Bangalore Auto Menace !!!

FYI Bangaloreans.

You are in a hurry to catch the train. You pack all your stuff and frantically run out in the hope of catching an auto. You come out and see 5 autos standing at the corner. You thank God and ask them - "Majestic chaloge kya??” The Answer is "Rs 200 hoga!!”. "Kya?? It just cost Rs 100 till Majestic". "Bahut rush hai sir!!". You move on to the next auto, to try your luck and surprisingly, you have the same conversation "Bahut rush hai sir!!". Finally you give up and bargain the price to Rs 170 and hope you don't miss your train.

Sounds more than familiar??

You stand on the road and keep on asking the passing autos for a ride to your destination - if it's not your day, the autos will not even bother to stop; if you're a bit lucky they might actually slow down to hear your destination's name and think for a second( i always wonder if they are calculating their net profit) and then speed away. However if you are more lucky, the auto guy might actually quote you an exorbitant price and then speed away. But if it's your extremely lucky hour of the day, you might end up getting an auto which is ready to take you to the destination at meter price.

In my six years of existence in Bengaluru, these experiences have been really instrumental in teaching me great virtues - Patience and Tolerance. But at what price??? exorbitant rates, extremely rude behavior and what not ......
After years of feeling used, i set out to find the answer for this misery - was there no government system that could bring these auto guys to justice? As a citizen, how can i express my concern?

This search took me to the Koramangala RTO office (BDA complex) and to my surprise i found that there did exist a government system which i believe 99.99% of Bengaluru is unaware of !!
The System
Note the vehicle number (KA-XX-YY-ZZZZ) and email the details to Based on the prefix XX (for example KA-01), complaint will be sent to one of the ten RTO offices in Bangalore and adjacent taluk areas.
Alternatively, one can also call these offices at the number given below based on the vehicle number prefix and directly lodge a complaint.

Vehicle Prefix (KA-XX) Bangalore location Phone number

KA-01 Koramangala 080-25533525
KA-02 Rajajinagar 080-23324104
KA-03 Indiranagar 080-25254310
KA-04 Yeshwantpur 080-23376039
KA-05 Jayanagar 080-26630989
KA-41 Gyanabharthi 080-28602833
KA-50 Yelahanka 080-28561366
KA-51 Electronic City 080-25735522
KA-52 NeelaMangala 08234-285598
KA-53 KR Puram 080-25617951
Once the complaint is received at the corresponding office, a notice is issued to the address of the vehicle’s registered owner, requiring him/her to turn up at the RTO office within 7 working days. Every RTO has about 10 IMV’s (Inspector of Motor Vehicles) who seize the vehicles which don’t report to the RTO.

The penalty levied from the auto-waalas is rs.100 under section 200.

The various offences among others for which one can lodge a complaint

Refusal to come to destination (Any destination!!!)
Demanding excess fare
Using rough language
Cheat the public, for e.g. taking longer routes.
Faulty Meter
There is also a helpline number - 080-22353785 available Monday – Saturday from 10:00 am - 5:30 pm on which one can call to lodge complaints.

The numbers speak for itself
I was shocked when I found that the Koramangala RTO office received only 5 complaints a month. With over 1,00,000 autos plying on Bangalore roads, shouldn’t it be like 5 complaints a minute?
So, will our impatience always have to take a backseat? Can something be done to improve/compliment the system to make it more effective? Will we get a better platform to raise our voices democratically?

Speech # 7 Toastmasters Club

Here is my 7th Speech in crystal talk toastmasters club of Motorola Bangalore.

Arrival – Part 4

I got few warnings about Chicago airport that it is a very (very very… ) big airport and cannot be taken lightly if you have a connecting flight. I estimated its vastness from my aerial view and soon realized that it was an underestimation. There were activities to make it worse. Immigration check was one of them. I almost ran for that entire 1 and a half hour except those 10 minutes I spent in a train which took me from international terminal to the domestic one. I was very ready to experience all three classes in my one way journey and hence gladly accepted the cattle class this time and started waiting anxiously for my final destination.
No, the plane did not crash and I am not writing this sitting in Heaven or Hell.. I am talking about Dallas-Fort Worth Airport.

