ALL FOR THE WANT OF A ‘SHIFT’


apartment building

It was that time of the year when all the house owners of Bangalore rush to pay their property tax to BBMP so as to avail of the discount offered if paid before Apr 30th. There was a tremendous response from the computer savvy citizens of Bangalore.

Raghavan also wanted to pay the tax for his flat recently inherited from his parents. Just a couple of months earlier, he had done enough rounds of BBMP to get the ‘khata’ transferred to his name. He asked his wife Saroja to pay the tax online for their house no. 18/6 (as entered in the khata), 15th cross, …HehH

When Saroja generated the partially prefilled BBMP form online, she was shocked to see that the house no. had been printed as 318/ 6! She refused to pay the house tax till the error was rectified, even at the cost of forfeiting the discount.

Raghavans checked up with the fellow residents of their complex. No, only their number had been preceded by 3 and thus changed to 318/6.They decided to take up the issue with their ward office.

Another surprise was waiting for them there. In the reshuffling by the election commission, their posh locality had been allotted to the unheard- of ….palya ward. They took the long, narrow serpentine road to their new ward and finally managed to locate the BBMP office. As is the tradition in such offices, they were made to come 3-4 days before their case could be heard. But on the fourth day they were told to come well after the Karnataka Assembly elections as all their staff had been deployed for election duties. When they made the trip 3 days after the election results were announced, there was only one person in the office. He recognised them and remembering their case instructed them to come the next week when all the relevant files would be collated and verified to justify the correction.

In the meantime, Raghavan’s son (IQ 150+) had figured out why the mistake had been made.

On the computer keyboard, to economise on space, an additional set of symbols are located on the numeral keys. For example, the numeral 1 has the exclamation mark (!) above it. Numeral 2 has the symbol for át’ (@) above it. Numeral 3 has the symbol for hashtag (#) above it and so on.

In order to print the upper thing, the ‘shift’key has to be pressed. If the shift is not pressed, the computer types only the numeral and not the symbol above it. Thus, for #18/6, the all too human finger of the data entry person had not hit the shift and thus instead of the #, numeral 3 had been typed, making the house number 318/6 instead of #18/6!

So, Heaven knows how many trips eH  H Raghavans have to make to the BBMP office in the God-forsaken congested ….palya area, far from their house #18/6 before the typo is rectified.

ps- picture courtesy Shuttersstock.com

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A MODERN RAILWAY EXPERIENCE


Beautiful railway station with modern high speed red commuter train with motion blur effect at sunset. Railroad. Vintage toning. Railroad travel background, tourism. Industrial

 

After marriage, my travelling mode had undergone many changes. We would travel mostly by road and take a train only on postings. Understandably, our trips abroad would be all by air. There again in USA, our relatives would take us by car from place to place or drive us to airport if we had to take a flight.

So much so, I had almost forgotten what it was to travel by train.

But, on my latest solo trip to America, my relatives in New Jersey expressed their inability to take me by car to Richmond, Virginia as they were inextricably committed otherwise and they advised me to take the train. They booked my ticket in advance and assured me that the trip by Amtrak would be very comfortable, a matter of 5 hrs with a 45 min break at Washington DC. The train was to come from New York, would halt exactly 2 mins in the minor station of New Jersey. My destination also happened to be not the main Richmond Station but a smaller one ‘Staple Mills’ before that and there again the halt would be of 2 mins.

In spite of all the assurances by well -travelled people, I was extremely nervous about the whole project. The figure’ 2 minutes’ was haunting me. First of all, I was much older this time, all of 80. This would be my first train journey in US. I would be alone. Unlike metro trains (of which I had little more experience from my earlier trips, though in company),from my seat I could not see maps or other displays to alert one about the station due to arrive. I had to depend entirely on the oral announcements done in the twangy American accent- totally incomprehensible to me in spite of my recently acquired hearing aids. I did not also know the station previous to Staple Mills to position myself at the exit well in time for disembarkation.

Added to all this, my nephew had a funny story to tell me. He had to see off an aunt and her finicky husband on a trip to Boston. As they were carrying the whole component of their luggage brought from India, my nephew got into the train to help them. But, by the time the gentleman was satisfied with the arrangement of the luggage, the train left with my nephew on board. When the ticket inspector came, the situation was explained to him. He was kind enough to let the stowaway travel free but asked him to buy one at the next stop -Philadelphia to go back to NJ.

