Vantage point

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mhais by P.L. "PuLa" Deshpande Part 2

continued from Part 1

Madhu might have continued in this sanctimonious vein for a lot longer, but someone shouted,

"Look look! The cops are coming!"

And both groups turned their gaze towards that direction. Two-three people were walking towards us about a quarter mile away.

Meanwhile an ST bus headed to Chiplun stopped near us. The driver of that bus started talking with our driver. As we all know that there is a law in nature that if two bus drivers or two truck drivers, when they converge at one point coming from opposite directions... and yes, two ants as well, they have to stop for a little while and mutter something to each other. Who knows what they talk about? They probably warn each other about the presence of cops in either direction. Anyway, our driver sent a message with the other driver for the ST folks in Chiplun to send another bus while this Mhais issue was being sorted out.

By then, the three people finally reached the spot. It was difficult to figure out exactly who among them, if any, were cops. So assuming that the most confident looking of the three might be a cop, the khadi politician stepped forward, and politely said to him,

"He-he. Hmm.." he smiled, "I was saying... please get done with the FIR quickly, if it isn't too much trouble, and free us from this predicament."

"Why are you telling me that?" the guy growled back, "Tell this guy. He is the cop. I have been through enough trouble hunting cops. I went to the outpost, and there wasn't a single constable to be found. No inspector around either. Fortunately I found this Orderly, so got him along."

So the villagers turned towards the Orderly and paid their respects. It was around noon, and yet the Orderly's eyes seemed heavy with lethargy, as if just woken up. Looking at his face, many of us thought that he either didn't get enough winks last night, or got more than enough drinks last night. Without any concern of splattering anyone, he spat out a quart or so of paan-juice in front of him, and in a voice as heavy as his eyes, he fired of the first official question,

"Who is the diver(sic)?"

The driver stepped forward.

"Let's see your lie-sun". The driver handed over his 'lie-sun'.

The Orderly started examining the license in a manner resembling a rookie astrologer examining his first horoscope. Other curious people also crowded around the Orderly and peered over his shoulder, muttering "Yes yes, let's see the license." Now what's so visually appealing about a license that everyone rushed to see it? Nothing. But still, a bunch of people almost mobbed the orderly.

That's when a passing truck stopped. It's driver, a Sardarji, got down and got himself abreast of the whole situation. And then said at the top of his voice,

"Even if a man dies, no one gets too bothered these days. What's the big deal if a bhains is dying? Just work something out amongst yourselves, all of you", and with that unsolicited and useless bit of advice, went on his way, his tailpipe firing a healthy amount of black smoke in our direction.

"What's your name?" the Orderly asked our driver.

"It's written on the license there," Madhu interjected "Shivram Govind."

"Sir, you all please don't come in between. I am talking to the diver."

"But I don't see the point in asking him his name again, after reading it on his license.." Madhu started arguing.

"Listen. Let me follow our due process" the Orderly said and in a sterner voice continued, "DON'T INTERFERE!!!"

Madhu shrank away a bit due to the gruff police-y scolding. Luckily the almost-petite girl was not nearby. But he regained his composure in a few seconds and said with barely concealed hubris,

"Heh.. heh... just admit that you can't read English."

"What I can read and can't read is my personal matter, UNDERSTAND?? I don't like wise guys, I warn you." the barb about English had clearly hit a sore spot. Because he then spat out some paan-juice with such force, it could have easily qualified him for the finals of a paan-juice-spitting event at the Olympics.

"Hey Shivram Govind" the Orderly said wiping his lips, "tell me your name."

"The same, the same", said the driver.

"What's same?" the Orderly thundered.

"Shivram Govind"

"So give a straight answer. Don't be a wiseguy. Address?"

"Parve Chawl, Chimji Bhomji Street, Bombay 10" the driver answered straight.

"But Orderly-saab" another passenger interjected, "Why don't you quickly do the FIR instead of talking to the driver? We have been stranded here for over three hours now."

"Sir, I told you before," the Orderly replied, "Let me follow our due process."

"But what the hell? We are being fried in this sun." Usman Bhai now jumped into the fray, "There isn't even any milk for our kids. What sort of a village is this? No milk, even??"

"Where will the milk come from if you ST people go around killing all our mhais?" a long-awaited contribution from the villager camp.

"Nonsense!" Usman Bhai turned towards him "Tell me, how many dozen mhais did we kill of your? How many dozen? Orderly-saab, you conduct the inquiry for the FIR, write down whatever you have to on a paper, and set us poor passengers free. Eh? What do you say, folks? Am I not right? This whole damn delay since the morning."

"Hey, did I cause the delay?" the Orderly said.

"When did we say you caused the delay? We're not stupid, you know" another passenger piped up. The fear of police was clearly subsiding. The way those frogs in one of Aesop's fables started hopping on a log after they stopped fearing it, passengers started hopping around the Orderly.

"But still what is this? It took more than three hours after the accident for the police to show up. How professional and inefficient! But of course when it comes to extorting money from the public..."

"Don't talk too much rot about us I warn you!!!" the Orderly shouted.

"But why not?" Madhu eased back into the passengers camp. "Why not? Why were the no cops at the site of an accident? Do you need engraved invitations to come? This is an accident, not someone's wedding reception that someone needs to invite you to come over."

"What am I, some sort of God to know what's happening everywhere? Was I supposed to get some vision that you folks were going to kill a mhais?" the Orderly responded.

"We didn't kill the mhais."

"Your ST killed it."

"Our ST????" the teacher entered the ring, "Our ST??? Tell me, if a mhais strolls in front of a speeding bus, then what do you expect? That it will give milk instead of dying?" As clear as dictation.

"Acually, it's not the driver's fault" another passenger said, "It's the mhais' fault."

"Yeah right. The mhais is supposed to have brains?" a villager shot back.

"The mhais might not have any, but don't you people have brains? Why do you leave them open like this outside their stables?"

"Then where will they graze? Tell me, where will they graze? Just because you folks are from Mumbai, you think you can get away with spouting any nonsense?"

"Hmm... who is the owner of the Mhais?", the Orderly asked. The owner stepped forward. "Your name?"

"Dharma Mandavkar"

"Father's name?"

"Yeshya, deceased." Dharma must have some experience with court cases and such, because he seemed to know exactly when to use terms like 'deceased'.

"Orderly-saab, start the FIR, please." another passenger joined the chorus.

"Sir, let me follow our due process. Don't interrupt me all the time. OK, listen, you, Mandavkaree."

"His name isn't Mandavkaree, it's Mandavkar" a passenger added helpfully.

"YOU PASSENGER FOLKS, GET AWAY FROM ME AND STAND THERE!!!" the Orderly raised his voice to newer high.

"OK, OK, we'll get away, but please, free us from this mess."

