Monday, May 29, 2006

slow taxicabs

i have yet to travel in a cab that has its speedometer working. i guess since they're always the slowest things on the road they don't need to figure how fast they're cruising.

it can get real frustrating to sit in the back of one while every other vehicle on the road overtakes you. if you complain about the lack of speed then the guy driving the contraption is likely to give you the evil eye.

other traits common to the practitioners of this profession include dangling one arm outside the window and steering with the other. this no doubt makes for a cool self-image but the limp arm looks definitely ridiculous to passersby.

and i suppose that keeping spare change to be returned to paying customers is a big no-no in their user manual.

Friday, May 26, 2006

evolving public transport

god bless the guys who came up with the idea of introducing air-conditioned buses as a part of the local municipal corporation's fleet of road transport.

this gives me a viable choice when i'm considering commuting to work rather than take my motorcycle. if you've seen the local trains in bombay during peak hours you will agree that it's only a mode of transport for those who have to mind their monthly expenditure. it doesnt matter if you travel first class or second, the economic status of the crowd pushing against you is all thats different.

same problem if you take the regular buses too, also you have to put up with the heat, dust and noise that goes with the tour. notwithstanding the extended travel time. but the airconditioned bus takes care of three of the above mentioned problems, and yes its mostly empty.

i usually knock off to sleep for the duration of the commute and have to be shaken awake by the driver at the last stop which is a short walk from the office. its a wonderfully refreshing way to begin the work day.

differential service and pricing should exist for all goods and services, public transport is a fine example. there's always a fringe of consumers out there ready to pay more than a little extra for better service.

it surprises me that the local suburban railway hasnt come up with a similar plan yet. i'm pretty sure there are commuters in far flung suburbs ready to pay for the comfort of not getting smothered in human flesh twice every day. it beats me that you could pay four times the price of a second class train ticket in order to buy a first class one and still have just as bad a journey as the poorer sections of society.

damn it, when i pay more i demand comfort. and thats exactly what these buses give me.

Monday, May 15, 2006

the holiday that never was

a five day work-week takes a little getting used to. thats my learning as of last weekend. last saturday was a public holiday thanks to the 2,500th birthday of the buddha. a welcome break for those of us who put in six days at the office each week.

naps on saturday resulted in confusing wake-up states. i kept thinking it was sunday. a marathon movie watching session that lasted till the wee hours on sunday morning didn't do much for clarity. moreover, i substituted all my coffee intake with wine, which didn't help matters either.

thankfully, i didn't leave the house. the extent of my commuting being restricted between rooms. end result being an extremely slow monday morning at work. i havent managed to get past first gear, so to speak. everything's moving ultra slow and a caffeine intake is regularly needed.

if this is how it's going to be every time one gets a proper weekend off then i'm glad that i have a six day week. the one day off is just enough to recharge the cliched batteries. whereas a 2 day weekend causes a brutal shock to the body when you trudge into work the following monday. you're subconciously beginning to think that you're on vacation when you're pulled, kicking and screaming, into everyday life the very next day.

i havent often gotten a hangover from imbibing copious quantities of alcohol but i'm beginning to think i'm seriously suffering a hangover from the weekend.

Friday, May 05, 2006

crossing the road to take a dump

thats what i saw a couple of guys doing this morning. they were at a traffic light carrying a bucket of water each and waiting patiently for a break in the flow of traffic so that they could get to the other side of the road and join a mass of humanity performing their morning ablutions.

65% of this great city either lives in shanties or is homeless. with roughly 20 million inhabitants that leaves 13 million people without access to toilets. the local government and some citizens groups have constructed public toilets but these can service only a small percentage of the demand.

the net result is that no matter where you stay on this fine island city, there is someone shitting in the open and within walking distance of you. this is true regardless of whether you stay in bourgeois or proletarian neighbourhoods.

a commute by the local suburban railway is an assault, both visual and olfactory. the railway lines are bordered by slums and tenements all along the grid. this in effect makes it the longest continuous open air toilet in this part of the world.

a visitor could be forgiven for thinking that this is more a city of shitters than the proverbial city of dreams or the financial capital of the country that it is made out to be.