Posts Tagged ‘transportation’

Back to chaos

July 22, 2019


As of 15 July 2019, the demolition of the Jayadeva Flyover, 11 years after it was built, has started, with the upper part (leading from Bannerghatta Road to Outer Ring Road) being closed to traffic. I am marking the date to see how long this changeover from road to road/Metro will take.

Stages, by Herman Hesse

October 24, 2017

As every flower fades and as all youth
Departs, so life at every stage,
So every virtue, so our grasp of truth,
Blooms in its day and may not last forever.
Since life may summon us at every age
Be ready, heart, for parting, new endeavor,
Be ready bravely and without remorse
To find new light that old ties cannot give.
In all beginnings dwells a magic force
For guarding us and helping us to live.
Serenely let us move to distant places
And let no sentiments of home detain us.
The Cosmic Spirit seeks not to restrain us
But lifts us stage by stage to wider spaces.
If we accept a home of our own making,
Familiar habit makes for indolence.
We must prepare for parting and leave-taking
Or else remain the slaves of permanence.
Even the hour of our death may send
Us speeding on to fresh and newer spaces,
And life may summon us to newer races.
So be it, heart: bid farewell without end.
–Hermann Hesse
(translated by Richard and Clara Winston)

Livelihoods: Driving others

June 23, 2017

Every now and then, a glimpse into lives very different from our own, brings us up sharply against alternate realities.

I am used to the notion of auto drivers as rough, rude people who will generally not co-operate with passengers. This preconception got a jolt when I noticed this man driving his autorickshaw in the traffic.


It cannot be an easy life when your own mobility depends on a pair of crutches. I realized that this man, and many others like him, battle many disadvantages to earn their living. I have learnt to try and remove my prejudices, and look afresh at my ideas about my fellow-citizens.

Two videos from Forest Park, 280913

September 30, 2013

Here’s DS trying out an

Elliptical Scooter

And in another example of something being pushed (this time, the air through pipes)…here’s bagpipe skirling, from the Scottish Games at Forest Park, on the same evening:

KTB was quite scared of the bagpipers and said twice or thrice that they might kill us….!

Cars in India…my memories

August 29, 2013

A very enjoyable chat with a friend in Sweden set me thinking about the various cars that I’ve seen and used during my life.

My father, who rose from the lowest to the highest executive postition in the Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation (CESC), had all his cars provided by the company, so we went through a wide variety of cars.

It is usual of think of India of the 60’s and 70’s having only the Ambassador and Fiat…but in reality, there were certainly a lot more cars around.

In the beginning, I saw a lot of cars of British make in Calcutta (probably imported from Britain; I don’t think they were manufactured in India.) There were Austin (the chrome letters actually announced, “Austin of England”, Humber, Studebakers, and Raleighs. There were all the American cars that were status symbols…”Shevorley” (Chevrolet) which had the famous “Impala” and the other large-fin “kappal cars” (cars like ships!) that floated their lengths along the roads.

Standard was a car company that had the small cars of that era….the Standard 8 and the Standard 10 were tiny little cars. I have no idea about the performance of these cars…they were just cars that I saw around.

Hindustan Motors manufactured the ubiquitous rhinos of the Indian roads….Ambassador cars (and still do, even now) and their predecessors, the Landmaster. For some reason, I always thought of cars with rounded boots as female, and those with even small tail fins as male. Don’t ask me why! I remember the Fiat (before it became Premier Motors) 800 with a rounded boot, and the 1000 with slight fins (nothing like the kappal cars!). One Fiat model was one of the last cars I’ve seen where the front door hinge was the reverse of the usual near-the-dashboard.I feel this must be quite convenient, and still don’t know why this kind of front door was phased out.

The Fords could sometimes be huge mammoths, in which I felt lost once I got in. I do not remember air-conditioned cars in my childhood, at all. Window seats were eagerly looked forward to, and captured, after pleadings to parents and fights with siblings!

It took a while for the realization to sink in that we Indians were getting the reject cars and designs…at some point, yes, I did realize it.

Standard also had that ever-present car, the Herald. This car, too, came in two models, I remember the engine cowl of one opening the other way (not hinged near the windshield)…the only car engine cowling I’ve seen opening like that. These cars would stop in just a few inches of water, and so they were called the Stranded Herald! They were two-door cars…I’ve always detested two-door cars.

I never thought of the company and the model name as different…such was my ignorance. I had heard, as in a dream, of the Rolls Royce, and seen some photos…but I don’t recall ever seeing one, or having one pointed out to me. Daimlers and Bentleys were simply not in my ken.

I do recall several Volkswagens, yes, the Beetles, running around the city, but they, too, were not very frequent.

I think it was in the 80’s that Standard introduced the Rover. Even I, with my lack of knowledge, realized that it was an uneconomical, unreliable vehicle…I remember calling it the Sub-standard Rover, and said that it had enough fuel range to get from petrol pump to petrol pump.Apparently, the sleek-looking design of the car made it a great attraction to many people.

At some point of time (mid 80’s?) there was a Karnataka-manufactured clunker called the Badal, the only 3-wheeler passenger car that I have seen. Does anyone remember this?

Premier, too, introduced a lemon called the 118 NE, which had some fuel-pump problems. I remember having to abandon our car in the Western ghats once, and coming home by bus!

The arrival of the Maruti 800 truly galvanized mass car ownership in India…it’s amazing to think of the revolution! Everyone who had a Lambretta or a Vespa or a Bajaj scooter now had a Maruti….a major change, indeed. It was tiny, convenient, and one of the most useful cars that I’ve seen. Another useful car was the Maruti Esteem…we used to joke that it would be even more cost-friendly if it would run on e-“steam”.

