue straight on to the HAL Airport road.

Gowda got down from his jeep and walked towards the crowd gathered near the road coming from the Trinity Church road and turning left on to the HAL Airport road. He could see a white Tata Indica (car) crashed in to the right-side of a white Tata Sumo (multi-utility vehicle). Both the vehicles were badly damaged with the impact. Both the vehicles were cabs, most-likely ferrying IT/BT/BPO employees. There were a couple of police constables and a traffic constable already there. One of the police constable rushed over to Gowda and saluted him.

“Namaskara Sir, we had reported this & called for you.”

Gowda nodded, “Hmm… When did this happen?”

The constable replied, “This happened about an hour ago. We reached here about 30 minutes back, after we received the message broadcast. The traffic constable had first reported this.” He pointed to the traffic constable, called him over and continued, “Sir, the Tata Indica driver was coming from the Victoria road, crossing the signal to get on to the old Airport road, when this happened. The Indica driver was shot in the head, so we were called.”

The constable looked at Gowda’s face, expecting for some reaction. However, Gowda was busy inspecting the two vehicles. Without any expressions, he asked, “Is he alive?”

The constable replied, “No sir, he is dead. Both vehicle drivers are dead sir. We were doing the panchanama when you arrived.”

By that time, the traffic constable had reached them. He saluted Gowda and looked at the police constable, who continued, “After the driver was shot, he seems to have lost control of his vehicle. He probably floored the accelerator of the car turned left to crash into the Tata Sumo which was coming from the Trinity Church road and taking the left turn to get on to the HAL Airport road.”

Gowda slowly nodded his head, then turned to the traffic constable and asked him, “Where were you when this happened?”

The traffic constable immediately replied, “I was right here sir, managing the traffic. I was on the road median facing & guiding the vehicles coming from the Airport road when I heard a loud noise from behind. I turned around and saw the Indica and the Sumo had crashed.”

Gowda asked him, “Were there any passengers in the Indica or the Sumo? Were any other people hurt in this?”

The traffic constable replied, “Yes sir, there was one passenger in the Sumo. He’s not hurt as much, only some scratches. He was sitting on the left seat behind the driver.”

Gowda asked him again, “Any other passengers or passers-by hurt?”

The traffic constable replied, “No sir, no one else. The Indica was empty.”

Gowda turned to the police constable, “Where’s the passenger? Did you speak to him?”

The police constable said, “Yes sir, we spoke to him… that’s how we got to know that the driver was shot at.”

Gowda exclaimed, “What? Did he see someone shoot the driver? Where is he?”

The police constable said, “Yes sir, he’s there on the footpath.” They start walking towards the footpath.

The constable continued, “He said he saw someone riding a bike shoot the driver. The bike was waiting to take a right turn from the Airport road on to the Trinity Church road. After shooting the bike immediately sped away from the spot, he says.”

They reached the footpath and searched for the passenger. He was sitting below a tree with a handkerchief tied to his forehead. He had a bottle of water in his hand and looked calm.

Gowda held his hand out and said, “Hello, I’m sub-inspector Gowda. How are you feeling now?”

The man, seemed to be about 30 years old, shook his hand and said, “Hello sir, I’m Amit Joshi. I’m okay now, thank you.” He looked at his left elbow and lightly touched his forehead.

Gowda said, “Okay, good. Where do you work?”

Amit replied, “I work with Citibank, on Hayes Road, and I stay at Marathahalli. I was on my way home, after my shift, when this happened.”

He continued after a pause, “I saw someone shoot at the Indica sir. He was riding a bike.”

He took a pause again, wondering if he should continue talking or stop.

Gowda, looking at him in the eye, said, “Yes, continue… I want to know what you saw. Tell me in detail.”

Amit continued, “Sir, we were coming from this side”, showing his hand towards the Trinity Church road, “and the signal had just turned green for us and my driver continued to take the turn quickly as there was no vehicle ahead of us.”

“I was slightly worried and was anxiously looking at the traffic coming from the Victoria Layout end. Their signal had turned red, but still the last 2-3 vehicles were speeding through the signal, towards us. One of them was this Indica. As soon as the Indica was at the center of the road junction, I saw a bike rider standing at the signal, point a gun towards the Indica. I think he shot from the gun & after that, I saw the Indica lose control and hurtling towards us. It crashed into us and then I don’t remember anything until I was being pulled out from the wreck by this traffic constable and one other person. I’m not hurt much, but these policemen tell me my driver is dead.”

Gowda nodded. He said, “Yes, unfortunately he’s dead. Did you see the bike rider properly? What bike was it? What was he wearing? Was he wearing a helmet or did you see his face?”

Amit replied, “I only saw the rider for a fraction of a second. I only remember he was riding a black Enfield Bullet and was wearing a black or gray jacket. He wore a helmet, so I didn’t see his face.”

Amit continued, after a pause, “And yes, the rider had a cream or brown coloured bag kept in the front, on the bike’s fuel tank, where he quickly put the gun back before speeding away. I couldn’t understand anything at that time, and was more concerned about the cab approaching us.”

Gowda nodded, “Yes, I can understand. Do you recollect anything else? Anything written on his jacket or bag? Some logo or picture?”

Amit shook his head, “No sir, all this while after I was pulled out of the Sumo, I was thinking about the same thing. Whatever I could recollect I’ve just told you sir.”

Gowda replied, “Okay. Fine. Do you want to visit a doctor & get yourself checked?”

Amit replied, “No… no sir, I’m fine. I just want to go home now. Can I leave? I will hire an auto-rickshaw.”

Gowda called the police constable, “Take his name, address, phone numbers & get him an auto-rickshaw to go to Marathahalli.”

He then wrote something on a chit of paper, turned to Amit and said, “Give the constable your contact details. And, here’s my cell number. If you recollect anything else, feel free to give me a call anytime. Thank you, and take care of yourself.”

