Friday, June 29, 2007

Finding AutoImmunity

views, bangalore mirror - friday june 22nd

auto-: with the meaning of self, one’s self, one’s own, its own, spontaneous. An abbrev. of automobile, used as a prefix with the meaning of self-moving, self-propelling; as, an autocar, an autocarriage, an autotruck, etc.
I’m guessing Webster never laid eyes on the uncouth, vulgar, roguish, scum of the earth species that have infested this city, when he put down his dhobi list of definitions.
A couple of days ago I got back from a weekend trip to Coorg, a weekend of lots of drinking and pandi curry and merriment like only the Coorgs know how (apart from us Goans, that is). So, sleepy and tired after partying for 2 days and after enduring a 6 hour Volvo bus ride I got off at Majestic (we really need to re-look at some of the names in this city … Majestic? Really?). Anyways, I was really dying to get back home; phone battery dead, backpack strap giving way, bladder overfull after 2 bottles of ‘Himalaya’ mineral water… all in all, not a pretty picture. So I asked the first of those black and yellow irritants (to the roads, the environment, and humanity in general) that I could auto-focus upon.
Autocrat No. 1: “Ulsoor?” I said. He half stopped, half glanced, gave me a look (the same look that I would’ve given one of those poor little rich boys at the Brigade road / MG road signal who tie bandages and daub themselves with red colour and keep touching you all over till you give them money or the signal turns green) then stylishly, a la Sivaji turned his right wrist skywards and is on his way.
Autocrat No. 2: “Ulsoor aaa??” then without flinching said “double meter”. (This is a good time to say that it is 6 o’clock in the evening.)
I raised eyebrows and asked “Why?”
He shrugged his shoulders and gave me a look that said, “because the sky is too high and the crow shat in your eye. Bye”.
This went on for a while. From excuses like ‘I will have to come back empty’ (my home’s 200 meters from MG Road, goddammit) to ridiculous demands like ‘pay me Rs. 250” (which ironically was the cost of the ticket from Coorg), I saw it all.
I was really reaching bursting point (both with a blood vessel in my head, as well as my bladder, thinking that even Sunita Williams’ return home is comparatively ‘piece of cake’) and so the next one that came along I said to myself ‘it’s either him or me’. The next of those 3 wheel varmints approached and before he could hear me saying ‘Ulsoor’ I had thrown my bag into the back seat and was sitting pretty inside.
“No saaar. Am not going Ulsoor”
“I really couldn’t give a rat’s a$$ with where you are going. This is where I want you to take me.”
“No saaar. Ask another auto.”
“Let me give you the pleasure. I’m going to sit back and wait till you find me one.”
“No saaar. Am not going.”
“You have three choices. You can take me to Ulsoor, or you find me another auto that takes me to Ulsoor or you can take me to the nearest cop station.”
I kicked off my shoes crossed my legs and he could see that I was going nowhere.
“Ok saaar I will take you Ulsoor. But will charge double meter.”
By now I’m seeing everything in hues of red.
“I will not pay you one paisa more than what this already-tampered-with contraption will tell me to”
“No saaar. Then I not going.”
And he turned his autovibrator, the symbol of his manhood, off. For another 10 minutes we sat there, both of us like stubborn 5 year olds refusing to budge. By now I’d taken out a magazine, flipped through it and started treating this whole experience like I’m at a flight lounge waiting ‘indefinitely’ for my Air Deccan flight to announce boarding.
Then in great disgust he bent down picked up the lever and started up. Not before spitting and delivering a string of pearls in the most Majestic Kannada.
He drove through the Bangalore street circuit in a way young Lewis Hamilton would be proud, pit stopped at one of the petrol bunks on the way (just to further try and irritate me), and finally demanded Rs. 20 more which I gave him (to avoid living with the guilt of having cheated him).
I hear there’s an SMS auto service that launched a couple of days ago and folded up the next day because not enough autocrats were willing to sign up.

Hmmm. Webster? Wake up and smell the filter coffee.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


views, bangalore mirror - monday june 11th

I’m certain that last night the ‘big boys’ (not to be confused with the ‘big boys’ in Vidhan Soudha, in spite of their godlike status) up in the heavens had a huge do. Buckets of imperial chicken kebabs, loads of women (mythology and Renukacharya affirms that there never was / is a dearth of those) and gallons of draught. So when they decided to empty their oversized bladders at just about the time Bangalore is forced to go to sleep, all heaven broke loose … quite literally. It took precisely 8 minutes and 32 seconds for all of bean town to look like a shot straight out of ‘Waterworld’. I really rued the fact that I didn’t have a movie camera with me, as I would’ve most certainly shot a sequel titled ‘Watermess’.
In the 10 min drive (it took much longer this time though, because my beaten and battered Ford Ikon just refused to be coaxed into being a speedboat) from Opus to home, I saw 2 trees who had decided they’d had enough … streetlights who were making the most of their rain holiday … 3 Kinetic Hondas, who like my faithful Ikon just wouldn’t be conned into being water scooters, as they lay there listlessly by the side of the road. Drains were having a severe and violent bout of bulimia, and a really pitiable family of 4 huddled under an awning soaked to the bone, whilst inconsiderate Ford Ikons like mine splashed water all over them, and the litter, after a speeding ‘Swift’ decided to bonk a call centre taxi, shamelessly in the middle of MG road.
But, as always, as in times like this, the best was yet to come.
As I neared the Gurudwara I saw this huge Godzilla of an excavator bang in the middle of the road who, after having gorged more tar than he could digest, was sitting back and chewing the cud. But not after he and his cronies had blocked all access for me to get home.
So there I was, windshield wipers slapping time, too stunned to even react to the fact that those morons, who are in actual fact a disgrace to the Moronic Bangalore Association (MBA) were telling people to leave their cars on the main road and wade home in the pouring rain through 2 feet of sewage water that Godzilla had unearthed.
But I was going to have none of it …. As the case with everything Bangalorean, there’s always a backdoor entry, and I had noticed a road that comes up from the Ulsoor shanties, but had never had the whachumaycallits to even think of attempting the expedition. But I guess there comes a time in ones life where one has to (as Russell Peters immortalized) ‘be a man’ and this was as good a time as any.
So I swung the car around, went through by-lanes so narrow, that they would give any of Bidappa’s anorexic fashion models a complex, saw people baling water out of their houses (and we are now talking 1 o’clock in the morning for chrissakes), and the already beaten and battered Ikon got a couple of more war scratches. But after another half hour through this maze, I finally got home.
There has been no electricity since last night, no cable television and no internet connectivity - all the basics that one would expect from a 24-hour metropolis that is namma Bengalooru. And all this because a couple of the ‘big boys’ (and this time, not to be confused with the ‘big boys’ in heaven) are having a party, and piddling on us tolerant taxpaying dimwits.

C - scapes ... underwater colours