"That'll take time." the Orderly said.

"Take time? Why? You have all the papers and forms with you. Just take down all the statements and finish the FIR."

"I don't have authority." the Orderly said.

"You don't have authority? So you're not police?"

"Not police? Then what am I, a thief?"

"Then why don't you start the FIR?"

"I don't have authority"

"So who has authority?"

"Our sub-inspector."

"So why didn't you get him along? Did you come to check the mhais' pulse?" people were getting angrier by the minute. "So no FIR until the sub-inspector comes?"

"No" said the Orderly.

"So when will he get here?"

"He's gone to Chiplun."

"So we have to sit around in this sun until he comes back from Chiplun?" a passenger said. "That's horrible. Listen, driver, I tell you, put the bus in reverse, back up, and let's get going. Let's see what happens. If some complication arises, take down our names and addresses and we'll help you out. Come on folks!"

Passengers started climbing back on the bus. But the driver was sitting where he was. Calmly, he took out two cigarettes from his pocket. Lit one for himself, and passed the second one to the conductor.

"Come on, driver. We told you we'll bear the responsibility. Come on!"

"Come on? What come on?" the driver answered, "My license is still in his hand." Realizing the futility of the situation, the passengers got down from the bus again.

"Hmmm.. what time did the accident happen?" the Orderly asked the driver. But a passenger jumped in before the driver could answer.

"Why are you asking useless questions if you have no authority? Idiot! Tell you what, go back to your outpost and take a nap until the sub-inspector returns."

The passengers had now fully resigned themselves to the circumstances. Cigarettes and snacks started being passed around. And a few groups of people sat around shooting the breeze, waiting for their fate to rescue them. Madhu meanwhile introduced himself to the almost-pretty almost-petite girl's father and struck up a conversation.

"Seriously, the Honors course is so difficult. And professors these days don't have any knowledge. Furthermore...." he continued dispensing his spiel.

Bagunana, meanwhile kept moving from group to group, sampling all the foods, and made sure his lunch was taken care of without spending a penny. As he eyed the omelettes in Usman Bhai's aluminum lunch box, he said,

"Say what you will, Usman Bhai, I believe all religions are equally correct and pious.... pass some of that omelette, will you?", and he slipped away to appropriate some curd-rice from the teacher.

People had settled down comfortably as if they would be staying for a week. The Orderly had also by now assimilated in the group, and was smoking a cigarette borrowed from someone. Another couple of hours passed in this lethargic mode. And finally there was a noise of a vehicle horn. An official-looking pick-up van was motoring towards us.

"Looks like the real cops are here now!" someone said. And everyone ran towards the road once again. The van reached the accident spot. A couple of ST officials, an inspector, a constable and a veterinary doctor trooped out of it. The Orderly swooped in and smarty saluted the inspector. And the ST officials started talking to the driver and the conductor.

As soon as they saw the inspector, all the leading lights of the passenger camp, like Usman Bhai, khadi politician, Madhu Manushte, Teacher, Bagunana, etc. forged ahead. Leading the way, Madhu Manushte. He reached the inspector, and said to him in chaste English,

"You see, you see, sir. You see, we have been held up here, you see, for more than half past six hours, you see.", a nice missile of Bombay English fired at the inspector. The inspector however, clearly unimpressed, brushed him aside like a fly, and said in his truly stern police-y voice,

"Where is the driver?". The driver stepped ahead.

"License?" the Orderly handed over the license.

With the license in his hand, the inspector, accompanied by the ST officials, the driver, mandavkar, passenger leaders, other villagers, led somewhat of a procession towards the mhais.

"Get the measuring tape out." the inspector commanded, and the constable produced a tape. "OK, where did the mhais come in front of the bus?"

"Sir, I'll tell you, I'll tell you", one villager chirped.

"Shut up! You, driver, Shivram Govind, tell me, where did the mhais come in front of your bus?" the inspector was taking charge.

"Sir, I swear, I was going at barely twenty. When my bus was near that mango tree, the mhais which was on the side, suddenly walked on to the road." Without anyone telling him to do so, the constable ran towards the mango tree with his measuring tape. The orderly took the other end of the tape and started measuring the distance till the mhais.

Now the measuring tape turned out to be so ancient and jaded, that neither of them could make out the numbers on it. So the same distance was recorded at different occasions as anywhere from 100 yards to 25 feet. Finally, they gave up on the tape and the language of 50 paces, 10 paces, and so on was adopted. Then the two obsessively just kept measuring any distance they possible could.

"You two, find out where the brake was pressed. Find the marks." the inspector said to them. Then he turned to the vet and said, "Doctor, take a look at the mhais' wounds."

One of the ST officials started examining the bus' wounds, and the vet started examining the mhais' wounds.

"Any broken bones?" the inspector asked.

"Tough to say for sure," the vet replied "we'll have to get an X-ray taken."

"Oh wow!" khadi politician said in astonishment, "They can get X-rays for a mhais too, nowadays? It wasn't so in the old days. In fact before independence....", and GO! He started with his stock speech about the days before independence, and independence itself. He captured half a dozen folks and made them listen to everything he had so say.

Meanwhile the inspector, with the rest of the procession, started walking towards the brake marks. He stopped in between, and said,

"Ah. I see there's a lot of blood at this spot. But why here, and not there..."

"Blood?" the Teacher derisively said. "What blood? Your stupid Orderly has been spitting paan-juice all over the place. Manner-less fellow! Some drops even messed up my dhoti.", and then as if introducing evidence in court, he held up a corner of his dhoti and showed everyone the stains. The Orderly suddenly thought of measuring some other distance and exited the procession.

"Where's the animal's owner?" the inspector asked, and the owner stepped forward. "What's your name?"

"Dharma Mandavkar, Golmirey village, Chilpun taluka, Ratnagiri district, age 40, profession farmer." Dharma said the whole thing in a single breath, as if out of experience.

"I see. Did anyone witness the accident?"

"Sir, I'll tell you." the geriatric villager stepped forward. "Well...what happened.... what happened..."

"You tell me what happened. What can I tell you?" the inspector said impatiently.

"Yes yes, telling you. So sir... what happened...what happened was.."

The inspector sharply drew his breath with irritation, and the old man got to the point. Well, what he thought was the point.

"I was at Jilgya Maslekar's place. And I chewed some tobacco. Yes? And I had left his place to go. Yes?"

"And then?"

"Yes, yes, telling"

"Dada, you wait." he was interrupted by Supdu Sutaar, the village carpenter who had been silent so far. "I'll tell him. Sir, I saw the accident live-ly. Saw it live-ly."

"Alright, you saw it live-ly? Then tell me what you saw live-ly." the inspector turned to him.