After Amit left, Gowda called the traffic constable near, and asked him, “Didn’t you hear any gun-shot sound from where you were standing? It seems you were close to the bike rider?”

The constable replied, “Sir, I might have heard – but didn’t notice it. Many times, vehicle tyres burst and even some vehicles, especially auto-rickshaws, while starting make abrupt loud noises… These sound like crackers bursting. So, I may have heard it, but didn’t give any attention to it sir.”

Gowda said, “Hmm… Is this signal mounted with a CCTV camera, & monitored at the Ashok Nagar police station?”

The constable shook his head, “No sir, not this one.”

Gowda brushed his hair with his right hand; he was deep in thought. This was *again* leading him nowhere. There were thousands of Enfield Bullet bikes on Bangalore’s roads. He still needed some better leads to solve this.

It also seemed like the Indica driver drove past a red signal, just before the vehicles from the Old Airport road were about to take the right turn on to the Trinity Church road. Their signal would’ve just turned green; so the bike rider *must* have been ready to shoot, with his bike engine running, before the Indica drove in front of him.

The killer also seemed to be a trained/expert shooter. He could hit moving targets with accuracy. Most of his shots were on the head, giving little or no chance of survival. Once he shot at the driver here today, all he had to do was keep the smoking gun in his bag, change the bike’s gear and accelerate away.

There must’ve been other vehicles behind him who must’ve seen him shoot and speed away. But no one there, waited to tell the story. These killings were also causing a serious risk to the other vehicles on the road and passers-by.

The next day morning, he was surprised to see the newspaper’s front page reporting the cabs accident and the driver’s murder. It had also published a letter received by most of the newspaper offices, purportedly written by the killer. The letter’s content as well as its photograph was published and it was formed with words cut out from a newspaper or a magazine, just like before. The words were again stuck to a paper in correct sequence of the words to form a sentence. It read:

This is my NO-TOLERANCE MOVEMENT.

This time I got two birds with just one shot! The cab driver drove through the red signal; I drove a bullet through his skull.

My hit count is six, but total deaths are seven. Very low ‘statistics’ as compared to the perpetrators on the roads. So, treat this as an open warning to *everyone* on the road. Henceforth, I will not target auto or cab drivers only, now *ALL* the rash drivers are on my hit-list. If I see you break a rule, you will be shot at, 24x7x365. Simple.

Remember & obey the following 10 simple rules:

1. Strictly follow lane discipline. Do not change lanes without prior indication to the vehicles behind & in front of you.

2. Do not drive through red or amber signals. Respect the traffic signals, obiediently.

3. Do not honk unnecessarily. Honk *only* to inform other vehicles, not to SHOUT at them.

4. Slow down & HONK before a road crossing, and every time you take a blind turn.

5. Respect & give way to people crossing the road. Its their right to walk, while driving is a privilege given to you.

6. Needless to say, DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE.

7. As well as, DO NOT SPEAK ON YOUR CELLPHONE WHILE DRIVING.

8. Do not drive on the wrong side of the road, or especially on the footpath, even for a short distance.

9. Do not drive rashly in a personal rush/emergency; if you’re late for your appointment/work, its not the others’ problem.

10. Follow all traffic rules, and do not bribe traffic policemen to avoid penalty/punishment when you flout the rules. I will shoot both of you dead.

No one knows me. No one has seen me. Don’t dismiss my warnings here, I shoot quite accurately & discreetly. Strictly follow my instructions above, and stay alive.

Soon, there will be many more people like me, monitoring the roads in Bangalore & shooting at anyone who dares disobey my instructions. After here, we will move to other cities in India.

JAI HIND!

With a little grin on his face, Gowda read the associated article. He said to himself, “I think, I like this guy!”

(End of Part IV)
Go to the last part, Part V

Whodunnit: Fictional Relief of Frustration – Part III

Part III: Continued from Part II:

Recap:
Two auto-rickshaw drivers are mysteriously killed on the road over a period of two days. They both were driving at crowded places when they were killed & lost control over their respective vehicles. The passenger of the first auto-rickshaw, Maanvi Sharma, potentially provided a clue of a bike driver being the suspect. The investigating police sub-inspector D. K. Gowda has received the postmortem reports of both the driver’s bodies & they corroborate Gowda’s thought that both the killings are related & done by the same person.

Early morning the next day, a constable walked over to Gowda’s desk and handed over an envelope to him. It was addressed to the Adugodi police station and had arrived by post. Gowda turned it over to see the post-office’s seal on it. It read “Koramangala Post Office” and was posted the day before yesterday, that is – on the day of the second murder. He slit open the envelope and pulled out a paper which some pieces of paper stuck on it. The pieces seemed to form a message created by using printed words cut and pasted in a sequence to form the sentences, and read:

The two auto drivers were killed because they were rash drivers and had almost got me hurt or killed on the road. I was barely saved, others may not be so lucky, so I killed them to save the others. I do not want to hurt or cause worry to any passengers and I will do my best not to hurt them. As passengers, they should act responsibly and stop the auto drivers from rash driving and/or breaking traffic rules. Henceforth any rash auto drivers I encounter, will be shot dead… INSTANTLY. Enough is enough! All auto drivers should strictly follow the traffic rules, obey the signals, show respect to other drivers on the road and drive safely; IF THEY WANT TO STAY ALIVE!

Gowda noticed that the words were cut out from newspaper or magazine articles and cleanly glued on a plain paper in the correct sequence to form the sentences with appropriate punctuation marks. The sentences seemed grammatically accurate, opening up the possibility of an educated & professional person ‘writing’ it!

He thought, “Its quite likely that the bike rider that Maanvi’s reported could’ve killed these two. The reason fits now, though a petty one, but his frustration on auto-rickshaw drivers seems to be on the last stage, not allowing him to ignore/forgive!”

