November 27, 2005

Flower power


I stole this photo from my wud be's blog becos I just loved it. Can anyone come up with names for this lovely flower ?

November 25, 2005

Am shocked at IOC's attitude!

"Shocked over the brutal murder of its area sales officer S Manjunath in Lakhimpur Kheri last week, the Indian Oil Corporation has decided to provide security to its field staff facing life threats."

"The IOC has agreed to provide security to the field staff as also their residences following the brutal murder of its area sales officer which has exposed the amount of risk faced by the IOC staff with the involvment of mafia in the trade," Vice President, Indian Oil Officers Association, Subodh Dakwale said".

This report in the wire news today caught my eye. What is the IOC trying to say? Did Manjunath receive death threats from the mafia? Was IOC aware of this and did not report about the threats to the police. Could his death have been prevented? Does this also mean that besides Manjunath, many more honest IOC officers are at the mercy of the petrol pump mafia ?

"The murder has also forced the corporation to consider changing its inspection system and modifying it to plug the loopholes which expose the staff to unnecessary risks".

Why is the IOC turning Manjunath's murder into a security issue? Is the IOC suggesting that the only way the mafia can be stopped from attacking its employees is by giving them security ? What if the mafia bribe the security men which does happen often. Too many questions I guess with even fewer answers.

Security can only be a temporary solution to the immediate problem of death threats to its field staff. Why doesnt IOC try to bring in more transparency in the issue of licenses ? Wouldnt that stop the mafia and the thugs with political links from running petrol pump that supply adulterated petrol ?

That way, even if the field staff revoke the license of a petrol pump, the officer can do so without any fear of death threats. Of course all this is easier said than done. Corruption in the allotment of license of petrol pump has already been highlighted many times by the media. Government for its part has made a few noises about an enquiry into the issue. But I doubt if the people in the government who benefit from the current system of allotment of license will try to bring in transparency.

One solution that has often been bogged down is privatisation of the Oil PSU's or a private-public partnership. Privatisation will bring in some if not complete transparency in the system. Why not have an other round of debate on privatisation?

November 23, 2005

Like Italian food? Read this post.

Last week, I had a date with my best chum at the `Little italian' restaurant in Nungambakkam. We were just going to enter the place when my friend informed me that this was a purely vegetarian restaurant. I was in a mood for non-veg food, so we moved to `Bella Ciao', another Italian restaurant down the road.

And since that day, I often dream of Italian food. `Bella Ciao' is food at its best. We ordered pasta with tomato sauce and barbecued chicken pizza. What can I say. The food was so divine I am absolutely in love with it. For the first time, I tasted authentic Italian pizzas. The crust of the pizza was so crisp it reminded me of our very own papad. The way to eat it my friend explained was to dip the crust in a mixture of olive oil, tomato sauce and tobasco sauce. The pizza was sooo delicious. Next came the pasta which unfortunately I could'nt do justice too after the yummy pizzas. The pasta at `Bella Ciao' made me realise that most restaurants dish out the ready to eat pastas as Italian food.

One more thing in favor of the resto is the pricing. The pizza which was a meal for 2 people costs us just around Rs 200. Pretty cheap I would say compared to the very expensive pizzas you get at Pizza joints and the taste was definitely far better. The ambience of the place was sexy too. It was low lit and the seating was pretty comfy.

I am feeling grey

I am in a grey mood. The overcast skies outside are grey and so is my mood. I feel lazy and am sick of hearing people around me complain of fever. Wish the sun would take a sneak peak from beneath the grey clouds and shower us with its warm light.

November 22, 2005

Is Chennai a world class city?

As a reporter covering the Information Technology beat, almost everyday, I hear industry and government representatives boasting about how Chennai has all the infrastructure in place to house the mighty MNC's of the world.

After listening to numerous speeches on the subject, I was almost convinced that Chennai does have the infrastructure to lure global corporations. Today after watching corporation workers manually drain rain water from the roads, I am no longer convinced.

