Noel Ellis's Official Blog

I wield the pen to explore the vastness of the human mind

Category: ROAD CONDITIONS

MIXED FEELINGS OF PAST AND PRESENT

I was reading an article where the author mentioned floppy disks and cassettes which one had to wind and rewind using a pencil. The present generation is oblivious to all that because we are talking of bullet trains and sea planes. There used to be a time when Indian cars never had ACs and the same used to be with the trains. The highest class used to be First Class. The luxury was your seating space but you had no control on the weather. The privilege used to be to alight right in front of the railway station gate instead of lugging your holdall, steel trunk, Khane ki tokri and a surahi for water. Times now have changed, whole trains are Air-conditioned, cars come with AC by default and if you ask for a non AC car it will attract raised eyebrows from the salesman.

The sheer pleasure of sitting in the window of a train or a car in the good old days is indescribable. The passing landscape, the lush green fields, the hillocks, the tractor and the bullocks, the one odd pair of the Siberian cranes, the eagerness to read the passing railway station boards, the nangu pangu children waving at your train are some memories which I remember vividly. Today, there are trains which don’t stop till they reach their destination. The complete train is a vestibule. Catering services used to be the poori sabji ka thela on the station, not now. I have travelled in times when the compartment windows had no grills. Entry to a coach used to from any window as doors were invariably blocked.

The steam engines evaporated, diesels took their place and now being replaced by electric ones. Speed, comfort, conveniences, facilities, housekeeping of both the trains and stations have come of age. Modernisation, mechanisation, technological advancement is adding to the improvements.

I remember when the electronic watches were placed at the stations, one used to look at them in awe. At New Delhi, I was amazed to see a huge arrival-departure board. It was a roller kind of a board where in a blink of an eye the name and timings of the trains used to change. Each alphabet used to roll giving a mesmerising feel. That place was frequented by pick pockets. I lost my red coloured wallet with eleven rupees and eighty naye paise many moons back.

Today there are chopper rides to shrines, piped gas to homes, Railway line has reached Srinagar and the day is not far it may go to Leh and beyond. RO-RO services are taking off in the sea. Inland water transport is being exploited. From tarred surfaces to cemented highways, from a single lane encroached road, to eight lane highways, India has come a long way. Provided, we Indians understand and utilise these facilities as our own. We need to treat each asset as our personal belonging. We must utilise it and leave it in the same shape as if we would be using it again. If swach bharat can start, so can hamara bharat campaign.

If a bus, train or road is made for us, let us keep it safe, secure and well maintained. Let us not litter. Let us not dig up roads by putting our tents for jagran or family functions. If a tap does not have water doesn’t mean it has to be twisted or pulled out of its socket. Let each community take charge of all assets in their area and look after them. It can only happen when each one of us is educated and understands the importance of every asset created by the government is for our use.

There are bus stops but no one uses them. The place where the bus is supposed to stop a vendor obstructs it. Where there is a two wheeler parking a four wheeler will adjust into it.  Who cares for a red light or a pedestrian crossing? The policeman will drive without a helmet but fine you for not wearing a seat belt. A civic sense of responsibility has yet to creep in the minds of us Indians.

I don’t mind a sea plane or a bullet train if it is for the common man. I will love to use it like I did for the metro and monorail. If all such things are going to bite dust after the initial launch then it will force me to ponder. The basic issue is I as a citizen want facilities but I as a citizen want some other citizen to look after it, some other citizen to provide security for it, another citizen to clean it and likewise. When will I start chipping in my bit? I wonder!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

7000 CRORES

Philanthropy means the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by generous donations of money to good cause. The synonyms are: benevolence, generosity, humanitarianism, public-spiritedness, altruism, social conscience, social concern, charity charitableness, brotherly love, fellow feeling, magnanimity, munificence, liberality, largess, open-handedness, bountifulness, beneficence, benignity, unselfishness, selflessness, humanity, kindness, kind-heartedness, big-heartedness, compassion, humaneness, patronage, sponsorship, backing, help, historical alms giving, literary bounty, bounteousness. The interpretations could differ, but the spirit remains the same.

