So really, who owns Hindi?

Alright, okay. So I am a North Indian, and someday I will be branded a Northie and questioned in Bangalore as well. I can take that, and would understand the sentiments and politics around that. But, at times, when I am called a Hindi guy as opposed to a Northie, I pause and think.

Would you have guessed that both my grand-moms (ajjis, as in daadi and naani) found it hard to talk in Hindi? One used angika, and another maithili, both of which I can describe as languages that sit somewhere between Bengali and Hindi. Yeah, one is more of a dialect today, but maithili has well documented grammar and literary history as well.

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Why do they do it?

“Richmond Circle”, I said as I hopped on to the yellow-black three wheeler. The driver cut across a crowded road to do a flashy U-turn inviting glares and screeches from other motorists. But I knew my journey had begun and I was in safe hands. This is one set of service providers that respects its customers’ time, isn’t it.

While admiring his deft maneuvering skills, pavement hopping and well timed red-signal jumps, I wished for more entertainment inside the auto. Inhaling soot was the only option – I don’t like smoking – so I started watching the meter. Time ticked slowly, so did the meter, but after a few minutes, I witnessed it. 1.50, 1.60, 1.70 … 1.90, all in about two seconds.

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Story of Bangalore traffic – in pictures

This is how it begins, so I told you a few months ago. Nothing but a no-parking sign in June. Small shops sprung up in August. September: two wheelers parked and pedestrians off the pavements. Now, no-parking sign is almost gone, and road-side parking is common on Varthur road, right next to the busy Kundalahalli intersection. Unregulated construction, irresponsible small businesses who think roads are free parking space, motorists with scant respect for no-parking signs, and no enforcement of pedestrian rights (pavements are almost gone) – this my friends, is the story of most roads and intersections in Bangalore with annoying traffic congestions. Pictures tell the story – Aug, Sep and Jan -

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Cricket – Protest the Gandhian way

How about this. Indian team goes ahead and plays the Perth test, but protests in this Gandhian style. It will work a lot better if Kumble wins the toss and bats first.

First delivery, straight and full from Lee, Jaffer lets it go and hit the off stump. Ditto, does Laxman. 2 for none, in over number one. Aussies are amused, whats happening? They sense foul play, so they stop bowling straight. Never mind, there are other ways of getting out, like hit-wicket, or spooning a catch. India all out for less than 10 – damn those wides and no balls – and could do it in the second inning as well. The end result would be what Australia try so hard for, a victory for them. Isn’t it?

What would ICC do then? Expect an accusation, India didn’t play with the spirit of the game. And then will begin the all-settling debate on what exactly is this spirit of the game.

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BTRAC – smart signals are coming

Hope you still remember BTRAC-2010, the nice sounding traffic management project for Bangalore. Seems like KRDCL has started the process of putting up new traffic signals under this project. This bidding document talks of 204 locations for these signals. Thankfully, this document contains the specifications of these new signals as well, and they do seem smart – vehicle detectors, remote control from a Traffic Management Center, pedestrian crossings with audible alarms, and more. Have a look:

The new system shall comprise of outstation units (OU) at each intersection and an in-station unit (IU) located at the Traffic Management Center (TMC) in Bangalore city. Out station unit at any intersection shall comprise of a Vehicle Actuated Signal Controller with backup power resourses, vehicle detector and detector module, polycarbonate vehicle and pedestrian signal lamp heads with LED lamps, countdown timers, audible alarm, interconnecting cables, an appropriate interface to connect the OU with IU through a wireless or wired communication system. The in-station unit shall comprise of servers, a workstation, communication system and an operating system

Read section 4 of that document if you are curious for more. The list of 204 proposed locations is in there as well.

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How do you react?

Before I start on a long rant with my reactions, thoughts and ideas, tell me this. How should one react or behave on seeing things like these? And what should change to prevent these drivers from resorting to these shortcuts?

Its small things like these that slow our traffic down. You know, one wrongly parked vehicle, one driver on the wrong side, one red light jumper, one illegal shop on the pavements, one illegal building close to the road etc. Why do we not see any focus on eliminating these problems – sum of which is what causes most of our jams and bottlenecks – and instead we find BDA/BBMP/BCP etc trying leapfrog solutions like instant flyovers and elevated roadways?

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The rattle therapist

When I wrote about the belly hunters, rattle therapists etc, this (see picture) is one of the guys I was talking about. This one in fact is an all-in-one. A rattle therapist first, what with three speed breakers lined up to shake all the bones of disrespectfully speedy drivers. Notice that ditch right after the third hump? That is your sine-curve: a crest followed by a trough. And the sine-curve humps, by their very nature, tend to be belly hunters as well. I know, because besides rattling all my bones, this all-in-none speed breaker has scraped my car’s underbelly a few times by now!

Bangalore’s elevated roads

Dont just think the elevated expressway from Silk Board junction to Electronics City. Our city is planning for a few more elevated roads to speeden up movements in and out of the city:

1) Sirsi circle flyover to Outer Ring Road (Kengeri) – 6 km elevated. BBMP got started with this one last week by calling for RFPs (read here on BBMP website, mentions 4 lane elevated corridor).

2) Silk Board junction to Shoolay Circle. BBMP should soon be floating an RFP on this one too. Its a pretty long one, 10.5 kms going by the CTTP (here).

3) Yeshwantpur and Outer Ring Road junction – 5 km elevated. Things seem to be moving on the Nelamangala tollway project (we discussed recently). But it is not clear to me if the 5 km elevated stretch at Yeshwantpur is part of the tollway project.

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Cities and self rule

Mayor of London, Mr Ken Livingstone, made headlines when he visited Mumbai and Delhi recently. Amongst the things he said, here is one that I thought stood out. “London mayor Ken Livingstone said on Wednesday that … when it comes to the development of a city like Mumbai, he said he was not sure if his counterpart here can do much to change people’s lives with limited executive powers.”

Thats a quote from TOI Mumbai Nov 22 2007. Truth hurts, but Mr Livingstone was almost right when he said that:

“… unfortunately the mayor of Mumbai did not have any power regarding important matters affecting the city. Almost all the powers are with the state government.”

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The music bull run

When I look at my Hindi Soundtrack playlist these days, I think about this one bull run many may not have noticed. I wouldn’t use loaded words like unconventional, melodious, richly orchestrated, full of variety etc to describe the sound Bollywood is churning out these days. All I would say is this, they seem to be producing enjoyable stuff, and the playlists are getting bigger.

Hard to put down a date when things changed. But there was a sort of lull when A R Rehman was the king. ARR was, and still is doing great. But most others were focusing either on creating the ARR sound – overly jazzed up music being the result, with needlessly high levels of electronic percussions and low pitch strings, or on carrying on with the boring Bollywood sound of 90s – where melody meant slow, and lyrics meant standard phrases from Sameer.

And then things changed, May be with Shankar Ehsaan Loy, but not them alone. Vishal Shekhar, Shantanu Moitra, Pritam as well. Add Ismail Darbar and Himesh too (why not?). Old horses like Anu Malik and Jatin Lalit are trying to fit in. And don’t forget some more talented folks like Vishal Bhardwaj and Rabbi Singh.

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