Friday, January 18, 2008

The old woman

This is something I had written almost six months back.Having recovered it from memory lanes it now deserves its place as a post.Read on.

Picture this
A Late after noon in a posh residential area in Bangalore, the weather is nice and the sun is softly warm. You are generally enjoying the weather and the walk along the wide roads next to the National Games Village Park in Koramangla, when an old woman approaches you in her 70’s. She is well dressed and speaks good courteous English.
With a smile she is successful in stopping you and capturing your attention. She takes advantage of her white hair and good manners and tells you how she is new in the city and has lost her bag and all and needs some money to call her son. She offers to keep your phone no. And return the money later.
Quite convincing! Coz it isn’t run of the mill husband and wife with a kid lost in a strange city.
But by then you are so captivated by her sad story and give a damn about some ten bucks coming back to you, because giving her just 2 rupees for the call makes you look cheap. What do you do then in such a situation?
I offered her to make a call from my cell phone!

Wow! it just struck my mind and lo! I thought I had found a solution to her problem.
She wasn’t prepared for that. She reluctantly took the phone. Typed some number spoke in English for some time, gave me back the phone, thanked me, refused to take any other help, walked away and disappeared. I felt very happy having helped an old woman almost the age of my grandma, who I hardly meet and rarely speak to. So it fulfilled that gap. Any ways I too walked on.
The next day it was not as sunny and there were clouds and it looked as if it could rain any moment I was too hurrying down the road wanting to reach home before it started to pour when a familiar‘Excuse me!” broke my concentration and stopped me.
The same old lady in the same saree was trying to impress me again .I too smiled and was about to ask if she had found her son when in an instance she blurted out the well rehearsed and time tested dialogues. I was shocked. I wanted to know how far she could stretch her drama. At the end when she asked for money. I didn’t want to be rude to her owing to her age so I politely told her that she had made a phone call from my phone just the other day. She looked apologetic said sorry and disappeared again.
From then on it became a regular thing to se her at the same spot, same time trying to speak to the pedestrians and then disappear and even I had started to treat her just like any other tree or a lamp post on the site. I didn’t know
What to do. Didn’t feel like complaining to police.
Then next day owing to Bangalore’s lovely weather and the splendid greens of the National Games Village park I decide to post pone my work for some time and enjoy the evening sun.
I enter park and who do I see there! It was the same woman but today she was not alone. She was sitting with a much younger guy and perhaps exchanging something. I sat there watching them for some time from a distance. She kept the coming in and going out at regular intervals .
A tenner gone from my pocket for her cause would have made no difference to my life but its just that I didn’t want it to end up in somebody’s booze. But then I was wondering if I would have been really cheated if I had given her the money coz I would have given them in the best of my intentions and it was her problem if she was up to some thing else. Any ways I enjoyed the sun and scene and came back home a little wiser.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Nano or No No!

The vision of Ratan Tata was driven with a pure business point of view-to identify a potential market segment and then to cash on the opportunity. I don’t think they can package it as a 'Social vision' for too long. I appreciate the effort and the dynamism with which the product was designed and manufactured with 34 patents to its credit. Kudos to Ratan Tata and his team.
In the wake of ever increasing pollution and carbon emissions doing irreparable damage to the atmosphere and the Antarctic circle, with temperatures recording an all time high and the well balanced eco systems now in grave danger of their sustainability we cant go ahead with manufacturing products that will jeopardize all efforts to save the environment and add to the ever increasing space crunch.
What would have earned more patents to the Tata Team (and their energies better spent) would have been designing better systems of public transport and coming up with technology which uses non fossil fuels. This is what Dr. Rajendra Pachauri meant when he said that we have all the technology right now to start using it to circumvent the climate change. It’s about time we started doing that.

Yes people are the centre of the problem and thus the mind set that sees owning cars as a status symbol and traveling by public transport as a shameful activity. Yes I agree that has got a lot to with the shape in which the public transport is right now, but that’s where the opportunity lies-To revive and revamp and replace it with healthier systems. That’s where the market is.

Every one needs to and is legitimate in dreaming and aspiring to rise above their current life styles. But I don’t think it can be done at the cost of the environment. This is the only planet we have got. If we mess it up no amount of our aspiring will get us anywhere. Healthy societies are not built on short term gains and narrow vision.

With “Singur” from its very inception to environmental and infrastructural concerns that Nano has brought up, I think we have got very little to cheer about. Well, we can congratulate Tata’s for their technological and design feat and marvelous marketing, but we can no longer afford isolate design from the larger picture of healthier sustenance and environmental restoration.

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