As I was going through the news on the net I read somewhere that a family is going to donate 7000 crores for their philanthropic activities. My goodness Lord, firstly I am feeling tizzy hearing this amount. Secondly, I think if these notes are in 500 rupees denomination then it would be more than 14 crore notes itself. Number of Rs 500 notes needed to have a value of Rs 1 Crore = 1Crore/500= 200000. Weight of 1 Rs 500 note =1.15g, total weight of Rs 1 crore in 500 denomination = 200000 x 1.15=23000g =23Kg. Therefore 7000 crores x 23=161000 or 161 tons, if an average truck carries 20 tonnes, means 8 huge truck loads. Size of a 500 note is 66mm x 150mm, so if we lay them head to head in piles of 5 lakhs each means 140000 bundles means it is 210000 km. The distance to the moon is 3844000 km and circumference of the earth is 40075 km. Baapre! Well you can figure out the ratios on your own. My mind is boggling and boggling and eating circle after circle.

Be that as it may, if I divide this 7000 crore in my 125 crore deshwasis, we all shall have about 56 crores each in our kitty. Achhe din a gaye samjho. Leave alone the promise of 15 lakh in each account you can distribute 56 crores each. Half of India as it is doesn’t work because of berozgari, now we shall make sure the working India also stops working. Everyone will go sit and wait to finish his or her 56 crores. Even if I say I will spend 1 crore a year, at this stage when I am well past 50 years of age, I better double the spending, God knows how much time I have at my hands. A new born can live with his parents till 24 and then add another 56 years with a crore to spend a year will see him through till 80 what else does one require.

I have one question though, how much Izzat can we buy in this huge amount. My answer is zero. Izzat cannot be bought it has to be earned. Why I say this is because the people who are fighting for their Izzat to be restored need a very paltry sum from the government. The old and tired veterans need to go home as they have spent their time in hell already. The lucky ones came home and the luckier ones came back draped in the tri colour. At least they are not witnessing treatment which is being meted out to their own brethren by their government for whom they sacrificed their lives and limbs. Government may never understand Izzat, Pride and Honour, how can they understand benevolence.

Well, I am sure this amount will be a drop in the ocean for a country which is exploding from all ends. There is so much of pressure on every system that every bit contributed towards a good cause should be welcome. From infrastructure to health; from education to agriculture, from population to environment, you name a thing and we are bursting at our seams uncontrollably. We are refuting norms, throwing garbage and drainage, sewage, spewing toxic smoke everywhere. We are just living our lives and who cares about the future. If all this money is spent judiciously on a sustainable and maintainable model then I would say it would be worth it.

I saw a scheme called dial 102 for ambulances collapse. Today, most of the ambulances are rotting in junk yards in most states. There is a patient mafia, (patients are created on paper), fuel for the ambulance mafia, a telecom mafia connecting calls on the ambulance help line numbers. The issue is not the dearth of ambulances, it is the dearth of will to run and maintain them. The hospital infrastructure and cleanliness should be the top focus. The free availability of medicines and tests should be a fundamental right. They should be cheap and affordable for all. Ambulances need roads to run, not pot holes to negotiate and traffic jams to wait to clear. They need trained paramedics, even if they are idle most of the times but they are needed at crucial times, like the Armed forces.

Schools and schooling need to be sorted out. Education system needs to be focused on. Vernacular needs to turn to national education system and that should be internationally accepted. Food needs to be in good supply. No man or dog should go hungry in this country. Why should people beg? Why should they do menial jobs? Why can’t we have sustainable drinking water and electricity through out. Why farmers commit suicide? Why can’t we have non polluting industries and vehicles? Why can’t we have non corrupt people in all government machinery? Where are we lacking and why are we lacking in these? Is it because of lack of money and funds or its misuse?

Well, the answer my friend is blowing in the wind and that is the will to do it for the country. What I have written in jest about the length and weight of the currency and the distribution to individuals is not the issue, my calculations may be grossly wrong. The issue is that sir; either you sit with the government and address your benevolent issues through them or let us shut the government and start only charity to sustain this country.

