Friday, November 27, 2009

2050 AD - Traffic

Sonny: Dad, can I please borrow your Super-Cycle for today? Please, Dad....

Daddy: Darling, you are not old enough to ride a cycle so advanced. You stick to your cycle with pedals. It’s the safest for you.

Sonny: But Dad, my friends are my age and they get to ride their Dads’ cycles. We are not kids anymore, Dad! One of my friend’s dad has the Killer-Cycle that can go at great speeds and carry an entire family along!!

Daddy: Bad...bad, I don’t recommend that at all. You know when I was your age, my Dad didn’t let me touch his car till I finished college and you are still in school.

Sonny: Daddy, did your car also go zooming like the Killer-Cycle?

Daddy: (laughing) you cannot compare cars and cycles. Cars had a lot more power and speed. You could see streams of cars moving bumper to bumper during peak hours and it turned into a stream of lights by evening! I would sit in mine and listen to music while waiting at red lights, some of which could be on for minutes.

Sonny: Stream of lights!! That must be quite a site, dad! Did you have all the models that we see in the car museum now?

Daddy: Well! A lot of those models rode on the road. People were crazy about cars. To some it was some kind of a prestige issue! There were cheaper and smaller versions like Nano and Bono cars to cater to the middle class. In our joy of affording the four-wheeler, we didn’t realise the blunder we were committing! There were cars and more cars and not enough space either to park them or drive them on the roads. Not to forget other vehicles like two and three-wheelers like scooters, bikes, rickshaws and autos. The roads would get chocobloc and people would go crazy trying to handle all of it.

Sonny: But we have each one of us own a cycle today and things don’t sound crazy like you say.

Daddy: Yes but we’ve become wiser now. After the law allowing only one cycle per head and sticking to your lanes legally binding, there’s a lot of discipline on the roads. In our times, you could have as many cars as you can afford and drive them around with no lane discipline. You can imagine the kind of space it required and the noise it created. We were insane enough to leave the engines running even during our wait for the signals to turn green! And, of course, all the fuel we had ran out much faster because of this. We never dreamt of times like these when there would be no petrol left to drive our cars around!!

The noise of the engines running idly greatly added to the noise pollution. You should have been there to deafening honking that people irresponsibly resorted to. The ban of horns on cycles has made our world a much quieter place to live in.

Sonny: Daddy, I think I am happier being born when the mad phase is over and we have some peace and order restored!

Daddy: You bet! And take my cycle tomorrow...but only this time, alright!!

Sonny (happily): only this time!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

2050 AD - Shopping

Sonny: Mummy, I was reading my history book which mentioned a place called subzi mandi. What's this mandi all about?

Mummy (wistfully nostalgic at the mention of the sabzi mandi): My Sonny boy, those were the days we enjoyed the bliss of going around the market, choosing our stuff and haggling with the vendor just for the heck of it! In fact, going to the sabzi mandi was a weekly chore - buying vegetables for the week.

Sonny: But mom, what exactly is this sabzi mandi?

Mummy: Oh God! What dark ages have we come to!! My own child asking me what a bhaji market is while we, as children, had a good time accompanying our mums to the market! It is a place where vendors would get a variety of vegetables and fruits from the wholesale market and sell it in every locality. We would go around checking out the quality and freshness of the vegetables and buy it only after a bit of haggling. Some of the markets were not very clean but that's feature of our country.

Sonny: You mean you had to go around the filthy market place collecting vegetables and then carry them all the way home?

Mummy: Ah! The satisfaction of buying things after examining them with your own hands. Not like your Webmart and Webmarkets now-a-days where you just have to click on things, pay online and then they deliver it to your house. The vegetables never turn out to be the way they would be if I chose them with my own hands. But what to do that is the way life now.

Sonny: Mummy, Webmarts don’t do such a bad job. You can always choose the kind of quality you want, the size of your fruits and vegetables and the time you want it delivered at your place. It’s neat and sweat-free! You can also choose stuff and put them in a basket as you keep remembering them. And pay for them at the end of the day when you are sure there’s nothing more to add in your basket online.

Mummy: Yes, yes, you think it’s a very smart way to do it but god knows how old that vegetable will be and for long it would be there in the internet. You just go and order without finding out how fresh it is.

