Noel Ellis's Official Blog

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



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.



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!!!!!!!!!



I saw my poor newspaper lying on one of my side table wanting to be picked up, opened, read, shuffled and laid back to rest in its huge bundle at its final resting place for the bai to pick up and give it away for raddi. My cup of tea in hand I decided to give a glance and saw a row of people gesturing obscenely with a finger pointing as if to say “up yours”. It caught my eye and my thoughts that as it is the newspapers carry all kinds of weird things let me just check these out. On wearing my specks the picture became clearer that they were celebrities with their fingers up. Generally, I find bollywood stars with a thumsup kind of ad, but fingers up cajoled me to investigate. Now I got hooked on and even saw big political netas and their families with the same gesture. I thought this must have been a mudslinging match which netas are very famous for. In Mumbai these two fraternities’ that is netas and abhinetas are loggerheads on national issues like Pakistan so finger pointing is no big deal. As I turned the pages the mystery was finally revealed that these were BMC elections. All these people were actually posing with the ink marked fingers. Long live our democrazy.

This time I found that these elections were in mid week. It appears to be a tactical victory of kinds for the election organisers. Reason being had it been on a weekend most of the glitterati and the literati of mumbai push off on weekends to tourist destinations in the vicinity. So instead of voting, they enjoy boating and floating away from the humdrum of a hectic life of Mumbai. Now they were caught between the ‘aasman” and “khajur ka per”. They had no choice but to go out and vote. Who should I vote for is a big question?  For a cause, for a party or for the sake of media, well your guess is as good as mine.

Be that as it may, I again want to get down to basic issues of this mega city. First is the space crunch. No space for a house, no space in your house, no space in the bus, no space in the train, no space on the road, no space in the slums, no space for privacy, no space for garbage, then what do we vote for. Half the city is running towards VT and the other half towards virar. There is no space on the foot paths; no space under flyovers, no space over the nallas, no space for Meethi River to flow, no space for planes to land, in fact there is no space in space above Mumbai. Even the pigeons are fighting for space in the kabootar khanas as they don’t find space on any tree. Well the space for trees has been eaten away by something else, even the crows’ ride BEST buses to commute as they are afraid of cables which may cause fatal flying accidents in the crowing community. They can be charged for ticketless travel though.

The worst space crunch I find for the madly in love couples. Sea fronts and beaches are there favourite joints. Even in the scorching sun, love knows no bounds, armed with an umbrella, not for the sun but to hide identities from the public to do things which should be done at home. As 15 people staying in a 2BHK flat is not an uncommon phenomenon. In fact, there is a space crunch on the parapets of the sea faces too. The witness to their “conversations” is the sun and the sea, rest of us only can read the manufacturers name on this multipurpose love enhancing gadget called the ‘chaata”. I also get surprised that all parking lots are always full at such places, to create space for your vehicle you got to have a lot of space in your wallet. The scene at the station when a train arrives is as if rats have suddenly been released to follow the pied piper. If you are a novice at stations like Dadar and Andheri, you may not be able to get down only because you are pushed back by the crowd waiting to board. Best is to stand in the crowd which has to get down, just don’t worry on who stepped on your toes just flow with them. You may reach your destination in a crumpled shirt, torn pant, nicked hand bag and maybe a picked pocket and sweaty as hell.

