Tag Archives: Nirav Doshi

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

Which car to buy: Petrol or Diesel?

Have you pondered over this question?

While buying a car these days, a majority of us prefer to buy the diesel variant of the car of our choice (if its available), as compared to the petrol one. Even though the diesel variant comes:

  • at a higher purchase cost than the petrol variant (atleast sets you back by Rs. 1.0 Lakh)
  • with costlier maintenance (atleast Rs. 2500/- more than the petrol variant)
  • with vibration & noise (It ain’t as smooth a drive like the petrol variant!) – though many diesel vehicles have improved here;
  • and is known to be more polluting than the petrol variant!

One of the primary reason why diesel cars are preferred in India is: Diesel is cheaper than Petrol!
The other being, diesel cars give a better mileage as compared to petrol cars.

One more: I’ve got a friend here at Bangalore, Rohan (RJF), who’s quite unique amongst the friends I have here. (He’s got a diesel engine in his head, instead of a human brain, specially fit from FIAT, Italy).  To quote him – if you would be driving majorly in the city, go for petrol. However, if you would be driving on highways quite often, go for diesel. Hmm… logical. He also gave me a long explanation, which was quite appropriate, however… technical. 🙂

So, is it really worth buying a diesel car, anyway?

Okay, here’s where I kick start my Gujju brain…
(Note, the figures below are approximate.)

If you buy a petrol car – saving approx. Rs. 1.00 lakh – that can buy you about 1970 litres of petrol at the prevailing prices, for that amount — and drive atleast 26000 kms.

At the same time, to make up for the additional Rs. 1.00 lakh that you pay for a diesel car, it would need you to spend atleast Rs. 2.9 lakhs to buy 7692 litres of diesel, which otherwise you would’ve spent about Rs.3.9 Lakhs to buy the same 7692 litres of petrol — thus saving you Rs. 1.00 lakh.

So, do the figures get you the right perspective now?! 😉

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

“KINGFISHER Coach”

02092009

This is a picture I took on my way to the office today morning. Check it out, the auto-rickshaw is a “KINGFISHER Coach“, probably owned by Mallya’s gardener. 😛 (Actual picture)

And the main thing – there’s something (horribly + terribly) poetic written above it, which reads as below (copying the punctuation as well):

——————————————
Yes Kyoz Me                  => (Excuse me? Okay, but will I regret it?)

Beauty i Like u
But Not u                          => (Eh? Make up your mind!)
I Like u Lip
But Not Kiss u                   => (Untouchable lipstick?)
I Like u Smile
But Not Love                    => (Desi Elvis, sings “Heartbreak auto-rickshaw“)

– Graazy Boy                 => (Yeah, graze around. No hope!)
——————————————-

Don’t ask me… I’m myself asking, *WHAT*?!

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?

Vande Mataram: One Day, Maa Tere Hum

When was the last time you saw the Independence day flag hoisting or Republic day parade, live, or on TV?

Me: I seriously don’t even remember seeing it in the news – later in the evening – for the last few years. 🙁

When was the last time you sung (or even hummed on) the national anthem?

Me: Well, the last time I tried to – I forgot/mispronounced a couple of words. 🙁  This was something we used to sing *daily* during the school & college prayer-time/assembly. Growing old, eh? 😉

Though these were a couple of the “symptoms” we used to proudly show-off to demonstrate our “patriotic fever” towards our motherland, they seem to have faded away in our past – drowned in our current life-style. We used to love pinning/sticking the Indian Tricolour on our shirts, T-Shirts, bikes, cars, doors, etc.; running & cycling around with the flag held high; and wishing everyone a “Happy Independence Day” or a “Happy Republic Day”. Nostalgic, aah!

These “symptoms” used to get us a “high” and were on “display” only a couple of days before the 15th Aug and the 26th Jan — Hence, I’d coined it as “One Day, Maa Tere Hum“… (Read it like: Vande Mataram!).

Sujalam Sufalam Malayaja Shitalam Shasya Shyamalam Maataram Vande! (Note: I didn’t Google for the lyrics; these were verbatim from my memory! Aaah!)

Whenever you have some time to spare (about 2-3 mins.) please read: http://me.enirav.com/?p=594
and post your comments at the site, after reading. Thanks! 🙂

सुजलां सुफलां मलयजशीतलाम् शस्यशामलां मातरम् वन्दे ।
Visit here and read it with its English meaning, I recommend. (Googled only now!)

