Almost Always The Truth

This blog is about small incidents which have occured in the life of Neel Arurkar. Neel also writes about his family and friends in this blog.

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Location: Mumbai/Bangalore/Pune, Maharashtra/Karnataka, India

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Monday, April 25, 2005

To God's Own Country

It was a long weekend and Subhabrata, Dheepak and me set out to the God's Own Country. We had booked tickets on the Thursday 1930 hours KSTRC Rajhamsa to Ernakulam. The plan was that we were to get down at Alwaye and proceeds towards Munnar, dubbed as Kashmir of the South, by many. After a quick dinner at some Andhra styled restaurant at the bus depot, we got in to the bus, where we were surprised to find the same couple that we had seen in the hotel sitting right in front of our seats. The seats we occupied were middle ones that were not behind the driver. These were carefully chosen from some 10 seats available at the time of booking. I have always been choosy in selecting seats after I heard of Anish's bro's friends accident en route to Kerala. I was seated next to Dheepak, who occupied the window seat, with Subh sitting behind me. Subh's neighbour was a guy of our age from ISRO. Dheepak and me chatted continuosly except for a few minutes when he was on phone till we reached some Motel for dinner.All this time, Subh listened to music on his discman. Subh was as ready as he ever is to go for a second dinner at the Motel. As we got into the bus, I exchanged seats with Dheepak. I had almost sprained my neck looking in his direction all the time. I called up home as usual at night and later continued chatting with Dheepak. Sometime later seats were exchanged again and I was back in the seat next to the aisle. Just before we reached Mysore, I informed the conductor, to inform us when we reach Alwaye. It was a few minutes to twelve when we reached Mysore. The lights were put and the young couple in front of our seats were out of the cuddle. I always wanted to tell Dheepak how much I detested having him next to me, but never did:-).At the Mysore depot there was total chaos in the bus. People were rushing at the entrance because that was the last bus that night. In midst of all this chaos, the clock struck 12 and I called Heramb to wish him for his birthday.
In the meanwhile, the bus had started and I could see the Mysore Palace. It looked marvellous in that lighting and it looked even more beautiful as a lightning struck in its background. I probably was describing this to Heramb, when another lightning struck. I could see the safety glass of our bus window fly off. As Dheepak describes it , I too could see it in slow motion. Hundreds of green coloured luminous small green pea sized objects were flying towards me. I realised that we had met with an accident and if you are smart enough you know what four lettered word I uttered. And just as I thought everything was over we came to an abrupt halt. I banged my head against the seat in front of me and stayed in that postion for a while. There was complete darkness. I still do not know whether that darkness was because there was no light or because I had blanked out. The first thing I thought after that bang was whether I am alive. Believe me, it took me about a second or two to reassure myself. The next few seconds I spent were wondering whether I am going to survive. This took some time too. Some heavy breaths assured me that I would survive. The next thing was ensuring that I had not been crippled. I stood up and with ease. It was at this time I noticed that my seat which was reclining at about 30 degrees was now in front of the normal by about 45 degrees -- a swing of about 75 degrees. As I stood up I was unsure whether I was bleeding internally. I thought about no one till then. Not even about Dheepak and Subh. Then we three confirmed that we were all fine. There was total chaos in the bus. I was not knowing what had gone wrong and I am sure I was not alone. I could here a lady screaming loudly. I thought someone was dead in that part of the bus. It was pain and pain everywhere. The jovial guy with long hair and the guitar was sitting with blood all over his face. People were shouting at others to get out of the bus but the door was jammed. A few including Subh had jumped out of the window. I dialled 100 only to be greeted in Kannada at the other end. When I dialled for the second time, the police guy transferred the call to someone who could speak English. That guy cut the phone before hearing what I had to say. Dheepak tried calling 1062 and ambulance but in vain. Someone asked for a handkerchief and I gave mine away. Someone asked for water and I gave that too. Just then rescue had arrived. It was less than 15 minutes after the accident. The door was forced open. People scrambled towards the exit. Dheepak and me were calm. Dheepak's calmness was shattered when he saw a guy blocking the gangway to carry his baggage along with him. Just as we were about to get down, I saw a guy being carried on the strecher. He was motionless. Later, I saw his photograph in the next day's paper. He was one of the two dead on the spot. After we got down, I realised what had happened. A huge container had brushed against our bus resulting in the driver losing control and banging against the tree. We were escorted into another KSRTC bus that was going towards Mysore. We were lucky to receive quick medical support because the accident had occured just outside the city limits. At the KR Government Hospital, we realised that there were 5 other guys from Infosys who had boarded the bus at Mysore. All of them were fine, though one had fractured his leg. Infosys ambulance had come to the spot of the accident and had carried this guy to the hospital. The security officer in charge at Mysore definitely deserves a pat on the back for this. He also helped us with filling the Out Patient Department Cards. Few of us wanted to be diagnosed at Apollo Hospital and they were ferried there by the Infy Ambulance. Dheepak accompanied Subh. Subh had hurt his left leg and had to limp to walk. Dheepak had banged his head and it was swollen, though the swelling was not visible. I could walk but with a little difficulty. All were leaving by the Infy Ambulance. I decided to stay back and help Rishdi, who had no one with him and had an eye injury. Dheepak was going to join me after Subh was examined. About the apathy at the KR government hospital, i will write a separate post. Their attitude deserves to be blasted separately.
For pictures and more information visit Dheepak's Blog
For some it had indeed turned out to be a trip to the God's Own Country.