In the meantime, my nephew’s wife who was waiting on the platform had discovered that her husband had left her without the keys of the house or of the car. In USA, people prefer to enter their houses not through the main door but to take the interconnecting door inside the garage. To lift the main door of the garage automatically, there is a switch in the car. Without the car key, she could not take the car and so could not enter the house too. I suspect she had not taken her purse either on that day. Fortunately, she had her ‘mobile’ with her. She rang up her brother who lived in another part of NJ and explained the situation to him. The latter had a good, long laugh before he came and rescued her. She was later collected by her husband after he returned from Philadelphia.

Well, after hearing this story, you could imagine my enthusiasm to travel by Amtrak. Luckily, my recently married grand -daughter who was in New York, very sweetly offered to take the same train from New York and escort me all the way to Richmond safely and leave for NY the next day.

Since she had already told us which bogie she had boarded and that particular one happened to stop right in front of us, we had no problem locating her. I left with her, leaving my nephew on terra-firma in NJ.

PS-Cartoon courtesy shutterstock

 

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A Railway Experience Of Yore


locomotive and animals, vector illustration

 

 

A RAILWAY EXPERIENCE OF YORE.

My mother was one who would wear the traditional Iyengar 9-yard saree day in and day out. While travelling, she would never carry a purse or a handbag to keep things like money, keys safe. All she had to do was take the upper border of her sari and tuck it into her waist in such a way as to form a pouch next to her body and she believed that it was the safest place for whatever she wanted to keep safe.

The railway trip I am talking about was the one we undertook from Bangalore to Davanagere, a distance of 220 miles where my mother was going for the confinement of my eldest sister.  We two, the inseparable duo- my niece and I (all of 11 years of age) were studying in Davanagere and we were going back after a summer break in Bangalore. In addition to all our luggage, my mother was taking a green metal strips cradle with a metal stand in the III class compartment for the baby to be born.

Davanagere was only an interim station for the Bangalore-Poona train. Hence, the halt there was just long enough to get down and unload our luggage including the awkward piece, – the cradle and the stand. Obviously, there was a big rush of ingoing and outcoming passengers. In the melee that ensued, my mother’s “madisar” pallav came off and she had a tough time collecting herself.

As the train left on its onward journey, we loaded the luggage on to a porter and prepared to leave the station platform. My mother suddenly discovered that along with the pallav, her saree ‘’pouch’’ at the waist also had come off and the tickets (one full and two half) were nowhere to be seen. (Probably they were lying on the compartment floor and were already on their way to Poona!) How to get past the ticket collector without them?

My mother was a smart and resourceful lady. She asked the two on us to run home, a matter of a furlong or two and get my brother-in law who being a Manager in Indian Bank was a VIP in that small industrial town.

We could not exit through the TC’s gate. So, we both ran all along the iron grill separator on the platform till it ended and then entered the town. We were not doing anything illegal. We HAD purchased the tickets but had lost them. Once in town, we ran (we never walked those days) through the familiar streets and reached home, which was attached to the bank. Our brother -in law who was otherwise busy in bank work was called out and the situation was explained to him. He instantly took his Man Friday Abdul Razzak to the station, talked to the Station Master and managed to get my mother out of the TC gate- cradle and all.

cartoon courtesy shutterstock.com

 

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ONE MAN’S FOOD……


ONE MAN’S FOOD….

Image result for cartoon of a woman with garbage

One man’s food is another man’s poison.

How well I have realised the purport of this adage or the reverse of it !

When Ramu was in service, we would abhor accumulating luggage. Every time a posting came through, we had mounds of unwanted things to dispose of to get our luggage fit into our standard number of boxes.

During our stay in MAR Hostel barracks, I came to realise one day that our children had outgrown quite a few comics, books and toys. So, I put them all into a cardboard box and left them outside. Within no time, the box was empty, though I had to face the wrath of my neighbours, “you got rid of all your junk and our children have lovingly brought them into our houses!”

Likewise, when my daughter moved onto the first floor of my house to be with me in my twilight years, she found they had lots and lots to pack. Having been stay-putters in Bangalore for years, it was inevitable. Her mother-in law had collected many, many stainless-steel vessels (that was in vogue those days), crockery and fancy items from exhibitions. There were loads of gifts given to her husband when he retired from service and those given to her son (my son-in law) later when he retired. My daughter herself was an avid collector of dolls and curios. She had a big collection of bags, pens and files disbursed during  all the seminars and meetings she had attended. How much can one display or use in a 3BHK flats? So, before shifting to Jayanagar after the demise of her in-laws, she got rid of quite a few of these in addition to furniture items, mattresses, carpets etc.