Alongwith the motive behind the killings clarified, the person also seemed to be inspired from Kamal Haasan’s movie “Indian“, where a veteran freedom fighter (Senapati) takes upon a task to ‘clean’ the corrupt government departments by murdering all the corrupt government employees found harassing the public.

Gowda thought, “What will he or she do next? There are close to a lakh auto-rickshaws in Bangalore. A majority of them, rather all of them, break the traffic rules day in and day out. The killer doesn’t even wait for any explanation or reasoning and just shoots down an offending auto-rickshaw driver. He or she seems to be an extremely frustrated person, possibly had some very bad experience with auto-rickshaw drivers. He or she seems to be a regular traveller between Adugodi & Koramangala, quite likely working at Koramangala, as the murders were done in the morning when typically people are on their way to the office. We need to patrol that road thoroughly and even caution *all* the auto-rickshaw drivers in Bangalore about this. What is the best way for me to do that?…”

As if in answer to his question, a few crime reporters rushed in and thronged Gowda’s desk. They started asking him for more information about the two auto-driver murders. Gowda told them that the investigation was in progress and that he had just received an anonymous note from the killer. He told them that both murders were linked and done by the same person, as per the note. On insistence from the reporters, he showed them the note from the killer.

The next day, all the newspapers carried this story on their front page with pictures of the killer’s note to the police and with the regular sentimental masala about the murdered auto-rickshaw drivers’ families & their conditions.

The auto-rickshaw drivers in Bangalore started to panic, with many of them not plying their vehicles that day. Later during that day, the Chief Minister visited the families of the auto-drivers and promised them a cash compensation of Rs.1 Lakh each from the government. He also faced the other auto-rickshaw drivers’ ire over the murders.

The auto-rickshaw drivers’ union representatives also confronted the chief minister, and threatened the CM with an auto-rickshaw strike on the next day, if the killer wasn’t caught. They blamed the inability of the police to secure “innocent citizens” in broad daylight.

The CM tried to pacify their anger, saying the police are investigating the case on priority and that they were tracing the clues to the killer. He said, the killer will soon be caught and put behind bars.

He also asked them to communicate to all the auto-rickshaw driver unions & all their members to maintain their calm and not to break any traffic rules. They should all avoid provoking the killer, until he or she is traced & nabbed by the police.

A couple of days later, with three more auto-rickshaw drivers shot dead – the situation wasn’t in Gowda’s (or rather anyone’s) control. The auto-rickshaw driver unions had called for a second day strike today to oppose the murders, and there were very few auto-rickshaws plying today. Those auto-rickshaws on the road, were driving very carefully – taking care not to offend any other drivers. They had suddenly turned very polite and stopped quarrelling with any other drivers & passengers.

Gowda’s station got an urgent message from their central communication department reporting an accident involving two cabs (taxis) on the old airport road.

Gowda thought, “Oh my god! Now what? Cab drivers?? They *are* the rudest lot on the roads!”

(End of Part III)
Go to Part IV

Whodunnit: Fictional Relief of Frustration – Part II

Part II: Continued from Part I:

Recap:
An auto-rickshaw driver is shot dead by a mysterious killer near the Adugodi signal, while he was driving his passenger, Maanvi Sharma, to the Forum Mall. Though there’s a bad accident after the driver loses control, Maanvi escapes without any major injuries & informs the investigating police sub-inspector D. K. Gowda about an altercation between the auto-rickshaw driver & a bike rider a little while before the accident. She said she thought that the bike rider in a dark gray jacket & a small brown bag on his shoulders could have shot the driver.

PSI D.K. Gowda hung up the call and jotted down the first description of the potential suspect received from Maanvi, though he couldn’t digest the thought that the bike rider could shoot down the auto-driver for such a petty reason. However, he couldn’t ignore any leads & any clues to a potential suspect. With the bike rider in the back of his mind, he left the police station to go to the accident spot to further enquire with the shopkeepers & residents in that area.

After about an hour and after speaking to atleast a dozen shopkeepers & a couple of residents, he concluded that none of the shopkeepers or residents saw anything untoward until the accident occurred. They also did not notice any peculiar person on the road-side. Being a busy road as well as a busy market place, all this sounded pretty weird, but it really seemed like no one saw what actually happened. For someone to shoot a person – while both of them are moving, and with such accuracy to hit the head – he had to be a professional shooter. It was unlikely for such a professional shooter to shoot down a simple auto-rickshaw driver, while riding a bike. So it was quite possible that the shot was fired by someone standing on the road-side. It was also possible that the shot was fired to kill someone else at the location at that time, while it mistakenly hit the driver.

The loud ringtone of his cell phone interrupted his flow of thought – there was a call from his station. He picked up the call, it was one of his constables from the station. He spoke with the constable for less than a minute, and rushed back into his jeep. He asked his driver constable to rush to the Koramangala Water Tank, about 2.5-3.0 kilometers away.

On reaching the St. John’s signal next to the Koramangala Water Tank on Sarjapur Road, he pointed to a crowd standing about 150-200 metres after the signal, “Take me over there.”

The driver drove towards the crowd & stopped the jeep close to the crowd. Gowda saw an auto-rickshaw which had crashed into the trunk of a big tree at the edge of the road. He alighted from the jeep and pushed aside a few people from the crowd to make way for himself. As soon as some of the people saw him, they themselves moved aside, making way for him to reach the accident spot.

The vehicle’s front body was badly damaged due to the collision, so the driver seemed to have been at a high speed. On taking a closer look, Gowda saw that there was no passenger, but the driver was still in his seat crushed by the vehicle’s front body!

