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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Thursday, February 23, 2006

WWW Plus More

It was wine, wealth, women and much more at the Mahalaxmi race course at the McDowell Indian Derby 2006. The fourth W that could be added is Wisdom that people kept showering on us. Right from Mahalaxmi station, Mukul and me could see enthusiasts who were rushing for the big day. One old man traveling in a cab had Cole in one hand and a set of handwritten papers with seemingly complex calculations in the other. We on the other hand, were equipped with just the last page of the Sunday Times and people around us in the BEST bus were looking at us as if we were big gamblers as we discussed which horse to bet on. Outside the gate, we could see pretty women dressed up like they do for Page 3 parties. Most of these women, who were wearing back-opens, went to the member's enclosure, the ticket for which was Rs 260. That does not mean that there were not any good looking women in the first enclosure, the ticket for which was Rs 25 and which was the obvious choice for us.If you wanted to use the cell phone inside the race course premises, you had to purchase a ticket at Rs 3300! When I asked the guy at the counter the reason for this, "kuch logon ko shauk hota hai"(some people have talking on cell phones as a hobby) was the crap that he gave me. Once inside, people could make out that we were amateurs because of the newspaper cutout that we carried. We hid it inside our pockets, taking it out only when necessary. There were hundreds of counters that accepted bets all around the place. Further investigations revealed that the counters were of two types. The private operators accepted bets from rich people and totalizators who accepted bets from poor mortals like us. Race number 6 was going to be the derby and we reached there about 2-3 races before the derby. All the races were 1800m ones except for the derby that was 2400m race. The noise as the horses neared the winning line was amazing. We had decided to bet only on the derby, but decided to bet on the races before that too after looking at the excitement around. As we stood in the queue, we found this guy with complicated calculations taking about a minute to place the bet. And when he placed the bet it was for Rs 20 :-) We placed our bet on Southern Regent, who had won the derby in 2005. We cheered for Southern Regent as it overtook the other horses to win the race. Imagine our chagrin when we learnt that we had placed the bet on the wrong horse. We sought expert advice before we placed bets on further races. For the derby, I placed my bets on Democratus and some other horse whose name I fail to remember. Mukul placed his bets on 3 horses that included Mystical, the horse tipped to win the race. "It will win", said one of the guys in the totalizator queue seconding Mukul. He said it with such style that Mukul probably could not resist betting on the horse. As we stood in the stands in anticipation, a veteran with an experience of 26 years advised us to get rid of this betting habit. He said that he knew a few millionaires turned beggars cases and advised us to come only for fun. He explained us the concept of pacemaker, something that I cannot understand till date. The derby started. There was silence all over till the horses reached the last 600m. People kept cheering for the horses they had bet on. Mystical lost. Most people lost too. I lost. Mukul lost. Velvet rope surprised everyone. The veteran who was advising us to stay away from betting, patted on my back and said, " Agli race main ghoda number 2 pe lagana"(bet on horse number 2 in the next race). The guy in the yellow T shirt sipping beer seemed sad. He was about to cry. I am sure he must have bet his fortune on the race. People who had lost threw their tickets away and there were people who were picking these tickets to see if they were lucky. We on the other hand were focusing our binoculars on the member's enclosure. "I was asked which horse will win the derby. And true to my prediction, the best horse has won", said Vijay Mallya on the speaker. What wisdom Mr Mallya. I am impressed. We bet on the next race too. I lost again, but Mukul won. He had placed a place bet on his horse which guaranteed him money if his horse came in the top 3. The race course was empty by then. No one seemed interested in the races after the derby. We decided to leave too. Now, I am eagerly waiting for the next derby.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Another Kind Of Zoo

Dear Director DTE,

Please treat this as an official complaint letter against careless and don't care attitude at VJTI Application form Receipt Centre(ARC) while accepting applications for 2006 Maharashtra CET . I would be pleased if some action is taken though it is not something that I anticipate. Keep me in the loop!

Neel Arurkar
(MBA Aspirant -2006)
PS: This letter will also be posted on

Dear Principal,VJTI,

Hope you understand the problem. Let the subsequent people who come to process their MH-CET 2006 applications face less hardships. Issue tokens, if necessary. VJTI is not a management institute like Welingker's, but I do not think that a little bit of management would do any harm.

Neel Arurkar

Dear Director, Welingkar's,

Job well done Sir. You may pass this mail to your staff and students. A good job should get due credit. Keep it up!

Neel Arurkar

Dear Directors/Principals of other ARCs,

I do not know about the process at your institute, though I hope that the things are better than VJTI. Treat this as just FYI.

