Saturday, March 29, 2008

Predators and Terrorists

Dogs have been man's best companion for ages but as man evolved, dogs evolved too. There were different breeds with different purposes with different food habits. As their population increased, men couldn't tame them anymore so they were left astray on the streets. These stray dogs which resulted due to imbalance back then, has now become a deadly menace on the streets of Bangalore.

About 3 years back, when I was returning home from office on my motorcycle, I spotted an ugly, angry canine on the street. As my bike sped, like a cheetah chasing a deer, it started chasing me ferociously. I don't know what went inside that creature, but for an onlooker it looked as though the dog was trying to race with my bike. Maybe it was trying to get a bite of my flesh to satiate it's hunger or the noise of my RXZ annoyed the creature to chase me. I was lucky that I escaped unhurt, but the purpose of this passage is not to describe the chase, but to make organizations like PETA or PFA aware that stray dogs can be disastrous on roads leading to fatal accidents. PFA website in it's achievements page have mentioned that it got the stray dogs adapted by dog lovers, but as mentioned earlier, unfortunately, dogs are outnumbering dog lovers.

That was an incident quite long back (but very much prevalent even today on most streets) and since then the dogs are evolving into wolves. Incidents of dogs mauling kids to death is not so uncommon in Bangalore and other cities. This and this are few of the many deaths caused by the, man's best companion, dog. Such incidents might disturb, distress and shake the public when reported on news channels, but gradually they end up in oblivion leaving the dogs as usual - cheerful, hungry and preying.

And the most recent incident of downing the Kingfisher flight ATR72-500 during it's take-off in Bangalore is "Ripley's Believe It Or Not!" kinds. The Kingfisher flight hit the stray dog on the runway which caused the nose landing gear to collapse thereby delaying flights. Dogs truly are evolving in every sense, from two-wheelers they've switched to planes!!! Are the man's best friends turning into terrorists?

Here I read a touching report about maltreating the strays, but I'm not sure how vaccinating and neutering the dogs would prevent the aforementioned "chasing the two-wheelers" or "mauling the children" or "downing the flight" cases. Probably the dogs may need some kinda asylum (should I call it jail for all it's misdeeds?), maybe a vast area on the outskirts of Bangalore, where they could be fed and taken care. I'm against killing those innocent creatures on the roads in such a terrible way, but they could be subjected to a rather painless methods of euthanasia - probably injections? I may sound harsh and heartless, but shouldn't we get pragmatic at some point of time?

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Height of Absurdity

Kingfisher airlines, known for it's pretty mistresses aboard, gave me a truck load of crap (read Policy in their jargon) when I called them to check for my reservation status. After the prompt response by a hasty female attendant about my reservation, I had an extra question. "Can I carry my guitar as cabin baggage given that I'll be carrying my laptop?"
She put the call on hold to check with the concerned authorities and got back to me, "Thanks for waiting. If you're carrying your laptop also, then the best thing you can do is buy another ticket and then carry the guitar!!!"
I told her, "Don't you feel that this sounds absolutely ridiculous?"
She replied, "Yes sir."
I shot back, "I'm surprised why KF airlines won't allow me to carry guitar, for Malaysian airlines allowed me without any troubles."
She said, "It's our policy sir. Sorry for the inconvenience. Anything else you want to find out?"
I slammed the phone down saying, "No thanks"

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Wrong Report

If you don't know, then just shut up, don't talk. Better still, don't report. The first Indian heavy metal band "Millennium" is mis-reported as Pentagram in today's TOI report.

Friday, March 14, 2008

La Huasteca...The White Mountains

As I've mentioned in most of my posts concerning Monterrey, it's a city surrounded all over by mountains, The Sierra Madre range. La Huasteca, is a canyon which is on the outskirts of Monterrey and a home of gorgeous white mountains. The mountains are extremely artistic in nature and are a perfect abode for adventures like hiking, mountain climbing, mountain biking and horse riding. It's located very close to Monterrey, about 15 minutes of driving on Morones Prieto avenue. The following photographs are just a glimpse of this, yet to be explored, gorgeous canyon.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Continental Airlines...Sucks!!!