The fever has lost its fervor and here we are, still high on patriotism, but bogged down with other things in life. A PH – public holiday – to relax, travel, shop, have fun; that’s what the Independence days or Republic days are meant for now. 😐

With the country completing 62 years of independence, what’s on your to-do list for this 15th Aug 2009?

Me: I plan to get up early and watch the Independence day flag hoisting with my 5 yr. old daughter, Stuti. It will probably be her first Independence day “celebration” – the reasons for which, she’s yet to learn & understand. 😀

Chak De… Chak De… Chak De India!

Jai Hind! 😀

Visit: http://india.gov.in/myindia/myindia.php

The Flag of India
The Flag of India

Indian National Anthem (Audio)

Indian Nathional Anthem (Video)

Controls & restrictions at the workplace

All offices have numerous controls & restrictions in place, to avoid/reduce the obvious misuse of the facilities offered for work. Access restrictions to hardware device(s) (like CD/DVD Drives, USB ports), restrictions accessing the internet, blocking/limiting uploads & downloads, to only allow restricted software to be installed, and likewise; are very common. Deploying & administering such controls & restrictions are also relative easy today, especially with the system administrator-friendly tools & utilities available today.

However, my primary thought was, no such controlling software utility can be robust enough; And I proved myself right when I was able to (rather easily) break through 2 such strong products (Eureka moment! ;-)). One of the products is a resource hogging anti-virus software (forced onto my computer by my office policy!) and another is an endpoint device blocking system. Me; a tiny petty hacker as compared to the grandmasters of the underground; being able to do this – meant such product developers have *work* to do! 😉

Almost all these utilities do the following to block the unwanted devices and secure their own files/services:

  • The device blocking utilities hook-up themselves to the OS and intercept any calls to the devices they are programmed to block. They detect & allow valid calls to the devices, while blocking the unwanted ones. So – if a USB blocking utility intercepts a new USB device being connected; it checks if its an allowed device – like a USB mouse or a USB keyboard; or if its one of the devices to be restricted – like a USB Stick or an iPod or an external USB Hard Disk Drive (HDD) – and behaves accordingly. The utility passes the allowed device calls through to the OS’s handler, and discards the other calls – to achieve its purpose.
  • These utilities are typically developed as a Windows service which run at the Windows startup. These services cannot be started or stopped by the user.
  • To employ better security these utilities also have a seperate process or a thread or another service running/polling to monitor if the primary service is running. If it finds the service stopped – it restarts the service immediately.
  • These utilities also block the access to its installed folders/directories – such that there’s no way one can venture into the directory and delete/rename/tamper with its files. The blockage is typically in place even in safe-mode or command prompt mode. Probably if the HDD is connected to another computer, as a secondary drive there – the folder restrictions would not apply. (Haven’t tried it myself.)

I’ll talk about the endpoint device blocking product, GFI EndPoint Security (to block iPods, USB Sticks & other such endpoint devices). You can review the $25 per computer product’s features here.

NOTE/DISCLAIMER: I strongly suggest you against doing the following on your office computer – to avoid breach of your office’s security policy & inviting serious trouble for yourself. Well, we can argue about this – however I didn’t disable the GFI product to forcibly breach my office policies, but I had received an external USB HDD from our Las Vegas office, and wanted to access it from my machine. Me; disliking any controls and/or restrictions, and me; being anxious/desperate to break out of the virtual chains – are ‘tangential’ here; if I may plead so. 😉  I was testing the ‘strength’ of the security products, as well as my skills. 😛

All I needed was one free & powerful utility Process Explorer, from Windows Sysinternals (erstwhile SysInternals.com by Mark Russinovich & Bryce Cogswell).

  • I launched the ProcessExplorer and suspended the GFI’s monitoring service (I am not going to name the service here)
  • Next I launched the Windows Services Manager & changed the “Startup Type” to “Disabled”, for the GFI service. The service was left running, untouched. Alternatively, you can also use the AutoRuns utililty from Windows SysInternals again, to disable the service.
  • Finally – just restarted the computer to start to a successfully disabled GFI’s monitoring service.
  • I then renamed the folder name – to ensure it wouldn’t start again – *if* the office’s network policy re-enabled the service when it was redeployed afresh to my computer.

