Those seven incidents

11

This story is inspired by the lives of two women I know.

“Nandini, come to the reception, there’s a courier guy waiting for you,” my company receptionist said on intercom.

I pressed ‘CTRL + ALT + DEL’ and walked towards the reception. I was expecting an important courier. Could this be the one?

I reached the reception, the man handed over the envelope.

I opened it hastily, looked at the contents and said “Yay,” so loud that all the people present in the reception stopped doing what they were doing and looked at me. A colleague passing by gave me a what’s-with-you kind of look.

I closed my eyes and kept it on my chest for a moment. The next moment, I dialed my hubby’s number. He picked up in the first ring as always.

“Listen Husband-in-law, don’t ask any questions. Stop whatever you’re doing and come home.”

He said, “You are at office right?”

“Yes, I am just starting now.”

I ran towards my desk, holding the envelope close to my chest. I opened the outlook, mailed my manager and set an ‘Out-of-office’ for 7 days. I was out in a flash. After haggling with the auto driver for two minutes, I sat inside and was on my way to home.

I checked the contents of the envelope once more. I couldn’t stop staring at it. “Yes, Yes,” I said to myself. The auto driver was confused to see a woman talking to herself. He must have thought that I was mad.

I held the contents once more in my hand. This was it, the key to my freedom. I remembered what I had to go through to achieve this. I clearly recalled there were seven tragic incidents that brought me to the stage where I was. In my mind, I replayed all the incidents one by one for the last time.

Incident 1: It was my 8th birthday, I couldn’t sleep the whole night because Papa had promised me that this time he will get the gift no matter what. He had kept his promise. The birthday morning, Papa was already up and I ran towards him. He picked me up and took me to the verandah. There it was, my first bicycle. It was pink and white. It was the most beautiful cycle I had ever seen. I climbed on to it and my father helped me ride it. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. All my friends have changed 3 to 4 bicycles by now, but mine was the first one. My father’s clerical job just paid enough to run the house and pay my fees. I was happy and I proudly showed the bicycle to all my friends who came to my birthday party. It was the best birthday of my life.

But my happiness was short-lived. Someone that night itself stole the bicycle from our veranda. I was devastated. I cried. I howled and didn’t eat for the whole day. My father didn’t know what to do. His hands tied up because of financial issues. He promised me to get a new one, once he get’s the next month’s salary. But that next month became next year and my hopes shattered.

then one day

Incident 2: My cousin Rahul, who was also my classmate, got his first bicycle. His father instructed him to share the cycle with me. They were financially well off. Rahul and I used to ride the bicycle alternatively. We would play and fight all day long. I had so much fun for those two months with Rahul’s bicycle. I was happy being a half-owner of the cycle, but one day Rahul’s father got a transfer. They left Kolkata and Rahul took away his cycle with him. I cried for 7 days. This time my father didn’t give me any promise.

All those years, I felt jealous whenever I saw someone my age riding  a bicycle. Then one of those days life took a tragic turn.

Incident 3: I was having puchkas (panipuri) by the roadside and from nowhere a taxi came and hit me right in the knee. The taxi driver ran away. I was taken to the hospital where the doctor put a plaster on my right leg. Even though the plaster was removed after 2 months, I was warned not to exert too much pressure on the right leg – that means no running, no sports and worst of all no bicycling for few years.

That day I became an atheist.

Years passed by, but my feelings for a bicycle remained the same.

Incident 4: When I was in college, I made friends with a girl who had a TVS Scooty. We became good friends, she used to pick me up for college and drop me. One day, she offered to teach me how to ride a TVS Scooty. I was elated.

As planned, we met at 6 am in the morning. She made me sit in front while she sat on the back. She held my hands as we started the scooter. I was happy. Ten minutes in to the session, I took a sharp right turn and the scooter skidded. We both fell down. Luckily my leg was not under the scooter. Even then we had to rush to the doctor. He warned me to be careful, because it was the same right leg that got hit when I was in school.

Few years later, I got a job in Bangalore. First week in to the job and the next incident happened.

Incident 5: It was 8 pm at night when I left for home. It was raining cats and dogs. I was searching for an auto and every auto driver refused. One auto driver stopped and he demanded Rs. 200 (the meter fare from my company to home was Rs. 40). I had no choice, I agreed. It was the last Rs. 200 I had.  He dropped me home. I had no money for the food. I slept without food that night. The following morning, I took a loan from a colleague and ate my breakfast.

Shaken from that incident, I realized that I had to do something so that I no longer had to depend on anyone for my personal movement. I started commuting through company cab (even though it was very expensive) from the next day onwards. Two years passed.