Even then, when she came here, there were 64 cardboard boxes of about considerable sizes apart from frig, furniture, TVs etc.

As she opened the boxes one by one- deciding what to keep and what to throw, I eyed them longingly and my mouth drooled over them. There were such beautiful, useful and attractive items which she was preparing to throw without demurring.

Then I told her,” Look, before you throw them, I want you to run them through me once. Then you can ask our maidservant if she wants to keep anything. Then only you can put them out for the garbage collector.”

So, by the time she was done with the 64 boxes I was richer by some thick, new stainless-steel vessels and lids, fancy baskets, dining table cloth, sofa-backs, sweaters, letter holders etc. My maid was the new, proud owner of office bags, fancy purses and footwear, dresses and sarees. The garbage collectors gleefully walked out with tons of cardboard, plastic and glass bottles, Tupperware containers, heaps of newspaper etc which they could exchange for money in a kabaadi shop.

Of course, my daughter has sweetly assured me that when my time comes to leave this world, she would not sentimentally hang on to any of my stuff but would put everything on sale, to which her brothers would thankfully accede to.

But still, I firmly believe, one woman’s garbage is another woman’s candy. Don’t you agree?

PS- Cartoon courtesy shutterstock.com

 

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SELLING VEGETABLES IN SHINING INDIA


SELLING VEGETABLES IN SHINING INDIA

 

Image result for Cartoon of a vegetable vendor

There was a time when the villages such as Uttarahalli and Konankunte were outside the jurisdiction of Bangalore Municipality as the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike was then known as.

I remember a milk woman who used to come walking all the way from the village in the morning carrying on her head, along with milk, freshly harvested Avrekai (Sema peas) and huge, fleshy tomatoes (all organic) in a shallow wicker basket and deliver it to our house on Bull Temple Road, every day in the season. My mother-in law used to serve her hot, strong, sweet, milky coffee in a silver tumbler. After drinking it, she would freshen herself, rest for a while and head back to her village, again on foot.  Both the Avrekai and the tomatoes were free, on the house. There used to be a leisurely pace about the whole transaction.

At that time, even the sellers of vegetables on the streets of Bangalore (mostly women) would carry their ware in flat baskets balanced on their heads with a small cushion made of towel to stabilise it. They had their regular customers and would supply their requirements in absolutely no hurry.

A little later came the vendors with push carts- hired or own, displaying a wider variety of vegetables neatly arranged. Coming in midmorning hours or late afternoons, they would call out their stuff in such loud tones that the housewife or the cooks had all the time to come out, buy what they wanted and pay for it. Even if the housewife went inside to get the money, they had all the patience to wait. Some of the menfolk started selling greens in the mornings by balancing a basket on their cycles. Depending on whether he is pushing the cycle or riding it, the housewife would manage to catch him and make purchases.

But, of late, with India taking on extra shine, a man, obviously more affluent (could be the grower himself) comes selling greens on a motorbike. Catching him is really a very complicated matter. When he rides his bike up the road, the noise the engine makes and the speed at which he goes, it is well-nigh impossible to catch him. When he comes down the road, probably with the engine switched off to save petrol, there is a slight chance of catching up with him. Even then I have to adjust my co-ordinates to synch with his and tune and time my voice to shout exactly in the instant he crosses my gate. Even if I miss by a second, he will be far gone, beyond my physical capabilities to catch him.

But what baffled me more one day was onions and potatoes being sold on a moving one tonner! With their driver away from our vision and the assistant’s calling muffled by the sound of the vehicle, how do they expect us, the consumers, to spot them beforehand and stop them in time to make purchases?

Recently floating markets have opened up (like Dal lake ones?) to make vegetable purchasing an aquatic pleasure.

In the dazzling shine India has acquired, I would not be surprised if the vegetables are sold in aerial vehicles in the near future catering to the multi-storied flats at their own level, like aerial fuelling of aeroplanes in flight.

 

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MY GREENER PASTURE


Image result for cartoons of a green pasture

It was one hell of a dull day, both weather-wise and my mood-wise. My stomach was still troubling me with spasms of acute pain after massive upset two days earlier. I was feeling terribly weak with sweat pouring down. The whole thing pulled me down so badly that I was undergoing a mental depression much contrary to my usually effervescent disposition.

For days together, I had been getting a notice on my cell phone asking me to link my mobile number to my Aadhaar number by going to the nearest dealer. But that morning, I heard that the process had started. There was a rush of adrenalin and I rang up Channel 9 to see if they would do it for me. On their denial, I googled a ‘Bangalore One’ branch listed on Internet. There again there was denial, but a kind lady told me that the other branch at Jayanagar 2 block was doing it and she was patient enough to give me its location.