"What happened, Sir, was, I chewed some tobacco, but at Zaglya's place, not Jilgya's..."

"You also chewed tobacco? Excellent!" the inspector thundered, "What does that have to do with anything? Get to the point!"

"Yes, yes, but let me finish what I... if you don't believe me, wait, Zaglya, did I chew tobacco at your place or not?". Zaglya answered in the affirmative. "See, I told you, Sir, I chewed tobacco. And then I was going... where?"

"How the hell should I know where?" the inspectors' annoyance was boiling over by now. "You tell me where you were going."

"I was going to Harchand Palav's place. Come here, Harchand." and Harchand stepped forward. "I was going to his place to fix his cupboard."

"But the cupbo..." the inspector tried to get a word in.

"Yes, just listen. Now, Sir, why did I go to Harchand Palav's place?"

"How would I know?"

"To fix his cupboard!"

"But what does that have to do with the mhais? Was the mhais inside the cupboard?"

"No. But what am I telling you? Listen. What happened to the mhais was...." Supdu showed some promising signs of getting back on track but veered away again, "All the hinges on Harchand Palav's cupboard were completely rusted and useless. Am I right, Harchand? Weren't they completely rusted? Tell him?"

"What does him telling me have anything to do with it? Tell me about the mhais." the inspector was at the end of his tether by now.

"Yes, so what I am saying is.... Harchand.."

"Harchand, you tell me what happened." the inspector turned to Harchand.

"OK, what happened Sir.." Harchand said.

"Just tell me what happened with mhais!!!" the inspector nearly exploded.

"What happened was... that thing, that thing was somewhat at the bottom, and that other thing was on top." Harchand helpfully added.

"What was at the bottom? What was on top?"

"I mean Dharma's mhais was at the bottom and the ST was on top."

"So did you or did you not see the actual accident happening?" the inspector wearily asked.

"Me? Who me? No, no, no, no!" Harchand replied. "I didn't see it happening. Why would I lie, Sir? I don't like lying. I just told you what I saw."

"Please, for god's sake, did anyone actually see the bus hitting the Mhais?" the inspector was now close to tears and decided to try another approach, "Who was in the front seat?"

"Heh, that was me. Me." the politician stepped forward.

"Your name?" the inspector asked.

"Babasaheb More." As soon as he heard the name Babasaheb More, the inspector's attitude completely changed.

"Oh, sorry, sorry. I didn't realize it was you, Sir." he said submissively, "You have seen, Sir, how sincerely I am conducting this investigation. But no one is cooperating at all. But how're you doing, Sir? Headed to Mumbai?"

"Yes. There's a meeting in the Chief Minister's office. Going for that. So you are posted at Chiplun these days?"

"Yes, Sir. Was transferred from Vengurla. I am sorry for all this inconvenience to you, Sir. Constable, get the register."

The constable immediately produced the register. He wrote down Babasaheb's statement about how it was the fault of the mhais and not the driver. The inspector started writing the FIR. Meanwhile the ST official offered the inspector a cigarette. With one eye on Babasaheb, he said,

"No, thanks. I don't smoke or drink."

"That's very commendable" Babasaheb beamed approvingly, " It is so rare to find such simple and virtuous men in the police force these days." effectively, a character certificate for the inspector.

This unexpected turn of events had suddenly raised Babasaheb's stock with all of us. The driver was looking at him with gratitude in his eyes. Dharma Mandavkar had stepped away and was standing there meekly. The inspector asked him,

"How much did you buy the mhais for?"

"Two hundred rupees." he quietly answered.

"Hah, now it's two hundred?" a passenger jumped in. "A while back he was saying eight hundred. Such a blatant lie. What a liar this man is. And said the mhais gave 15 litres of milk. Hmpf!"

The inspector writing down the whole FIR at an amazing pace. He asked the vet,

"Doctor, did you examine the wounds? Did the wheels go over the mhais?"

"No way to say for sure." he replied.

"So it's most likely that the wheels did not do over the mhais?" the inspector prompted.

"Yes, yes, most likely. Most likely the mhais just has bruises." the vet caught on fast.

"Hmm.. so why did you people not put some sort of oil or something on the bruises?" the inspector asked Dharma.

"But what about my compensation? Who will pay for it?" Dharma mustered up some courage.

"You see, Babasaheb. Your voters are becoming more aware and assertive now, like the voters in a free country should." the inspector made a feeble attempt to banter, and everyone from Babasaheb onwards laughed heartily. "Alright, who else witnessed the accident? Did you?"

"Me?" Usman Bhai who had been asked the question gave a start. "No, no. I did not actually witness it. When the brakes were slammed, I fell on top of our Idrus Miyaan. And his glasses fell down. This is Idrus Miyaan, my son-in-law. Come here, Idrus. He works in Africa. And that there is my girl. And with her is my girl's girl. She is six months old. The girl's girl, I mean. Not the girl..."

"What's all this girl girl girl?" the inspector interrupted him. "Tell me about the mhais."

"Yes, yes. So the brakes were slammed, we all fell on top of each other. And the bus came to a halt. Babasaheb was sitting in front. He shouted "Mhais, Mhais!" and we got down and saw it was indeed a mhais mhais. That a mhais had come under the bus..."

That's when Babasaheb discreetly tugged at Usman Bhai's shirt, and Usman Bhai got the message and said,

"... but one thing is for sure. The bus wasn't really going very fast. What could the driver do if the mhais came in front? Everyone should take care of their own cattle, right, Sir?"

After an hour of this farce, the FIR was finally finished. The inspector read it out aloud, and asked many of us to sign it. We signed it, but didn't quite understand how a lot of details in the FIR were relevant to the accident.

For instance, there is a blackberry tree about 50 paces away from the site of accident, and a mango tree to the south-west, the total number of passengers and their luggage, Dharma Mandavkar's barn is 61 paces from the highway... and so on.

However, the mhais' wounds were described perfunctorily - it appears as if there might have been bleeding, it does not appear as if there are any broken bones, the mhais was walking from the east towards the north east, one horn of the mhais is 2.25 inches longer than the other (the constable had originally written 2.25 yards), and so on.

The whole FIR was filled with such bizarre details. It was read out aloud, signed by us. The teacher, before signing it asked around at least half a dozen time "my signing this won't lead to any complications for me, right?", and after being re-assured, signed it timidly and passed it on. Usman Bhai signed it in urdu. Madhu Manushte... well.. this was the first FIR of his life. So he put down a long and elaborate signature in english, and as a suffix added, "Junior, B.A.".

Bagunana, when summoned, got up from his place, said, "I should sign it? of course, I will!", scribbled something extremely illegible, and went back and said to Jhampya Damle "Heh, You know what name I signed? Nana Phadnavis!" Babasaheb of course ensured that here too, his name was first.