Incident 6: One day a colleague, six feet tall and bulky, offered me a lift back home. I became friends with him. One day I asked him if he could teach me how to ride  his motorcycle. He agreed. The first three sessions went fine. From the fourth session, I noticed he purposely sat extremely close to me, while teaching. I didn’t bother to stop him. But then he started occasionally touching me, whenever he got the chance. I once sternly warned him. He became normal for few sessions, but once again he started. I couldn’t take it and I asked him that I didn’t want to learn.

I buried all my hopes of riding any vehicle.

Incident 7: Few years later one extremely handsome man entered my life. We hit along very well from day one. We used to spend a lot of time with each other as we worked for the same boss.  I didn’t ask him to teach me bike riding, because I was scared – once bitten twice shy.

We were truly, madly and deeply in love with each other. It was the annual day of our company. He tricked me to get on to stage and went down on  his knees to propose me. I was shocked and felt awkward in the presence of 1000 people. He waited for the answer. I could have said yes. But then a thought came to my mind. Just to make the moment more fun, I told him there is a condition – he has to teach me how to ride his Harley Davidson motorcycle. He was taken aback. The crowd cheered at my condition. He agreed.

We got married a month later. From day one of our married life, every morning 6 am he taught me how to ride his Harley Davidson bike. After a couple of months, I appeared in the driving test and rode the bike confidently.

“Madam, your destination has arrived,” the auto driver brought me back to the present moment. I paid him off by the meter and rush inside home. I took some of mine and some of his clothes and put them in an overnight carry sack. I changed into comfortable clothes and waited for him to arrive.

The bell rang. I jumped to open it.

“What took you so long?” I fired.

He said, “on the way I had to stop by for the fuel and got the engine oil changed to Castrol Power1 Engine oil.”

“Anyways, see this,” I showed him the contents of the envelope.

“Wow, you got the driving license. Congratulations,” He gave me a big hug.

And the next moment I knew,  we were seated on Harley Davidson and I was in front, ready to start.

He asked, “But honey, tell me where are we going?”

I started the bike, “Does it matter?”

“No,” he replied.

~ * ~

This short story is written for the Indiblogger  – Castrol Power1 Blogging Contest on the topic

What motorcycling means to the Indian motorcyclist?

Here’s the link to the Facebook page – www.facebook.com/CastrolBiking

My dear reader, thanks for your time for reading this. I will be delighted if you leave your comments.

Indibloggers – please vote here.

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katra katra – a conversation

5

“Hubby dear today is April 20th.”

“I know.”

“Four twenty. Isn’t that funny?”

“Yeah …..  whatever?”

“You know today is Hitler’s birthday.”

“Hmm.”

“and….”

“and what?”

“You know it.”

“What?”

“and your ex-Girlfriend’s birthday too.”

“What? …… Not again…… Why? ….. Why you keep on mentioning her every now and then?”

“See…. I told you…. You still get emotional when you hear her name.”

“So…… How am I supposed to react?”

“No am just …. ”

“No, you are not just ‘saying’…. You bring this up to hurt me.”

“Look ….  If you don’t have any feelings for her, why do you react?”

“Huh. I refuse to comment on this anymore……. If you don’t have any other topic, I am going to hit the sack. Good night.”

“By the way, your browser’s history says that you’ve visited her Facebook page today?”

“What? ……. Why?….  You spying on me?”

“No am just stating the fact.”

“Huh…. It’s been 15 years now since I last saw her and from last 10 years I am with you. You know very well that she’s out of my system. Today, I just visited her facebook page – coz it was just a weak moment. I didn’t comment on her wall or something. It’s just that some weak moments happen and they pass…….. You know how loyal I am to you. Hmmm?”

“I know.”

“Then please stop meditating on her name every month.”

“Sorry.”

“Look. She was past. She was part of me. You are present and……”

“And?”

“……. you complete me.”

~ * ~

This conversation is a prelude to the dialogue and song. Please do listen by clicking on this link – http://gaana.com/#/streamplaylists/katra_249357

Thanks for your time. Don’t forget to comment.

Indibloggers pls vote here.

Work of fiction

Aakash tablet – a complete waste

16

Before I start with the review, here are some comments from my near and dear ones

@pvinod (after playing for 10 minutes):

Crappiest Tablet EVER!

@ramespark  (after helping me out with initial set up. He spent close to 30 minutes with the tablet):

Useless! It’s a shame that it has Made-in-India tag.

Brother-in-law (after using it for close to two  hours):

Bakwas – with a capital B

Wifey  (she used it for 3 hours):

Loss of talent and money over a futile product.