Nobody could’ve survived in that position Gowda thought, and that was also probably why no one from the crowd had touched the driver – fearing he was already dead. However, Gowda called up his station & asked them to urgently send an ambulance and a couple of constables to the accident site. He then asked 2-3 people from the crowd to help pull out the driver from the vehicle. They broke off some leftover glass from the wind shield & pulled up the front of the auto-rickshaw with the help of the wind shield’s side bars. Slowly, they pulled out the profusely bleeding driver and laid him on the footpath next to the vehicle.

Gowda inspected the driver, checked for his pulse – there was none, checked his nostrils to check for his breath – but no sensation there as well. He also noticed that there was a deep injury in the head, it seemed like something had pierced through the back of his head and caused a serious injury.

“Could this be a bullet injury? Is this linked to the first murder at Adugodi? Is this the work of a serial killer targetting auto-rickshaw drivers?”

With such thoughts racing through his mind, Gowda loudly asked the people gathered, “Was there any passenger in the auto-rickshaw with him?”

A few people shook their head and replied, “No sir…”

Within another couple of minutes, the ambulance arrived. Gowda asked the paramedics to check the driver, if he was alive. They immediately tried to check if he was still alive, however finally concluded that the driver was already dead.

Gowda asked them to take the dead body & conduct the post-mortem on it. He would now have to wait until the report arrived the next day, to ascertain the cause of the death as well as the cause of the deep head injury.

By this time, his constables also arrived & with them he cordoned the site and started searching for any clues around the crashed vehicle.

He asked the people from the crowd, “Who saw the accident happen?”

A couple of men raised their hand and walked towards Gowda. He asked them to relate what had happened.

One of the men started narrating, “I was standing at the bus-stop here waiting for my bus to go to Bellandur. When the traffic signal turned green for the traffic coming from Madiwala check post, all the vehicles started rushing. There were 3-4 buses in the vehicles and I got busy checking if any of the buses would ply to Bellandur. And within a few seconds I saw the auto-rickshaw suddenly come out from behind one of the buses and directly went & hit the tree. Luckily there were no people standing there, as well as the auto-rickshaw was empty. There was a loud noise and the wind shield glass shattered.”

Gowda looked at him inquisitively, “Was the auto-rickshaw at a high speed?”

Both the men shook their heads & almost replied together, “No sir, it was not fast…”

Gowda looked at both of them, still patiently listening & waiting to hear more…

The second man continued, “But generally like what happens when the signal turns green, all the vehicles rush out fast; similarly the auto-rickshaw was behind the private bus along with other vehicles. He probably was driving towards the left to search for a passenger near this bus-stop, as he was driving empty.”

Gowda said, “Okay, so where were you standing?”

The second man replied, “Over there sir… near that gate sir…” & pointed to the white gate of a house on the service road, parallel to the main Sarjapur road.

“I work there, and had come out to smoke a cigarette… I was almost done, when I heard the crashing noise and saw the auto-rickshaw had hit the tree. I saw the driver was in it, and ran toward it to help. But when I reached there, I was afraid to pull out the driver, as he was badly stuck up in the crashed vehicle’s front body.”

Gowda asked him, “When you saw the driver, was he alive? Was he moving?”

The man replied, “No sir, he was not moving… I don’t know if he was alive, but he made no sound or movement.”

Gowda further asked him, “Did you hear any other peculiar noise before the accident’s sound? Like a gun shot or small blast or so?”

The man shook his head and replied, “No sir… The traffic was very noisy as it is… I didn’t hear any other sound sir…”

Gowda asked, “What other vehicles were next to the auto-rickshaw? Did you see them?”

The man replied, “There were many bikes along with the auto-rickshaw, and a bus that was before it.”

Gowda exhaled heavily & asked them both, “Do you remember anything else?”

Both of them shook their heads again & replied, “No sir… nothing else.”

Gowda looked behind and called out for one of his constables. Then turned back to them and said, “Give your full name, residential address and phone numbers to him. We may call you up, if necessary. And if you recollect anything else, absolutely anything, do call me.”

The two men nodded back.

He turned to his constable and instructed him, “Take their details, and give them my contact number.”

Gowda further instructed the constables to continue with the investigation process as he had to go back to the station.

At the station the postmortem report of the first auto-rickshaw driver had arrived. It confirmed that the death had occurred with a bullet in the head which should have been shot from a maximum distance of 1.5 metres away from the head. The other details of the bullet & the gun used were also mentioned alongwith the other usual information. He skimmed through the report and asked his constable to get him a cup of tea.

The next day, the second postmortem report also arrived and it seemed to corroborate his thoughts of the two accidents being related. The death of this driver was also with a bullet embedded in his head. It would’ve also been shot from a close range of a maximum of 2 metres away from the head. The bullet used & the gun type also matched for both the cases.

“Damn! Who is doing this? And why is he or she doing it? Why only auto-rickshaw drivers? Is there a psycho serial killer on the loose? They both seem like a professional job, as there are almost no clues at the sites. He or she seems to carry out the killings stealthily, in crowded & noisy areas, roads specifically, and making it difficult for them to be traced. What is he or she upto?”

With a deep sigh, he continues poring through the two reports.

(End of Part II)
Go to Part III

Whodunnit: Fictional Relief of Frustration – Part I

The shocked passenger was nervously happy to be alive with some injuries, after a close brush with possible death. The auto-rickshaw she was riding in, had suddenly swerved to the right & hit the median, causing the vehicle to topple to the left. Luckily for her, within a few seconds of the accident, some people from the crowd around the accident spot had rushed over and safely pulled her & the driver out. The people had carried her to the footpath and asked her to lay down there. After enquiring her how she was, she was helped to sit up straight and offered a glass of water to drink.

The 22 year old law student had hired the auto-rickshaw to reach the Forum Mall, and now the vehicle lay badly damaged at the Adugodi signal. She looked at the scratches on her left elbow & left knee and covered her torn clothes with her dupatta. Gathering her strength, she pulled out her cellphone from her purse and checked if it worked. She made a phone call and then continued to check for any other injuries.

