Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Monday, April 30, 2007

Rs 6 x 10^11

this is Rs 60000 crores. that is $12.5 Bn
in an random conversation with my financial expert friend, i learnt that this is total assets of a religious trust. in itself this is a stunning figure.

the mouth-agaping fact, is that this trust is trying to shift this entire asset base from its current location (state) to other states. due to political interference and stuff. with that kind of money, i wouldn't be surprised at that.

in the same breath, the entire FDI inflow in the original state over the last 5 years stands at $5 Bn.
simple math puts a net outflow of capital of staggering proportions.

since we are talking in thousands of crores, this article states that the power shortage in maharashtra is resulting in a loss of Rs 30000 crore over the last 3 months.

and the BMC has increased their education budget to Rs 1253 crore. for a total strength of 3,97,076 students, this boils down to Rs 31555 per student per year. mind numbing.


those who have had sugarcane juice must have really enjoyed it. but do you think the sugarcane would have enjoyed the bone crushing experience. trust me, surely not.

was in 2 back to back train journeys which evoked in me the deepest sympathies as expressed above to the pauvre ganna (btw - ganna is oos in it goes as oos juice).

both were at times least expected.
a 945pm fast local to borivali from grant road. and a sunday afternoon 1PM slow local from thane to cst. a little bit more into the entire suburban rail network in the city.

added masala was the nice and pleasant weather. sweltering heat and a tight squeeze make a nice travel day.
but in the end, the companionship even in this rush was amazing. one guy was offering water to co-passengers and shouting aloud as well to those who could not see him (which would be all but the 5 right next to him).


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

back to square 1

was again dragged into the bombay high court today. my earlier experiences are here and here and here.

a matter regarding the legality of the pavement dwellers (almost a year long and no connection to my earlier battle) in the same areas we have been working with was up for hearing. this case was causing the delays in actually getting the people to move out to their new dwellings.

here is the new chief justice, swatanter kumar.
very solid guy.
was in full flow today. our case was around 22nd or so in the list.

couple of points he made today struck me strongly.
1. i will not tell the government/administration how to do their job.
2. one should to use the court whenever convenient. the court should be used whenever there is a breach of law or a strong sense of the same.

the contexts in which they were made are probably needed for others to understand the depth of these. but i am not going to elaborate on them. let me see if by alone these statements make a connection.

so coming back to the case no 86 of 2006, the judge read out his orders. clear and precise. i doubt if the implementation will have the same clarity and precision.

Monday, April 23, 2007

feathered friends

partly inspired by this and that.

have heard about the famous flamingos for years now, without being really desirous of catching them live.
big error of judgement.

every year, tons of flamingos and hoards of other birds flock to this place at sewri. nice pictures here and there
right smack bang in the center of maximum city.

surreal experience. early morning before sunrise, in a place which is totally unlike any other in the city.
when i went, it was off peak season but still very much season.

the only sounds were those of my feathered friends, not a single human or inhuman decibel. ecstatifying. in tandem i also saw this movie. majestic. highly highly recommended.

am reading that this spot is endangered like most spots in this place. because of this and that.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

seeing stars

last night was the year end graduation ceremony of the first batch of teacher trainees. 16 young leaders have gone through one roller coaster year with their fabulous group of teachers to come out roaring from the blocks to do the most difficult job in the world, teaching. junta had come.

a very emotional and poignant moment for the 16 who were the cynosure of all eyes. have seen them all grow amazingly as individuals.
i am confident that they will lead exceptional lives and create likewise.

i was anyway in the background just lingering.
being csm, i had to have the last line. it was a corny one, but quite smart :) the setting was a rooftop terrace

when i entered the terrace, i glanced up at the sky. i silently cursed god for keeping the stars hidden from us poor mumbaikars. as the evening proceeded, i heard gods voice saying, "you nitwit, cant you make out the 16 i sent specially for you guys, what more do you want!".

in hindi, of course. applause and wahs wahs happened. aadab.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

student responses

today was a memorable day.

was in attendance at one of our educational centers which was conducting their annual projects day. on this day, the entire class is displaying their yearly learning through a variety of fun filled methods.

this center had children of secondary school level (ages 14-18). and they had set up a fun fair.
one of the 'stalls' was like a sooth-sayer corner. they had called it 'the angels for problems'. as i took my place in front of the 'druids', i was thinking "what are they thinking?". anyway, to test them, here was my interaction.

csm - i have some money to give and there are many needy people. how should i select the benficiaries.
ans 1 - please do not give them money. it will make them dependant and needy. you should try to help them with ideas and emotional support.
ans 2 - instead of giving money, you could sponsor their education or vocational training. this would be more beneficial and will give them strength to stand on their own feet.
csm - hmmm. very nice.

