Sunday, 29 October 2017

Delhi - The Cleanest City

Last week I was in Delhi. I met my friend Ramesh there after many years. We both did our Engineering from the same college. Ramesh is settled in Delhi ever since we passed out of college. Well, I visited the city after almost 15 years. It’s a wonderful feeling every time we are in the world’s cleanest city. There was a time when Delhi was considered to be one of the most polluted city. This happened due to its rapid unplanned growth and industrialisation. The number of petrol and diesel cars increased exponentially over the years. Gradually, the condition became very severe, it was turning quite uninhabitable. There are several reasons for the environmental degradation of Delhi. Lack of adequate policies to control pollution, lack of political will, unplanned industrial growth, use of outdated technology, inefficient waste disposal, and many others. 

People in Delhi started to wear pollution masks most of the time, many used to wear while sleeping as well. After repeated warnings by WHO, and various other Environment communities across the world, the Government intervened. They took some strict actions. It started to shut down some factories which didn’t follow the expected environment regulation. But then due to lack of support from local people it was very difficult for the government to deal with the situation. Things usually turned worst during the festival of Diwali. It is a very auspicious occasion in India, and it has always been the festival of light. But in the early 20th century with the emergence of the powerful cracker industry, bursting crackers became popular. Gradually over the years it penetrated deep into the system. It became so emotional that people couldn’t think of celebrating Diwali without bursting crackers. There are numerous factories which produces crackers and they don’t follow and norms or regulation. Several harmful chemicals are released during the burning of crackers. The oxides and dioxides of sulphur and nitrogen are released. These chemicals get exposed to their skin, eyes, lungs and increase toxic levels in the body. 

There was a time when pollution level in Delhi was 50 times more than the WHO guideline level for safe air. Post Diwali morning it used to become 50 times more. Delhites were living on a time bomb, completely ignorant. Industries were still growing rapidly, people still burst crackers even though it was banned. But 5 years ago something happened that shocked the entire world. It was a usual post Diwali morning in Delhi. Everyone wore safely musk. And then some tragedy happened that completely changed the dimension of the city. More than 100 thousand people died on the same day due to suffocation and other breathing problems. All the new born babies who appeared on this world on that particular day, couldn’t survive. Several senior citizens died. 

After that tragic incident which is considered to be black day for our Environment, people in Delhi realized the impact of the alarming situation. Government took extreme and strict measures. They shut down all the industries which were not following the pollution guidelines. Schools and offices remained closed for almost a month. People started planting trees all over the cities. Entire Delhi took up the responsibility to clean up the mess of the past. Ecology has become one of their main philosophy. Gradually over the years Eco efficiency has become the most important thing for the city. It wouldn't have been possible without the support from the local people. It all began with the grassroots level of involvement, planting trees, watering them. Delhi residents are encouraged to cleanup, go green, and create a climate that features better air quality, eco efficiency, bio diversity and an abundant quantity of clean natural resources.

A huge investment was done to replace the traditional and outdated transport system. Government banned all petrol and diesel cars. Delhi is the first city in the entire world to become completely fossil free, not only in transportation, but also on power generation. All the vehicles, including the Metro run on electricity these days. Delhi was an opportunity for all the ecofriendly scientists to experiment their research. It came up as a blessing. Delhi became the first city to use wireless electricity, that too completely free. Yes, finally Nikola Tesla's dream to provide free energy to the world has come into reality after almost 100 years. 

The entire NCR is connected via Hyperloop, a high-speed ground travel system which is the world’s fastest mode of transport in today's world, almost 1000 km per hour. Meant to be intercity transport to connect multiple cities using Hyperloop, but Delhi is the first city to implement it with such large scale within the city. Now, people in Delhi can reach from any place to any other part of the city within just 5 minutes. Hyperloop capsules are completely solar powered.

To know more about Hyperloop do watch this video.

