Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Chettinadi Chennai - Wandering wisdom

As if the Bangalore auto drivers were not enough for me that I experienced their brotherhood in Chennai who are a bunch of hooligans on the prowl to rob you the minute you park yourself in their vehicles. Not only do they demand more money from you but even threaten to leave you at some dark desolate place where you will find no conveyance if you do not pay them the amount quoted by them.

Thanks to all this, I chose to wander around Chennai by foot. The weather being pleasant, I didn't face much difficulty stayin in the sun. Just putting down a few things at ramdom which I came across while stroolling for a couple of hours.

Though I am not a very good patron of fruits being cut and sold in the streets by vendors, I think this person here has done a fairly good job. The cut fruits are put in a transparent packet, the opening of which is sealed by by folding the excess of the bag and binding it with a toothpick. The user can easily open up this packet and use the toothpick to eat the fruits - very simple and effective.

Down a few steps, I saw the first local movie poster in Chennai; looked like some sci fi movie to me where the hero and heroine would set out on a quest to go to some fantasy land ... something Vikram n Betaal style.

I little further I was tempted to pick up a couple of Tommy Hilfiger vests being sold on the pavement for a meagre price of just Rs.40/-. I'm sure Tommy would faint to find his knock-offs being sold so freely in a city where his originals would be priced atleast 1o times the amount in the showroom.

Lastly, I saw this young guy sitting on the pavement with his parrot in a cage and pulling lots of fast ones on this lady sitting down in front of him with grim concentration written across her face - I'm sure they will still do the same 10 years down the line and nothing much is gonna change no matter how fancifully this astrologer presents his client's future on a platter.

Chennai turned wasn't much of a surprise and turned out to be like any other metro, though I somehow go back with the impression that Chennai is "The Delhi of the south".

P.S. Forgot to mention that Chennai has a very well planned placement of subways and the next time you are in Chennai dont miss food from Saravana Bhawan - it has totally kick ass south indian food.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Chettinadi Chennai - The US Visa Exam

Gosh !! I thought that the last exam I gave in my life was the class 12 ISC exam. Little did I know that the greater exams in life are due to come. In Chennai last tuesday, I was amazed to see the queue outside the US consolate office for Visa interviews.

There was everyone around........ kids, teens, youngsters, mid-aged people, old men with sticks and ones on wheel chairs as well. And the extra baggage with them being their family. Youngsters helping the elderly and the elderly praying and blessing the yougsters before the latter go to appear for their interviews.

People waiting to get into a queue

Just leaves me wondering that what is so great about going to the USA when our country is at its peak of development? Seing the huge daily attendance of people to immigrate it makes me wonder as to how much of potential knowledge base we are losing out everyday. Some people differ by saying that its leads to greater foreign exchange monitarily due to NRIs; but we need to decide as to what is more valuable - knowledge and the belief in oneself as a nation or short term monetary gains?

I was under the impression that today the youth is more inclined towards staying in India as this is the right time when we are growing from all quaters - but that impression lasted till I was in Chennai.

Nearly 100m from the US consulate
where people are waiting on the pavemant.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Zip Zap Zoom !!

Last Monday I made a one day visit with my sister to Chennai and the trip though refreshing, as I got to catch up with her, had with it a few experiences attached - which were a mix of plesant and no so pleasant ones as well. Well to start with, a pleasant one.

As I reached station early for a change (one of the rare times that I reached the station an hour in advance) I had the chance to look around a bit of Bangalore Central station. What attracted my attention in particular was the automated platform ticket machine. There have been many times when I had to queue up for a long time to get a single platform ticket for just Rs.3/- .

To start with, this machine looks pretty clean ( according to general standards at railway stations) and thus inviting. The signage is placed at a good height and protrudes at a right angle from the top of the machine thus increasing visibility from both sides.

Taking a look at the instructions, being broken down into two clear columns makes it much easier for the user to comprehend based on which mode of transaction to opt for.

I was often irritated to come across machines which accepted coins of just a single denomination. However, this is well tackled in this macine with it accepting Rs. 1/2/5 coins in a combination for a maximum of 3 tickets for a single transaction. So we have a new machine here which accepts all the coins in my wallet and recognizes each one of them once inserted. It is also clearly communicated that " Machine gives no change!"

The display comes alive once you have put in a coin and recognises the coin you inserted and tells you how many more coins to insert depending on the number of tickets you want.

Ok..... now talking about the real output - the ticket. The ticket is a neat square piece of paper with the relevant information on it and more importantly the right ones highlighted by a larger size.

For me the experience of using this machine was abosolutely new and more importantly hassle free. Kudos to South Indian Railway for experimenting and introducing this macine and I really hope to see these machines installed all across the important stations thus leading to lesser queues.

My sisiter being with me alongside commented that this must be a foreign made machine which I being a design student vehemently opposed saying that in India also we have the manpower to come up with such a technology. Well, my belief didnt serve me right till I found out that this machine is produced by a german company called Hectronic who are in this business for 50 years already and have a few models ready for parking and ticketing machines.

Whatever it might be, I will surely be looking around for this macine next time I visit a station to drop anyone :-)

Santa Sadhu

In Bangalore for the last couple of weeks, I got to see a fair bit of the city thanks to a friend of mine who was kind enough to lend me his scooty.

Well, at one of these junctions i saw a man dressed in a sadhu-like attire selling something to vehicles waiting at a traffic junction.

As he came closer i realised that keeping up with the mood of the season this person is selling Santa caps to people...... lucky that i could find time to take out my cam n click him.

Dressed in a lungi and a saffron shirt with a carelessly tied pony this man was a perfect image of a homogeneous culture which we are headed towards today where we clelebrate all occasions keeping aside cast, creed, religion and alike.

Though a bit of a visual jerk ( in terms of mechanics ;-) ) I somehow liked this concept of a Santa Sadhu...... just that if Santa would have seen this man he would have probably said, " Dude!! Thats ma cap - wear it like I do and not like a clown "