Chennai compared to cities like Bangalore does boast of better infrastructure but we are still can't stake claim to being a world class city. In the last one month, rains have severely damaged the prominent roads in the city creating numerous potholes. Riding a two wheeler in Chennai is a complete nightmare.

Of course, every city is susceptible to nature's fury and very little can be done about the roads except repair them later. But what irks me is the fact that most metros in India including the biz capital Mumbai and Chennai do not have a proper storm water drainage system in place. We still contiue to have the storm water drains constructed years ago by the British Raj. Why can't the governments come up with an effective plan to reconstruct the old storm water drains ?

Even in places that have new storm water drains, water logging still exists because of people's tendency to dump garbage in the drains. No wonder, Chennai has so much water logging on the roads! Most of us dont have any civic sense but we are very quick in criticising the government for being inactive. The problem of flooding and water logging is not something that can be solved by speedy government action. It is a combinations of so many factors, most of which relate to basic infrastructure issues.

If the government wants to project Chennai as a world class city, certain basic infrastructure issues have to be dealt with. Brushing them under the carpet is not going to help.

November 17, 2005

Open graves in Anna Nagar

Large pits can be found everywhere in Anna Nagar these days. The pits have been dug up to clean the clogged storm water drains which took a beating during the recent rains.

A few of the pits are large enough for an elephant to sleep in it. All the main roads in Anna Nagar including the Chintamani stretch and Shanti Colony road have been dug up. Driving in Anna Nagar has suddenly become very risky. The problem is compunded by the sand that is heaped on the open ditches, making it really hazardous for commuters especially two wheeler riders. Two wheeler riders beware !

Funnily, whenever I look at the pits, I am reminded of open graves.

November 11, 2005

Relax! Its ok to read blogs at workplace

Do you spend hours at your office surfing blogs? If you do, please dont feel guilty. You have company. A report by the leading advertising magazine Advertising Age reveals that 1 in 4 people in the US labour force (35 million wokers approx) spend an average of 3.5 hours a week reading blogs at the workplace. Employees take a 40 minute break from their work daily to read blogs. Hey, after reading this I was jumping in front of my computer. I spend more than an hour reading blogs on the job and I was feeling so guilty about it. :)

Wait! There is more. The online version of the Ad Age magazine ran a poll on "whether employees should be allowed to read non-work related blog on the job". According to the poll, 85% of the voters were in favour of employees' reading blogs on their employer's time.

But I guess this was not the response the magazine expected and now they are claiming that hijacked the poll. The report says that before the weekly poll was to close, had this warning on its site, "A Disaster Awaits at". The warning basically urged people to vote in favour of blog reading.

The vote tally was apparently 58% against employees reading blogs but after the Gawker post the tally was 85% in favour of blog reading by employees. Well whatever be the whys and wherefores, I am just thrilled that `ITS OK TO READ BLOGS ON THE JOB'.

November 08, 2005

I love Pink

I am thinking of colouring my hair. How about the colour Pink?? Will I be named `Pinky' once I colour my hair? :)

Photo Courtesy: Hindustan Times

Ye gods! Why am I blogging?

I have had 100 hits on my site in the last one week and it seems like the right time to contemplate on the purpose of this blog. Right from the day, I started blogging, which is over two weeks now, I have received compliments and criticisms alike.

Funnily, many of my readers have advised me to make my blog lively by posting exotic (Porn??) and rare pictures. The comment was actually on the Delhi blasts photos that I had posted. "I don't like your blog. It is sooooo tragic. Why do you post photos of tragic events on your blog. Replace it with some pleasant photos," was one comment.

Another friend of mine felt that the blog was too `newsy'. According to her, dailies dish out enough news for the public to drown in and posting the same on my blog did not make sense to her. "Make your blog innovative by posting pictures of scenic places in Chennai that no one has seen," was the comment. This time around, it was my turn to be zapped ! Honey, If no has seen these places, then they probably don't exist.

Seriously guys my blog does not have a specific purpose. I am not trying to make my blog look `different' or `sexy'. For me blogging is therapeutic. I started my blog on the advice of a friend and to my suprise I have really enjoyed writing about my thoughts and observations.

