Sep 18, 2017

A trip to Hyderabad - Part 2

There are more number of passengers than the number of berths, Sathya observed and told to Prakash. Perhaps they are traveling together, but were allowed berth in different coach, he guessed.

Let's share this side lower berth till TTE allotes one for me, Prakash said. Meanwhile Sathya was arranging Chapati and Daal as lunch for both. "When did you prepare this?", Prakash was clearly surprised.

When you were packing your bag, she replied. "But weren't you also packing then? Also you only had about 10 mins!", he asked in reply.

"Where are you going up to?",  an elderly gentleman asked Prakash, cutting into their conversation.

"Secunderabad".

"Me too", the gentleman replied with a slow nod.

The elderly gentleman was accompanied by a young couple. There were three more people in the same bay, that makes 6 passengers, but only 4 berths were there.

"No chance sir. Coach is full. Not even single berth is available", TTE's voice broke his attention. TTE was replying to a fellow passenger who happens to board the compartment with a wait listed ticket he bought from the station counter.

Later, he examined the tickets from elderly gentleman's and the rest. "Sir, I have partial wait listed ticket", Prakash said, showing his ticket to be examined.

"I can't confirm the wait listed ticket. If you find some empty berths, feel free to occupy", saying thus the TTE moved to next bay.

TTE have just checked 6 tickets from 4 berths. Some of them must be traveling on partial wait listed tickets then. Thinking thus, Prakash initiated a small talk with the rest in his bay.

"Do you have confirmed ticket sir", Prakash asked the gentleman.

"No", came the reply in a very low tone as if he is sad. "Three of us are traveling, but we could get only one confirmed ticket", he replied. After a brief chat, Prakash came to know that their status before final charting were WL 13, 14 and 15.

Indian railways have cleverly confirmed WL 11 and 13, so that 5 people can travel with 2 berth allotment!

What an idea Suresh ji!

(Suresh Prabhu was the railway minister when this trip happened).

Sep 15, 2017

Why linking Aadhaar with voter ID is a bad idea.

"If the govt has guts, they should first link Aadhar with voter ID", reads one of the comments on Times of India article. The article was about linking Aadhar with driving license. I've often received these kind of comments and suggestions in WhatsApp and Facebook from various people. These people are to a large extent apolitical and so their views needs to be considered seriously. Nevertheless, it is a very bad idea to think of linking Aadhar with voter ID.

Election commission of India is an autonomous body and their main objective is to conduct free and fair election and declare the results. To ensure this, they have to be independent of govt of India, but for financial reasons. On the other hand, Govt of India have a say in policy issues and are also accountable. Govt can have a policy to reduce the burden of poor by providing various subsidies. To achieve this, they may use any means of technology including Aadhar.

Govt can have a policy to keep a check on tax sheets. For this, they may ask us to link our bank accounts with Aadhar. Zero tolerance on terrorism is one of the key policies of the govt for which they may want us to link mobile numbers with Aadhar. However, conducting free and fair election comes under the purview of election commission. Govt has no role to play here.

It is even worse if for argument sake govt and election commission agrees to link the two. Conducting election will come under direct control of govt, which is very bad for our democracy. Only feasible solution is Election commission has to add biometric feature to voter ID independently and maintain it as well. But this solution is very expensive and will only become additional burden to tax payers.

Jun 29, 2017

A trip to Hyderabad - Part I

11'o clock. Prakash desperately opened the PNR checker website and typed the 10 digit number eagerly to witness a miracle of getting confirmed berth in Konark express that will take his wife and himself to Secunderabad for a vacation. He had missed the chance an hour ago to get himself a confirmed ticket through tatkal mode in Air Conditioned compartment. His only alternative is to book the ticket in Sleeper compartment, which he knows is like "paid" general compartment. Only he knows how he dreads traveling by 2nd Sleeper every time he finds himself in a situation like this!

"Did you finish packing?" he asked Sathya, his darling wife.

"Yet to start", came the reply in a jiffy. "Were the tickets confirmed? Are we really going to Hyderabad?" she countered him.

Not yet. The PNR status still shows that our ticket is in waiting list 11 and 12, but final charting is yet to be done.

"But the train would arrive two hours from now!" she exclaimed.

Yes. But what if the tickets are confirmed by then? Let's better go pack and be ready.

Time ticked at its own pace, moving the minute hand slowly past 30 notches. Prakash and Sathya grabbed their essentials and stuffed them inside a couple of bags, unsorted. "We will have enough time in train to sort them out", Prakash commented. 

"But only if we get in that train", Sathya replied skeptically.

"Let me check the PNR status again. I wonder why they are yet to finalize the chart", he lamented.

Charting done. Final status: Ticket 1: Confirmed, Ticket 2: WL

He jumped in joy. "We are traveling for sure", he hasted their packing. 

"But what about the waitlisted ticket?" she asked while packing her sundries.

"Don't worry. We have partially confirmed ticket. I can talk to TT and get a berth for myself. Let's go".

They rushed towards the main gate to catch an auto to railway station. Fate intervened again. There was not even a single auto! "Damn", he banged his fist on the other hand. "We do not have much time. Let me get our bike. We shall park it in station itself", shouting thus, he took long strides towards the parking lot.

"Your kind attention please. Train number 11020, Bhubaneswar to Pune, Konark express via Visakhapatnam, Secunderabad has just arrived on Platform No. 1", they both heard the announcement as the bike entered the railway parking lot. He quickly parked the bike and both of them ran towards the train that was about to depart.

"We made it!" he said while she was still gasping for air. They made their way through the narrow passageway to find the allotted berth. "Side Lower", he said after finding the seat. "We can share the seat till a berth is allotted for me. Let us wait for the TT", Prakash said keeping their bags below the seat while Sathya was getting ready to settle down.

To be continued in Part II...

Mar 25, 2017

Ego sum, ego existo

No matter where you are,
no matter what you do,
always remember this...
Breathe.

What is important in one's life? Money? Wealth? Fame? 

I believe, of all the things what is important in one's life is life itself. Everything else loses its value the moment life ceases. And the key to life is breath. Breathing is the only way to prove our existence. But mere existence will not lead us to a happy life. The key to happiness lies in synchronization of mind, body and soul. Breathing connects with mind, body and soul. 

How to breathe? There are numerous articles on the world wide web explaining the right way to breathe, of which Pranayama is most popular. I am going to focus on one method which I practice.

Walk. You may also try to run, jog, labor yourself or do any physical activity you feel comfortable with. Any of these activities will make you catch your breath. When you catch your breath, your awareness increases. Awareness leads to synchronization of mind, body and soul. When mind body and soul are synchronized through breathing, you become intelligent. In simpler terms, you live.

Wealth and fame does not make us happy. Only breathing does. The joy of living lies in realizing what Rene Descartes said, "ego sum, ego existo". In simpler terms, "I am, I exist".