I am not sure the causes you will take up, the states you will cover or for that matter people whom you are going to touch with your charity but promise me one thing sir, let not one pai get into the hands of the corrupt. Let this money be spent what it is meant for and not for getting files cleared to start your projects. Let this money be spent on the real needy, I beg of you, teach the needy how to fish and don’t start serving them fish.

I can assure you many veterans would love to join you to take your cause to its culmination. Take them on board sir, for it is difficult to corrupt them. Take them for their honesty and administrative skills. They shall not let you down. Mittal saab, I need 56 seconds of your time to read this article, will you be able to spare them, I wonder!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

FILTERING DELHI SMOG

Invisibility is increasing or is it visibility is decreasing is the state of affairs of our National Capital. As they say every person has a fixed number of breaths in his life time, when this adage was written it was taken for granted that it would be pure air. All things “Shudh” are no more shudh. Ashudh is getting ashudher. Every breath you take, your “counter” keeps counting but it does not filter out the impurities that are doled free with it. One micro gram of carbon is free with every litre of air one inhales. We will take anything free even if it is at the peril of our lives. No one needs to be blamed except me & myself.

Let us leave the Delhi government aside. They are only capable of issuing orders for odd and even. Beyond that they blame all and sundry. Doesn’t the North and South block breathe the same air or are there special filters circulating clean air for the high and mighty. It just struck me that our circular parliament building will come into action shortly for the winter session hopefully by then all smog will have cleared off. The observation I have is the shape of the parliament building. It looks like a huge air filter of a vehicle. Therefore no matter how polluted the air is, nothing will penetrate through.

Pardon my saying so, it also depends on the thickness of skin of our law makers. Nothing can percolate through either. Another thing I find that hampers the smooth functioning of systems is the bureaucratic filters. A file goes from one desk to another. Form one department to another, from one ministry to another, it might be approved or disapproved it comes back the same way to the clerk who initiated the case. Imagine a sanction which goes through such stringent filtering of so many laws, by laws, clauses, notes, foot notes, annexure, appendices, rulings and finally reaching the top man. What is left of the original would have been soaked, rinsed and dried by the end of it. What is dished out to the public is anybody’s guess.

Well it reminds me of my fauji days where we were taught that sand is a natural filter for water, so to get the basic impurities out of it, we used to fill sand in a pitcher, pour dirty water on top, make a pin hole at the bottom and then wait for the water to drip, drop by drop. All those who lost patience and drank dirty water landed up in hospitals for dysentery and all those who had the patience to wait also landed up in hospitals due to dehydration. So the government is like that, you will in any case land up in hospital.

It is a fact that processes in our government’s machinery move at snail’s pace. To procure a machine, someone has to first say that it is needed. Then a group of ministers (GOM) will be formed. They shall roam around the world to understand it and give the final nod. Then someone will suggest putting the best brains together to order a product manufactured in Timbuktu, modified for Indian conditions. Finally, delays in budgetary approvals followed by the tendering procedure. The machine will be handed over after a photo operation, press release and front page coverage. It might find a mention in the MAN KI BAAT too.

A nut case like me will be made responsible to run and maintain it. Within two days I will damage some part. The same will be demanded and the whole procedure repeated. Now someone in Bhatinda will be contacted to make a replica which may or may not fit. The equipment will soon die its own death. Fog or smog stays where it is, as two seasons would have gone by. By then election time would be fast approaching, it would be summers by then, to hell with smog, people are fools and will forget.

Some people will die of lung and related ailments will make no difference to Neta ji. If “note bandi” could take a few lives so “fog bandi” deserves its share of sacrifices too. Road accidents due to poor visibility and smog will continue we will blame the potholes. Trains will run late, Flights will get diverted. Crops waste will continue to burn. Garbage will keep smoldering, blame it on the people, if there are no people there will be no garbage. Construction will continue without adhering to pollution norms. If nothing else blame it on Pakistan.