That was all! FREEDOM for my computer’s 4 USB ports! 😀

Similarly (not the exact same method), I was also able to disable the McAfee Viruscan which used to hog my CPU (90-95%) & RAM (upwards of 180 MB) whenever I used Microsoft Outlook or opened/extracted any ZIP/RAR files. There probably is a leak in their real-time scanning module, in the version we have at the office, or the problem occurs only on Windows Vista (which I use); because the hogging is comparitively low on my colleagues’ Windows XP Pro computers.

Nevertheless, instead of implementing such controls & restrictions, if the companies undertake imparting regular education to their employees on workplace ethics, I think it would go a long way. This is just like the traffic policemen standing *after* the traffic signal posts or in the *middle* of the one-ways, to catch the violaters & “extort” fine/bribes. Instead (& I always crib about this), why can’t the traffic policemen stand *at* the traffic signal and STOP the potential violaters from breaking the law in the first place? Similarly they should stop any drivers from entering into a one-way, in the first place. This topic is for another blog, however couldn’t avoid blurting it out.

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!~

    Mission marathon

    Inside the Kanteerva Stadium, Bangalore. From the Gate 11, this was where we were waiting to enter into the ground/tracks.

    Inside the Kanteerva Stadium Bangalore
    Inside the Kanteerva Stadium, Bangalore. From the Gate 11, this was where we were waiting to enter into the ground/tracks.



    Inside the Kanteerva Stadium, Bangalore. A bunch of us Nouseans holding the placards high.
    Sorry about the shaken picture, it wasn’t me! 😛

    Some of the Nouseans on the ground with the placards high!
    Inside the Kanteerva Stadium, Bangalore. A bunch of us Nouseans holding the placards high. Sorry about the shaken picture, it wasn



    Inside the Kanteerva Stadium, Bangalore. Finally, the Nousean group started running…! Me there too… 😀

    dscn3393
    Inside the Kanteerva Stadium, Bangalore. Finally, the Nousean group started running...! Me there too... 😀

     

    This time on the road, out of the stadium. I’m there in the front with the gray track-pants.

    On the road!
    This time on the road, out of the stadium.

     

    After about a kilometer completed. See us panting and puffing… :P. That’s me in the front with my napkin & cellphone in my track pocket. Just behind me, Manjunath looks like he’s about to drop down! 😀

    That's me in the front with my napkin & cellphone in my track pocket. Just behind me, Manjunath looks like he's about to drop down!
    After about a kilometer completed. See us panting and puffing... :P. That's me in the front with my napkin & cellphone in my track pocket. Behind me, Manjunath looks like he's about to drop down! 😀

    Another one, Manjunath is close to the lens this time… me right behind! 😉

    Another one, Manju close to the lens this time... me right behind!

    One more…

    One more...

    And this one with a lot of Nouseans in the frame catching their breath. 😉 Yeah, I needed the break too… 😛

    Whew... catching our breath!

    And here’re Aji waving out & a partly visible Sunil Shankar right behind Aji.

    Aji & a partly visible Sunil Shankar

    Nouseans in a group!

    A group of Nouseans!

    Sridhar, Sunu, 3 others, KB & a couple of female Nouseans – resting in the shade! Placards already half-way down! :-))

    Nouseans under a shade... Placards already half-way down! :-))

    Hurray! In front of the Vidhan Soudha (Karnataka State Assembly)
    Vidhan Soudha: Government Work is God’s Work! ;-)) With that our ministers are angels! 🙂
    Vidhan Soudha: Government Work is God's Work!  ;-))

    The Famous Five – After completing the mission.
    Sunu, Abraham, Suresh, KB & me!

    Whew! Mission accomplished, at last!
    Whew! The Famous Five - Mission accomplished, at last!

    Kick-start… Courtesy, ITC, UB Group…

    After a nice 5.7 kms of Sunfeast Bangalore Majja (fun) marathon yesterday (31st May 2009), I have a few aching muscles and lots of memories of a nice time running for Bangalore! I’d say a nice kick-start for me to exercise more frequently, as well as to participate in such events henceforth. Thanks to ITC Sunfeast… (ITC Ltd.)… as I don’t contribute to their revenue/profits otherwise! 😉 Nor do I contribute much to the United Breweries’ coffers (KingFisher [KF]!)… 😉

    Thanks also to my employers Nous Infosystems & the HR team – who organised this event for all of us.