I took an ‘’auto’’ and hurried to the said Centre, only to find that they had a system of distributing 40 tokens between 8 and 8.10 in the morning and only those with the tokens would be entertained that day. I tried to plead my age, indisposition and weakness to secure one more token. But, they said they were helpless as the machine uploaded only 40 cases per day. The manager, a young, sprightly lady asked me to come next morning early enough to secure the token and that she would see to it that I would be attended to early.

Thoroughly defeated by the failure of the day’s project, I stopped an ‘’auto’’ and headed home. As soon as I sat in the vehicle, the driver started his saga. He told me that he had to undergo a surgery following an accident and that he had returned home only 4 days earlier. Though the surgeon had prescribed a month’s rest at home, necessity had driven him on to the job and that I was his first customer of the day. When I tried to compliment on his beautifully done up vehicle, he told me it was a hired one- hired out of a fleet of 13 such autos. In spite of the noise of the engine and the traffic, his story moved me. In fact, when I paid the fare with a small tip, I noticed that he supported his limp right hand with the left and received the amount.

Once I got home, I asked my maid servant casually if she had change for a 100 Re. note. Tears slowly filled her eyes as she narrated her tale ‘’Amma, today someone stole my purse containing Rs 2500 from the bag I had left outside when I went to work inside. I lost my monthly salary from two houses at one go. Someone who had watched where I leave my bag must have been waiting for my pay day to do good with the lot.”

After hearing the driver’s and the maid’s stories, I found my blues slowly vaporising. I found that I could ill-afford to wallow in self-pity when there was so much more misery around me.

Thanking the Lord for small mercies, my spirits slowly started rising.

ps- cartoon courtesy Shutterstock.

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The Mother Of All Outings


The Mother of all Outings

Image may contain: 1 person, skyscraper, sky, outdoor and water

Water, like the Himalayan ranges, has always held a special fascination for me. Thus, whenever we had a stopover in Chennai, instead of heading for shopping like other ladies, I would always head for the beach. I could never get enough of the lapping waves with their gentle roar and the unique sensation of the grains of sand swirling through my toes. Fortunately, the rest of my family also had shared this unique obsession.

Thus, when I landed at my son’s place in Seattle, USA a couple of weeks back, my first question to them was, “Do you have access to the sea? Can we visit the beach?”. I was told that Seattle city was indeed a coastal one, but the sea was very far from where they stayed, that is, Woodinville. But, obviously the request must have lingered on in my son’s mind.

On Saturdays, the regular program was to attend my granddaughter Alena’s basketball games in the nearby clubs. But, once, it was to be on Mercer Island. Having gone halfway, my son asked me to be ready for a daylong expedition to Bainbridge island.

Alena and her mom Sarah headed home after the game while Ashvin and I set out in his car in the opposite direction. After crossing a long bridge on the Washington lake, we reached the ferry docks at Puget Sound. The ferry was just about to leave for Bainbridge. Ours was one of the last of the 150 or so cars parked on the ferry. The ferry had two floors for passengers of two classes including a big restaurant. The topmost floor was reserved for the crew and was out of bounds for general public.

The hull portion of the ferry had a looking out deck from where the travellers could get themselves photographed (or selfied) against the receding skyline of Seattle downtown.

As the ferry left the docks, the engines created a regular humming. Puget Sound being an arm of the Pacific Ocean, the waters were calm, deep and dark blue. As the journey progressed, the ripples of water glistened silvery in the golden sunshine, it being an unusually fine day. On the way, we passed the ferry that was coming in the opposite direction.

After about half an hour of leisurely cruising, we reached the Bainbridge island. People waited patiently to drive out their cars. When we came out of the ferry, we drove to a scenic point on the Bainbridge island. Here, the vast light blue expanse of the Pacific Ocean lay before us. The beach had no sand but all rounded pebbles which looked as if they had been made to order. The water here was cool, calm and clear. Only a few families were around.Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, ocean, sky, outdoor, water and nature

I chose a big log of driftwood to sit upon, soaking my feet in the gently rippling water, with pebbles clearly visible on the floor through the pure, pristine and transparent water. After spending a satisfactorily (!) long time, we headed back to the ferry, after lunching at a quaint, strictly vegetarian joint run by an Asian woman.

This time on the return journey, we chose a spot away from the crowd. Standing next to a railing at the car park we enjoyed watching the sea without any disturbance.

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