If the main cause of this smog are the winds from north which carry sand particles than those need to be trapped. People of Punjab and other neighbouring states have already started bundling up the stubble which now needs to be encouraged on a war footing before the next season. Vehicular and construction pollution has to be drastically reduced. No garbage whatsoever be burnt or allowed to be burnt should be our sincere pledge.

When the root cause of the smog is known, the polluters and pollutants are known, what I as a citizen have to do is known, then what the government and its agencies got to do should also be done. Is it lack of resources? Is it lack of funds? Or is it lack of will? I wish it was a pollution driven chemical attack on the parliament, this matter would have been sorted out in one day. When will this filter shaped parliament ever understand the value of each life which voted for them? I wonder!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

IN CONVERSATION WITH CATHERINE

Catherine and I were driving down to Alibaug over the weekend when we struck up a conversation. I was listening to the stereo and my wife was appreciating the music system and the stereo effects. Catherine was not enjoying the drive at all; actually the same was the case with me. Reasons were many. One was the dilapidated condition of the road and the pot holes. Besides, the village dogs accosting us barking at their loudest and snarling with their dirty teeth. Hens along with their chicks thought the road was for them.  Worst of all was the chaotic traffic jams. Above all the weekend crowd who were pouring into our territory by the dozens. They were blocking traffic in garb of purchasing something or asking for directions in these narrow alleys. Quite a frustrating kind of a drive it was all in low gear.

I ignored her and kept my concentration on driving but there were pieces of the conversation which kept striking me again and again as she asked me the first question. Have you paid road tax? I said yes and that to a hefty amount. After a pause she asked me, why are there so many pot holes then? I had no answer. She told me, Noel, please take me out on a long and majestic drive, where the road surface is smooth, maybe on expressways where the thrill of driving can be enjoyed. It appears that here every time we venture out she is worried about checking out how long will the suspension hold and she told me that this way it won’t take long to give away. I just kept quiet and listened.

The next question she asked me that do you pay toll tax? I told her yes and where ever my ID card works I don’t. She said never mind, you have actually paid life time toll tax by serving the Indian Army, so I won’t ask you again, however, she continued to say that where does this toll money  collected  from the other vehicles disappear. I said I don’t know and continued focusing on the oncoming traffic and the huge potholes.

I was wondering to myself, that last year I saw lot of work going on this road. I used to have a smooth ride but where has the road vanished. This must be happening year after year and taxes which were being collected going down the drain. I again started to listen to the stereo and this time I changed the channel of my choice. I got lost in the music and lyrics as we were getting close to our destination.

Catherine was in a chirpy mood and threw another question at me. She said do you pay income tax? I replied in the affirmative. I am sure that some portion of that must also be allocated to the development of infrastructure in this country. I said surely it must be the case, I am not sure of the percentages. She appeared to be questioning the government head on. She continued to quiz me, see why there are so many accidents on the road? I said reckless driving! She said yes, just then two bikes whizzed past overtaking us from the wrong side and missed hitting us by a whisker. The basic reason is that the infrastructure is not being planned as per our expansion of population she said. I could not agree with her more. Her observation was that our population is exploding and so is purchase of vehicles but government is not making better and broader roads. I said yes. After a while she said, it is time for the government to wake up and I just kept mum.

A little ahead Catherine again poked me. I said now what and she said, you pay income tax, professional tax, GST and all the other taxes which the tax man can think of. I replied to her that it appears that you have got hold of a book on finance. She wanted to know where each and every pie went. I actually didn’t know. I looked at the setting sun from out of the window and thought to myself that yes she is right; over these years I couldn’t even hide one paisa of my income and all my taxes go down the drain, without much of accountability and returns.

At last Catherine blurted, I don’t want to be a dented and painted car for no fault of mine. I told her that I shall definitely convey her concerns to the people who matter. I then requested her to just keep quiet for a while as my wife watched the moon rise from the other side. I switched over to John Denver singing “Country Roads, take me home”, on the car stereo.