Sonny: Don’t worry mom, they give you the best quality and not something that’s been rotting in the internet for long!!
Life'e better and faster then it was for you way back in 2010!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

2050 AD - Library

Sonny: Mummy, what are you going to tell me today?

Mummy: Today, I am going to tell you about what were called Libraries. When I was your age, we used to go to a library to borrow and read books. Every school and college also had a library for its students.

Sonny: How did you download them at a library? i just have to go my college website and choose the ebook i want to read. And did you have to travel all the way to one to get books? Interesting!!

Mummy: Everything couldn’t be downloaded sitting at home as you can do today! You had to go to a library to get books. There were stacks of books stacked subject-wise in a library. You had books for children, novels for teenagers, books on art, Science, History, Computers, Films and every subject you can think of. You could go to your interest area and look around for a book you might want to read and get it issued. And then you go back to the library to return the book after you finish reading it and get more issued.

Sonny: Woa...which meant more travelling? You had to carry the book everywhere you went? Gosh! That must be such a pain....travelling to the library so many times carrying all those books!

Mummy: Yes, it was at times! But it had a charm of its own.....you could spend hours with books around you for company. A library was a silent zone where you were not supposed to talk making it an ideal place to read in peace.

Sonny: And how many books can you have on shelves like that? And what about the space that you need to store all those books? you mean you actually had big spaces to physically store all those books? What a waste of space!!

Mummy: There were a few thousand books of all subjects put together. How many more could you explore in one go! And they had to be stored that way since that was the only way we could explore information before super pendrives and online libraries replaced physical libraries of our times!

Sonny: Well! i can't imagine walking all around shelves trying to look foe a book i'd like to read! My super pen drive can hold 50,000 ebooks and an equal number of journals with pictures and videos. So whenever i have free time, i just have to insert the pendrive on to my palmtop and click on the memory button to go to the book i was reading. i don’t have to go look for them anywhere or return them to anyone. i can also look for latest titles and topics on the web anytime...anywhere and just download them for free in seconds!

Mummy: Well! That’s called progress Sonny boy!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ogling - the favourite Indian pastime!

Ever felt a dozen eyes scan you from top to bottom as you step amidst people? You consciously glance at your well covered self wondering nothing seems to be evidently wrong with you. Yet stares, sometimes not so stealthy, keep coming back to settle on you. Don’t worry, you just experienced the favourite Indian pastime - ogling. Indians don’t mind staring at anyone. New neighbours, humans on transit systems, folks walking on the street, mortals in movie-theatres waiting to get inside the hall, persons standing in check-out queues of supermarkets, masses out for a walk in the park.....anyone at all. i suspect the ogling is more generous when the individual happens to be of the fairer sex (feminists excuse!). Being one, i go through it all the time. Even while passing through the street outside my house where i should no longer be a subject of study to the denizens around. But we are Indian and we Stare....just like that.

i always suspected we had this uncanny habit of making others feel uneasy with our unwelcome gaze. i found ample evidence to prove it exists amply in us when i began travelling by the Delhi Metro. i, more often than not, encountered stares as i entered the the train. The passengers already seated (and standing) seem to a find a new object for their goggling pleasure. i decided to check out the reaction of people around to others who got into the train after me. And Bingo!! No one's spared. We are Indian and we Stare....just like that.

All decency is thrown to the wind as a visual treat in the form of a girl in her mini-skirt walks in to the train just after her class at some Air hostess training center!

The habit comes back to haunt you and you realise how rude it could be when you go to countries where staring is not the national pastime. In a local metro train in Paris, i myself looking around at people in general. As a couple of them looked back i realised my looks might seem invasive to them. I wasn’t in saddi dilli where i could give free reign to my eyeballs!!

Uninvited looks, forget intrusive ones, can be quite rude in most countries of the world. A little experiment a la delhi metro in trains abroad surprised me that people don’t even normally look up to see who’s got into the train or who’s sitting in the next table at the restaurant. While travelling, they prefer to either read books or direct their stares at objects that wouldn’t mind it!! How many do we find reading on our transit systems? We’d rather indulge in visual gossip and make people conscious!!