Not everything American is cool and Continetal airlines is one of them. Flight delays are acceptable sometimes, not like this one which you're gonna read on.

My flight was supposed to be revving it's engines and flying off at 11:05. Initially the guy at the boarding counter announced that the flight was delayed by 45 minutes and he checked the tickets of passengers with connecting flights for possible flight misses. Atleast mine didn't have any problems and he said "It was delayed for maintenance. We will board in 15 more minutes".

It past more than an hour and he made another announcement "Sorry to announce this, but the flight is delayed further and we're starting from Monterrey at 15:00. Passengers with connecting flights, please proceed to the counter". My connecting Lufthansa flight from Houston to Frankfurt, was at 17:10. He saw my ticket and he said "No problem". I was first of all stupefied at his blatant stupidity, Houston is an hour ahead (in time) of Monterrey and it takes an hour and a half to reach there and he said that I'll not miss my flight at 17:10 if I start at 15:00. I questioned him how on earth was it possible for me to catch that flight. After reaching I had to get the US immigration cleared, get my baggage and customs cleared, get the boarding pass for my connecting flight, get the security cleared and board the flight. After a quick contemplation he agreed that it was not possible and he rebooked my tickets for the next day which required an overnight stay at Houston. But before that he checked if he can get me flights via Netherlands or France since I wanted to avoid the stay. From Paris there was a direct flight to Bangalore and he asked me if I have visa. I told him that I had a transit visa for Schengen states and showed him the visa I had. Again there was a absurd display of his stupidity. Our conversation:
He: Your visa is not valid
Me: Why?
He: It's not a French visa.
Me: I do agree it's not a French visa, but France belongs to Schengen states and it's a Schengen transit visa issued by German consulate.
He: Yes, maybe. But I don't see France written anywhere.
Me: Neither Germany is mentioned anywhere, it's not specific to either Germany or France. It's a Schengen transit visa and holds good for all Schengen states.
He: If I give you ticket and visa is not valid, Continental will give me a fine of $10000.
Me: Yes sir, but my visa is valid and in case it's invalid also, there is an exception in the rule which says that "Indians transiting in any Schengen states need not have Schengen visa if they posses a valid US or Canadian visa" and I do have a valid US visa.
He: Sorry sir. I just can't issue tickets.
Me: @#$%^%#%#@#$@$@ (Not audible though)

It past 15:00 but there was no call whatsoever, not even it looked like they were preparing for the boarding. Finally at 17:00 there was a queue for boarding and I just followed them without giving much damn to announcement. As my turn came for boarding he checked my boarding pass and said, "This queue is for a different flight, yours will start boarding in another 15 min". Finally the boarding happened at 5:40 and the flight took off at 6.

At Houston, I disembarked and ran fast towards immigration to avoid long queues and then headed to customs. The man at the customs looked like "You don't bother me, I don't bother you" kinds. He asked me where I'm coming from and where I'm heading to, he didn't take the pain of opening my bags for checking...damn!!! I should have got those avocados and jícamas. I then headed to Continental office, where there was a long queue. I met a semi-bald old man from Continental airlines to whom I asked if there were any flights that can fly me to Europe at that time of the day. With his ugly racist attitude (the ones that most Mexicans are subjected to from their neighbouring big brother) he said, "I'm not a travel agent to arrange such things, you gotto follow the queue and check with people in the counter". I just felt like yelling back at him "You racist old ass, to hell with your attitude", but I controlled. Then I went to a different counter where I met this desi-officer (read Indian officer) who asked for my tickets to check what could be done. Then he came back and told me that since the flight was delayed due to weather, they can give me some discount voucher at one of the hotels. I then told him it was not due to weather, but it was a mechanical problem that they stated back in Mexico. He giggled back with the heaviest north Indian accent, "There is nothing called mechanical failure, flight was delayed just because of weather. We can't do much except giving out some discount voucher". I then got back in the queue with my new friends (whom I had met in Mexico), who were ready to fight in case they didn't give us accommodation.

