Sunday, August 31, 2014

Kerala diary 2 - Rain, more rain, and then a pause

It has been raining cats and dogs. Typically it doesn't pour for too long. When it rains it rains heavily. After about 10 minutes it reduces to a drizzle. Then it stops. After may be a couple of hours, clouds gather all over again and it's heavy rain again.
Here even though it rains so heavily roads don't get waterlogged. Water runs off to either side and sinks through the loose mud. But puddles of water can be a nuisance for pedestrians.
Considering the water and mud footwear can carry into the shop floor, some retail outlets expect you to leave your footwear outside. Some shops have an umbrella stand and some others provide you a plastic cover to put your wet umbrella in while you shop.
Monsoon arrived a bit late. This spell started on 28th and has been on since then. Rainfall  has been more than average this time, so say media quoting met dept.
It was my niece's wedding today and mercifully, rain paused till evening much to the relief of everyone. Such social gatherings are the perfect rendezvous to meet relatives and friends. Today's function was no exception.
Such occasions also make us pause and ponder over how time has flown by. I remember the day when my cousin got married. During my visits her daughter played with my son. Today, she has grown to share her life with another.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Kerala diary 1 - Confusing numbers and ticketless travel

Train journey is always more lively than one by flight. And a day travel is better than one by night. The view from the window, of hills, barren land, rivers, bushes and trees, is an ample and welcome relief from the clutter of vehicles and concrete buildings of the city. The journey itself is a sort of perfect getaway.

Where is my coach?

While boarding the Inter City to Ernakulam this morning, I found the numbering of coaches confusing. Though coach D followed coach C, the numbers went in the descending order rather than ascending. That is, after C1 came D11 then D10, D9 etc.

This is confusing. A person looking for coach C would end up in the wrong end of the train if he followed the numbers. Since alphabetically C comes before D, he would look for C coach before D1. But actually the C coach was before D11. That's absolutely strange.

If alphabets followed a particular order, it would make sense for the numbers too to follow the same order.

Now you don't need a ticket to travel

As the ticket examiner did the rounds, I saw that many people had the printed paper ticket, though while booking online IRCTC clearly discourages you from printing out the ticket. A few of us showed our mobile phone. But he did not look at the SMS confirmation. He only checked our identity card -- PAN card in my case. He asked me which was my seat number and he verified what I said on the list he carried. He wanted to see the identity card of passegers who brought printed tickets too.

The advent of internet and mobile phone has done away with the physical, printed ticket that was once upon a time mandatory to travel. Now you just need to know your seat number and have your identity card.

It's too cold

The chair car is too cold and I can't find a  regulator. There isn't one, it looks like. There should have been one for the blast of cold air streaming out of the two vents overhead. The train has reached Dharmapuri. The sun is up and the warm rays are finding their way in. Hopefully it will help matters.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Shamu, Nexus 6 and Android Silver

If you say Shamu, most people will relate it to the whale that was captured in the 1960s. But for the few gadget geeks it's the name of the new Google phone that will hit the market later this year.

It's making waves because many people think Motorola Shamu, or Moto S, will be the successor to Nexus 5.

But what has added to confusion are reports that Google will discontinue the Nexus series, and that Moto S will be an Android Silver phone.

What is Nexus?

Nexus series (of phones and tablets) is Google's flagship Android mobile devices. These are informally called Google phones or tablets because though the devices are manufactured by Samsung or LG, they haven't been customized by the manufacturer. Additionally, since there is no third party intervention, so to speak, Android updates will flow in directly and immediately from Google itself, rather than being pushed by the device manufacturer. There are pluses and minuses of that.

What is Android Silver?

That is the new range of stock Android phones, which will replace the Nexus range. Reports say that these phones will have newer standards, different from what Nexus phones have, that will be of premium nature. What these standards are and how Google will enforce it is not known. For this range, Google is said to have tied up with Motorola, and the first device, Moto S, is expected to hit market in early next year.

A lot to watch out for in the coming days.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A father's choice -- save child or family

Imagine the plight of a father, whose only son, a six-year-old boy, has fallen into an unused borewell, and after a couple of days of futile rescue attempts, says:
"I know my son is dead. You can't get him out. All your efforts to bring him out only resulted in destruction of my sugarcane farm. Now please don't spoil this place further. Please call off the rescue efforts, and close the borewell with my son inside." 
The six-year-old unlucky boy is Timmanna, and the incident happened on Sunday in Sulikere village of Badami taluk in Karnataka's Bagalkot. The well is on the premises of his father's sugarcane field.

Children falling into unused borewells is quite common in India. Most such accidents happen in remote villages or small towns. And not all of them become national news items, only people in that particular state or region get to know of it.

There was one celebrated case of Prince, which gripped the nation's attention. That was in July 2006. The 5-year-old boy fell into a well. He survived on biscuits and chocolates thrown to him, and after Army-led resuce operation that spanned two days, he was brought out alive. Here is an NDTV footage of it.  Prince's case was an exception. Rarely children survive.

But this is the most distressing story I have heard. Father Hanumantappa Hatti's emotional appeal is really moving. He has taken loan worth lakhs for digging borewell and also for the sugarcane cultivation. Now that his field has been dug up and crops destroyed, he can see only a dark future ahead of him -- son gone, his filed and crops too gone. The Hindu report on it.

What has driven him to this state is the extreme poverty. For the villager, who is struggling to make both ends meet, the loss of his son is just another of the misfortunes. Borewells are dug after paying huge amounts of money due to severe water shortage. Closing the well is also not easy. It costs huge amounts of money to buy the sand.

Many such people are also used to living with risks all around them. The fear of someone falling into an open borewell is not so different from many other fears they already live with daily. For him, the loss of the child is another loss life has handed over to him. Just as he has moved so far, he will hope to move on from now on too.

Borewell business is a huge unregulated one. Hopefully, the government will open its eyes and bring in some order, accountability into this business.

Let's hope that no more children lose their lives in this manner.