The streets of Delhi looks fantastic these days due to local contribution to make the locality clean and sustainable. Delhi is considered to be the cleanest city of the world. Last year it won the Green Capital award. It is the first city in the entire world to become completely fossil free. Several automatic cooling systems are deployed across the city which runs on solar and other renewable energy to reduce the city temperature during summer. Since electric transmission has gone completely wireless, all the electric poles and wiring are removed. Big trees were planted both sides of the road. More than 50% of the cars and trucks have gone driver-less. Number of road accidents has decreased significantly. Many parts of Delhi look like mini forest with plantation all over. Delhites have an impression of living in an exotic village with all modern facilities and infrastructure. The city is spreading rapidly at a phenomenon rate. But the growth is now very well controlled and planned. Many MNCs have come up in the city in the last few years. Foreign investors are investing heavily in the Eco friendly city. 

It was Diwali night. Coincidentally it was also the 5th memorial of the tragic incident. The particular day has been internationally recognised as Human Environment Day. Everyone was together, celebrating Diwali with family and friends. We could see Eco friendly Diya Balloons lighted up the sky. These are fully biodegradable and safe and simple to use. 

People were also enjoying fire in the sky laser displays with bursting sound in a controlled manner, thanks to the various sound simulation techniques evolved over the years.

Many companies are coming up with innovative ideas of celebrating smokeless, noiseless and Eco friendly Diwali. It’s a huge market, and every year we get to see some new creativity. It was such a pleasure to be in such a great city, particularly during Diwali.

PC: Google Images

This post is a work of fiction written for Indiblogger’s #CelebratingSuper campaign in association with Vodafone.

Saturday, 14 October 2017


Raju was born and grew up in a small village in India. He was good at studies from the beginning. Just like others Raju also loved his village a lot. It was his world, his homeland. The neighbouring villages often fight with each other on small issues. Everyone took pride and was ready to die for their motherland. Sometimes there were minor conflicts within the village as well, but those could easily be neglected. But when there was any fight with any other village the entire people would become united. Everyone forget their internal ego, the unnecessary small issues and fight together for their homeland. Raju grew up in such environment. In fact, he witnessed many such fights.

Raju studied at the only school in the village till 8th grade. Actually those days there was no option for the students after 8th grade. Based on the school teacher’s recommendation Raju’s father admitted him at a school in the nearby town. It was for the first time Raju had been to any town, even though it was just 70 km from their village. He studied hard and soon everyone at school started recognizing his talents. Gradually, Raju noticed some major changes. Life was quite different in the village. In the town life seemed to be busy. There were many schools and colleges. Everyone took pride for their institutes. In case of any conflict entire school/college would become united. Raju noticed that religious differences was more in the town. And whenever the prestige of the town was at stake, everyone would get emotional. People were ready to die for their homeland. 

Days passed by. Raju did very well in his higher secondary exams. He took admission at an engineering college in the city. Life was different there. People were more broadminded. Raju noticed that people usually don’t interfere with other’s life, everyone was busy with their own. Most of the issues were created by politicians. Issues based on religion, language, or race were more prominent. Time had really just flown by. Raju graduated. He then lived in many different cities of India, switched jobs. In all the cities life was more or less the same. Even though languages differ, but people are the same, emotional, sentimental. Politicians play the actual game. People take pride on their respective states. They wish and often demand to get preference in their respective regions. When critical situation would arise, people get very sentimental and ready to die of their region, their homeland. Also, all are patriotic towards their country.

Few years later Raju went to the US to pursue master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering.

Raju had lived a good life in the US. He studied hard. He always wanted to travel to the space. Life was different in the US. Clean and broad roads, excellent transportation systems, people seemed to be more educated and liberal. But then human beings are same everywhere, their basic nature remains the same. There also the politicians play the real game. People want to be superior to others. Everybody love to get preference. There also people are very patriotic for their motherland. Raju met many people who actually belong from rival countries, but he noticed them staying together, eat together, and they would laugh together. Sometimes Raju was confused, but then he would simply smile. 

After the master’s, Raju completed his PHD. He worked with NASA as a senior scientist. After several months of training finally it was time for him to fulfil his dream, to travel to the space. He travelled with two other astronauts. The space shuttle took them and cargo into the low Earth orbit. The mission was to do some maintenance activity at the space station. 