Within a few minutes a police jeep with a sub-inspector (PSI) and 3 constables arrived. The constables pushed the crowd back with their lathis, while the sub-inspector looked around the vehicle, spoke to his constables & then asked aloud, “Was there any passenger?”. A few people from the crowd pointed to the girl and replied that she was the passenger in the auto-rickshaw.

Sitting on the footpath holding a half-filled glass of water, the girl nodded at the PSI and searched around for the driver in the crowd. The PSI walked over to her and asked her if she was okay. She nodded again and continued to search for the auto-rickshaw driver.

The PSI asked her, “Was there anyone else with you in the auto-rickshaw?”

She replied, “No.”

The PSI then asked her to relate what happened. She slowly recollected what had occurred and related the incident to him. She again turned around to search for the auto-rickshaw driver.

The PSI asked her, “Are you searching for someone?”

She angrily replied, “Yes, where’s the stupid auto-rickshaw driver? He almost got me killed!”

The PSI looked at her in the eye & replied, “He’s dead.”

She suddenly turned over to him & stared back unbelievably and exclaimed, “DEAD? WHAT? WHERE IS HE?”

The PSI helped her get up and slowly walk towards the vehicle. He showed her the driver’s dead body lying behind the vehicle. The body was lying in a pool of blood near his head.

She again looked back unbelievingly at the PSI and asked him, “How did he die? What happened to him?”

The PSI replied, “He has been shot in the head!”

She exclaimed, “WHAT? SHOT HIM WHAT?”

The PSI replied, “He seems to have been shot with a gun. That’s why he must have lost control over the vehicle and had this accident.”

“Did you see or hear anything before the accident occurred?”

She just shook her head in disbelief, then closed her eyes and started weeping.

The PSI said to her, “Cool down. Stay calm madam. We need you for the investigation. What’s your name?”

She replied sobbingly, “Maanvi”.

He asked, “Full name? And where do you live?”

She replied, “Maanvi Sharma. I stay in a PG at Frazer Town.”

He further asked, “Where were you going?”

She replied, “Forum Mall. My sister is there, waiting for me.”

He asked, “Did you call her up?”

She replied, “Yes yes… I called her a few minutes ago. She should be here any minute.” She turned her head towards the crowd searching for her sister.

The PSI then said, “Okay, we need to check your bag & purse. Can you show it to him?”. He beckoned one of the constables to come over.

Maanvi handed over her bag and purse to the constable, who checked it thoroughly and then returned it back to her. The constable shook his head at the PSI and went back near the driver’s dead body.

She pulled out her cellphone again and called her sister. “Where are you Saakshi?… Okay… Okay, I’m here diagonally opposite the Bata showroom. Come over quickly.” She hung up, turned to the PSI & said, “She’s almost here. Can I go?”

The PSI said, “Give us your full address & phone numbers. Do you want to visit a doctor first? Its important that you get a check up done. My constable can accompany you to a doctor close-by.”

She replied, “No sir, its fine. My landlady is a doctor and I will get myself checked-up by her.” She pulled out a piece of paper, requested for a pen from the PSI and scribbled down her name, address & phone number, and handed it over to the PSI.

“This is my address & phone number.”

The PSI replied, “Thank you. My name is D. K. Gowda. I will call you up tomorrow. You may need to come to the police station. Think about what happened and try to recollect if you heard any gunshot, or saw someone driving next to the auto-rickshaw just before the accident occurred. Okay? Take care.”

Maanvi nodded, and then slowly turned around to see her younger sister rushing towards her shouting, “What happened didi?” and frantically checking her clothes and body. “Are you badly hurt? Where are you hurt?”

Maanvi put her hand on her shoulder, and slowly pulled her away. She then said, “I’m fine. Let’s leave first. We’ll talk on the way.”

They slowly walked over to the other side of the road and hailed another auto-rickshaw to take them home.

The next day morning, Saakshi answered Maanvi’s cellphone. It was the PSI D. K. Gowda on the line,asking for Maanvi. Saakshi took the instrument to Maanvi who was lying down on the bed.

Maanvi answered “Hello Sir…”.

Gowda asked her, “Hello! How’re you feeling today? What did the doctor say?”

Maanvi replied, “I’m quite fine Sir, thank you. The doctor said I only have a few bad bruises… no broken bones, nothing serious. I was really lucky. My bag saved me. What happened to the driver’s body sir?”

Gowda replied, “Okay, good that you’re fine. We had to conduct a post-mortem on the driver’s body, after which it was handed over to his family.”

“So, were you able to recollect anything? Do you remember any gunshot sound or any car or bike driving next to the auto-rickshaw?”

Maanvi replied, “Yes sir. I remembered something, which might be of help to you. I’m a law student myself, and I know the importance of such information in a crime investigation.”

DKG replied, “Oh, great! So tell me…?”

Maanvi said, “Sir, when we were crossing the MICO factory on the Adugodi road, the auto-rickshaw driver had suddenly turned a little towards his right, to overtake another auto-rickshaw, without seeing the rear-view mirror. At that time, a biker driving next to us was barely saved from hitting the road median. He braked suddenly and controlled his bike. He then accelerated behind us and came to our left and shouted at the auto-rickshaw driver. The driver also shouted back at him and they continued their argument while driving. The biker backed off before the Adugodi signal and we continued further. As the signal had turned red, we had to stop. After stopping, the auto-rickshaw driver seemed to search for the biker in his rear mirror… grinning. I don’t know if he saw the biker or not, but within seconds the signal turned green and we started again. We crossed the signal and just before the Bata showroom the driver lost control on the vehicle and we had this accident. I think I saw the same biker on our left just before our accident. I remember from earlier, that he was wearing a dark gray jacket and had a small brown bag on his shoulders. I don’t know if this had anything to do with him, but this just came to my mind about something that had happened just before the accident.”