One does often see the green and orange vehicles of “Clean up Mumbai” kinds. My salute and hats off to those people. They toil day in and day out in that stench, picking up all that we throw. Most of us who have used taxi the “kali peeli’s”, one dreads to get behind these trucks. I can assure you, the nauseated feeling you get from the aroma generated by the fumes of the truck is better than anaesthesia. The trail of a dripping liquid which oozes from one of the trucks pipes, is like a scent of a woman that you get when you smell one whizzing past you on a bike. That trail cannot be obliterated. They are the actual heroes of Mumbai, who carry our garbage. Did they vote? Or could they vote should be the question? What is the BMC doing to keep them safe, and do their job without the stench and stink? Will the citizens vow to help reduce the stench by properly packing garbage? Such culture is missing in us Indians. I was staying in a society in Mumbai few years back, everything which was not of use, from diapers, to napkins used to he hurled as missiles down the fire duct. One could see the lift roof littered with paper and wrappers. One saw overnight dal and rotis being released from as high as the nineteenth floor, in a poly bag which used to land on cars below making a beautiful spread on the roof of many a Mercedes. Well, hope the voters of Mumbai make their vote count for them too.

The budget for BMC polls is more than many state budgets, so the moolah is a big attraction for many. The drains are blocked, in fact choked, the nallahs are full of plastic, the roads are full of potholes, the foot paths are uprooted once they are laid, the hawkers are on the roads, the busses stop in the centre of the roads, infrastructural waste is dumped anywhere and everywhere, population is exploding but Mumbai moves on. The vada pav never falls short is this city that never sleeps. The rich, the poor, the blue collar, the white collar, the dogs, the cats, the pigeons and kites, the dadas and bhais, the ganpati and the tajia,   the Parsis and the Christians, the Chawls and Skyscrapers, the slums and high rises, the Bentley’s and Ambassadors, the kaali peelis and Ola, everyone has embraced Mumbai. There is still space for everyone; there is a certain warmth in the air of Mumbai which attracts you. Kuch baat to hai Amchi Mumbai mein.

As far as I remember this finger pointing gesture used to indicate to my buddy that I see one terrorist over there. You cover my back while I, pointing the same finger towards myself am going to take him on. Thereafter, we used to give a thumsup and silently move on till the job was done. I do not know finger pointing or finger painting which is more important. There we used to point this finger to the lips to keep absolutely silent and freeze to listen to various sounds around us. Here we finger point and make noises that we voted. Well, situations are different, circumstances are different, and there is no comparison at all. The only thought which cuts across my mind is will the results of the voting finger, bring about a change in life in Mumbai. I wonder!!!!!!!!!!


You all must be wondering about the title of my article, and rightly so, as I believe a flight from Goa which was about to take off decided to go by road to Mumbai and also another two flights came nose ball to nose ball on a Delhi runway. It must have been fun when the pilots would have lowered their windows and shouted the choicest of abuses at each other. I hope they are not taking lessons from the Indian Air force that is practicing landing on highways. Be that as it may, I actually flew down memory lane and many-many moons back when I was a school and college going kid and travelled frequently between Kapurthala & Jalandhar (Jullunder) as it was called at that time. The only mode of transport was by bus. Aircrafts I had not seen except the Air force planes which used to do their combat exercises or a trail of white lines (condensation trails) emanating from a Dakota packet flying over head. Air travel was for the super rich and we belonged to Dangar (cattle) class.


I remember standing at DC Chowk, we used to wait for busses going to jullunder. We had three categories one was the PEPSU roadways, with a symbol of a Greek character “the flying horse” PEGASUS, believe you me one used to find painted on the driver’s door “pilot” and true to the spirit  of the insignia, those buses really used to take off. The conductor used to shout “RAH DI SAWARI KOI NA HOVE” (we don’t allow passengers who have to get down enroute) and once warmed up, the KILLI (accelerator) only found the floor and one wondered whether the damn thing had brakes. Mid way the pilot would adjust his “Pug” and scratch his beard with no hands on the steering. Even the dogs feared crossing the roads. True to their words, we used to be before time in jullunder, the 54 seater bus never had more than 20 passengers for obvious reasons, more so to live another day.