Saturday, April 16, 2005


Bribing is fun. Not because you have to pay money but because you can make the person stoop in front of you. I have reasonably good ethics and values and have bribed people only a few times. The first time I bribed someone was when I was just out of school and just 16 years of age. There was a long queue at the SIES college for admission forms for the First Year Junior College. Trying to break in into the queue had had disastrous consequences and a constable hit me(I was a minor at that time) with his cane.It did not hurt me but was fun and an incident to proudly tell to all friends. The next thing we did to break the queue was to bribe the chai-wallah(tea chap). He was given 20 bucks extra to get us ten forms which were later sold to friends and people at Rs 27 which included the 2 rupee premium paid for bribing the chap. The other incident of bribing was when I have paid 20 bucks to the constable at Shaitan Chowki Police station for police verification, a requisite in getting the passport. Here the police chap had to fill some form which otherwise I would have to fill up myself. I offered to fill the form myself, but the police guy offered this extra service for the 20 bucks he would be getting. When he demanded the money from me, I asked what the money was for and he coolly said that it was for the form. Now that form was a photocopy that would not have cost the police even 50 ps. Let me clarify that these incidents are unethical and I do not see any heroism in offering bribe to anyone and I feel sorry for what has happened. I should not have had broken the queue and bribing the constable was probably okay considering they work for extraordinarily long hours and get underpaid. But one thing that I have noticed is that once you bribe someone you no longer need to respect that person. It is great to see how that person avoids eye contact with you while accepting the bribe. It gives you the authority to boss over the authority.

Friday, April 15, 2005

The Road Ahead

We joked that BESCOM(electricity chaps) made better roads than BMP(municipal guys). When BESCOM dug up roads for laying cables they used to fill it up with concrete whereas most part of the kilometre long road was a tar one. However more than thirty percent of the road was still metal(khadi) road which meant that it used to get filled with muck in the rainy season. If you know it rains for eight months every year in Bangalore, you would appreciate the efforts I used to take to navigate that road. Even otherwise, it was not uncommon to twist your ankle on that road. Over the last year they BMP guys had been pouring metal again and again and now the road is high enough to drain water into houses on its edges.Water Bond Macadam as civil engineers call it. But finally the BMP has woken up. They have started tarring roads in my area and the 7th Main has been tarred. No more cursing the BMP guys. They tarred the 300 metre strech ready in less than 12 hours.And now when I phone home(usually after dinner on my way back home(this home is bangalore home)), I can no longer say " Khadbadit rastya var aahe"(I am on the uneven road).

Friday, April 08, 2005

Male Of Two Cities

If spending more than a year in a city entitles you the privilege of calling that city as yours, then now I am a male of two cities. After spending more than 20 years of my life in Bombay, this 3rd of April, I completed one year of my stay in Bangalore. I was about to title my post as the Anniversary Issue, but this name seemed more catchy. It has been an anniversary of all sorts of things to me. It is a year now since I have learnt to cycle. And it has been one year since I bought my Infy shares. Anniversaries apart, I have done many things for the first time. For the first time in my life I have started eating curd rice(disclaimer: only at select places like Balaji) and for the first time I have attended a share holder meeting. That apart, I have started enjoying Tamil Music and learnt to differentiate between Kannada and other South Indian languages. Though I cannot understand Kannada completely I can decipher it swalpa-swalpa(a little bit). I have already set my self appraisal targets for the next year though, though that does not mean that I am loving staying a thousand kms away from home and that is why I was more than happy to be in Bombay on the third.