My one line review summary:

Don’t waste your time on this. You can’t put this tablet to any use. It’s a piece of junk.

Detailed review:

Box: It contains the tablet, adapter, 2GB micro SD card and a tiny leaflet called quick start guide.

The user manual provides minimal information. A CD detailing the set up and few videos would have been saved a lot of pain. Also, I would have love to have a basic case for protection and headphones.

Interesting thing to note is the adapter has Made-in-China tag.

Looks: Not bad and thank God not ugly for Rs. 2500.

Body: The main part of the body i.e. resistive touch screen is made of inferior plastic. The plastic is of the exact same quality as the one which I used to cover my school notebooks to protect it from wear and tear. Also, the touch screen is not flat, it bends in the middle. Reminds me of the cotton mattress on which I sleep.

The back of the tablet is made of good fiber, matt finish. No complaints.

It scores high on ergonomics because of its weight (350 grams) and matt finish.

Working:

Screen: The resistive touch screen is too resistive and pathetic. I’ve used resistive touch screens of Nokia, $30 PDAs and other phones, they work quite well once you apply appropriate pressure. But this one, no matter how much pressure you apply it’s either too much or too little. Here’s the video showing how long it takes.

Example: It took me 12 minutes to type in my user name and password for Facebook. Yes, because what happens is, if you press it lightly it doesn’t respond and if you press it hard, it takes the alternate character (a becomes à and s becomes ß) most of the times. Rames suggested me to use nails but it didn’t make much of a difference.

The screen is the worst part of the tablet. It reminds me of Rani Mukherjee (who played Helen Keller) of the movie Black. She was beautiful, had brains but both of her input senses (sight and sound) were defunct.

Now what will you do with the tablet, if you cannot interact with it’s touch screen?

Wondering why Mr. Kapil Sibal is screaming at the top of his lungs about this tablet? Has he ever tried to type his name on it?

Surprise: When I attached an external keyboard it detected it within few seconds. The response to the keyboard was almost instant and way too good. I could feel as if I am working on a laptop. Here’s the video

Reading : With no access to android market, @ramespark suggested to use alternative market places – slideme.org, f-droid.org and getjar.com. I downloaded the essential applications like Kindle reader, Opera mini browser, IO file manager, etc.,

The kindle reader app experience was pretty good. The formatting of the text was comparable to any of the e-readers. In other reviews, I’ve seen that it reads the office documents (with ‘documents to go’ app) as well. So reading point of view – no problems, in fact it’s a good option with couple of hours of offline reading. Here’s the video

Internet access: Initially it froze five times whenever I started the Wi-Fi. Now, it works reasonably well. With Opera mini browser the experience is a little smoother. However, Opera mini browser doesn’t play YouTube videos. So, I had to use the default browser to play YouTube videos. Point to note is the video worked without flickering that means, it has a separate graphics processor. Full marks for video play.

The sad part is even though the specs states that it has an internal speaker, it’s a lie.  I used the external speakers connected to the audio jack. The audio jack is designed for failure, as you can’t insert most of the external speakers. The speaker pin has to be flat to get inserted in to the audio jack.

However, the most frustration part is, once the video is played, you cannot control it. No pause, No stop. Here’s the demo of the same:

Another disappointment was, it has no volume controls to increase or decrease the volume. So if you are using headphones, you have to live with the loud noise.

Music: It played the the music from an external device. Here’s the video

External buttons: The buttons are really a disaster. The power button really requires a huge amount of power to turn it on. So much so that it leaves you a round mark on your finger. Your fingers will experience the same amount of pain as you get on the first day of learning a guitar.

The home button also does the job of waking up the screen, but hey there is no way you can put the screen back to sleep (like the power button in normal Samsung or other android phones). You have to wait for default screen timeout to put the screen to sleep. So, if you’re screen timeout is 30 minutes, the screen will be on for the 30 minutes and no control will put it off to sleep. Guess the amount of battery consumed.

USB slots: It has two USB slots, you can attach a USB drive and also you can attach the keyboard. It identifies the USB drive within few seconds, albeit it shows you as an SD card for some reason. Also, if you try to insert USB drive with SD card still on, it will fail to recognize.

Battery: After charging 100% for full four hours, I could use it for an hour (with Wi-Fi turned on). With Wi-Fi turned off, it’s slightly better and it goes up to 2 hours (no gaming, just reading and entering some text).

SD Card and heating: The tablet is so sensitive that if you press home button, it disconnects the micro SD card. Another factor is the heat, if you’re using it for more than 15 minutes the tablet gets heated up nicely. Almost the same burning sensation when you accidentally put your finger on a ceramic cup that has a piping hot tea. With this kind of heat, the micro SD card gives up after 10 minutes and tablet fails to read it. Lastly, the SD card doesn’t go all inside the slot, half of it always remains outside. Big risk of wear and tear.