I reached the counter, there was old impatient Asian lady who, thankfully, printed my hotel and meal vouchers three times. She was complaining to her boss that the printer was not responding and hence she fired the print thrice. So without me asking for anything, they booked hotel rooms and changed flight tickets. I went to the courtesy phone in which I had to dial three digit code of Ramada JFK hotel and I did dial those three digits. But there was no response. I dialed thrice, but there was no response. I asked one of the airport authorities for help and he asked me to wait outside for the shuttle service. I waited and waited and waited for nearly an hour and a half...shuttle services of Sherton, Mariott, Sleep Inn and other hotels passes thrice or four times but of Ramada JFK, not a single time. It was cold outside, I was tired and finally I met a lady with whom I shared the taxi and reached the hotel. No it's not yet over!!!

Ramada JFK didn't have any rooms. It was insane. Without even checking the availability of rooms, Continental had blindly given away vouchers!!! From Ramada JFK we were picked by another shuttle which took us to Hotel Monarchy and to our luck our vouchers were honoured by them.

Next day I reached the airport an hour before the time of my flight and I handed over the changed itinerary which continental had given to me on the previous day. The lady checked my ticket and she said that my tickets were not really booked, only the itinerary had changed by Continental. After consulting with her supervisor, she could somehow get me the tickets. With a sigh she told me, "Continental had not finished the job, they had not booked your tickets which they should have done. You're lucky that there were seats and I've booked tickets for you. Have a good flight". I replied to her with a wry smile, "Thanks. Continental screwed up my entire journey".

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Concerts and me

An year and half long project in Shanghai got over on 15th March, I fly back to Bangalore on 16th and 17th March Iron Maiden played in Bangalore. A perfect example of making it in the nick of time.
My company sent me to Mexico!!! in May and 1st of September I was banging my head for Toni Iommi's riffs when Black Sabbath - Heaven and Hell tour brought them here.

The Gods were kind enough to send Iron Maiden to Monterrey and Bruce bestowed upon us his blessings on 22nd of March - Somewhere Back in Time, World Tour 2008.
And this takes the piece of cake - I was supposed to reach Bangalore on 15th March for a vacation and I was utterly disappointed that I was missing the Megadeth concert by only 12 hours. But then the tickets were not yet confirmed and the only date in proximity to 13th which had tickets was 10th and my boss agreed!!! What more do I need?

F@#$ I'm Lucky!!!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Overnight Fame

Disclaimer: Writing an article on sensitive subjects like this are risky and intimidating. I've tried to maintain the article as neutral as possible, in other words, it's not against Sasken, not against Kannadigas, not against foreigners, not against North Indians (if anybody tries to give that angle for the article). It's just a means whereby I've shared my feelings about the unfortunate incident. Critiques and comments are more than welcome.

The farmer in the remotest corner of India may not know what ISRO or BEL or ISI are, but he surely would know what on earth Infosys and Wipro are. But there are certain IT companies in Bangalore which silently does quality work without much pomp and pageantry and undoubtedly Sasken belongs to such category. At certain times, there are certain elements inside the company who're not too happy about the low profile maintained by the company, in either good bad or ugly ways, they would want to make the company 'known' to the aforesaid farmer in the remotest land. A spark of misfortune was kindled by few bad elements which now has set the entire company into an inextinguishable fire.

When I said hello to my parents on skype this Monday morning, like I do every day, the very first question my mother asked, "Do you know what happened in Sasken? Members of Rakshana Vedike are ransacking the office and we're watching the report on TV9 constantly." It not just puzzled me, but hurt me too. By this time if you would have guessed that I'm a Sasian and am not in Bangalore, you're not wrong at all. Despite couple of call drops, my mother revealed more information from the TV report and she was mediating between the TV and the computer to deliver me the news.