Finally all the signatures were done, and the FIR was officially finished. he passengers breathed a big sigh of relief. The next big question was picking up the mhais from the front of the bus. But it was possible to put the bus in reverse, back up, and then get going, so passengers thought that question was up to the mhais and the villagers. Everyone started climbing aboard the bus, keen to get going after almost half a day's delay. The villagers went to remove the cots from around the mhais. That's when we heard the cry once again,

"Mhais! Mhais! Mhais!!!!"

All of us ran down to see what had gone wrong now. The four cots had been knocked down. And as it happened, the heroine of this whole saga, probably unwilling to disturb all us important people busy with the FIR, had finished her nap, gotten up, and ambled away on her four feet a long time ago.


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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Mhais by P.L. "PuLa" Deshpande Part 1

Previous PuLa translations -

My Newfound Spirituality
Mi Ani Mazha Shatrupaksha
Chitale Master
Sakharam Gatne, Part 2
Mumbaikar and Punekar, Nagpurkar
Travel Preparations from Apurvai
Bhau, what is alcohol, bhau?

This is a short story by PuLa called Mhais. My ballsiest translation attempt yet, because this is one of everyone's favorite PuLa stories, and even the idea of translating it might impossible and absurd. I feel a bit like Zack Snyder :). But anyway, here goes.

Mhais is the marathi word for buffalo, and as you read the story, you will realize why it plays a central role. PuLa’s actual verbal recitation of this story is arguably his best one, because of all the regional dialects he managed to mimic. Plus the story has a lot of characters and he was able to voice their moods and states of mind perfectly. Needless to say, a lot is lost in translation. But this is one of my favourite stories, so over the last few weeks I have been translating it bit-by-bit. By the way, I retained the word “mhais” instead of using the English word, because Mhais without mhais is just not Mhais, if you know what I mean.

This incident happened towards the fag end of May in the 5 a.m. Ratnagiri-Mumbai State Transport (ST) bus. The 5 a.m. bus started right on time at 5 a.m. By that I mean the engine started making noises right on time. But by the time it completed its teething pains and reached the highway, it was 7 a.m. Usually this distance can be covered in 7 minutes. Individual differences within passengers, and then passengers’ collective differences with the ST made sure that the first half an hour was filled with a lot of absorbing arguments.

Meanwhile I was getting extremely jealous of the passenger sitting next to me. Right from the moment he took his seat, he had managed to convince himself without a shred of doubt that my left shoulder was a complimentary pillow offered to him by the ST. Finally at 6:30 a.m. when the bus finally got going with a loud rumble of the engine, he woke up with a start and said to no one in particular in a very annoyed voice,

“Damn it! Just leave me alone and go to sleep, honey!”

Man is a creature of habit after all. After this puzzling utterance, he looked around for a few seconds, and went back to sleep with his head on my shoulder. While my left shoulder had been occupied by this creature, a hand was resting on my right shoulder. Assuming that it belonged to the guy on my right, I gave him a few dirty looks. But both his hands were busy holding to a jar of pickles in his lap. Then how did he sprout a third hand? I made some futile attempts to crane my neck and solve this mystery, and then gave up.

An entire family had taken refuge at my feet. The breadwinner of the family had placed both his hands on my thighs with his palms outstretched. And the homemaker was efficiently ensuring that the crying of the kid in her lap kept growing louder by the moment. They had placed a long broomstick between my legs and swept away any objections I raised about its obtrusiveness towards my nose. A while later I came to know that the esteemed homemaker had a tendency to throw up in buses. So I sat there praying that I would not in the trajectory of any projectiles that may emanate from her mouth.

Every few moments, detailed awareness of the bumps and potholes in the road was being felt in that part of the body where it should not have been felt. Even in this uncomfortable position I could not help thinking up a metaphor for the bus – that of a huge and speedy dumpling stuffed with the spicy mix of people and luggage.

In all this commotion, it would have been a miracle if the bus conductor had actually NOT messed up his calculations about the money. He tried to count the number of people in the bus a few times, and then gave up. Some khaki-clad ST employees gathered around to assist him in his book-keeping. And after a lot of investigation, it was revealed that one gentleman had bought a children’s ticket for himself. That led to a bit of feuding between the parties involved…. and feuding full of more than a few F’s and U’s and a lot of words that would have been dinged out if broadcast on the radio.

Right then, the bell in the bus went ding. The engine roared briefly, made a few demurring noises, and went silent. It kicked back into life and vibrated for some good measure. The engine displayed an admirable ability to produce a wide array of sounds. It would whistle and hum. It would screech and coo. At one point of time, I am pretty sure I heard the engine perform the start of Beethoven’s fifth – gn-gn-gngnnnn…gn-gn-gnnnnn…..gngngngngngngnnnnn…gngngngngngnnn..gnnngngngnn… gngngnnnn..gnnngnn….HISSSSSSSSSS…. shutting down right at the crescendo.

“Such problems never happened when the Brits were running things,” one man opined loudly. And that lead to a panel discussion of the merits and demerits of Indian independence vis-à-vis the public transport system. A man dressed in khadi took it upon himself to chair the discussion, without any requests to do so.

The discussion continued regardless of the engine’s cacophony. Speaking of cacophony, remember the man sleeping on my left shoulder? He had now started snoring in a rhythm not very dissimilar to the engine. Of course, everyone was sleepy. The bus was scheduled to leave at 5 a.m. so everyone had woken up at an ungodly hour and gotten ready. So the content of the majority’s complaints was not that the bus had been delayed, but that they could have slept for 10 minutes at home.

Meanwhile, the panel discussion petered out and the moderator, i.e. the khadi clad man, took a book out of his jute bag and started pretending to read. He was seated on the conductor’s reserved seat, so he started taking stock of the situation in an unreserved manner. Before we boarded the bus, a lot of the ST employees had politely shaken hands with him and had nicely offered him the conductor’s seat. Sharper tacks among the passengers had then realized that his khadi garb was capable of covering up a lot more than just his body.

Finally after about two hours of trials and tribulations, the engine confidently roared into life and the bus got going. And as crowded as the bus was, people settled down into their seats for the journey, and started accruing their overdue forty winks. Finally when the bus went past the Hatkhamba crossing and got on the highway headed towards Mumbai, the only awake person representing the passengers was me, and the only awake person representing the ST organization was the driver. The rest of that travelling ecosystem was fast asleep.

Even the manner of sleeping differed from person to person. Some people, due to the roads bumpiness were alternately nodding their heads as if to say “yes yes yes yes” and shaking their heads as if to say “no no no no”. In other words, not quite unlike India’s foreign policy….. ambiguous. Some people were just tasting their sleep. Others were swallowing their sleep. Some were sleeping with an obviously high amount of determination. Others, with their eyes open, were trying to summon back the sleep that had slipped away from them.

