Monday, March 30, 2009

The subway syndrome

In some parts of Chennai, crossing the road is as difficult as climbing Mount Everest in winter without a winter jacket. All sorts of obstacles such as cycle, bike, Mercedes, Maruthi, MTC bus, stray dogs, and buffalos travel in all directions around you. One has to scan 360 degrees to ensure that none of the demons is in the way while crossing. Road signals do not encourage pedestrians to cross the road, by setting a few seconds for this activity. Crossing the road in developed countries such as UK is a piece of cake. It is as easy as sleeping on a cosy couch in an air conditioned room. Crossing the road in Chennai is like sleeping in a room with four starved lions. One has to be very careful all the time. Otherwise the demon comes and bites you when least expected. From any direction.

So, what is the remedy? The government came up with two solutions to tackle this problem. The subways and the foot bridges. Both of them can be seen in many parts of the city. The basic difference between these two 'road-crossing' helpers is that foot bridges are above ground while the subways are underground.

Almost all the subways give part time vendors perfect place to sell their articles and full time spitters to spit thoroughly chewed pan dissolved in saliva all over the place. At times, it looks like a modern art on the wall they spit at. In the night time, it presents the perfect place for crimes. Even though vendors take 25% for the place to sell their goods and spitters take another 25% of the place to spit stinky red juice, the subways are run-away hits in almost all places. The foot bridges, which hardly host any vendors, are a huge failure. Since less number of humans uses the foot bridges, the red-art along the wall is also less.

A prime example for a fully activated subway is the one opposite to the central railway station. It is always full of activities. Traffic in Haddows road and Nungambakkam high road are as heavy as the road near central railway station. But, the foot bridges over haddows road and Nungambakkam high road are ignored. One can find people risking their life by running along the road rather than using the foot bridge. Both foot bridges and subways are built for the same purpose. One is unhealthy, unsafe and congested but it is a huge hit. So, why is this subway a massive hit even though it has its drawbacks?

In both the cases, people have to climb up a few steps and climb down a few steps. The energy spent in both the cases are roughly the same. But the major difference between the two is that in a subway, one has to go down first and then climb up. People, in general think only about the immediate activity. They fail to get the wholistic picture in mind. In this case, it is simple that the person who climbs down the stairs has to climb up to reach the same level. But, the 'climbing up' part is never in his mind initially. This, I call it as 'Subway syndrome'. People like to do the easier things first while not worrying about its consequences. When this theory is applied to foot bridges, people think that climbing up the stairs is a tedious task. But the same person is ready to climb up after climbing down the stairs in a subway though!

The subway syndrome is not just applied to the subways alone. It can be applied to many day to day activities. Some businesses have used this syndrome to increase their profits and sales. All the credit card companies / financial institutions have taken advantage. Using a credit card to pay for a bill is the easier bit and repaying the money is the tougher bit. The credit card company clearly knows that people don’t think about repaying at the time of purchase. These financial companies are very good in showing the people the way to climb down the subway steps and stand on their throat while climbing up.

The modern way of doing business follows this flow. Carrots are initially thrown at the bunny. Attracted and lured by the carrots, the bunnies come running without thinking of any other consequence. Only when the bunny gets the carrot, it realises that it has fallen into a trap.

But, only the bunnies affected by the 'Subway syndrome' fall for it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


The general elections are coming up. All parties are devising their strategies to acquire as many votes as possible. The parties are talking about seat sharing in all states. Banners, slogans and election songs are under preparation. While the political parties are working overtime, the common people are only hoping and praying that a good government would form in the centre.

"No politician is genuine. All of them are after money and power", a software engineer said. Though his concern is genuine and is shared by many people, it is important to assess why politics is in such a state now.

We blame that the men in power and men who want to be in power are ignorant and selfish. True. But, they are just one among us. They are just representative of the people from each constituency. Let us asses what we do every day. We jump signal while coming to office to save time. We do not respect most of the traffic rules. Most of us do not wear helmet even though it is declared mandatory by the government. Most of us still smoke on roads and in public places even though smoking in public is banned. Because we are confident that we can escape when caught, by bribing. We still throw rubbish wherever possible. We don’t respect queues and always try to evade it to save time. Some of us don’t even have a voter ID card and some of us don’t even think about voting.

These are clear signs of ignorance and selfish behaviour and it is exhibited by most of the people. Politicians are one of us and it is natural that they exhibit this behaviour. But, it does not mean that the political system is correct.

When India was fighting for independence, people wanted independence, leaders wanted independence and there was a harmony between them. They were not selfish. They were not ignorant. So, they were successful.

We are all waiting for a positive change for a long time now. But, the mistake we do is that we are expecting the change to happen at the top of the tree. We expect the politicians to become good guys overnight. This is wrong. The change should happen at the grass root levels. This means, we should change. We should be more responsible and considerate towards others and respect the laws. As Barack Obama said, “Change can happen” and it can happen right here.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

The beach

The sun started to show its head out deep from the Bay of Bengal on a typical summer morning. Early morning on a summer day is always pleasant. The air is filled with a bit of moisture which absorbs and reflects the bright red light from the early morning sun. The atmosphere around the beach stays clean with minimal pollution from human activities.

