Sunday, 16 May 2010

The Curious Case of Careless Cavaliers

"Write a 500 word essay on road safety" -our 5th grade teacher
"Huh?? Road what now??" -our class

NO!! I did NOT just make that up.

Thats the amount of knowledge that the average 5th grader has about road safety. Now of course, that wouldn't matter much. Except for a little show on television called Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? The stupid one...with Shahrukh Khan in it. And if there's one thing that those precocious little tweens have taught us, its that the average Indian is, in fact... NOT smarter than a fifth grader. Now I hear those gears inside your head beginning to rumble, and before you shout out QED, or Eureka, or some such euphemism for success, i must inform you, that it is sooo NOT our fault.

The role models in our society (no not Shahrukh Khan), our dads, our uncles, our moms, our older brothers, okay...maybe Sharukh Khan too, a little bit... have taught us one thing about rooad safety in this fine country of ours... It DOESNT EXIST... Yes, road safety in India is just like a Suhel Seth column, a minor inconvenience, to be ignored by all and sundry.

This is epitomised by our walking on the left side of the road. Now, the only reason why we walk on the left side is because, in most countries in the world, drivers drive on the right. Hence,in most countries in the world this was used as a safety mechanism, to view the oncoming traffic(Thnks Roshan for the info on that one). However, the smart people who print our books, kept the correct side to wlak on as left, while most of our early cars were right side drive, a side effect of the British Raj. As a result, we end up walking in the direction of traffic, and have no clue whatsoever about oncoming traffic, other than when something hits us of course, from behind.

And here, we also have a saying that goes something like,"BAAP ka RAASTA hai...", and while the idiom does not really guarantee you ownership of a few National Highways, unless you are Kamal Nath's son(not related to me in ANY way..). What it does guarantee, is that most people dont even bother walking anywhere but the center of the road. And of course, we do have more bovine, than human pedestrians here. So that makes it even worse, when you are trying to drive through a narrow road. And well, bikers have not really learnt the significance of overtaking from the left. Faced with acres of road space on the left, and you driving on the extreme right, chances are, the bker will probably zoom past you from the left.

And while its easy to criticise the roads and the people traversing them, I would like to end on a positive note. A friend of mine, who wasnt carrying his license, was accosted by a policeman...paid a bribe, and drove off. Now this would be a pathetic reflection on our society and blah blah... Guess how much the bribe was?? A mighty 5 rupees.. :P :D

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Profligate List Writing and Mental Torpidity

Its been a while since I actually got down to writing about interesting phenomena that I manage to observe in daily life. Now make no mistake, I am not like those self satisfied bastards at the numerous medical colleges in our country. Hell, I am not like Suhel Seth(Does anyone even read his stupid column?), but then again, no one can be like Suhel Seth. If there ever was a more apt person for the epithet of douchebag... he would have shot him before writing his god awful column. Anyway, the human consciousness and thought flow is a closed book. And try as you might, you really cant get it open. So what the most of us do is, as the proverb goes, judge the book by the cover.

But the real cover story, the real exothelium, the real McCoy, is in a person's eyes. If you think the eyes are a window to the soul, you would be right...if you don't, get your contacts changed. So wtf am I on about? Everyone knows this, you idiot!! I can hear you think already. Well, my beef is with the vacant eyed stare. Like the sort you give a prof, when he's taking a viva, like the sort you might be having now...

Because, you see, the ubiquitous vacant eyed stare, is REALLY irritating when you are talking to someone. And I must confess, I have been guilty on occasion(okay, who am i kidding?). So, is this an apologetic blog? Or an apoplectic one?

Well neither...this is a blog on how to irritate people. You got that right...imagine ur prof yelling at you when all of a sudden, you just zone out. And your eyes go out of focus... Now that's what we call a good pisser. Try it sometime, if youre stupid, or nihilistic enough... And yeah...its NOT another list of 5 useless things you would need to do...critics.......Eat my shorts!!!

Friday, 14 May 2010

Mostly Oil

"To think about it, development has created serious lack of talent in our world...Not one single person in the world has the requisite expertise(in metals, carpentry, polymers, and design) to craft..... a single pencil."

-Leonard Read, I, Pencil

If you think that the most mundane of activities that you do...the simplest of cosmetics you apply...the food that you cook...does not have a direct impact on the environment( and the economy) of our country, you would be seriously mistaken. In fact, due to the various phases of development of the world order, the Industrial Revolution, Automobile Revolution, and the Space Revolution, we are facing the single most significant challenge to our planet since the dinosaurs faced that giant meteor 65 million years ago.

Yes...that challenge is the Great Challenge of How To Overcome Our Own Paramount Stupidity(known in some circles as Global Warming...and in other circles as showing off...)

Because in our stupidity,and our race to discover a shortcut to a place that we didnt know existed, and couldnt conclusively prove would be better than the place we were in, we decided to take the least amount of pain imaginable. And find the most pyrrhic of solutions to our need for fuel.

Enter oil. The most convenient source of energy imaginable...Just set a match to it, and it lights you heat, and maybe enough energy to power your daily life. What we didnt take into consideration was greenhouse gases, and some of the dirtiest political and corporate games that would be played out in the coming centuries, that would make entire countries slaves to that black fluid known as liquid gold. Everyone knows that's a misnomer. Gold, couldnt even come close... and India...with its huge appetite for gold(the largest consumer of gold products in the world) is just finding out.

Oil and natural gas account for 80.3% of India's imports. And while this might sound almost also account for a large part of the trade deficit which stands at over $55 billion right now. And, India, which is prosperous enough despite the government's best efforts, is now making it a point to sell off its oil assets which would of course lead to greater imports, again. Now this might sound farcical, but the facts make it resonate. While most of the oil surveys that take place are conducted by big, non-Indian corporations, their names have a suitable "Indian" ring to them. Cairn Oil, a Scottish company, in its Indian avatar, does the oil exploration here, in Rajasthan. Of course, any oil it finds is then sold, at a price, to the Indian Refineries.

And Cairn is well respected by the Indian Government, who are thankful for their services.

India is actually setting up refineries in Venezuela. At a cost of $20 billion. When Cairn has shown there are proven oil reserves to increase India's oil output by 25% in 1 year, in India. Kuwait Oil has planned to set up an oil refinery here, worth many billions, and Reliance Petrochemicals plans to build the largest refinery of Asia here. All this, and our national explorer, ONGC, is busy bidding for cleanup projects, of Kuwait Oil, and SELLING natural gas, to Kuwait Oil again. All this, while being purblind enough to see that the bigger drain on our economy comes from that 80.3% dependence on importing oil.

In one big chain of stupidity and recalcitrance(the Indian government's refusal to accept its role in global warming), we have staked our entire future. Carbon Credits, Copenhagen, Jairam Ramesh... can all be equated to an avalanche of disasters.

Its about time we broke the cycle.