Patiently listening to her story all this while, DKG broke his silence, “Okay good. Do you know which motorcycle was he riding? Do you remember the registration number, by any chance?”

Maanvi replied, “No sir, I don’t know the motorcycle or the registration number or anything else. This was the best I could recollect.”

DKG said, “Okay, fine. I understand. You should rest. This is my cellphone number from where I’ve called you right now. Store it and call me back on this number if you recollect anything else. We might need your help further, I’ll call you up as needed. Okay?”

Maanvi, “Yes, okay. I understand. Thank you.” She hung up the phone and saved the number on her phone.

(End of Part-I)
Go to Part II

Honk India Honk!

I know, we have quite a few (virtual) reality shows on TV with a similar name. This one is a unique pure reality show, though! 😉

Welcome to THE SHOW OF THE 3rd MILLENIUM! We’ve had contestants from the 2nd MILLENIUM as well, right from the time the vehicle horn was invented. The show wasn’t as competitive, popular & successful then, as much as it is now!

Great? So how do you participate?

Damn simple! If you drive a vehicle in any part of the country, you already are a participant in the phenomenal success of the untold, unregulated & the free-for-all – “Honk India Honk” pure reality show.

Your sole ‘task‘ is to HONK HONK HONK HONK & HONK! (Yeah, jussst make a lot of *NOISE*! If you hit high decibel levels, they stimulate your, as well as other’s vehicles to perform better!) 😉

Tips to give your best “performance:

  • Honk to check if your vehicle’s battery is alive, even with the ignition off.
  • Honk when you start your vehicle, just to check if the battery works. (Though it worked fine to start the vehicle, in the first place.)
  • Honk to get the security guy to open up the gates for you. (Special tip: Repeat again, when you come back.)
  • Honk to call your family & friends (F&F) to get into/onto the vehicle.
  • Honk to just call your F&F to their window/balconies to talk to them loudly from your vehicle.
  • Honk to announce the arrival of your “cavalcade” to all the low-beings on and around the street. MOVE SOME DIRT!
  • Honk to get on to the road from your street; honk to get off the road onto your street
  • Honk to get the vehicles before you to get off the road and make way for the ROYAL YOURSELFNESS!
  • Honk if you’re late for work; honk even if you’re on time. BIG DEAL!
  • Honk angrily if the signal just turned RED. DRATS… *@$%#^!
  • Honk in frustration if the signal doesn’t turn GREEN quickly. WHAT-A-PAIN!
  • Honk impatiently if the vehicles in front of you don’t move quickly when the signal has turned GREEN. DAMN THESE DUMB SNAILS!
  • Honk just to irritate the drivers ahead of you, especially if one of them has given you a dirty look for honking already. WTF! HOW DARE HE/SHE?
  • Honk at the traffic ahead of you; honk at the traffic coming from the opposite direction. SECULAR HONKING!
  • Honk at the cud-chewing cow sitting right in the middle of the road. How come she DOESN’T KNOW that you’re in a hurry?
  • Honk at the guy who just cut your path from the left. WHAT AN A*SEH*LE!
  • Honk at the guy whose path you just cut from the right. WHAT AN IDIOT! Who gave him the license to drive?
  • Honk at the crowded procession ahead of you. BLOODY ANTS!
  • Honk at the large vehicles, honk at the small vehicles. NO DISCRIMINATION!
  • Honk especially where there’s a NO HONKING sign. You score more points for sheer guts!
  • Honk even if the road is empty & there’s no one to honk at. WHERE’S EVERYONE?
  • Honk for NO REASON AT ALL! What the heck!?

More tips, from a popular e-mail in circulation – “Why do you honk your horn?“:

  • Because it is there.
  • It adds auditory colour to the intricate visual tapestry of day-to-day street existence.
  • I bought it; I’m gonna use it.
  • It is part of an essential bat-like sonar echolocation system.
  • I beep, therefore I am.
  • It stimulates milk production in the cows.
  • It scares off potential attackers as I run the gauntlet.
  • My horn switch has only one position.
  • A hammer is to pound things with; a horn… duh!
  • It helps keep me awake. (Popular with over-night bus drivers)
  • Not honking through the fray
  • Without my horn
    • I feel forlorn
    • I beep it all the day
    • I cannot see…
    • How I could be?

If none of the above appease you to participate vigourously – you can also “Honk if you’re lonely tonight“! And/Or just for fun?

Interesting behaviourial explanation: Why we do what we do?

Accepted Injustice

1. Dhanya, a 14 year old village girl, died on the way to the hospital. The valiant villagers who had saved her from drowning in the raging Cauvery waters, couldn’t reach the nearest hospital just 2.5 kms away in-time to save the breathless Dhanya, only due to bad roads. The Sunday ToI (Bangalore Edition) on 28th June 2009, reported the sad news on the front page – as this also highlights the sad state of roads, especially in rural India.

    1. Who’s accountable for the loss of Dhanya’s life?
    1. Can Dhanya’s family sue the PWD (Public Works Department) for the horrible roads, which were the prime reason for their girl’s death? It might be tough to prove the allegations in court (the way our legal system is) – but its become utmost necessary to atleast cause a ripple in the hopelessly lax government departments.
    1. Couldn’t there be some action taken against the authorities responsible to provide the basic “bijli, sadak aur paani” (electricity, roads & water) to the villagers?
  • 2. I had an accident on the 03rd of Mar 2009 at around 22:00 hours, when I was driving my bike back from work. I broke a couple of ribs (minor cracks/fracture, unsure if they can be called “hairline fractures“) when I fell down – as my Bullet, cruising at less than 30 kmph, did not make it out of a deep ditch on Adugodi Road, here in central Bangalore. The front wheel got stuck in the deep crater on the busy road and turned itself to my left, while I was thrown off the bike to my right. I was lucky that the traffic behind me didn’t run over me – it was slow too – and even that the 200 kg bike didn’t crush my right leg!