After a while, the smell of the jackfruits and mangoes people were carrying with them, assimilated with the stink of the dried fish others were carrying, and those two formed a formidable coalition with the aroma of the flowers stuck in the hair of female passengers, and a potent scent spread all over the bus, seemingly waking up most of us. Furthermore, the road from Ratnagiri to Mumbai has a lot of twists and turns, which makes sleeping in a practically suspension-less bus almost impossible. Our bus-world yawned and stretched into life. Hard candy, chips, chocolates and other snacks started changing hands.

Now let me update you on the dramatic personae of this epic tale. The khadi-clad politician had also caught up on his sleep, and he buried his head into a thick tome. Sitting in front of me was a buttoned down shirt, and next to it a Chinese collar kurta. Next to the kurta was an almost-pretty almost-petite young woman. Her family was probably taking her to Mumbai to meet prospective grooms. Next to them was Usman Bhai and his “phemilee”, i.e. his daughter and son-in-law who had come to visit him for the summer. Usman Bhai was going with them to Mumbai to keep them company. Next to them was young Madhu Manushtey, a guy who seemed like the dictionary entry for “whippersnapper”. He was going back after his college vacations to Mumbai to start the next semester. And most of the other people were workers, clerks and other assorted salaried class types who had just used up their quota of leaves, and were returning to Mumbai with their wife and kids.

I, on the other hand was returning to Mumbai, as usual wondering “why the hell did I come here?”. While going to Konkan, “why the hell am I going there?” and while returning from Konkan, “why the hell did I come here?”; apart from these two, I find it difficult to have any other thoughts during my Konkan visits. Anyway, the whole bus was now more or less awake. Even my left shoulder had been vacated by occupying forces.

And suddenly I heard, “Mhais, mhais mhais!!!!!!!!”, people were yelling the same thing in different voices from the front of the bus. Immediately after that, a sound that the letters from A to Z are incapable to describing – the sound of brakes being slammed very hard. And holding on dearly their noses and their lives, fifty or so men, women, children, and their trunks, suitcases, barrels, bed-sets, jackfruits, mangoes, brooms, ropes, tools,….. and an infinite number of purses… were rudely displaced from their respective locations. After that, you can imagine the scene. Some had their hands around someone else’s necks and shoulders, others had landed at someone else’s feets or laps. A few seconds passed in these rather unorthodox poses and positions, before everyone restored their dignities. And after a few more seconds, we all had a collective epiphany – a mhais had been run over by the wheels of our bus.

The driver had already jumped down from the bus. A lot of passengers also started rushing outside through the back door. A big crowd of passengers started heading towards the front wheels of the bus where the mhais was. Suddenly, a group of about a dozen or so women from the nearby fields gathered around the mhais with their few dozen children, and they all started wailing at the top of their voices. The mob around the mhais was so big, that I couldn’t quite gauge the precise nature of the relationship that had formed between the mhais and the bus’ wheels.

In all that commotion, I was still able to sneak a peek at the face of the mhais. It seemed like she was trying to come to terms with all the wailing and crying that was going on around her. Plus she was nodding her head once in a while. You know connoisseurs at a concert or an opera nod their head in appreciation when the singer performs a particularly admirable vocal feat? It seemed as if the mhais too was periodically expressing its admiration whenever one of the ladies or the children let out a particularly amazing cry.

As I craned my neck a bit more, I saw a stream of blood flowing from the side of the mhais’ back. Which disconcerted me a little. The sight of blood makes me feel like I am going to faint. Even the blood from a swatted mosquito is enough to make me dizzy… and here was an entire mhais! Of course, I wasn’t the only one squeamish about blood. Because I wasn’t the only one from the bus who first ran enthusiastically towards the front wheels of the bus, and then made a swift retreat at the sight of the mhais.

In about five minutes or so, the number of voices in the crying chorus started dwindling. When the accident happened, all these ladies had for some reason assumed that it was their mhais that had been hit by the bus, and started bawling. As they took a closer look, the ladies started realizing one by one that the mhais didn’t belong to them, so they got up and went back to whatever they were doing. Pretty soon, not a single crying lady was there at the scene.

Then the driver, conductor, khadi-clad politician, and other enterprising passengers surged ahead for closer scrutiny. They crowded around the mhais and started examining the scene.

“The mhais is still alive!” came the first update.

Then suddenly some of then started yelling, “Water! Water! Get some water!”

A gentleman who worked in an American company in Mumbai offered his thermos. For some reason, this man had made sure that he had informed everyone on the bus that he works in an “American company”. As he started advancing towards the mhais with his thermos, one guy stopped him and said,

“Heh. Just this much water? What good is that to this huge animal? Hehehe!”, and promptly chugged down just this much water himself.

“Your thermos is really good, by the way” he further added. “Must be American!” came his backhanded compliment.

The driver and conductor realizing there wasn’t much they could do but wait, ambled away to a corner and lit their cigarettes. Meanwhile passengers started splashing water on the mhais. And boy, did they splash! They splashed so much water, that if the passengers hadn’t decided to keep some of the water for their remaining journey and stopped, then the cause of death for the mhais in the autopsy would not have been “hit by a bus”, but rather, “drowning”.

After a while, the animal’s actual owner reached the site with his wife. The bawling started once again.

“Oh my chandi… my poor chandi… used to give 10 liters of milk everyday!”

10 litres? Buffalos are known to be very productive of course. But considering that this mhais was from Konkan, my guess is that the figure 10 litres probably referred to the sum total of all the milk she had given in her lifetime.

Now everyone gathered around the owner and his wife. The buttoned down shirt from the bus turned out to be a doctor. He started suggesting medicine for the mhais’ wounds.

“Hmpf! I won’t let anyone touch her!” the owner roared. “Let the police come and then we’ll see what to do about this.”


None of the passengers had thought about this possibility.

“Yes yes. That’s right. That’s right. It’s an ak-shi-den. Unless the police come and an FIR is filed, nothing can be done when there’s an ak-shi-den.” said a jacket with a black cap.

Police.. FIR.. as these known terms started making rounds, some experienced and perspicacious passengers took down their bedding sets from the top of the bus. Walked over to an empty shed by the side of the road, and spread their mattresseses.

“Hmmm….Bagunana… we are assured of a 4 hour nap now, what do you say?” said Jhampya Damle as he languidly unfolded his body on the mattress.

“4 hours? Are you crazy, Jhampya? Remember, when the bus ran over a chicken last year near Hatkhamba, we were sitting around for 3 hours. A chicken! And here we have a full grown mhais. If a chicken took three hours, then a mhais will…? You do the math!” Bagunana said as he lay down, “We’ll be here till evening for sure.”