Neel Arurkar

The Complaint Letter

and me had planned to go to Veer Jijabai Udyan Zoo at Byculla, Bombay yesterday. I was a regular at the zoo years before, when my parents used to take me there every week. I do not remember when was the last time I went to the zoo but before Mukul leaves for US of A and I leave for Bangalore, we wanted to make it. The plan was that after lunch I would submit my application form for Maharashtra CET at Welingkar's Institute and from there go to the zoo. When we went to the Welingkar's Institute, the show was well managed. Right from the entrance, we were led to the venue guided by both, the staff and notice boards. I was given a token number and made to sit in a comfortable classroom. Students hooked on to wi-fi, seated all around the campus with laptops, with music blaring from some, I liked the ambience at Welingkar's. But unfortunately my token number was 368 and the current token being processed was around 150. Rehan, who was seated next to me suggested that we go to Veer Jijabai Technical Institute(VJTI), which is situated about a mile away and had a much much smaller queue. We decided to take a chance. We shared a cab to VJTI.At VJTI, the queue was indeed very small. There were just 20 people in front of me! Mukul and me were happy that we would be on our way to the zoo as planned. But then the lazy and unprofessional officials at VJTI ensured that they
would mess with our plans. More than an hour after we stood in the queue, we noticed that the queue had hardly moved and there were still atleast 15 people ahead of me. Rehan, Mukul and me could not ignore the difference in the attitudes of the two institutes. At Welingkar's every one's comfort was ensured whereas at VJTI the government babus did not care a hook. If the MBA aspirants keep standing for hours, let them stand. So what, if they have paid a sum of Rs 1150 for the entrance exam and a percentage of which would go to the application collection centres(like VJTI, Welingkar's), customer satisfaction, leave alone customer delight was last on the minds of the VJTI babus. At 1600 hours, one and half hours after standing in the queue, I finally got a seat on a stool. There were still 10 people ahead of me. Now, I could see the babus processing the applications. There was just one computer on which the process of generation of hall tickets was being carried out. There were three people involved in the process. If rumours are to be believed, there were about 10 such machines at Welingkars. Even if rumours are not to be believed, Welingkar's were processing atleast 500 students a day. Compare that to 50 students a day at VJTI. Shame. Shame. Just then, a reasonably good looking girl wearing blue denims, a pink sleeveless T-shirt and a black bra that was showing under her armpits(Note : I am a good observer and not a cheap observer), moved her right leg in such a manner that it hit my left leg. After lady luck kicking me, it was the turn of this damsel, I thought. As if this was not enough, she rested her right buttock on my left shoulder. What was next, I wondered. Possibly, she could sit on my laps. After all, so many people have treated me like a non living thing. Take the VJTI babus for example. They treated me like a log of wood that could wait forever. This damsel was just another one. She was treating me like a stool, I suppose. Just then, another pretty friend of her pointed out what was about to happen next and the damsel apologised. "Sorry", she said. "I don't mind", I said. After this there was no action till about 1630 hours. With about 6-7 people still in front of me, the head babu announced with authority that the processing would resume after a break. Now, Neel cannot stand all this. Now, the conversation that followed between Neel and Head Babu, which was being heard by all eager ears in the hall.

Neel : Ab break kyon? Waise bhi kaam aaram se ho raha hai. Welingkar's main dekho kaise fatafat ho raha hai. (Why do you need a break? As it is you are slow. Check out the processing speed at Welingkar's)

Head Babu: (ignores. Does not even look at me)

Neel : (taps on his shoulders. Shouts even louder) Sunai nahi deta kya?Ab break kyon?Welingkar's main dekho kaise fatafat ho raha hai.(Can't you hear me? Why do you need a break? Check out the processing speed at Wellingkar's)

Head Babu : Wellingkar's Wellingkar's hai!(Wellingkar's is Wellingkar's!). Saying this he moves out of the room. But in a matter of few second he returns and starts working on the application forms again.

Head Babu : (looks at me) Complaint karna ho to kar lo. Wellingkar's Wellingkar's hai! (Lodge a complaint, if you want to. Wellingkar's is Wellingkar's! )

Neel : Aapne yeh baat maani woh achi baat hai. Aap khudko pehchante hai yeh jaankar mera dil khush hua. Main mere blog pe iske baare main article likhunga. Woh sab ko bhejunga( That you admit this I like it. My heart is filled with joy after knowing that you are aware of your capabilities. I will write an article about this on my blog and will send it to everyone)

After this, the Head Babu stayed in the room till 1700 hours--the time after which no new applicants can be allowed entry into the queue. He waited because someone had challenged him. He waited because finally someone had challenged him. The others in the queue did not say a word. The only thing they did to support me was to giggle loudly when the babu said, "Wellingkar's is Wellingkar's". They were mere statues but for that. The babu had to wait because someone in the room could raise his voice for his rights. The babu had to wait because someone in the room could raise his voice for everyone's rights.

My application process was completed soon after this. At 1710, I was out of VJTI. The zoo would close its shutters on me by the time I reached, I was sure. So I skipped it. After all I had visited a zoo. There is very little difference between Veer Jijabai Udyan Zoo and Veer Jijabai Technical Institute. Besides sharing a similar name, another similarity between the two is the fact that both of them are complete with animals. I do not think I missed the zoo on my Bombay visit.

Why are the officials at VJTI being called as animals?
a. They are indisciplined. Animal like behaviour.
b. They do not care for fellow human beings. 'Let them stand for hours. Who cares? Our buttocks are comfortably rested on these chairs!' kind of attitude.
c.Would fast become a rare species if privatisation picks speed. They need protection in a zoo.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Begging Beyond Boundaries

It has been long since I have posted, but I suppose being in Bombay on a vacation is a reason good enough for not penning. With Mukul around, I have done so many things in the last few days, that it would take up considerable amount of time to write it all. But there are these few incidents that I cannot resist blogging.
Yesterday while passing time at Dadar TT before the 3 pm Rang De Basanti show at Chitra, a child of about 14, with his hands stretched, begged for money. This guy, dark skinned and thin, face smeared with yellow paint, with no shirt on his body and with the lower garment resembling a skirt, held a whip in his hands. Somehow, I felt that this boy was South Indian. "Nimma hesaru enu?"(What is your name?), I said, using whatever limited knowledge of Kannada I have. Sure enough, Ramesh replied in Kannada. I asked him a few more questions in Kannada. After this, he thought that I would pay, but then he was mistaken. I do not encourage begging. A kilometer away near Ruia, after I had the famous idli at Mani's, I met Ramesh's clone. Dressed exactly like Ramesh, his name was something that I could not decipher even after asking him twice. This chap was from Gulbarga in Karnataka. These incidents of beggars coming from a different states are not isolated ones. How can I forget the Marathi family that I encountered on the streets of Bangalore,not once but many times? In this era of disappearing boundaries, can this profession be left out?