And, I honestly can't help it if my posts contain news updates. Hey, at the end of the day I am a journalist and news is in my blood. How can I ignore major news items like the tragic Delhi blasts in which scores of lives were lost? It is not in me to turn my back on tragedies in the hope that I will never ever be a victim of such mass murders.

A final disclaimer: This blog like the title suggests was started because I have loads of time and a lot of thoughts to share with whoever is unlucky enough to read this blog. I am not and I will not use website `fundas' to attract an audience. Period.

November 06, 2005

Hell of a journey!

Phew! The bike ride today between my office and my house will go down in my memory lane as one of the riskiest journeys I have ever undertaken. It had been raining incessantly from morning and I was enjoying the rains till the time came for me to report to office.

The ride to the office was tough, visibility was very poor and the rains were piercing my body like sharp needles. I reached office thouroughly drenched and before my clothes could dry it was time for me to leave. It had been raining heavily for hours together and when I left office, I could barely see the roads which were submerged in rain water.

Right from my office in Royapettah till Anna Nagar, there was knee deep water on the roads. It was a very treacherous drive home with the rain cruelly stinging my face and with the knee deep water which gushed up each time I accelerated my bike. In a nutsehll, it was like driving in the middle of the sea.

A saving grace was the fact that it was a Sunday and the traffic was minimal. And of course, my faithful scooty did not let me down by stopping mid-way. Thank God, I somehow managed to reach home safely. In fact, there were moments when I thought that I wouldn't make it.

Rains have disrupted normal life in Chennai in so many ways. An attendant I spoke to in the petrol pump station told me that he has been living in the station for the past three days. I wonder how many more people have not gone home because of the rains.

PS: There is prediction of heavy rains and gale winds in Chennai and the rest of Tamil Nadu over the next 48 hours.

November 04, 2005

Id Mubarak !

Id Mubarak to everyone!

November 02, 2005

Are you listening Mr Minister ?

I am fed up with the antics of a certain Union Minister (name withhold on purpose). Mr Minister, loves to meet the press junta in Chennai to tom tom his achievements as much as his ego permits.

Of late, Mr Minister has got into the habit of holding press conferences on the outskirts of Chennai, particularly on weekends (esp Sundays) and public holidays. Logic is obvious. Our dear Minister loves to spend time with his family in Chennai on weekends and holidays and since air travel is expensive, Mr Minister has come up with an interesting solution.

The politician arranges his meetings in such a way that it happens on a Sunday or on a holiday which ensures that the event sponsors pay for his trip. According to the grapevine, he is apparently paid around Rs 30 lakhs for an event. Isse kehte hain Sone pe Suhaga!

While this may be a common practise among politicians, what irks me the most about this Minister is his attitude towards the press. Mr Minister believes that the press will follow him wherever he goes like the `Hutch network'. He is so confident about media coverage that he calls them ahead of time and makes then wait for hours together for a piece of news which deserves just 10 cms of news space.

In fact, the Minister often holds meetings with the company in question or delegates for an indefinite period of time while the press is waiting for him to arrive. No one including the Minister's PRO have any clue about when the meeting would begin and the media is forced to wait endlessly. Recently, at a press conference after arriving two hours late, Mr Minister coolly declared to the press that he had no news to share with them. If there was no news to share, why did you arrange for the press conference, Mr Minister??

Road blocks

This huge banyan tree, reportedly more than 50 years old, came crashing down on Ritherdon Road in Chennai. The tree was so huge that it is taking days to cut it. Though the tree fell on the morning of the cyclone on October 27, it has not yet been cleared. As of today, only the top branches of the tree have been cut to make way on one side of the road. This picture was taken on October 30, Sunday morning. The road was blocked for more than 6 days.

Photo Courtesy: Joseph Pradeep Raj

November 01, 2005

Happy Diwali!

Golden Temple in Amritsar

Source: Hindustan Times

Bloggers block

Right now I am suffering from a writers block. I dont plan to write anything today instead I spent my time installing a site meter on my site. This will tell me the number of people who visit my blog in a day. Me and my big fat ego!