Apr 18, 2015

A tete-a-tete with the driver

Image result for malaysia taxiThe one aspect of travel i like the most is interacting with the commoner or Aam aadmi in Indian vocabulary. It is the people and not the man made structures which make a place interesting.  I had a chance to talk to a taxi driver in KL, Malaysia who happened to be 4th generation Indian settled in Malaysia. As a practice, I never ask name of the commoner for their stories does not change much with the name. He seems to be a passionate India follower and a biannual visitor to India. Like many of the discussion about India with commoners who have visited India, he also like two aspects of India: Its villages and then the food variety. He seems to take a break from his hectic city life in a small village in Thiruvanamalai in Tamil Nadu. He has an uncle who has settled there. 
I then turned to things he does not like in India. They were three Cs: Cleanliness, Cities and Corruption. If you have stayed so long in such a wonderfully planned city like Kuala Lampur it is understandable why one would loath about a city like Chennai. I did not delve in detail on this aspect as i had a limited time before he drops me at the metro station.

The second aspect was Corruption and he explained to me with an anecdote. It seems he was travelling to Kerala to visit some temple and as who knows issue with tickets from/to Kerala he was unable to get a ticket. He had a waiting list ticket and he did not know that it is illegal to travel in waiting list ticket. The ticket inspector (called TT) caught him and asked for a fine of 3000/-. I am not sure if the fine (Rs 250) and ticket charge adds up to it as i did not ask the start and end station and in which class it was. Assuming it is true, he called up his uncle and asked if the rates are so high. He suggested giving Rs 100 and settling it with TT. It seems his very young son did not allow him to settle it and wanted to pay the charge in full and get a receipt as well. The protagonist did that and he said it proudly to me. May be we and younger lot should use this example to clean up as corruption always need two people: one who takes it and others who is willing to pay.

The third aspect was on cleanliness. We all know this very well in India and now there is a national campaign to fix it under Swatch Bharat. His anecdote for this was that his uncle was cribbing about it and then was throwing thrash out of the window. He asked uncle not to do it even through there was no thrash can and asked him to carry it home and drop it. He then showed his thrash in car which he carries back home in KL daily. This again need people to be sensitive about this aspect.

I also strangely find these as the key issue BJP government at center has taken on priority. Even the taxi driver in Malaysia hope PM Modi (he seems to be tracking Modi as he told him by name) will be able to do it but will take time. The popularity of Modi outside India is the testament how his vision addresses the perceived problem as seen by NRI/PIOs . He though does not seem to know the advantage of holding a PIO card but seems to hold some land as a share in uncle's property. Hopefully few of them may then turn investor bringing in jobs in India. But surely a long haul for a visible result.

As usual i alight from the car without asking his name but by bidding farewell to meet again sometime in future. 

Feb 5, 2014

New ISKCON Temple in bangalore

This are photos few month old before the caving in tragedy at the kanakapura road ISKCON. To be exact taken on 25/08/2013. It somehow did not upload. The final plan is shown below but only the first section is completed. 

Dec 21, 2013

Sep 12, 2013

Bus to carmelaram railway station

Volvo : 342F from agara, at iblur 745 pm
Normal : G2 from Agara

May 3, 2013

A church@ kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia

A contrasting architecture for a church under construction.

Feb 2, 2013

Cox's Bazaar

Recently i went to Cox's Bazaar in Bangladesh for a conference. This place is in south of Bangladesh and has some good beaches in Bangladesh. We went from Dhaka to Cox's Bazaar by Regent Airlines. This is a new airline and hence were not taking cards and tickets had to be paid in cash. Initially not accepting cards as a means for buying ticket made me circumspect on the airline as my past experience with Bimal airlines was really bad. The airline turned out to be pleasant experience with less than hour journey to the destination.

Cox's Bazaar airport looks like a small bus stand with parking showing some vestiges of old aircraft of yesteryears. It was a strike or hartal in the area but we did not have any issue reaching our hotel. We were put up at Hotel Long Beach which was really good with neat rooms. Though the name has a beach there is no beach next to it. As a part of the event we went to Seagull and Ocean paradise hotel nearby for events both were good. Seagull has a nice and clean beach opposite to it. The buffet had a wide variety of non-veg with fish taking the pride of place as expected. Food was good in all the three hotels. It was bit chilly and it seems it is the coldest climate in Jan for the previous many years. So being in beach late in the night without proper woolen clothing was hard for me.

We went to Inani beach which is supposed to be a coral beach. I was not quite impressed by the beach as it was rocky (though my friends were telling me it is coral) and not being well maintained. By 5.30 Bangladesh time we could see sunset. So be there before it in any beach to see the sunset. We took an auto from the hotel to the beach and it costed us Tk 500 for a to and fro trip, though i had bengali friends to negotiate.

The return flight being in the afternoon, i had to stay back at Dhaka to get following day flight back to Bangalore through Kolkata. It seems all morning flights are to chittagong which is a commercial place and afternoon they run the same flight to Cox's Bazaar. There are two other flights which are after regent to Cox's bazaar, viz., United and Novoair. They also seem to running similar bombardier type flights. I could not go to other places for lack of time as there seems to be no good public transport and may have to take auto to other places as well.