Now the variety and number of cars manufactured in India is mind-boggling, and the roads are clogged with drivers wishing that the other cars and their owners had stayed home….driving in our cities, with the lack of enforcement of traffic rules, is no longer a pleasure. I have started using buses, and own no car now….and am pretty happy about that!

I do wonder how car designers are doing, hunting around for new car names…it must be getting more and more difficult.

Ah, felt good to set down my memories of cars on Indian roads….if any of you have are welcome to put them in!

A moving, sincere goodbye….

July 28, 2012

My daughter works for the St.Louis Metro, and one of her colleagues, who was leaving, wrote this farewell message to those who work for public transport in a culture of private transport. My daughter shared it with me. I found it very beautiful, and would like to share it.



I just wanted to thank you for what has been an incredible five years working for and serving public transit in St. Louis. I promise I will keep my trite “The end is just the beginning” aphorism to a minimum, but my departure of Metro is filled with excitement, sadness, sentiment and wisdom for me. It has been an absolute joy working with all of you as individuals and professionals, and I’m glad to count many of you as friends.

If no one tells you anything of worth today, beside “Go home and have a great weekend!” let it be this: What you do here, everyday, is very important. The service you provide is sometimes the link between work and dignity, and despair, for many St. Louisans. For others, it is an example, even when not perfect, of St. Louis’ ability to grow, prosper, and come together as a community.

You are not always appreciated enough by the community, and certainly not compensated in direct proportion to your value. But your work, however seemingly removed day to day, makes a very big impact on so many folks’ lives. It mattered to mine. No matter how narrow the politics and challenges of this business shrinks your world, please think of the thousands of bus stops and platforms, each with thousands of people, getting to work, seeing family, and living in their communities with pride. You make many people’s lives just a little bit easier. I hope that they inspire you, as they did me, to work with passion and resolve.

Please take care of one another, be kind to yourselves, and thank you for the many memories, lessons, and love. Keep in touch.

All over the windshield….

January 24, 2012

It’s all very well to decorate one’s car with the symbols of one’s faith:

drwng on wndshld 220112

But this seems to leave, quite literally, a very small window of vision for the driver, and almost none at all for the passenger in front.

Are such “windshield decorations” legal? More important, are they safe?


January 18, 2012

sent me this:

Rail surfers (those who travel on top) have been threatened with paint, dogs and religion. Now Indonesia has strung concrete balls above the trains to bonk the overhead riders. Will that stop them ? No!! say the riders. They’ve resisted arrests successfully, as well as the other measures. They like the wind, rush and views up there, plus the free ride is nice!

Here in St. Louis, we would bonk people on the head with concrete balls to MAKE them ride the train!

click here to read about the Indonesian train problem

n the 1970’s in Calcutta (Kolkata), there used to be the “Sardarji” buses (private buses run by this community) as well as the Government buses. The Government buses lost money, and the private buses did well. Travelling outside the bus (in some cases, the passenger would be attached to another passenger and never touch the bus at all) was so common that the private buses had one conductor for inside, and another for outside, the buses! Maybe that’s the solution that Indonesia needs…!

Here’s a pic of the “Sardarji” buses, little tin boxes, that I got off the net:


“Jugaad” in Bangalore!

December 6, 2011

“Jugaad” means, “innovation”, often thinking out-of-the-box. A mode of public transportation, with the engine of a tractor, has already taken on this name in several states of India.

On Sunday, as we were heading out for our nature trail on Bannerghatta Road, I spotted this tricycle-cart that had been fitted with a two-wheeler engine, and was puttering along happily!

I don’t think this gives very environment-friendly emissions, however creative and innovative it is!

What a pity that pedal-power is seen by the working people as something too difficult to sustain. I was actually thinking of an initiative to re-introduce cycle-rickshaws….


April 6, 2011

At 8.30 pm on the 4th of April, I took the BIAS Vayu Vajra (BIAS 12, to KuVemPu Nagara)nfrom the airport to my home.

On the way, a group of four passengers got on,and asked for tickets. They paid Rs. 60( four tickets of Rs.15 each) , and the conductor said that the tickets would cost Rs.20 each. The young man who was one of the group protested, saying that he had taken the Volvo yesterday and had paid only Rs.15, and he would not pay the higher amount.

The conductor insisted that the amount was correct. The passenger demanded that the conductor show him the chart; if the amount was correct, he said, he would pay the difference.

The conductor refused to show him the chart and asked the group to get off the bus. The passenger, getting increasingly vociferous, said he would not get off without taking a look at the chart.

Within minutes, the young man and the conductor were involved in violent fisticuffs. The driver halted the bus, and came back to intervene. One of the ladies in the group also pulled the young man off the brawl, and the group got off the bus, with invective and bad feeling flying around.

I cannot imagine that the conductor of a Vayu Vajra bus would demand excess fare; after all, he was going to give the ticket to the value of Rs.20, not for Rs.15.

A few passengers said that perhaps the previous day, the young man had, indeed, taken a Volvo, but it might not have been the Vayu Vajra bus, which does have a higer fare. This seems to me to be the likely explanation.

But in this case, why did the conductor not just show the young man the chart, and prove that he was mistaken? That would have defused the situation instead of escalating it into physical violence, which is what transpired.

Why are our tempers so short, that we need to indulge in violence almost immediately? Why does rage prevail instead of more mature behaviour?

Why are we so ready to assume that the other person is out to cheat us? Why can’t we assume goodwill, or at least an honest mistake, and try to sort out the situation, instead of indulging in confrontation, anger and violent behaviour?

No wonder, both bus passengers and bus staff are a harried lot at the end of the day…..