DFW was altogether a different beauty from the top of the world, huge and scenic. Sun was almost at his perish and by the time I collected my luggage it was dark. I quickly spotted a public phone, experimented with calling card and after a couple of hits and misses I got the caller tune. My wife answered and the voice did the same to me what smoke does to an addict. After utilizing a full quota of 15 minutes a day on my calling card, I headed to the exit in search of a cab.

The moment I stepped out I realized had I been here a month before, I would have seen the coldest nights of my life. Chilling breeze hit my face and I felt like having 100s of needles piercing my face. I ran to the taxi stand and jumped into one. It took 20 minutes to reach the hotel. Radisson, as they call it, was no where similar to any hotels in India. No boundary walls and no gate keeper with big moustache on the gate. I quickly completed the check-in procedure and took an overview of the lobby. There I spotted the place where I was going to spend all my evenings. The Cassidys. An in-house night club of Radisson. (wink.. )

Soul was hungry so was the stomach. I was feeling that I had only a day or 2 in this hotel and so I should be better hurry up to catch all the hospitality it was about to offer me. After taking a long and lazy hot bubble bath, it was time for some food. Not to my surprise, when I stepped in the restaurant and took up the menu, I was not able to visualize a single item in that. Somehow I zeroed on one and started waiting for it. In the mean time, the music started growing inside the Cassidys. I got up to take a quick view of the place. Now that was surprising. Cowboy hats, check-shirt clad men in their 50s cluttered the club. A maintaining ratio of women was decorating the club, both in the terms of number and age. But their enthusiasm was strikingly different from the people of my land. Feet on the dance floor, drinks on the tables and country songs in the air were enough to get me interested in this place. I asked a waitress to bring my food here so that I may not miss a moment. As the evening turned into night, younger guests started entering and competing with the veterans.

I gave company to my food and drinks throughout till they played the last song and then I walked up to my room. Welcome to Texas.

Frankfurt – Part 3

It was a cold day at Frankfurt. I desperately wanted to update my parents and wife that I was fine and safe. Although, there was no climate catastrophe, no terror warning or a war in Europe, still unlimited access to communication makes all of us addicted to status updates. It was 3 hours for my connecting flight to Chicago so I became a little relaxed and started searching for public telephones. But again, thanks to unlimited access to communications, everybody has a mobile phone these days which is why public phones are getting harder to be spotted.

To be on safer side, I decided to go the departure gate first and make sure that the information I have is correct and then explore the airport.
I was desperate to go the business lounge again.. : - ).
It looked like a self-managed, strangely disorganized, cluttered and yet amazing airport. It was easy to spot people of all walks of life finding their own space of comfort in that area. Blacks, whites, Asians, kids, olds, youth, rich and poor. There was a girl looking for a power socket to charge her mobile phone. Huge shops were lined up in one section. A plenty of Indian were there who were behaving exceptionally well as compared to black and white kids and young boys and girls.

There were automated moving walkways in the vast lobby which was a thoughtful innovation for old people. However some kids made it into a giant rollercoaster and were trying every possible to and fro travel across that walkway. Soon an old man, in his 50s, wearing roller skates, joined the game of coupling himself with the moving hand rest of the walkway and started rolling besides it.

My destination was near i.e. my departure gate# 65 and the business lounge nearby. It was morning time and breakfast was ready in the lounge. I headed straight to usual section of milk and cereals and suddenly stopped by some unknown force. A really humble idea came in my mind that now if I am on a 1 month journey, why not giving a try to new tastes. I looked at the counters and observed people and finally decided to go with a tuna sandwich. Fishes are always my biggest subject of disinterest when it comes to food. But I gave them another chance to impress me and after having that, I can say, I really can’t express the warmth, tenderness and exotic taste of that sandwich, in words.