    1. Can I sue the BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike), which is responsible for the state of the roads in Bangalore, and claim damages for my long suffering & excruciating pain? The ribs took a lot of care, a full two months to recover and caused a lot of stress & worry to my family too.
    1. Is it too much if I expect basic needs to be met, like good quality ditch-less roads in the IT capital of India? Why is the Indian citizen given step-motherly treatment for basic infrastructure – “bijli, sadak, paani”?
  • Yes, instead of cribbing here, indeed I can file a court case, and even can Dhanya’s family. But we won’t get into it. By not doing so, we save ourselves from a few years of court hearings, fat fees to the lawyers and some mental & physical harassment worrying about the uncertainty of the outcome of the case.

    There certainly is a problem with the terribly slow delivery of justice. The typical citizen avoids appealing for justice; and in turn supports the government departments & their employees in their fearless & careless corrupt growth towards “invincibility”. No accountability has induced a “who cares” attitude in them. For them, the death of a citizen is limited to an entry in the dead persons’ register, that too only with a valid death certificate. Period.

    Accepted Injustice” (is what I term this condition): We’ve accepted to live with injustice. 🙁

    How can the heavily corrupt and nonchalant government departments be sanitized? How can we sensitize the government employees towards citizen’s issues? Suggesting some action items:

    1. Implement serious accountability – linked to the salaries of *every* government employee. Parameters for the accountability need to be well-defined and strictly applied.
    1. Conduct regular, as well as surprise audits of each and every department to verify that the accountability is in force. The procedure of the audits can be standardized, so the audits can also be conducted by normal citizens – like you and me. The results of the audits can be one of the parameters for the accountability.
    1. The state Lok Ayukta departments (anti-corruption cells) need to be given more teeth. Any government servant implicated by the Lok Ayukta, should be immediately fired. He/She can never apply for, or join any other government department, ever.
    1. A stronger RTI act and vigilant proactive citizens needed too.
    1. Courts to have a single hearing & immediate judgement (fines) for cases against government departments. The fines ordered in the judgement should be deducted from the salaries of every employee in the convicted department.
  • We never know if these will *EVER* get implemented in India, and we are too small to make these changes happen, or influence them to happen. We sure can hope, though.

    “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” – Oscar Wilde

    So, do post your thoughts as comments here, and I will add the valuable thoughts to the list above – with due credit. 🙂

    Thank you!~

    Postcard from Bangalore!

    I noticed a red & white card lying next to my right shoe while waiting at the Madiwala checkpost traffic signal, on my way to the office. I bent over & picked it up. I wiped the wet dirt which had covered it. It was a card driving license (DL), and the name on the card read “Kavindra Rai”, above his father’s name and a very short one line address (the name of a road) in Darjeeling.

    We all know how difficult it is (typically) to get a DL done in India, especially if you go through the right channels. Alternatively, you need to ‘spend’ quite some money to get it through the twisted channels. So if the DL didn’t reach him, Kavindra would have to go through some trouble to get his DL re-issued at Darjeeling, or worst-case he’d have to go through the full process again – reapply for a fresh license, get the learner’s license, use it for atleast some 60 days, then apply for the permanent license, pass the test (and/or bribe!) & get the DL. And, only I had the power to save him from all that trouble & expense. 😉

    I suddenly felt important… And in the heat of the moment, I assigned myself a task: Trace “Kavindra Rai” & give him his DL back. 😐

    The ‘project’ was kick-started…  (music!)

    I launched my web-browser, and popped the query to Google. Yeah – “Mullah ki daud masjid tak.” I thought Google knew everyone on this planet… however, I was wrong. Either Kavindra was not from earth, or I had exceptionally high expectations from Google (which obviously works only as per data available to it, so nevermind!). Searching on a few social networking sites, on LinkedIn & even Skype contacts did not result in anything – so, it seemed Kavindra was probably not very net-savvy. But then isn’t everyone in hi-tech Bangalore a net-surfing online animal? 😉  Naah, theory = FALSE! Misconception about Bangaloreans.

    I then ventured into the BSNL West Bengal website, navigated to Darjeeling & tried to search for a phone number registered to his dad, or to him. There were a few name matches, but no address matches. I did call up 2-3 people whose names matched, but they turned out to be “wrong numbers” (Yeah, they told me that, though I knew I had dialled the number correctly. :-)). Why is it never a “wrong caller” instead? Anyway, my numerous other tries with some combinations, resulted either in almost the same list of people, or else the nondescript, “No search results”.

    Now I could think of only two final options to reach him, viz.:
    1. Telegram. Courtesy: BSNL
    2. Snail mail – (Yes!). Courtesy: India Post (Bhartiya Daak!)

    I called up a couple of local BSNL offices, and got the know that the nearest telegram office was at the Koramangala BDA Complex. I visited the telegram office there, collected the form, filled it up… gave a deep thought… and didn’t send it.

    Why didn’t I send it?: Well… telegrams are delivered by BSNL, the telephone guys. Would they really be able to find the person at the brief one-liner address in Darjeeling? The odds, I thought, were very low.

    I was thinking – with such a brief address, this task could only be assigned to The Indian Postman. He was my final option too!

    Yes, don’t raise your eyebrows yet. Haven’t you heard of the stories of the Indian postman delivering letters perfectly, even when the letters carried an address so short that would make the tiny space for the address on the postcard seem royal? Yes, I’ve experienced it myself. Letters addressed to my Panvel residence – with just my name on them alongwith the name of my society or my building, are enough to be delivered to my home without delays. Even though, I’m not famous (or infamous!)  in my approx. 7-8 lakh populated town and there’s also one other Nirav Doshi (a good friend!) in Panvel, but the letters are correctly delivered – courtesy: The Indian postman! 🙂

    With the backing of my trust & logic, I expected the postman at Darjeeling would either already know the person addressed, or atleast put in some additional effort in tracing the person addressed.