No Bluetooth or USB connectivity: There is no way to Sync / backup your data in the absence of USB connectivity. However, I found a way. First create a document on your tablet. Then with the help of IO app, copy it on your USB drive and then you can copy it on your computer. Better, if you have Wi-Fi access, upload it on Google docs or Dropbox.

Image rendering: You can’t load images in the gallery. Tried several times to load the pictures, it hangs every single time.

Once the system hangs (which it does at least once in 30 minutes), you can’t do anything – you have to go for hard reset by inserting a pin on the back. Here’s the video.

It was supposed to be an Indian tablet, but no signs of any other language except English.

Anyways, my 2 cents:

  1. You have to be reasonably well-educated and IT savvy to operate the device. If you’re using it as your first computing device, leave the hassle.
  2. No way that you can use the device without an external keyboard.
  3. Good for reading and watching videos for at least one to two hours. With health and safety risk of getting a heat pinch.
  4. Always, have a push-pin ready for a hard reset.

In short, don’t waste your time, energy and money.

Earlier I wrote a post on my dream of owning an Aakash tablet

Please share it with all your friends who are planning to buy one.

Thanks for your time and patience.

PS: This is my first humble attempt to write a technical product review. Please pardon my reviewing and my video shooting skills.

PPS: My tablet is up for sale for the same price – Rs. 2500 (with all the configuration done)

My dream of owning an Aakash tablet

3

On Oct 5, 2011, when Mr. Kabil Sibal released the Aakash tablet, I jumped with joy. Finally a made-in-India technology product.

The day it started booking on 2nd week of 2011, I might be among the first dozen customers who would have made the booking on Datawind’s website. The moment I entered details on the website, an acknowledgement email arrived. It had an order number, assurance of delivery within 2-3 weeks and cash on delivery.  I thought, if  it comes before Christmas, it will be a wonderful gift to the spouse.

Datawind received order of 14 lakhs Aakash units in first 14 days. Sadly, the Aakash didn’t arrive in 2011.

I patiently waited all this while. On Jan 4th, 2012, there was an announcement that Aakash is slated to be shipped in the third week of Jan. With my fingers crossed, I thought if they ship it before 14th Feb, it will be a perfect Valentine’s gift. Sigh, my hopes took a deep dive.

All this while, Neither did Datawind reply to any of my customer service emails nor picked any of my calls on their numbers.

I became cynical about this whole inexpensive tablet thing declaring that as an hoax.

Then on April 2nd, 2012, I received an email from ncarry.com (Nimbuzz company) that you can book Aakash through their website and receive the tablet within a week.  I called up ncarry’s call centre number and to my surprise they picked up the phone. They assured that they have the tablets in their website and if I do booking by paying online, I will have the tablet within a week. I completed the booking at that very moment.

On 6th April, I called ncarry.com to check on order. No one picked up. I was nervous having already paid Rs. 2700 (200 for delivery). Colleagues started cracking jokes on my loss.

The same day, I sent an email to them. Surprisingly, I got a reply back the very next day that they have shipped the product and they gave me Aramex Courier tracking number.

I started tracking the courier, On 6th it said dispatched from ncarry, Gurgaon. On 7th, it has reached Aramex Bangalore warehouse. On Monday 9th, I called Aramex they assured me the delivery will happen in next 24 hours. Nothing happened.

On 10th, I called again – same response. On 11th evening, they mentioned the parcel is there in their warehouse in Indiranagar and assured that they will deliver by 12th Morning. I was desperate.

On 12th, I waited till lunch time, no signs. I took my bike and zoomed off Indiranagar office.

The receptionist told me that the parcel is there with us. A big sigh of relief.

She asked an office boy to get the parcel. 15 minutes passed, no sign. I started showing restlessness. 30 minutes passed, my face has turned in to a fire-emitting dragon. Not to take any chances of getting burned, She went inside to check. After like 45 minutes, an old man came with a parcel.

A big smile appeared across my face.

I asked him why they didn’t deliver before, since  the parcel is in this warehouse from last 5 days. He plainly said that the man who was suppose to deliver is on leave because of high fever. Sc**w you Aramex, this is not the first time they have messed up with my deliveries.

Anyways, I was delighted to have Aakash in my hands. The first thing I did is create this Unboxing video. (pardon me for my video shooting skills)

Full review – pretty soon.