Economy in west is in bad shapes. This was proved by the fact that the unlike Namma Bengaluru, Frankfurt airport was charging for wireless internet. : - ) Now that I couldn’t find a phone, I was uncomfortably hyper to talk/communicate to Suman. And what could be better than an email? Thankfully the lounge had few desktop computers, without any charge, which gave me a chance to send a couple of one liners across the continents. After spending some time, it headed back to the lounge and started acting like a busy-frequent-flier-executive. Took a drink for myself, grabbed a news paper and found a spot facing the runway. Exactly when I was about to start my performance of a business man who can make smart decisions based on a financial newspaper, I came to know that the newspaper was a German one. Almost grinning on myself, I got myself another drink.

12:30 was time for the boarding and I was enjoying my last 45 minutes in the lounge when I heard some foreign language announcements containing a word which caught my attention.
Dies ist ein Ankündigung für mr ebbyshaik, wenden Sie sich bitte an der Pforte 65.
It repeated itself in English.
This is an announcement for Mr Abhishek, please contact at the gate 65.

In negative anticipations I ran towards gate 65 and upon reaching, announced my identity. The lady at the counter took me 5 steps away from the counter and those 5 steps were really very heavy on my feet. Thousands of thoughts about passport, visa, tickets, security and what not, started running in my mind. Once she started speaking, my blood pressure started coming to normal. There was a hardware problem, as she said it, with my seat in the plain. The control buttons were not working and hence she offered me to take another plane i.e. FRA-Denver and Denver to DFW. After regaining my normalcy, I started thinking about pros and cons of my could-be-decision. I never travelled for such a long time in an aircraft so I was not able to imagine the level of discomfort I would get.

Without thinking much I opted for my original option and left everything else to my fate. On my extra grateful behavior, the ground staff also came to a different level. One lady escorted me to the craft. Called the technical support guys for the last attempt to make the seat working and guess what, it worked. Till today I suspect that they tried to trick me because they wanted to give that seat to some influential guest. : - )

Then again, started a gala time of eating, drinking, sleeping, stretching and enjoying the plain which ended in 9 long hours.

In-Flight – Part 2

Why I love window seat?
A. I flew for the first time when I was 22.
B. I am a fan of Bill Gates.
C. I don’t know.
D. I think, in case of an emergency I would safely jump out.

The right answer is C.
Yeah, I don’t why but in spite of having numerable instances of disturbing people on the aisle seat for washrooms and regretting of not having an aisle seat in case of Kingfisher airlines, I love to be seated on a window seat.

That day was no exception. My travel agent took my request seriously and arranged a window seat for me. My fellow colleague who recently came from US told me that LH air hostesses do not talk to the people who do not drink. So, with the clear intentions of getting a good customer service, I decided to say yes whenever anybody would ask me for a drink in the next 9 hours.
Interestingly, I had already set my biological clock before even reaching to the other part of the world. It was 3:30 AM and I was wide awake, experimenting with all the luxuries I was expected to use to their fullest. In those 9 hours, I watched a movie, Red Cliff. Revised a movie called Kaminey, slept, had touch-ups with the colon-dipped tissues, had food and explored the washrooms. In total, it was a nice experience to stretch and have a nice flight.

I opened the window panes after 7 hours, in the anticipation of having a look of firangi asmaan. Instead I got a very strange view of white clouds down there. They looked like snow on the vast planes but I knew that we were nowhere close to the land because there were still 2 more hours to reach Frankfurt. Yahan ke toh baadal bhi paraye hein... reminded me of a dialogue from DDLJ ... yahan ke toh kabutar bhi paraye hein.
(bad joke ?? skip this.. oh you have already read it.. :-D another bad joke.. )

Very soon my wait ended and I started seeing some land. Bright and colorful. Full of white color. Endless panorama view of snow and snow. Upon reaching closer to the city, the colors started changing. Streets, trees, cars, highways and mushroom-looking-unorganized-country-houses started cropping out of the snow, showing off.