    The Sunday started off for me with a sleepless night, as I slept (& kept) wondering if I would wake up on-time… worrying if I wouldn’t be on time & miss the 08:30 missive by Maryann (our Sr. HR Manager) as the time to meet up opposite the UB City entrance on VM road.

    I woke up, well before the 3 alarms I’d set for myself & was ready to leave home by 08:00. Stretched myself a little, and left home after having a couple of glasses of water.

    I was supposed to meet my colleague KB at a parking place close to Kanteerva Stadium, from where we were to walk to UB City and meet up with the rest of the guys from my company, Nous Infosystems. Coincidentally we met up right at the parking place and started our “marathon” walk towards UB City. We walked a little more than half a km to reach UB City at 08:20 and waited for the rest of the guys from the office.

    They slowly trooped in after about 30 minutes, i.e. about 20 minutes later than the 08:30 schedule. Finally we received our T-Shirts, our ID badges & our kits. We were prepared to carry the kits during the run, though we would’ve preferred them to have been given to us on the previous day, allowing us to decide what we really need to carry during the run. Additionally we also had to store and carry the T-Shirts which we wore from home that day, because we had to change into the “official” T-Shirts. 😉

    The Nous T-Shirts (official-wear) were good, though could’ve been better without the light gray colored text. The text wasn’t quite visible on a white T-Shirt, however I guess there were constraints that the designers couldn’t bypass. Nevertheless, they looked pretty good!

    We got into the Kanteerva Stadium from the designated gate and then went over to the Gate 11 from where the participants for the 5.7 km Majja (fun) run started their marathon! Gate 10 was overflowing with participants and the participants from the Gate 11 were also made to enter the ground from the same entrance as Gate 10. Nevertheless, we *finally* started our run at 09:30 hrs. IST and slowly worked our way out of the stadium.

    There was a huge crowd for the Majja run – official count ~13500~ – and most of them were corporate representatives in their “official-wear” with placards/banners in hand or wearing caps. The event was high on spirit & enthusiasm as there was no competition, pure participation.

    Manjunath, KB & me typically started running together (I’m wearing the ID 20453). Later we got seperated, but we continued running. We ran a little distance, then paused under a shade (if available!), caught our breath (was available!), walked some distance & then started running again… again for a short distance! Yes, we’re not in shape, and it showed! 🙂

    The crowd, volunteers and the “official” cheer-leader girls (Yes!) were quite entertaining (less encouraging)… especially when you’re out of breath. 🙂

    The sad part about the run were the roads strewn with litter – especially the small KF water bottles, thrown on the road by the runners after emptying. Later, I passed a woman participant in Cubbon Park carrying a couple of large polythene bags filled with these strewn bottles – hats-off to her!

    Winding across the route, we – 4 of us from Nous, viz. Abraham, Sreekumar, Santhosh & me – finally completed the 5.7 kms stretch in ~00:50:00! Back in Kanteerva’s enclosure at ~10:20 hrs. IST for the water (gasp!), cheering crowds (whew!) & refreshments (wow!).

    Though the event was to encourage a GREEN BANGALORE, a couple of things could’ve been organized better to really show the spirit.
    1. They could’ve organised BMTC buses from all around Bangalore to pick-up and drop the participants. This would’ve saved a lot of fuel + reduced the parking hassles at the event.
    2. Instead of supplying KF water bottles, the organizers should’ve encouraged the participants to fill up the water bottle, given in the kit, at the watering holes. The littered roads were cleaned within a short while after the event, which is good – but it could’ve been avoided altogether – as there *was* a better & greener alternative.

    These and other such improvements could’ve served the event better. Hopefully, the next time…

    Looking forward to a greener Bangalore, contributing to a greener India, and eventually contributing to a greener earth! 😉

    Hello World!

    Being a programmer (now only at heart!), and that too a C, C++ one… everything starts with a “Hello World!” – Courtesy K & R.

    throw, is a programming statement used to “throw handled/unhandled exceptions”. Read more, if you want to: http://www.cplusplus.com/doc/tutorial/exceptions/ & http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/6dekhbbc(VS.80).aspx

    Anyway, a wam welcome!
    Thanks & keep visiting for more about me & my experiences, thoughts, core-dumps! 😀