Raju was floating in space. He looked at the Earth below. It looked stunningly beautiful as sunlight reflected off of the oceans. Raju was mesmerised. He kept looking at the Earth, and was lost in nostalgia. 

He remembered his small village where he grew up. He recalled how people used to fight on small issues, smiling. He remembered the town where he did the later part of his schooling. He recalled all the cities and countries he lived. He wondered how people are so emotional about their respective homelands. He wondered how over the years the countries were formed, how the politicians play their tricks, how people fight in the name of religion or language or face. Everything felt so meaningless to him. Raju kept looking at the Earth, his home. Now, he understood the true meaning of homeland.

Grab a copy of my debut book Story of Tublu from Amazon or Flipkart. It is a Contemporary Fiction novel, published by LiFi Publications Pvt Ltd. The book has its share of drama, that entertains; humor, that makes one reminisce; love, friendship and emotions that defines the amazing journey that is, life.

Monday, 25 September 2017

One Memorable Train Journey from Pune to Bangalore

About a year after we got married, Anjali moved to Pune. She opted for a PG Diploma course in Emergency Medicine from Symbiosis University. Few of my good college buddies, Dhiru, Diganta and Saikat were in Pune those days. I and Anjali went to Pune, looked for a PG nearby the institute. Well, there were many options in that locality. Anjali liked one of them and paid the booking amount. The duration of the course was one year, and during that period I visited Pune about four to five times. On every occasion I stayed with Dhiru and Diganta, they both shared the same house those days. It was party time whenever I visited Pune. Reunion of old friends, Anjali also joined us in the evening after her classes were over. For the first time we traveled by bus, Volvo. It was pretty comfortable, Rs 1000/- per ticket, took 15 hours to reach Pune. They dropped us somewhere on Pune-Mumbai highway in the middle of the night. From there it was another 25-30 km to my friend’s place. We took an auto. On one occasion I took a train from Bangalore to Pune. Those were the days when Air Deccan entered the market and changed the dimension of aviation industry. It immediately became the pioneer of low-cost flights in India. Even average middle class people started to fly. One day I thought to give it a try and looked in the internet. Bangalore to Pune, Rs 1000/-, exactly same that of bus fare, but it would reach Pune in just one hour and 20 minutes. Also, my friends stayed very near to Pune airport.  

Anjali’s PG course was over. It was time for her to come back to Bangalore. Once again I traveled to Pune by Air Deccan. But the return journey I booked train tickets. Anjali had hell lot of luggage. It was actually much beyond my expectation, almost 100 kg I guess. We boarded our train in the morning. It was stationed on the platform. It came all the way from Mumbai, on its way to take us to Bangalore. We had to take a coolie. I also carried as much I could. The railway platform was crowded. We found our compartment. We somehow placed the luggage. There were many people sitting at our compartment, more than the number of berths. I was already tired, out of frustration I asked, “Itne saare log kaise baith gaye yahan pe?” (How come so many people occupied the seats here?)

All the men were in their middle age, one of them was quite tough looking. Couple of them replied in chorus, “We will get down at the next station.”

Suddenly a lean man grabbed my attention. He was at the window seat opposite to us. He was handcuffed, one hand locked to the window. Both I and Anjali felt weird. I thought the guy must have done something wrong in the train and the Railway police handcuffed him. Soon our conversation started with the co-passengers. They were all policemen. The handcuffed guy was actually a thief, laptop thief. He was from a village in Karnataka. The cops were taking him to Karnataka police to progress with the case, to catch hold of the entire gang. 

"Are you guys from Railway police?" I asked.

"No. No. We are Mumbai police," they replied in chorus. Proudness on their face.

In few minutes the train slowed down, and then stopped. Three of the fellow policemen got down at the very first station from Pune to Bangalore.  They said goodbye to us. All the cops were good friends. They shook hands, wished good luck. They were speaking in Marathi, but we were able to make out everything. Suddenly the train started with a jerk. So from here the real journey starts. I, Anjali, a handcuffed thief, and three policemen.