Meanwhile the sun was getting brighter, and people started looking for shade to take refuge in. Unknown people in an unknown place. Then some of them got together to look for water, cigarettes and snacks started changing hands. Everyone made themselves comfortable.

"You know, if the wound keeps bleeding like this, the mhais will die in about 15-20 minutes," Dr. Buttoned down shirt was trying to convince the politician.

"I don't care even if she dies," the owner overheard him and shouted, "but if I don't make the ST people regret this blunder of theirs, I won't go by the name Dharma Mandavkar again!"

Some new information for us all - the mhais owner's name was Dharma Mandavkar.

Suddenly, Usman Bhai caught hold of a kid, sent him up a blackberry tree nearby, and got a basketful of blackberries plucked. Then some clever passengers sent Usman Bhai up a gum tree, as the expression goes, and got their own tongues blackened. That lead to another panel discussion - this time on the medicinal value of blackberries. Chairing the discussion, who else, but the khadi politician. As soon as familiar words like diabetes, hypertension and so on started being bandied around, the doctor joined the panel.

"Eh? No no. What are you all talking about - blackberries and all? Nah, nothing in them." Doctor opened his mouth. So far it had been busy eating those blackberries.

For about five minutes or so, he delivered a jargon-filled and unintelligible monolgue, and the only useful information to come out of it was that he was a Doctor of Homoeopathy.

"Does your homoeopathy work on a mhais?" a curious mind asked.

"Don't be absurd. How can homoeopathy work on a mhais," came a dissenting voice from the corner.

"Why won't it work?" the curious mind bristled. "If it can work on humans, it must definitely work on mhais. You just need to follow the dietary restrictions sincerely, am I right, Doctor? But I must say, your homoeopathy's dietary restrictions are very hard to follow. What do you guys have against coffee?"

"Coffee has a toxin in it named tanin," said someone else, definitely a teacher. Because giving such an obviously wrong piece of information with suchunshakeable confidence is something only teachers can do. This was the same guy who used my shoulder like a pillow.

"Who told you coffee has tanin in it? That's not correct", the curious mind responded, "Coffee has coffin or something like that. Am I right, Doctor?"

The doctor spat out a blackberry seed and was about to say something when,

"What nonsense are you talking about?" the teacher now bristled, "Coffin? Coffin is the Christian peoples' funerary box!!"

The teacher said the words "funerary box" with such self-righteous emphasis, that it summarily ended the debate on what coffee exactly has in it.And people returned to the virtues to blackberries.

That's when we saw half a dozen men walking towards us with a few cots in their hands. None of us had expected the villagers' to be so kind and considerate to us stranded passengers that they would strive to make arrangements for us to not just sit, but also lie down and sleep.As soon as he saw this, the whippersnapper Madhu Manushte found his voice,

"In these thankless modern times, there only shreds of human kindness left are in villages." He had now gathered a small audience around him, among them the almost-pretty almost-petite girl and her father. That girl was, for no apparent reason, staring at Madhu while batting her eyelids at a faster pace than usual.That spurred Madhu on even more.

"Is that the tobacconist Manushte's kid?" Bagunana turned on his side, and asked Jhampya Damle sprawled next to him.

But Jhampya had fallen into a deep slumber by now. So some third guy piped up,

"Think so. Attends college in Mumbai I think"

"Tchah, nowadays even janitors go to college." Bagunana fired an unnecessarily catty salvo, and closed his eyes.

Meanwhile, as the villagers with the cots got closer to us, Madhu kept getting even more fired up.

"In today's world human beings have become so distant from each other. But that distance, that chasm is wholly absent in villages." he looked from one face to another in his audience, ending up at the almost-petitie girl's face. "You know what makes these villages special? They have hospitality. They have courtesy. And they have...."

Madhu wanted to say they have something else and complete a rhetorical trio, but could not think of a word that would fit. So he just cleared his throat for a long time, and joined the others in looking at the approaching cots.

But when the cot-carriers started walking, not towards the people gathered, but towards the mhais, everyone was taken aback. No one had thought that the human kindness in villages has evolved to such an extent that they would ensure a mhais' comfort by having her lie down on cots. So all passengers, curious to see how the villagers would pick up the mhais and put her on the cots, gathered around the bus once again.But we weren't really fortunate enough to see such a spectacle.

Instead the villagers put the cots up sideways, put blankets over them, and created a small canopy for the mhais. We were told that this whole effort had been made to make sure that the mhais isn't exposed to the harsh sun for too long, and that flies donn't have a go at her wounds.

After seeing the mhais so comfortably esconced in her lair, passengers again started discussing their own fate. Some of them turned to the driver and conductor.

"Umm... Mister... Mister Driver... Mister Driver... when will the bus get going again?"

"What can I do unless the mhais is moved?" he shot back curtly.

"I won't let anyone touch the Mhais!!" Dharma Mandavkar the owner yelled.

"So what are we supposed to do? Just sit around here baking in the sun?" one passenger yelled back.

"And if my mhais dies, then who will pay me the compensation for it? Tell me!" Dharma countered."The police will get here, file an FIR, and then we'll see what happens. What do you all say?" he turned to other villagers and asked. They all nodded and murmurred in support.

"But how will police come to a small village like this?" someone asked.

"There's a police outpost two kilometres from here." Dharma said.

"Why would there be police in the Post Office?" the teacher, obviously. Who else would ask a question like that?

"Huh! A post office is one thing and an outpost is another thing. City gentleman folks like you don't even know such a simple thing?" Dharma jabbed the teacher.

"But..but.." teacher went into face-saving mode, "how will the police know there's ben an accident here?"

"Arjuna has gone to call them." Dharma said.

"Arjuna! Tchahh! Why did you send Arjuna?" a geriatric villager whinged, "Useless bum! He'll sit there playing checkers with the cops."

"What could I do? No one else was willing to go?" Dharma complained, "What else should I do? Leave the mhais here and go myself?And if these people shrewdly move the mhais aside and get going, then what?"

"Yes yes, you are right," another villager jumped to his defence. "You can't trust these slimey ST people."

"Come on, be polite. We are good people." a passenger took offence.

"I am sorry sir, no offence but you really have no business saying anything here." Dharma said to him, "I have taken out a mortgage on this mhais. A bit mortgage. Hasn't even been six months. And now her neck bone is broken and..."

"No no, her neck bone isn't broken," another passenger hepfully interrupted, "A while back I saw her move her neck"

"That she might have moved a little out of habit." Dharma replied. "But that doesn't mean the bone isn't broken. The whole bus ran over her neck!"

"Mister, if the whole bus had run over her neck, the next would have snapped in two. What bullshit are you talking about?" The ever-intensifying sun and ever-intensifying hunger was now making the passengers even more frustrated. "The bumper hit the mhais slowly and she fell down, that's all. Minor injury. No broken bones or anything."