After desperately waiting for 9 hours, the aircraft took a plunge. The snow region was left way back. Frankfurt was cloudy but snowless. The aircraft, with arms wide open, threw herself upon the dark, tall and handsome runway which cuddled us in himself with love.
I took my 1st step on a foreign land.

Departure – Part 1

After all possible checks, cross checks and double checks on my tickets, passport, luggage and clothes I started waiting anxiously for my cab to come and take me to the airport. While everybody in the house was wide awake, thrilled about my travel and interested in me talking to them, I was waiting for a call/SMS confirmation from my cab.
Finally I called up and got the confirmation that the cab would be there on time.

While on one hand I was really excited about my 4 weeks escapade from my usual life and ghar-grahasti, I was sub-consciously started feeling that how much I would miss my daughter in the coming days. That natural bond between an animal and its offspring was growing stronger inside me after every passing minute. So I took a strong step and asked Suman to put Nicku on sleep.

Then started the final hour which we all spent in chit-chatting with each other. At 11:45 sharp the cab guy called me and told me that he was outside..
all my bags are packed, I am ready to go… my taxi is waiting… already I am so.. … I am leaving on a …

Instantly upon climbing in the cab I dumped all my anxiousness and started enjoying the ride. In Bangalore, you cannot have such a beautiful ride at any other hour of the day. No traffic, no noise.. cool breeze and myself. It took just 20 minutes to reach Hebbal Flyover after that the long stretch of new airport road was waiting for me. But within minutes my driver started taking big volumes of air in his lungs.. which we sometime call yawning. With my natural instinct of survival I immediately stopped thinking about the blondes of USA and started concentrating on the driver.

That led to another disaster when I asked him how cab companies make money and why his company charge 900 bucks for an airport ride where Meru asks for 600. That night I got the most valuable business knowledge of my life in terms of logistics, govt policies, petrol prices, local companies, global companies, car insurance and what not. My patience ran out and I started praying to both Indian and American gods that my driver should shut up. However nobody listened to my prays and I reached the airport with the over dosage of the business conditions in India.

I was only 3 hours early for my flight and that was the reason, I believed that I am doomed and I will not get a seat. My heart was running and so was I. As I was flying with the business class, the lady at the check-in counter gave me a business lounge entry pass which I immediately forgot to use once I entered the waiting area where I saw the biggest inventory of alcohol I have had ever seen in my entire life. It was a you-name-it-we-have-it scenario. The only problem was that I did not even know so many names.

After gaining some valuable information(read Names and Prices :-)) of some very expensive alcohols, I headed to the other areas which comprised of shops, restaurant and bars. Showing off my ignorance once again, I thought that was the business lounge because it was stunningly clean, bright and exuberant. After spending an hour playing X-BOX and enquiring digital cameras in that area I finally asked a guy if that was the business lounge and he routed me to the right place. Upon entering I realized the value of the last hour which I wasted.

For the next one hour I experimented with different types of alcohols and airport’s free internet to tell the entire world what a gala time I was having.
Thanks to twitter and Facebook.

After some, I don’t know how much, time the LCD screens flickered and Now Boarding appeared in front of LH 755. With all the un-explainable anxiety and thrill, I walked towards my aircraft.

Curious Case of a Happy Pet

There is an advertisement on air these days, of a very popular washing powder, in which a young boy tries to bring smile on the face of his teacher, Rosy miss.
This ad on one hand shows the little effort of that kid while on the other hand show one aspect of love and emotion which not everybody can understand or I must say appreciate. That is the bond between a pet and its owner. Remember how sad was Rosy miss?

But the hint of what this article contains is – anybody noticed the big house and huge garden in that adv ?? The significance of the size will be explained shortly.

Fellow toastmasters and my dear friends, in reality, not everyone is like Rosy Miss. A couple of years back, I had a neighbor. A young and enthusiastic boy in his early 20s. He bought a golden brown Labrador puppy. Its name was Tintin. I used to envy that boy so much because I couldn’t have such a cute dog.