JAI HIND

GT ROAD RENAMED NOEL ELLIS ROAD

Someone said uproot the Taj Mahal, thereafter people came up with an idea to demolish the Rashtrapati Bhawan and Parliament. Then a few suggested the Red Fort too should bite the dust. I am amazed at how people think and add fuel to the already lit communal fire. One thing is clear, the way we are trying to tamper with history it will definitely have consequences.  What Aurengzeb did or did not do is not the question but had we Indians got the guts we should have not allowed him to invade us. Had we been united then we would have not allowed anyone to leave a landmark or any legacy. We aren’t united even today thus not learning from our history.

Be that as it may, I was thinking why not rename the Grant Trunk (GT) road. It was named Sher Shah Suri Marg once. Who was Mr SS Suri? Please dig into the history books to find out don’t ask me. A Punjabi song popular amongst truck drivers about the road were “GT road te, haye road te….” Bus drivers used to believe in, “Chak de phatte nap de killi, subha Jalandhar sham nu dilli”. I remember traveling this route by road as well as rail as a child and it used to be the most prestigious route called the NH-1 from Lahore to Calcutta. I have seen this road transform from a road to a Highway and that is history.

There was no direct bus or train service to Delhi from Kapurthala, my residence. The nearest place to get a bus or train was Jullunder now Jalandhar (change in history). A small bus stand on GT road Jalandhar used to be congested like hell. To identify a bus going to “Garha” village or Delhi was difficult. If the bus had its chassis bent, torn silencer, splattered with mud, doors missing, broken windows, hanging head lights and the radiator glaring at you over a half hanging fender one could assume this is a local bus. A nicely painted, well dressed driver, Jalwa horn blaring, cushioned seats, freshly cleaned if not painted body; with lots of hanging jhalars all around the bus was an indicator that this could be a long route bus. Of course the shout in short bursts, Dilli-dilli-dilli-dilli. The conductor used to make it very clear “Rah di sawari koi na hove” (passengers getting down enroute need not mount) and mark my words Phillor and Phagwara people were dropped only at Ludhiana.

GT road was broad though but did not have dividers in between then. I have seen it grow from two lanes to six lanes and to what it is today. There were hardly any flyovers. In those days buses and trains used to race side by side. Closer to Ludhiana somewhere near Dhandarikalan, “keenu” used to be a new citrus fruit introduced those days. The long route busses used to stop for a quick drink of freshly squeezed malta or keenu juice.

Ambala Cantt used to be a major junction and the trains used to halt long enough for dad to rush to Puran Singh da dhaba and get fresh mutton curry and tandoori rotis. From there reaching Delhi was either from the Meerut-Gaziabad route for Old Delhi or the Kurukshetra route for New Delhi. We mostly travelled to Old Delhi. Moment one heard the heavy sounds of those typical clangs and bangs on the common rail and Road Bridge on river Yamuna hugging the red fort walls one knew “Ab dilli door nahi” (Delhi is not far away). If history has to be changed then the Bombay-Ferozpur Frontier Mail and Delhi-Amritsar Flying Mail also need to be re-named.

Why not change its name into Akbar road, no-no not the Azeem-O-Shaan Sahensha but our very own indigenous Akbar saab who is now an MP. With no offences meant sir and no religious flavour as till date I am confused who was Akbar’s son, was it Babar or Humayun or neither. My history is pathetic as it is. I always get mixed up with the fathers and sons of that era. With the present generation they won’t even care to find out who was who and we talk of changing history.

Why not name it Noel Ellis road? Half of India will not be able to pronounce it first of all. The only qualification I have is that I am a common citizen of this country. Why history can’t be created by renaming a road on the “aam admis” name. Why do we always look up in history to name things after all those oldies, or all those political figures? Well, freedom fighters too now are being felicitated at many places. I gave my youth too for keeping the country’s sovereignty in tact by serving the motherland by being part of one of the finest Armies of the world. Yes people may say I am living person. I will argue lets create history by not naming something on somebody who is already dead.