csm - ok. i have one more. what should one do if one gets enraged by any person or action.
ans 1 - get away from the place at once and go to a peaceful place.
ans 2 - close your eyes and meditate and think of funny things or sing songs.
ans 3 - do not react at once. count slowly and breathe deeply and clear your mind. once you are calm, you should talk to someone who could hear your problems.

the older centers have 'problem solving' and 'decision making' as part of their course and this was to showcase these modules.

very impressive.
i was, well, impressed.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

wolsam's hierarchy*

i have just re-hierarchied maslow (and created a new word in the bargain). here is one more more insight into his path-breaking philosophy.

his needs hierarchy is always an upward pointing staircase/pyramid.

i propose to invert the entire thing. self-actualisation, i proffer, will happen while climbing down the staircase, i.e., by minimising your needs.
the less one needs, the more self-actualised one gets.

i remember window shopping one day, and the one thought i got was "gosh, there is so much that i don't need."

along with my nut index theory, i think i am firmly on the nobel road ;)

* the smart people would have realised that title is maslow in ulta.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

top 25 indians list !!

outlook has pout together this list, really unconventional. it is the top indians who would not make it to any conventional list.
here it is.

has some of my heroes: sainath, dreze, madiath, seechewal, jhun^2...

outlook's remarkable effort is clouded by making it male dominated (24.5/25).

hat tip : indian writing


sign on the back of a truck, the cylindrical liquid carrying ones.

Malpaani and Company
Water Tanker

how appropriate.

Monday, April 16, 2007

mani bhavan

mani bhavan is the place gandhiji stayed whenever he came to bombay (which he did very frequently).
a small, quiet and peaceful place near gamdevi/grant road in south bombay.
very close to august kranti maidan (where the epochal quit india movement was launched).

am also reading rajmohan gandhi's biography of gandhiji. very deep and insightful. since i have not read any other biography/autobiography, i do feel very moved and shaken at the stories and events which are elaborated in detail with the author's personal analysis.

one particular place where he states "gandhi realised that the path to leadership is though simple service, even menial labour, and once one is able to serve such, the leadership is unquestionable." (this is my own interpretation). this happened during the time when gandhi was on his last years in south africa just during the famous transvaal march.

another stand out piece was almost as soon as he landed in india. he was invited for the inauguration of the now famous benaras hindu university. he completely shocked the world with his appearance as well as his speech. really telling. take time off to read.
the context - he had just come to india in 1915 and was getting a feel of the local politics and diversity. he knew that he had to spend time with the poorest to establish his connection with the people as well as be able to use opportunities to broadcast from platforms such as these speeches.
i am imagining pipes and cigars tumbling down from the lips of the astonished gentry.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

scorching summer

bombay has just recovered from a hot march.
april has eased off from the high 30's that was almost the entire march. but still there is a solid urban island effect which i am not sure if the weather vanes are catching. with so much more concrete in our roads, this in only likely to get worse.
also march was drier dead heat like pune and delhi have and not the regular sticky, sweaty heat that coastal cities get.

almost all over the place, the summer is becoming hotter.
check out pune over next five days. sizzling.
bangalore is hotter than chennai. weird things happen.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


slum demolition time again.
this time in a new area. this time there is no recourse. this time, just watch houses and lives torn asunder.
the location was south bombay and right in the middle of what was once healthy mangrove areas.
the classical reclamation happens when the swampy areas are filled with earth and/or with construction debris. thats how the 7 islands were combined and how the famous backbay and bandra reclamation happened.
but in this area, the filler was garbage. tons of plastic plates and bags and total junk have been used to cover the swamp. then the houses are constructed on stilts as the floor is still wet and muddy. wish i had a camera to capture the vistas.
totally inhuman.
but a bunch of houses had been built in this area on top of the sewage exit gutter thus rendering it useless. this caused sewage to spew out of the manholes in the slightly inland slum area causing major grief.
so these hutments were being cleared.

the gentleman in the title saw me and casually remarked to his neighbour (in tamil) that a reporter had come !! gotcha mate.
really suave guy. we chatted on tamilnadu politics, mumbai livelihoods, tsunami and local geography and the current demolitions.

he was a farmer in villupuram and landed up in debt of 2 lakhs due to continuous crop failures (then we talked about vidharba farmer suicides). to avoid his debtors and to make up he moved to bombay, bought out this place (illegal, of course) and works as a driver in the docks. over the last 7 years he claims to have made the money and repaid his loans.

his candour was amazing and he was clear that this is a temporary phase and he will have to move out (may be back to tamilnadu) pretty soon. as he is a post 1995 settler, he has no claim to alternate tenancy by the slum rehabilitation schemes.

survival instincts does strange things to people.

p.s: news report from DNA:

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


mindspace in malad (deep western suburb of mumbai). 2003 was the year it was launched as the hotbed of mumbai's BPO industry. a real estate coup of sorts. a case of urban industrial development at its most innovative.
a real 'hotbed' it has turned out to be. (just remember to read the last line in the above article).

here is the situation 3 years hence, i.e, today.
what was once a BMC dumping ground, was converted in a jiffy to a real estate miracle story and now at the same speed, it has become spooked. mindless.

way to go BMC. you chaps just knocked the wind of the malad real estate market.