That boy had a helper for washing his car. To my surprise I saw that guy only walking Tintin, giving him bath and taking care of him. While it is not a crime to have a helper for your dog but it is surprising to see that a boy who is staying alone is not enjoying his pet's company.

Anyways... soon, my envy turned into disgust when I came to know that that boy used to tie Tintin in one corner of his house, for the whole day, when he used to go to office. As I myself had been a pet owner in the past, I felt the pain and loneliness Tintin must have had been through. I heard Tintin crying and howling for the whole day many times. Tintin used to get tied to a low partition, about 4 feet high, in the hall of the house. One day Tintin jumped the partition, couldn’t reach the surface on the other side and hanged to death.

Just because we love animals doesn’t mean that we are eligible to have one.

There are 2 kinds of animal lovers in this world. One who really love animals and two who think that they love animals. People of the 1st category do a lot of research and introspect before adopting a pet. They generally have some hands-on also on owning a pet. Even if they do not have pets, they show their love by feeding and caring stray and abandoned animals. People like Rosy miss fall in that category. While my not-a-pet-lover neighbor falls in the 2nd category who think that they love animals.

Now the question arises, how will we come to know if we can take care of a pet or not without actually adopting one? To answer this, we must be honest to ourselves and ask ourselves a question. Can we afford it? Can we afford to not only buy but maintain. What about its food expenses, medication, vaccination toys etc?

2nd factor which we should consider is what pet to adopt. We must think will that animal be able to adjust with us? Do you know, demand for a pet owl surged dramatically in the US when the 1st movie of Harry potter series was released. Owl is a wild animal. It cannot go well with human. It cannot play with us like dogs do. So we must not go for chameleons, snakes, tortoise etc.

Recently, the pedigree puppy of Paris Hilton has become a huge craze world wide and people think they can also carry it in a hand bag? We need to grow up, don’t we?
Paris Hilton’s puppy is of a very fragile breed and really really expensive to maintain. Not everybody can afford it.

Ok, now phase 1 is over where we have seen if we can afford to buy or not. Here comes the phase 2. In this phase we must cross check will the animal we are planning to bring, go well with our home, surrounding and locality. For example, big dogs must be adopted by people who have big houses, with high walls and big play area. The aggressive breeds like German shepherd can be very unpredictable in their behavior because homely upbringing makes them humble while their natural instinct makes them dangerous. Owner must watch and warn people and kids coming close to it. But the reverse is true at home. At home, let your pet free. Let him play around, explore the surroundings and socialize with neighbors. Studies show that dogs who always stay in confined places are dangerous. At home we really don't need a hunting dog so we must teach them some socializing.

If you have small house or you are putting up in an apartment, it is better to have small pets like parrots, cats and pedigree puppies. It is important to give toys to your pet. Toys not only keep them busy but actually push their mental growth. After all animals also need their neurons to be connected.

And now a very very important factor. Their physical requirements. Animals are also a form of life on earth. They also have hormones running up and down in their bodies. Understand those needs and try to find a suitable partner for your pet. You don’t have to bring one more pet in your house because luckily they feel the need only a couple of times a year. So do not hesitate. Talk to your vet who can actually act as a middle man for finding a potential partner for your pet. You can go online also these days. Social networking sites are very effective tools for this.

And last but not the least. Time !! Give time to your pet. Pets are like kids. They need love, attention and time. Loneliness leads to frustration which may result in violent behavior. Walking your dog twice a day, for at least an hour, is far more important than buying an expensive vodaphone pug and taking him to the best clinic in the town.

Friends, there are people, and we could be one of them, who think that they love animals but they never realize what it takes to own a pet. They never realize that pets are not toys. They are not show pieces. Animals are also living beings.
A mute yet and an expressive form of Nature’s gift which has a right to live not only with dignity but also with happiness.