"If it's such a minor injury, why is she just lying there? Huh? Tell me!" another villager piped up, "I felt it with my own hands. Her backbone is completely shattered!"

"Eh? You are saying her back bone. This guy says her neckbone. Stick to one story." Now the passengers opened up a united front.

"So? If such a big bus hit her, you expect just one bone to be broken?" the villagers batallion fired back.

"But tell me, if so many of her bones are broken, won't the mhais be yelping in pain right now?" a passenger said.

"Maybe her tongue bone is broken too!" someone wisecracked. A titter of laughter in the passenger group.

"Don't crack jokes. This is serious." Dharma roared, "If it was your mhais, you would have understood. Poor thing, used to give 15 liters of milk everyday".

"Yeah right. When has a mhais from Konkan ever produced that much milk?" another passenger chimed in.

"It's a Kathiawari mhais" Dharma replied.

"Hahh! This scrawny thing and Kathiawari? What bull! Kathiawaris are much heftier than this. If a bus bumped into a Kathiawari, the bus would break, not the mhais." came the retort.

"This silly discussion has gone on long enough." one passenger took center stage. "Why wait for the police and lengthen it longer? I say, let's all chip in with donations of a few rupees and gather some money for her treatment. And we can be on our way."

As soon as he heard the word "donation", Jhampya Damle sprung up from his reverie and shouted,

"Donations? Why all these expenses? There's a government hospital for cattle at Chiplun. The mhais can be treated there. How far is Chiplun from here?"

"22 miles."

"Hmm, then let's put the mhais in a bullock cart and take her there." Jhampya continued to come up with ways to avoid parting with any money, "Or..or... put her on top of the bus and we'll take her there."

"But why? But why?" Madhu Manushte deserted the passenger ranks and joined the villagers, "You can not hoodwink them just because they are poor villagers. This man has suffered a damage. ST should compensate him for that."

"So until then, should we just sit around here?" a passenger asked.

'That's not any of the mhais owner's business. That is your own business. Your own." he said, again stealing a glance at the almost-petite one.

"But why do they let their mhais wander on to the road like that?"

"Hey, the road is public property, not your private one." Dharma said, "We'll let a mhais wander or a yak wander. Who the hell are you to push us around?"

"I admit that everyone is being very inconvenienced. But it is not right to look at individual conveniences and inconveniences at an occasion like this. Anf furthermore...."

Madhu might have continued in this sanctimonious vein for a lot longer, but someone shouted,

"Look look! The cops are coming!"

to be continued

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Review of Watchmen

I read some pretty rotten reviews of the movie before I went to watch it. Alan Moore had disowned the movie too. So I went to watch the movie with some rather low expectations. And I came out, well, not hating the movie, but with a bad taste in my mouth.

First up, the movie is pretty faithful to the novel. The ending has been changed somewhat, but only somewhat. The core message of the ending is still there. In fact, the movie ending seems slightly more palatable and "believable" than the squid-ish ending of the novel. But then I was never a big fan of the way the novel ended. In fact, what makes the novel so great is not the ending or the suspense, but the nuanced and deep portrayal of the superheroes. Their failings, their complexes and anxieties, the tensions in their relationships with others and themselves. Their own personal demons and triumphs. The way those characters resonated with the reader is what made Watchmen such a classic.

And the movie disappoints because, despite being largely faithful to the novel, it can not translate all that onto the silver screen. Despite using most of the same lines and visual settings as the comic, the movie instead just seems like "Just Another Superhero Movie". I am not completely sure why. One major possible reason is the performances. They are absolutely flat with the exception of Jackie Earle Haley, who does a perfect job playing Rorschach. But the other characters just don't manage to get you involved or invested in them.

All the other actors seem just that - actors playing their roles. Dressed up in spandex, reading lines from their scripts. This could partly be the director's fault too. I don't understand film-making enough to pinpoint exactly what went wrong, but something did. The situations and characters fail to convey the intensity or flavor in 3-dimensions that Moore and Gibbons managed to convey through drawings and lines. And shockingly enough, the film fails to do so even when it is line-by-line and frame-by-frame faithful to the book in some scenes.

One illustration of this is the scene in the first chapter of the novel. Rorschach has warned Dreiberg about a possible Mask-killer. Dreiberg then tells him to leave through a tunnel under his house, and tells him where it will take him.

Rorschach says, "Yes, I remember. Used to come here often. Back when we were partners."

Drieberg says, "Oh. Uh,..yeah yeah. Those were great time, Rorschach. Great times. Whatever happened to them?"

In the next panel, we see Rorschach walking into the tunnel as he says "You quit."

The next panel, without any words, shows Rorschach further down the tunnel as Dreiberg is just standing there with his head bowed. And the next panel shows Dreiberg sitting on a box near the stairs, despondent, with the smiley badge in one hand and his glasses in another, as his old Night Owl costume stands next to him. Awesome story-telling.

Now if I were to describe the scene from the movie, it would be exactly the same. Word-for-word and visual-for-visual same. And yet, the movie scene just does not convey Rorschach's matter-of-fact resentment and Dreiberg's helpless frustration and self-doubt in the same way the comic did.

And this happens at almost every key moment in the movie. The only exception I can think of is the "Excuse me. Have to visit the men's room" scene from when Dreiberg and Laurie are busting Rorschach out of prison. That was good! Added a third dimension to what Moore and Gibbons did.

But in the rest of the movie, the actors (except Haley) and the director seemed to be removing a dimension from the comic, and that is the movie's failing. That this happened despite being faithful to the novel (unlike V for Vendetta which the Wachowskis botched up by taking obscene liberties with the plot), is bizarrely tragic.

I was hoping this movie would be in the same category as the two other movies that I think added a dimension to the comic faithfully - Sin City and Ghost World. But it is not even close. Which reminds me. When will Rodriguez serve the next yummy helping of Sin City?

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bhau, What does alcohol mean, Bhau? by P.L. "PuLa" Deshpande

Have been too busy to translate one of PuLa's longer essays. So i thought I'd translate this funny bit from his Varyavarchi Varaat. It is about two kids discussing alcohol. The scene takes place when PuLa is the Chief Guest at some function in a school. "Bhau" means brother in marathi. It pokes fun at the lame-ass moralistic performances that school kids are forced to put on. The original is, of course, way better. Especially when performed by PuLa, talking like a little kid, sniffling and struggling through a supposedly runny nose. But even the script is cute enough to enjoy, even when translated.

After a while, it was time for the "entertaining and moralistic dialogs" by school kids. I have no idea who gets entertained or even moralized by those dialogs. But anyway, Master Kishore and Master Arun, ages respectively 8 years and 6 years, took the stage. To carry out the dialog that was entertaining and moralistic. I am sure the whole thing had probably been written by one of their teachers. The subject of that dialog was "Alcohol". This is how it went.