Monday, April 09, 2007

BKC - bombay killer complex

i read this interview first more than a year ago (sometime after 26/7 floods in mumbai).

some of the points that chandrashekar makes regarding bandra-kurla complex, the sea link and the east west connection plan via mumbai metro are quite a revelation.

if ones recalls the floods, the focus of everyone post facto was the mithi river.

in my little experience, it must rank as the top raped natural resource in the world. where else will one have a airport runway built over a river. yes, the river flows in pipes under the runway. can you make out the black streak disappearing under the horizontal tarred surface...awesome isn't it.

will make interesting reading, this most-raped-natural-resource list.
sonia writes an interesting story on the mithi river development authority.

sugar coated pill

this is an example of good journalism.
the story covers the sugarcane industry in western maharashtra.

part 1
'A great ragged migration fuels SUGAR BOOM LOST IN TRANSIT'

part 2
'LOST IN TRANSIT PART- II - On the road, out of school'

the numbers again are staggering.

squeaky shoes

why are parents obsessed with squeaky shoes for kidoos.
really irritating.
i am sure even the kids must be hating it.
whats the 'dr. spocks' rationale behind it.

can any parent reading this drivel throw some light on this early child care concept.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

all are invited

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


there were exactly 20 full peanuts and 2 half nuts in a Re 1 cone.

total 21 nuts at 100 paise = 4.75 paise per nut.

very expensive. that's bombay.

will do a city-wise comparison when i get the chance.
this could lead to to a nut index (a la big mac index). am almost there for a nobel.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

subway stupidity

central bombay (not to be confused for bombay central) is quite in the news recently.

1. controversial wall of siddhivinayak temple. the temple authorities are pure-bred dimwits.
2. read about the BMC's unique cleanliness drive. gandhigiri is used very arbitly.
3. here is a subway construction screw up. ineptitude at its pristine best.

in all this there is one more unreported screw up. just at the junction at shivaji park, the BMC is building another subway. highly stupid.
1. the area is just around 50 meters from the sea shore.
2. the area was originally filled in as it was between the mahim and worli islands. see map of the original 7 islands.
3. the road is total 4 lane road, i.e., at best 20 meters wide. build an over-bridge, you nitwits.
so as soon as they reached a little below the surface, they were submerged in water. so till date, the massive part of the operation has been the pumping out the water. all this has obviously resulted in tremendous cost and time overrun for a totally useless project.

just discovered this link to a report on mumbai subways.
look at the time overruns on the metro cinema subway project.

interestingly, this subway is something palatable. also in central bombay.


whats with airline arrival timings?

i find it totally ridiculous.
was at the airport yesterday. 2230 arrival time. by the time the plane landed and my friend got out of the aircraft, it was 0005 hours. and it took off on time from paris !

and 4 flights ETA were listed as 2305. now how the hell is that even remotely possible.
are we so dumb?
surely not, the AAI is certainly full of shit.

and the crowds are just plain simple crazy. tons of kids. i was thinking, oh my gosh, it is exam time. what are they doing here? and little tiny tots too. they were being put to sleep, as you can imagine, how cranky kids get so late in the night.
so my question was, why not stay home and do the same?

can anyone see, the loss of productivity with so much time being wasted.

they should just add 30 mins to each current ETA as the new ETA. this is of course not accounting for delays and the sort.
just increase all flight timings across the globe by 30 mins.

Monday, April 02, 2007

push cart

bombay has a lot of hand carts.
especially in the congested market areas, one would find this mode common for transporting things.

even in non-congested areas, i see a lot of hand carts. especially to transport construction material. as most cities are nowadays, mumbai is always under construction.

and you could imagine, its heavy stuff. there are 3-4 men per cart typically.

so on way to office, i join to push along with this group of 3 gents.
just to feel the physical aspect. i have around 300 mts or so to get to office. some steel girders sort of. very heavy.

chatting up with the guy (not much as it is recommended to save your breath while pushing carts), i learnt a bit on this 'profession'.

they get paid around Rs 300-500 for a trip of say 7-10 kms. takes them over 3-5 hours. at best they do one trip a day. that boils down to Rs 100-150 per person per day. for a task which i super exhausting.
it would cost approx Rs 1500-2000 to do the same by motorised transport.
the builders need tons of material and obviously they choose this mode. there is no real rush.

this is pure exploitation. even the 300 mts left me massaging my legs and arms and catching up my breath. especially, when one has to start, i understood the real meaning of 'inertia'. and over bumps and slopes i could imagine the effort. and am sure that much of this is spent on getting drunk. to dull the pain, is the usual banter.

it is good exercise i must admit.