Plea from a thirteen year old girl

7

Dear citizens of my country and honorable President,

I am a 13 year old girl from G.B. Road New Delhi which is not-so-far from Rashtrapati Bhavan (President’s house). I am writing this letter to let you know that I will be forced to join THE OLDEST PROFESSION in the world, in two weeks and I want someone to help me get a better life other than this one.

Just a bit about myself, I was born in Sonagachi in Kolkata. Just like everyone else who have been born there, I too don’t know who my father is. Last month, I have been brought to Delhi and fed on a special diet and taken pills which will speed up my growth at right places. We’re a bunch of 5 girls (others are from  , Kamathipura in Mumbai, Reshampura in Gwalior and Budhwar Peth in Pune) and we are undergoing a thorough training in bollywood-sleaze dance. The trainer suggests that if we become good at it, we will have to take fewer calls in a night. Talking about calls, I know from my mom and other aunties that they attend somewhere around 3-5 calls every single day.

I cried for more than 2 weeks in a row after being snatched away from my mother. She couldn’t do anything because she didn’t have any money to free herself (or myself) from our owners in Sonagachi.

Poverty has forced my mother to join the profession like some of her neighbors. My aunt told me that there are 20 Million (same as the population of Australia) sex workers  in India and soon I will be one of them. The girl from Kamathipura told me that there are around 2 lakh alone in Mumbai. These numbers seem to double every 5 years just like the old Kisan Vikas Patra.

I am terrified by the stories of my fellow residents. I have never been brave. One of my aunt said, ‘You don’t have to be brave or anything, you will learn on the job’. Like her, many are waiting for a chance to escape, but poverty, lack of education, lack of identity pulls us back in to the profession.

I heard from the same aunt that our President spends 3-crore-a-day when she goes out for travel. My request to her is please visit us (since she just lives 15 km from where I stay)  and see the conditions in which we’re living. If she cancels her one trip, at least 1000 girls like me can have a good life. Just visit us.

To the fellow citizens of my country, may I request you to talk to your sons, brothers, nephews about our situation openly. As this industry survives only because of men and their needs.

One brave woman Sunitha Krishnan is working for our freedom, please listen to her.

With a ray of hope that someday you will take some action to free us all, I am ending this letter.

Jai Hind.

~ * ~

Links:

This post is my second Official entry for Time To Change hosted by IndiBlogger. Link –  here

http://facebook.com/sftimetochange

Sources: Wikipedia

PS: work of fiction

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Sunday morning

6

Wifey’s cry for help shook me out of my Sunday morning sleep.

There are few pleasures which gives me a high – one of them is getting up late on a weekend morning and the other one – an afternoon nap. Because I find night is a mighty wonderful time to waste on sleep.

Coming back to the cry, Wifey came to the bedroom and said, “Liza is here again ……. I hate her ……. please handle her fast……… now.”

Getting up with a grumpy face, I searched for her. Found her hanging around in the kitchen. My two little dollies, unfazed by this whole melodrama, continued to watch this while having their Sunday morning breakfast.

Sounding utmost cool, I took Sunday’s newspaper and confronted  Liza. I tried to explain to her in non-verbal ways that this is the Wifey’s place and she can’t just barge in whenever she feels like. She understood the whole thing, but just paced from one end of kitchen to the other with her restless demeanor. I tried it once more going on my knees. She continued the same behavior.

In the mean time, Wifey was observing this whole drama was showing her restlessness in the most animated way – jumping up and down, closing her ears and eyes.

I yelled at the Wifey, “Please go in for God’s sake. Go.”

I practically locked Wifey in the bedroom to deal with Liza alone. Coming back to the kitchen, I couldn’t find her. I frantically started searching. Has she left already? Searched for sometime and found her behind the bookshelf. I again tried to make her understand that this is not the way and she should cooperate. Liza didn’t buzz.

I threw up my hands in the air, “God, why do you always do this to me?”. I tried one last time. But Liza being Liza, she has a mind of her own. She practically refused to co-operate. I gave up.

I had to resort to violence, sorry Bapu. I searched for something with a flat base, couldn’t find any. I took out my slippers and BANG. She tried to escape and hide somewhere else, but things had gone beyond the negotiation point. I took a final aim, cursed God, said a small prayer, and BANG again. She was dead. Yes, just like that, silenced just for being in the right place at the wrong time. I peacefully wrapped her up in the newspaper and threw her in the garbage bin outside.

My younger one came running behind me and asked, “Baba, where is Liza(rd)?”

~ * ~

PS: Felt guilty all morning. Then I thought the best way to get rid of this guilt is to pen it down in words.

PPS: Are there any smart & non-violent ways to deal with these creepy-crawly-creatures? Please share the ideas.