dog woman

She was fifty-something – past the age of sexual vulnerability (generally, that is – there could still be perverts with queer fetishes), so she lived off the kerb of the busy high-street between a shop selling vegetables and the National Association of Blind. Even so, she had a pack of street dogs for her company and protection. Apparently the only family she had. Now.
It is difficult to say if she was demented – but she did have absolute control over the dogs with gestures and sounds. She assisted in cleaning and arranging crates in the vegetable shop and was paid, probably in food (which she shared with her canine family) and allowed to sleep in front of the shop’s downed shutters.
Eight years later, when work took me back through the road , I could not help wondering what might have become of her – the best scenario being that she was taken up by a old-age and/or destirute home or that she had died naturally, under her family’s vigil – the worst scenarios – infinite. Perhaps “harvested” for kidneys, blood, eyes …., perhaps maimed for beggary – perhaps, perhaps coerced into forced labour … the possibilities are endless.
The infinite ways in which a helpless human body can be appropriated.
The dogs must be missing her.

2011 – what a year !

What a year it has been (and still a couple of months to go), 2011 – the most eventful as long as I can remember.

Assassinated: the most wanted global terrorist,a dictator who ruled for 42 years

Died : the most prolific entrepreneur of our times,a self-proclaimed incarnation of god, an artist banished from his home state (MFH, for exerting his freedom of expression) , a Ghazal singer , two glam-gals of Hollywood’s yesteryears, a dashing Bollywood “Prince” of the 70s, a legendary Indian cricketer of the 60s, the creator of C programming language

 Toppled: the autocratic regimes in Egypt and Libya (the latter with a lot of blood-letting)

New States: Sudan, now North and South

Rattled : Japan and its economy ( almost killing 15,822) , Turkey

Genocide: worst ever terror strike in otherwise peaceful Norway, flanked with our regular retinue of bomb blasts in Mumbai and Delhi

Weddings: Royal, and British AND Royal and Bhutanese – both brides were “commoners”

Won: India, first cricket (one-day) world cup in 28 years

First: Indian GrandPrix, Metro in South India.

Last: NASA space-shuttle programme, RIP

Traffic Etiquette – the Indian way

After six years of motoring on Indian roads (and surviving, without serious injury, app 50,000 km across 3 states and 1 UT), I think its about time to pause and reflect (before its too late) to pen down the traffic rules that I’ve learnt hands-on (meaning, the ones not taught in driving schools):

* Its possible to stop your vehicle anywhere (e,g. in the middle of a busy road) anytime (e,g. middle of road at night on a desolate road) – to do various odd chores like dropping a passenger, lighting a smoke or just chatting with a driver coming the opposite way. “Hazard lights” were invented for this very purpose.

* Its possible to drive up on the wrong side of the road – all you have to do is to put your head-lamp in full beam even in broad daylight (and honk as well if someone is stoned enough to ignore the beam)

* Its possible to get into a “No-Entry” marked road especially if you’re on a two-wheeler – you just need to get off and push your vehicle – that qualifies you as a pedestrian. This is tougher for a 4(or more)-wheeler – but theoretically possible if you have healthy passengers.

* To take a right turn you need to extend your right arm and poke the index finger vociferously into the air ( till the guy behind you relents and gives up overtaking from right); to take the left turn do the same with your left arm, this is tough if you’re on a 4-(or more) wheeler and you don’t have a passenger on the front seat to do this for you, in such cases you can use the turn-indicator lamps.

* Horns are the most useful part of any vehicle – originally designed for the potential over-taker to coerce his/her victim into slowing down (and maybe halting) so as to make way for him/her. It can also be used to hasten up folks you have come to pick up from a quiet neighbourhood. When someone who is on the verge of bumping into you, you can use incessant honking to attract his eyes so as to pump choicest invectives into his ears. You can honk from your behind too when backing up – in a sing-a-song way – this can be used to inform your neighbours of your devotion to the God or to the country even at 2 am (when you return home and park your car). A lot of options are available with horns e,g you can put a car horn on a bike so as to surprise your overtakee and attract more respect on the road.

* Full beam lights were invented to dazzle the bloke coming from the opposite side into slowing down ( thus preventing over-speeding and consequential accidents). You can also double ( or quadruple) the number of your head-lamps for the added effect and use halogen lamps and what-not to generate the perfect dazzle – white, yellow , off-white, blue … (I wonder why nobody has used lasers yet). Full beam is also used to discover oncoming vehicles which are one-eyed (thus mistaking a truck for a bike) or completely blind (he’s protecting environment by saving energy).

* In any accident the fault ALWAYS lies with the larger vehicle (by size or cc or price in that order), so if you are in one, be prepared to be instantly lynched by the jurist crowd of rubber-neckers. On a 2-wheeler watch out for pedestrians and cyclists – in a car watch out for those and bikers too; you can ignore all vehicles bigger than you – as they’ll take care of you.

* When your vehicle breaks down mid-road, you can stick leaves, plants on it to warn other road-users ( a STOP sign is simple being too pompous). You can also fence your broken-down territory with stones and pebbles for extra effect.

* A truck with oversized cargo (like iron rods jutting out from the back) can use a small while plastic bag to warn other victims, this would suffice even in the night.

* In a multi-lane carriage-way,the right-most lanes are always reserved for the slowest moving vehicles ( e,g overloaded and oversized trucks and tractors); this allows all the faster vehicles to overtake peacefully from left, while the driver of the slow vehicle can concentrate on his conversation with his conductor, unperturbed.

* When you are too pressed for time to reprimand another overzealous driver for coming too close to you in the busy rush hour; worry not; just look at his direction – spit contemptuously and move on – the offender would get the message.

* When you do have time to pick up a fight, but the other party is reluctant, just challenge him with mother/sister abuses and once he stops and enters the arena; then you may proceed to break his window-shield and/or bones.

The list is virtually endless….

Gulf Rupee

I just learnt that the Indian Rupee (and later Gulf Rupee, also issued by RBI) was the official currency of many Gulf countries including Bahrain , Kuwait , Oman and Qatar until the 1960s. In fact, even today 100 fils (a fil is 1/10th of Bahrani Dinar) is referred to as rupee or rubiya in Arabic.
Surely, being ruled by the most powerful imperialists of the time did give India some semblance of a regional hegemony albeit merely notional and also transitional. The very thought of those oil-rich sheiks counting currency issued by “Kafirs” seems so incredible and yet satisfying.

Though, in reality, it seems these Rupees were used by smugglers to bleed our foreign (read £) reserves, prompting RBI to issue special Gulf Rupees, as the story goes.