Then there was this transport service called the PRINCE BUS. Nicely painted, good seats, radio, nice lighting inside those blue, red, orange and green ones. Well dressed conductor and driver, clean floors. We used to be told that this is also a nonstop bus, but it used to stop at zozila stadium, chungi naka, railway crossing, khojewala, uccha pind, neeva pind, teda pind, veenga pind adarsh chowk, phutbaal chowk, doordarshan, nakodar chowk, and three more stops before the bus stand. One used to get fed up adjusting seats and invariably as school had taught us to be gentlemen; we used to go standing in that half an hour’s run.


Then there was our own Punjab Roadways, with a motto, CHALAANGE TAN PAHUNCHANGE (we shall reach if we move). My goodness lord, torn seats, no back rests, doors invariably broken, cracked wind shields of the driver, widow glasses missing for the passengers, MUFLI CHILKAS to pass time like one bursts bubbles of the Amazon delivery packing’s, smell of diesel mixed with fumes. Invariably, the bus won’t self start, the driver will coolly request the passengers to push, well, the crowds were supportive and used to push it and once it started it won’t stop, due to the fear it might stall, so you run and get on the bus. Your seat which you had kept a hanky on gone and so did the kerchief. Now you wonder, did you take the right decision as invariably it would have a damaged silencer thus made a deafening noise. Many a times if you were in a bus behind this one & you would be amazed to see the chassis bent, one always wondered which side the bus is actually going. To top it all it won’t let you overtake it as a matter of prestige and looking at it from behind one was scared to even think of overtaking it. Well those were the good old days.


I am not getting into the technicalities of why the plane wavered off the runway, but it is a matter of concern. I was also shocked to see the planes and its pilots staring at each other on the runway. Well this again reminds of Punjab roadways, where the right of way was always of the bus, right side-wrong side was not the point of discussion, the bus is always right, you move your vehicle off the road and in time to save yourself the wrath of the state transport. Literally, one feared for life seeing a bus. We were basically pedestrians, or on cycles and ultimate used to be on a borrowed scooter. In those days there were jawla horns blaring. If you hear it leave the road, as you never know which side the bus will appear from. You might be expecting it from the front but it might surprise you from the rear too. Today, those ugly horns have been replaced by flashing of head lights in the day on high beam. If I have flashed it, it is my way. I may flash it to warn you to get out of the way. I may flash them to ask you to give me side as you are going too slow as per my standards. Lights flashed means all traffic rules are redundant thereafter. The vikram or the tamtam drivers are the worst, if you don’t budge they will swing their vehicle towards you when they are just short of you and then swing back on track. I have almost had a heart attack many a times, but now am used to their tactics. Traffic sense, traffic discipline, traffic norms are made and broken by me as I decide them to be. If I am in a good mood, I will let all traffic pass, if my wife has had a fight with me, hell can break loose. You can watch out for your own safety for all I care. I own this road. Period!


Well, if that be so for the airlines in India, Gods help us. Thank God I haven’t taken a flight since some time. These days I pay for my water and food during air travel. I hope they let me carry my poori sabji and aam ka achar in the aircraft one day. I also hope they don’t tell me to push start an airplane someday. I heard on a panel discussion that all this is because the IAS babus are not treating the airline safety properly. In fact they were questioning that a babu who has no clue of aviation is made its head and it needs to stop forthwith to improve aviation in the country. So in the same breadth may I say the same for defence too? In Canada the defence minister is a retired Lieutenant Colonel and a war veteran, the sports minister has been a Para-Olympian, the education minister is a doctorate, our PM is a Chaiwala, and down the line, our finance minister is a lawyer, our defence minister is an engineer, I shall not talk about the rest. It is something like the fauj, moment you do a Radio course, instead of making you the signal officer of the unit you are made the quarter master. Comedy of errors everywhere!


Ladies and gentlemen, India is India, no one can beat it, no one can run it, no one can destroy it, no one change it. I am lucky to be born here, it has its wonky ways of functioning, it has its own ways of running and repairing itself, it is unique, it is wonderful, so why can’t we change it to Jet Roadways, and let Punjab Airways handle aviation. Is it possible? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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