It was just another weekend summer morning in a private beach in south India. The sun, which is bright, glowing and read, had just come out of the sea yet another time. Early morning joggers were sweating on the beach where the sand just touches the water. Some joggers were serious about their work while some middle aged men were munching the peanuts brought from the on-the-go vendors and were just loitering around, enjoying the early morning atmosphere. Invariably, most of the middle aged men were wearing a white half trouser, a dirty canvas and an undersized T-shirt which exposes a pot shaped belly that they have grown after years and years of munching the peanuts. And other food stuff.

The air was filled with a mild breeze flowing from land to sea. A small group of people were playing volleyball with a half torn net and a fluorescent ball. Another group of young kids were playing full fledged cricket. The pitch was very close to sea. So, it looked like half the cricket ground was sand and the other half was water. But, who bothers? The kids were enjoying the game as much as adults enjoy orgasm.

Passing through the sand side of the cricket field, Sowmya bent down and picked up the tennis ball with which the young kids were playing cricket. She was wearing an expensive blue saree, which strikingly matches with the colour of the sky. Not only that, the saree was even more strikingly matching with the colour of her blouse, her bangles in one hand, her wrist watch in the other, her sandals, and her bindi. The lipstick on her was shiny as it was reflecting the sun. The shininess on her lips grew more on the center then at the edges. She had let her hair free and so it was dancing to the tunes of the mild breeze. Four strands of hair swinging around her right cheek almost gave her a tickling sensation.

She picket up the ball and threw it up in the air with an exaggerated jump. Non athletes, especially girls, exaggerate all sporting related activities. With a lot of pride and humility. She looked around. Everyone was on a sporting outfit while she was dressed like a cabin crew on a private jet. The saree she was wearing was not a normal saree. Or atleast the way she was wearing the saree was not normal. Most parts of her nicely toned abs were exposed. Not all the parts were exposed but this exposure was enough to stir up people. The thongs of her sleeveless blouse were carrying some crazy designs. As the thongs were not broad, her bra, which is as blue as her blouse, sneaked out a little.

As she was standing with her arms folded, a hand from behind pulled her aside across the cricket pitch towards the offside. Er.. the seaside of the ground. She yelled out an exaggerated scream with joy when she looked at the person holding her hands now. Rahul is a young business man in his late twenties. He was wearing a nice suit made for big meetings. The pair looked like they had come directly from an important family gathering.

Sowmya and Rahul were facing each other. She was facing the beach. The sun, which was now fully out from underneath the sea but still bright red, was facing her. The lipstick was even more glowing. Another bunch of hair started flying in the air, towards Rahul. He caught them gently and tried to place it back from where it originated. In the process, his hands gently brushed her cheek. It gave her a tickling effect. She blushed. And closed her eyes. Faced down. And blushed. This time it was more exaggerated. Her shiny white teeth were exposed for the first time. The redness of the lipstick and the whiteness of the teeth were like an art made from heaven.

After a few seconds of blushing, she gently pushed him using both her hands. He took a step backwards. There was a big splash as he stepped on the frothy water from the sea. The water from the sea was advancing. Rahul was still moving backwards. Another splash. This time it was bigger. The pants, upto his ankle, went into water. He looked down to see his Lee Copper shoes. She let out an artificial laughter bending her head back. In a couple of seconds, she came back to the normal state, raised her left eyebrow with a smile. Her eyes were full of joy that she was with someone whom she liked.

Water that splashed on his shoes retracted to the sea. He looked down. The shoes were as shiny as a mirror. He looked up with a slightly angled head, with a childish, innocent face and said “You spoiled my shoes”

Sowmya folded her hands and said “I know. Get a new one” with a faked stern look on her face. Like a manager trying to impose her authority on her subordinates.

Having spoken her first words in a long time, and that too a punch line, she started laughing aloud. To control the laughter, she tried to close her mouth with both her hands. Like the Miss Universe does when the results are announced.

The tail end of the saree started flying in the air as the wind grew a bit stronger. That was exactly when he noticed her beautifully toned abs for the first time that morning. Exhausted with her laughter, she took the hands from her lips, moved to her left facing the sun directly. That was when he noticed her cleavage right through her saree for the first time that morning. He was speechless. He should be. He has just seen one of the greatest work of art.

A group of joggers crossed them. Another splash. His shoes were submerged in water again. She started laughing again. One hand shielding her lips and the other pointing his shoes. The nail polish was revealed for the first time. And if perfectly matched with the colour of her bangles!. It never occurred to him that he should move out to avoid another splash.

Instead, he bent down, gathered some water using both his hands and threw it towards her face. He missed the target by a few inches. But, it her on her chest and water splashed out in all directions. He bent down again, took some more water and aimed at her breast this time. Bingo! It hit the target. He wanted to point his fingers at her and have a fun filled laugh. But he could not. She was staring at him, hands on her hip, head slightly tilted, lips sucked in a bit. He was not looking at any of those. The only place his eyes were fixed was her breasts. The cleavage was more prominent now. The saree was sticking to her skin completely thereby exposing the true shape of her flesh inside.