These days I find only polarisation and hatred being spread. I do not accept it as a citizen of this country. All those who try to change history will become history themselves.  Today’s generation cares two hoots whether you name a road or a building on anything. We are a modern India so changing ancient history won’t work Mr Dhotiwala. Can you guys grow up? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

CHOTA BHEEM AND DOREMON BECOME FRIENDS

Abe-O-Shinzo, kitne admi the? This is how “Gabbar” would welcome the Japanese PM. To add to the flavour he will ensure many Helen’s dance on the song Mehbooba-O-Mehbooba all along his way. The way my Amdavadi friends are sending pictures of the welcome of PM of Japan Mr Shinzo Abe by our very own Thakur Modi Saab, it appears that Atithi devo bhava would melt Japan to give one bullet train free. Before Mr Abe leaves for Japan a bullet train might be standing at Sabarmati Railway station I reckon. As a citizen I feel proud and floored by the preparations and gestures. Keep it up sir, I am with you. We must take lessons from them as Japan transformed “do bigha zameen” to what Hiroshima and Nagasaki look like today. We can do it too.

I am convinced Abe saab will start playing dandiya at every drop of the hat during his visit. Last time our PM played the drums this time he shall definitely teach them garba. I won’t be surprised if soon in Japan “Sushi” will be replaced by “Khichoo”, “oden” by “handvo”, “yakiniku” by yakhani. Apno Gujju Bhai can do anything for Bijiness. Time is not far when we shall find Ohayō being replaced by “Kem Cho” and sayonara by Aawajo. I just hope judo doesn’t replace ludo on the Sabarmati front. It appears that soon Doremon and Chota Bheem will join hands and sort the world out. Well, let me not let my imagination fly too wild before I start find Japanese speaking gujjus and gujarati speaking Japanese all over.

Be that as it may, I have a suggestion regarding hosting any of these foreign PMs. Why only Ahmadabad? Why can’t it be one town of each state? The town need not be the one earmarked as part of the smart cities which the government has planned. If I see the figures on the MEA website, various PMs who visited in the previous years, the figure roughly works out to 10-12. Therefore in one year as many smaller towns and cities can be cleaned up and brought to the standards of Ahmadabad. Delhi is always available in case nothing works out. Let the states suggest the venue & menu and let the PM approve of it. Let the infrastructure and amenities be brought up to the mark. We will have minimum a dozen cities face lifted every year. Thereafter maintaining those assets should be left to the state.

Can someone tell me the effectiveness of various government schemes? We already have JNNURM, AMRUT, HRIDAY, UDAY, NHUM, ICDS and many others. Many of you would be aware of them and many of you will have to look up Google like I did. These are not the end all schemes of development but merely the tip of an iceberg. On ground what are they translating into is ambiguous. State of roads, infrastructure, schools, civic amenities, health care, garbage disposal, town cleanliness and power cuts etc should be the benchmark to assess all these. Let me give food for thought to the media to carry out audits of small cities on the parameters I mention. Then let us see.

Alibaug should be the next host city, which is about 20 kms from the place where I stay. It should take not more than 20 minutes to reach. I can assure you if you reach there in 60 minutes you will break all speed records. It is another issue that someone shall be picking up your car parts which will fall off as you go. You will have at least two shock absorbers broken, front or rear bumper in your hand, a free treatment of spondylitis and a free lesson in the dance form called “shake”. One should drive on the left of the road and not on what is left of the road. The pot holes are so deep that you may miss a small car if parked in it. Most dangerous are the bikers, which side will they swing is directly proportional to which side is the “Ghadda”.

Let me get serious for a change. I learnt that the PMs have laid the foundation stone for the bullet train. Well, I live in a place where bullock carts still ply, there is no rail connectivity, sea connectivity is in fair weather only and I have to travel 3 to 4 hours to reach Bombay. There are no AC busses which ply to Bombay. God forbid if one gets a heart attack; it is Jai Hind in most of the cases. May I request you to come here from Mumbai by road in a State Transport bus? If not then let us make Alibaug the destination for the next visiting PM. Can it be done? I wonder!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

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