Arun: Bhau (brother), what does alcohol mean, Bhau?

Kishore: It is a type of beverage.

Arun: What does beverage mean, Bhau?

Kishore: Little brother, what we drink is called as a beverage.

Arun: What do we call what we eat then, Bhau?

Kishore: Tchah. You ask some really silly questions, little brother. Alcohol is a sort of an inkstocticating beverage.

Arun: So alcohol means milk, is that so, Bhau?

Kishore: Negative, little brother, negative. There is as much difference between milk and alcohol as between sky and land, little brother. Alcohol is a sort of an inkstocticating beverage.

Arun: What does inkstocticating mean, Bhau?

Kishore: When a person, after drinking it, ok, after drinking it, keps blabbering blabbering blabbering on and on and on, that is what is called inkstocticating, little brother.

Arun: So you mean our mother, Bhau?

Kishore: Negative, little brother, negative. I am telling you, alcohol is a sort of an inkstocticating beverage. When a man, after drinking it, ok, after drinking it, just keeps yelling expletives at others, and starts hitting people without reason, that is what is called inkstocticating, little brother.

Arun: So you mean our teacher, Bhau?

Kishore: Negative, little brother, absolutely negative! How should I now explain you this, little brother? I am very very... I am very very... nomplussed now. When a person, after drinking it ok, can not remember in the... in the afternoon what he said morning.. and who can not control anything he says, that is what is called inkstocticating. Ok?

Arun: Alright, Bhau. So you mean like our politicians, Bhau?

Kishore: Negative, negative! What can I do now? I have no way to explaining you. What can I do? Alcohol is an inkstocticating beverage. Some times it is like, you know, red in color. And often times also, it can be also golden in color. And soda can be put to it and dranked, alright?

Arun: Oh, so Bhau, why didn't you just say "whiskey", Bhau? Alcohol is whiskey?

Kishore: Huh? How do you know about whiskey, little brother?

Arun: Our father has a bottle of whiskey hidden in his closet. And often, he sends me to the shop to buy soda for him. Do you want to see the whiskey, Bhau?

Kishore: Yes, little brother.

Arun: Then come with me. No, from that side of the stage, like teacher said.

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Gotta Love America!

There are so many examples of how deliberative a democracy the United States really is. And how involved, passionate, and as a result, bizarre, elected officials at every level of the government are.

I just attended a conference in Indiana, where a Professor told us that all of Indiana was not in one time zone. Some counties were in eastern time zone (EST), others were in the Central. There has also been disagreement about whether daylight saving time should be implemented or not. And many counties keep changing their minds on all these issues. So "time" is apparently a big political hot-button topic in Indiana. So much so that time in Indiana has its own wikipedia page.

This particular portion of the page had me totally ROFLMAO. This is why China can never be a truly great country. Its political structure precludes such hilarity.

In 1991, Starke County petitions the Department of Transportation to be moved from the Central Time Zone to the Eastern Time Zone. The Department of Transportation grants the petition. Starke county is moved from the Central Time Zone to Eastern Time Zone effective October 27, 1991. (See 56 Federal Register 13609 and 56 Federal Register 51997)

2005 On April 29, 2005, with heavy backing from Governor Daniels' economic development plan, and after years of controversy, the Indiana legislature passed into law that on April 2, 2006, the entire state of Indiana would become the 48th state to observe daylight saving time. The bill was also accompanied by Senate Enrolled Act 127[3], which required Governor Daniels to seek Federal hearings from the United States Department of Transportation on whether to keep Indiana on Eastern Time with New York and Ohio or whether to move the entire state back to Central Time with Chicago[1].

2006 As a result of a review by the Department of Transportation, eight counties were moved from the Eastern Time Zone to the Central Time Zone, effective April 2, 2006. These were Starke and Pulaski Counties in the northwest; and Daviess, Dubois, Knox, Martin, Perry and Pike Counties in the southwest.

Pulaski and Martin counties, however, reconsidered their bids to join the Central Time Zone and decided to formally petition to be in the Eastern time zone. Pulaski County Commissioners and County Council both voted unanimously on February 6, 2006, to declare home rule and stay on Eastern Time if a federal agency did not grant an appeal to change the time-zone ruling. However, the county conceded on March 27, 2006, officially accepting Central Time and switching times zones on April 2, 2006[4]. After some residents pledged to unofficially continue observing Eastern Time, the county changed work hours for most county employees so that they were in sync with Eastern Time work hours[5]. Dubois, Daviess, Knox, and Pike Counties also decided to ask the federal government to return them to the Eastern Time Zone, the former voting to do so on April 27, 2006[6]. The confusion involving the time status of these counties led to them being dubbed the "seesaw six." St. Joseph, Marshall and Fulton Counties overtly expressed interest in making another attempt to be changed to Central Time as of the end of 2006"[7].

2007 On February 9, 2007, it was officially reported that the Department of Transportation had approved Pulaski County's returning to Eastern Time. The change went into effect on March 11, 2007, the date when daylight saving time resumed[8].

On September 20, 2007, DOT approved a petition from the five southwestern counties Daviess, Dubois, Knox, Martin and Pike to return to the Eastern Time Zone. The change went into effect when daylight saving time ended on November 3, 2007. A petition from Perry County to move to the Eastern Time Zone was denied[9].

With the exception of Perry and Starke counties, all counties that were moved to the Central Time Zone in 2006 were moved back to the Eastern Time Zone in 2007.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

CNN-IBN, You Owe me an Errata!!

A friend directed me to this article on IBNLive about the Supreme Court decision against a 19-year-old who criticized the Shiv Sena on Orkut. It says -

Gaurav Sabnis complained about the standards of teaching at a Management institute. His write-up was forced off the net.

Huh?? It was NOT forced off the net. The article is very much online here, as are the follow-ups here and here. In fact, the whole point of the entire episode, the crux of the matter, the keyest-of-key detail, is that the write-up was NOT forced off the net. It was my refusal to take the article off that lead to the legal notice, IIPM's laptop-burning threats to IBM, my resignation from IBM, and the subsequent brouhaha.

The same factual error has been made in the video version of the story too.

I assume that there is no willful misrepresentation in the story on the part of Pallavi Paul, who wrote the article. She probably doesn't know what happened. But I would have expected higher standards of journalistic rigor and due diligence from a big media entity like IBN, especially one that is associated with CNN.

I request CNN-IBN to correct the article, remove this factual inaccuracy about me, and post an errata clarifying the factual error made. And that the video story be edited too, to make the necessary correction.

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Monday, March 02, 2009

A Screengrab for Imran Khan

From here.