His eyes were not moving at all. He was in a state of elation. He started to breathe heavily. It took some effort for him to breathe as all his energy was diverted to his eyes. Sowmya didn’t notice what Rahul was noticing. She jumped at him and punched his chest gently with her fist. No reaction. He was lost in his world. She punched him again and hugged him with her head resting on his chest and with her arms completely wrapping around his body. No reaction again. She felt his chest expanding and contracting violently. With a broad smile, she looked up at him straight on his eyes. She sensed joy in his eyes. She released him from her hug, took a step back. She was still wet.

She was not entirely sure about what was going on. With a sweet smile, she asked “What?” and her right hand came forward. Her bangles made a sweet sound when she moved her hand. He was now blatantly scanning her body. He had to answer to her question. Lots of things were going on in his mind. The devil inside him wanted to have her right there. But, he was about to get caught for staring at her private parts. He had to say something to escape form embarrassment. The time was running out. He finally spoke but the CPU in his brain was occupied with one hundred percent lust.

When he spoke, he said “You have a nice body”. He regretted as soon as he spoke. He froze for a moment as he was nervous about what could happen next. He surely does not want to blow this relationship up due to silly reasons.

She again placed her hands on her hips, gave a bossy look, then bit her lower lips and said “You guys are always obsessed with physical feelings rather than emotional feelings, don’t you?”

“Do I fall under that you-guys category?” he asked. Brilliant. A question to tackle a question. So far so good.

“You sure do!” She said and smiled. After all, lust is a part of life.

“How can I prove you wrong?”.

“OK. I give you one chance” She said and blushed after catching the tip of her saree which was flying in the wind. “What is the colour of my eye?” she asked and quickly turned back

Rahul took a deep breath to come back to his normal breathing cycle. When he started speaking, his voice was suddenly matured with a little bit of emotional element in it. “Let me tell you this. You have the most beautiful eyes in the world” and paused for a second and said “ They are as black as your hair, but it changes to blue when you look up, it became orange when you were looking at me against the sun right now and it always speaks the true language of love” and felt so elated like he had just given a successful speech in London school of business.

She took her time and slowly turned back. Her eyes became orange again. A bunch of hair started flying around all over her face. Her mouth was half open and her eyes were moist. Rahul took a step forward and moved close to her. At this point, her breathing changed suddenly. She started breathing heavily. Her breasts were moving up and down like a see-saw during every breathing cycle.

He came even close to her and adjusted her hair and tried to put it back. But his efforts were useless as the same set of hairs were flying around again within seconds. He gently hugged her and asked “Am I right?”

She rested her head on his shoulders and hugged him tightly with her arms around his neck and said “Honey, I love you. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me”

Rahul smiled loudly and said “I know” after gently stroking her hair while hugging.

The tennis ball, with which the kids were playing, flew past them. A couple of kids ran between them to fetch it. Sowmya tried to avoid them and took a step towards her left. As she was wearing a saree, she lost her balance. She was about to fall. Rahul noticed it. With impulsive reflex, he caught her by her hands and pulled her straight with one hand on her hips. Their eyes were staring each other yet again within a very close range. After fetching the ball and throwing it back to the wicket keeper, the kids came over to apologize. But with no response. This was not the time for any intrusion. Their eyes were talking to each other. Their minds were completely occupied. After a couple of attempts, the kids left them alone and started playing again.

Suddenly, Sowmya came back to reality. Her breathing became normal. Her eyes were anxious. Her face became nervous. She developed sweat on her forehead. She wanted to say something. When she spoke “Honey, you are the best guy I have ever met. I cant tell you how much I like you” and she took a step back and said “Will you marry me ?” . She was still anxious as she waited for a response. Every second seemed like an eternity for her.

Rahul was on top of the world. His smile confirmed that. Also, he noticed that she was nervous and was stammering badly in the last sentence. He smiled gently at her and said “Why would you do something like that?” savoring his moment. He then placed his hands on his hip, bit his lower lip, tilted his head and gave a bossy look so as to imitate her in every bit.

Sowmya looked at his gimmicks and wanted to punch him yet again. Instead, she found herself saying “I want to live the rest of my life with you. I want to have kids with you and see them becoming as spoilt as you are”

“Fair point” he said pointing his forefinger at her. He smiled, then looked down and blushed for the fist time that day. He was so happy that he got what he wanted. A lovely woman in every quality. He then asked “Will you be with me during difficult times and in times of need?”


“Will you take good care of the kids so that they are not as spoilt as I am?” He said and raised his eyebrow.

“Certainly” she said and folded her arms. She could sense that he was setting her up for something.

“Will you serve me coffee on my bed every morning?”

“Yes” she said , tilted her head, put her hands on her hips and started giving a bossy look.

“Finally” he said with his arms stretched.

“Will you be topless when you serve coffee?”