A Canadian loser by name Lee (no clue about his prefixes or postfixes), had parodied the state anthem of Karnataka, calling Kannadigas "little white poodles". Scroll down for the entire transcript of the poem. Now that Sasken has agreed to take action on him, I'm not sure how the company is gonna deal with the insulted Kannadigas. What stupefied me more than a Canadian bastard composing such song, is the fact that he made the employees sing it in Nazi style with hands on their chests!!! Instead of pondering over the fact whether it was sang by Kannadigas or non-Kannadigas, I was wondering how on earth could we commit such an act of cowardice. Don't we have self-respect? Don't we have balls to say NO to such things? I feel the bigger crime is committed by the singers than the composer. And the fact that it happened in my company hurts a tad more. I presume without any doubt that all the involved would be dismissed by the company, but am not sure if anything else would be done to them at all? Would the Canadian be prosecuted or deported? Would the singers be blacklisted? Would they apologize? I have no answers to these questions. But in case, any of those singers are reading this article, my advices to you are:
  • Quit having regional thoughts and think of India as ONE
  • We're too diverse to be united, but give it a try atleast
  • Just the way you're kind to your parents, be kind to the state or country you're in
  • Have self-respect
  • Don't get enslaved by a foreigner like this in future
  • Behave!!!
Let me now put myself into the shoes of a foreigner who would feel, "What's the big deal? Why such a big mess out of something trivial?" It's hard for the foreigners to comprehend or reason such acts of ransacking or demonstration. Karnataka is the state which pioneered the so-called IT revolution in the whole nation. Bangalore was, and still is, the silicon valley of Asia and Kannadigas were extremely hospitable to the herd that IT brought along with it to Bangalore. Just like yin and yang, the herd contained bad and good mortals. The glorified IT bloated up pockets of many Indians, at the same time made the lives of middle-class, non-IT crowd very miserable. It provided job to millions, it starved millions. The life-style in Bangalore is now so cosmopolitan, so expensive and so IT centric that it made lives of ordinary people very poor and pitiable. Being that the case, Kannadigas expect the 'outsiders', if not to be kind and generous, to behave at the least. The popular statement of resentment among Kannadigas is, "Outsiders want land in Bangalore, food in Bangalore, money in Bangalore, job in Bangalore, home in Bangalore but not Bangaloreans!!!" When conditions are like this, not many people tend to have patience. Yeah!!! Not just Bangaloreans, the whole nation of India is very impatient. We first hit and then think!!! Hope that helps to reason out the ransacking that happened.

And in the above paragraph, I've not tried to justify or support the ransacking by KRV but it's just an attempt to make my non-Indian friends comprehend as to why such things happen in India. It was really difficult for one of my Mexican colleague to really digest this news, for he told me that they wouldn't have done any demonstrations had someone ridiculed their national anthem, which doesn't mean that they don't respect it. A more peaceful demonstration would have been warm and welcoming than ransacking and destruction.

Here is the complete transcript of the poem.

Soldier of Karnataka

I have often told you stories
About the way I lived the life of an immigrant
Waiting for the day
When I"d speak of noodles

And sing you songs

Then maybe you would say

Come stay with me in K…k…k… arnataka
And I would surely stay
But I feel I"m growing older
And the noodle songs I"ve sung
Echo in the distance
Like the sound Of a patriotic Karnatakan
I guess I"ll always be
A soldier of Karnataka
Many times I"ve been a traveler
Enjoying speaking of noodles
In days of old

When noodles were cold

I wanted to come home

But being here in my home

Had to always remember
This is the land of noodles
And little white poodles
Now I feel I"m growing older
And the flags of the yellow and red
Wave in the distance

Like the sound Of a patriotic Karnatakan
I guess I"ll always be
A soldier of Karnataka
Yes, I can hear the sound
Of a loudmouth Karnatakan
I guess I"ll always be

A soldier of Karnataka

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