    I went ahead and bought 2 postcards for Re.1 (yeah, no more the 15 paise we’ve known it to cost… its costlier now!) 😀 . I scribbled a short message about the DL I’d found, my contact numbers & just requested the recipient to call me.

    Quite a few pessimistic thoughts crossed my mind: what if Kavindra’s residence had changed and that was an old address? What if Kavindra had not informed his family about the lost DL and now could be rebuked because of my postcard? And even worse thoughts – What if Kavindra was into some illegal activities? What if he’d run away from home & was not in contact with his family?

    Setting these thoughts aside, I optimistically dropped the postcard in the mailbox & started my wait for that phone call from Kavindra Rai or his family.

    About 10 days after I’d mailed the postcard – I received a phone-call in the middle of a meeting. The caller identified himself as “Kavindra”. I immediately recognized him and exclaimed “Oh, Kavindra Rai! Is that you?” – He sure was the Kavindra Rai I’d been trying to reach for soo long. He said we could meet over the weekend and then he would collect the DL from me. I quickly agreed and hung-up, couldn’t keep the office meeting waiting for me for long.

    After the meeting, I met up with a couple of friends at work and expressed the joy of accomplishing the task I’d set myself unto. My trust and logic was proven right. The 50 paise postcard had done its job in helping me in my task. And ofcourse there was the uncelebrated postman at Darjeeling, who delivered the postcard to its right recipient even with a bare-minimum address on it! 🙂

    Kavindra & me met up on the next Sunday – and I gave him his DL. 🙂 It was also very kind of him to carry along a pack of Darjeeling Tea he got for me, as a token of his thanks. I asked him, how did he manage without the DL for about 3 weeks, to which he said he had a photocopy of the DL with him, so wasn’t so worried about it. Yeah, the RTO Officers @ Bangalore are very accomodating, eh?!

    Nevertheless – Bhartiya Daak… Still rocking!~

    Quota for Tax-payers!

    Humourous Thought (Thanks Swami for this gem!):

    A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.

    We, the Indian salaried class, run the country with our Tax-Deducted-at-Source (TDS) + Surcharge + Cess, is well-known. Ofcourse, there are the Ambanis, Mallya, Birlas & even Shah Rukh Khan & Akshay Kumar, who’re some of the top tax payers of the country. But then its us who pay a relatively high tax as compared to the business class.

    During a discussion with my friend KV (K. Venkatesh – I’m sure most of you know him) on this subject last year, he’d pointed out that as compared to a relatively secure job & confirmed salary at the end of the month (yeah, the IT Dept. thinks so!), the businessmen carry a relatively large business risk of the business not doing well and their investments going for a toss.

    So seemingly all’s fair.

    However, I’d like to point out – though I would probably be the lowest earning member of the apartment complex I stay in here at Bangalore, I am probably the highest tax payer amongst them all, if you compare the incomes! Any purchase that the businessmen (no offence meant!) do like a property, a car, or a music system, or books, CD, DVDs, or even a computer at home – they claim it all as business expense & even register losses. They even make their wife & children as partners in their businesses and withdraw plump salaries on their behalf. While we, the salaried class, get *limited* rebates that too for home-loans & investments only. Nothing personal here, and I know they all work very hard too, like us.

    This is also true for small shop owners like roadside paan-wallas, electricians, etc. I’ve heard stories of paan-wallas who come to their shop in chauffeur driven Toyota Corollas & Honda Civics.

    These are also the people who don’t bother about paying a bribe to get their work done at government offices. They have (obviously untaxed!) black money, which they can splurge at the drop of a hat.

    So: what does an Indian income tax-payer get, as compared to an income tax-defaulter? NOTHING!
    The Indian tax payer doesn’t see any value in paying income tax.

    This has been pinching me and I’ve been carrying these few thoughts about how to get some special value-adds for the tax-payers, as detailed below.

    This thought may not be 100% in its own – with my relatively limited knowledge of “how things work” here – but I’d like to suggest this and I feel confident that this (or an appropriately modified form!) can help be a boost to the tax collections in the country.

    Tax payers in the country should be categorized based on the tax-slabs and/or the annual tax they pay. The National IDs which the government plans to issue to all the citizens can have this added “Tax-payer status”, and/or be differently colored for different categories. This can also (more appropriately) be done at the PAN card level, but with the logistics involved in getting all the currently issued PAN cards updated, it might be a grand exercise. So while the government is at it for the National IDs, why not add a PAN number & tax-payer status to it.

    Based on the tax slab and/or annual tax paid categorization there should be various priorities/reservations (or if you want to call them with the fashionable: Quota!) available to tax-payers for various things like a new phone connection, a new gas connection, bus/train/flight reservation, a new water connection, a new electric connection, a court case hearing (even special fast track courts), school & college admissions, and such.

    This may sound similar to an “economic condition” based quota system which was proposed by many as against the currently misused caste & religion based quota system.

    Benefits, that I think of:
    1. The tax payers will see *value* in paying income tax, rather than defaulting on it.
    2. More & more currently non-tax payers (or defaulters) will want to come into one of the tax-payer brackets.
    3. More people will start declaring their correct income & start paying their income tax due, to climb up the tax-payer category.

    When more people start paying tax, I also think more people will start looking forward to & ASK for better facilities and amenities from the government. People will reduce/stop paying bribe for government work – because their black money resources will have reduced. The government collects more money and hopefully pays the government servants much better, and they don’t ask for bribes anymore. (Yeah, & I’m dreaming!)

    Anyway, endless thoughts! Need to stop somewhere… But the prime target:
    1. Recognize the tax-payers and give them special treatment.
    2. That way, get more & more tax-payers
    3. And, collect more tax money

    Swell idea, or a stupid one? Let me know your thoughts!~