All the three policemen were very decent. One of them looked quite rough and tough, another a little short with big belly, and the last one looked normal. They seemed to be very friendly. Soon they opened a polythene bag. There were Vada pav inside, nicely packed. Well, Vada pav is a simple vegetarian fast food dish native to the state of Maharashtra in India. It's local Indian burger stuffed with deep fried potato along with coriander, onion, spices and chutney. It is immensely popular fast food dish all throughout Maharashtra. 

They offered us their food. Out of courtesy we were a bit reluctant to accept. But it wasn’t too hard for them to convince us. They also offered a Vada pav to the thief, in fact it was an order. The offender denied. The rough and tough policeman asked him one more time. Again the thief denied. The policeman slapped him hard 2-3 times. They bad guy immediately got hold of the Vada pav and put inside his mouth. Anjali was very shocked.

"Why are you beating him? He might not be hungry," Anjali looked sad.

"Sorry, I shouldn’t have beaten him in front of you. But you have no idea about such people. They are criminals. They have no heart, no emotion. The only think they understand is the stick. We caught him red handed with three stolen laptops in Mumbai. We immediately arrested him. For the first two days he spoke only in Kannada. We were so frustrated. We then applied little dose, and pretty soon few Hindi words uttered from his mouth. We increased the dose, and few more Hindi words came out. In the next few hours as the dose kept increasing he became more and more fluent in Hindi. There is no other way to deal with such people," the policeman explained in details.

Time spent well. Interesting conversation. I asked how they catch the criminals, how they get the leads? They shared few of their stories. In between, our discussion turned to a different direction. Anjali asked their names. One of the policeman, the fat one was very proud of his surname. 

"I’m Rajput. You guys know Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, right? He’s also a Rajput," The man’s proudness showed up.

Then Anjali popped in. She was also very happy. "Yes, we are also Rajput," She said. They asked her name, and the Rajput thing continued for a while. 

"So, are you also a Rajput?" One of them asked me. I was a bit confused. 

"Yeah. Like that only, not very sure," I murmured.  

"What is your name?"

"Jahid. Jahid Akhtar," I replied.

There was a silence for a while. And then things turned back to normal. 

Time passed by. Darkness fell. Stars shinning in the sky. Evening is the best time when we travel in sleeper class. Pleasant breeze. Open sky. The typical train sound effect, so soothing.

"So what are you guys planning to do? How are you going to catch all the gang members?" I asked. 

"Tomorrow morning we need to go to Madivala Police station in Bangalore. We need to submit an application to request extension of his remand for seven more days to gather more information from him," one of the policeman answered.

"But aren’t the Bangalore police going to help you guys? You are only three policemen, and you don’t even know the locality well," I expressed my concern.

The cops looked at each other, smiled. "These interstate investigation cases are kind of complex. They help eventually, but it takes time. There are lot of formalities. For high priority cases the procedure is fast. But for normal cases it’s not that easy. Few years ago our team leader, the policeman pointed his finger towards the fat guy, tried to pull his legs. So, two-three years ago our team leader visited Bangalore for an investigation. He was at the police station for the entire day, and only the next morning his application was accepted. The major problem is that Bangalore police speak only in Kannada or English. Actually, our English is a bit poor," The policeman shared their worry.

Later the cops asked if we could help them in writing the application for them. Anjali was eager to help. They gave the content and she drafted it. They were so happy, felt pretty relaxed. After dinner, the lights were turned off. Everyone went to sleep. The windows were open. I kept looking at the dark sky.

In the morning we reached Bangalore. The policemen thanked us. They gave us their numbers. 

"If you guys come to Mumbai or Pune, and if you are in any kind of trouble, just call us," the policemen expressed their friendship. We were so happy, smiled, "Sure, that’s so nice of you."

Grab a copy of my debut book Story of Tublu from Amazon or Flipkart. It is a Contemporary Fiction novel, published by LiFi Publications Pvt Ltd. The book has its share of drama, that entertains; humor, that makes one reminisce; love, friendship and emotions that defines the amazing journey that is, life.

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