Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Santa Singh's Rs. 1000 Answer to Nano!

Genre: Current Affairs

If you thought Tata Nano was cheap, wait till you hear this- our very own Santa Singh has developed a Rs 1000 car- yes Ladies and Gentlemen.. put your hands together for Pape Motors' latest offering- the CHINTUU!

Introductory Offer:
Get One Umbrella FREE with every Chintuu!!!

Salient Features:
* Comfortable seating for four Sardars
* Eco-friendly zero-pollution vehicle
* Maximum Speed - Infinity
* Front Wheel Drive, Rear Wheel Drive and Four Wheel Drive options
* Automatic gearless operation
* Retractable roof for sporty looks
* Safety takiya for front passengers (only in high-end model)

Talking to media at the launch party of Chintuu held at Pappu Da Dhaba in Patiala, the man behind the machine- Mr. Santa Singh said, " I have made the world's first car that is truly for the Indian masses unlike Tata Nano which only the lakhpatis can afford."

Explaining the technicalities and salient features of the Chintuu, Mr Singh said, " I wanted to make the world's cheapest car that would also be the most eco-friendly and health-friendly and I have accomplished this by eliminating the engine and replacing it with pedals- one for each passenger. This gives my car the flexibility of being Left Hand.. sorry, Leg Drive, Right Leg Drive, 2-Wheel drive and 4-Wheel drive. I have noticed that today's younger generation loves cars with openable roof so we have eliminated the roof completely. For easier driving, we are providing an option of gearless model too. In the future, taking one step further, we plan to launch a brake-less version too. To reduce the weight and improve performance, we have eliminated all doors and windows. However, since we believe in following strict safety norms, we are providing a grill on the sides in all versions and the top-end version will come with two in-built Safety Takiya for the front passengers which can also be used for sleeping comfortably after having Aloo Paratha and Lassi. I believe in providing the customers personalised service so we have an option wherein every customer will be invited to our Patiala factory and asked to personally install the seats and grills as per his or her choice and even paint the vehicle as he or she wishes to. The paint will be provided by us and the first 100 customers get one Lassi from Pappu Da Dhaba absolutely free."

Commenting on the launch, Marketing Head of Tata Motors said-" Forget Nano. I am going to buy Chintuu. Bolo Ta Ra Ra Ra!!!"

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Journey Back in Time

Genre: Travel & Adventure

Long ago in British India, there was a time when Metre Gauge trains ruled the roost. These trains, smaller and slower than the regular trains that we see today (but bigger and faster than the "hill railways" like Matheran) used to run in areas where it was either difficult to construct or economically unfeasible to run mainline trains. Slowly, under Project Unigauge, most of the important Metre Gauge lines all over India gave way to Broad Gauge mainlines and only a few remained, serving some obscure parts of rural India and even they are today on the verge on extinction.

Around two months ago a few crazy nuts decided to explore this fast-dying mode of transport before it gets completely extinct from India. After weeks of research, planning and confusion, we arrived at a final plan that would seem completely senseless and useless to others- but not us! We found that one of the most scenic Metre Gauge route runs from Akola in Maharashtra to Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh- a 433km, 13 hour journey crossing two beautiful hilly regions- Dhulghat and Patalpani Ghat, trespassing tribal areas untouched by the frantic pace of city life! Initially five of us from Mumbai were to undertake this adventure journey but eventually we were joined by four guys from Bangalore, two each from Madras and Secundrabad and one each from Vadodara and Aurangabad making it one helluva group of fifteen guys from six cities across India- united for a single "cause"!

Rather than describing in words, presenting a photo-documentary into the Journey Back in Time-

1. Ready..Steady..Go! The cute looking diesel locomotive gets ready to take our morning passenger train out from Akola Junction.

2. Just ten minutes prior to departure, a Ticket Checker came and manually christened one of the coaches in this fashion. Till then, we were totally clueless about the position of our coach in the train!

3. A villager kid enjoys the slow ride through the countryside. Seeing so many unusual people with cameras had him all the more excited!

4. Proceed! In the 21st Century, it is very rare to see these Semaphore signals (except in Hindi movies!)

5. Metre Gauge trains being narrower than normal mainline trains have seats on only one side. We, however found new ways to enjoy the view on both sides!

6. Breakfast Time! Delicious samosas and pakodas greet us at a wayside station
7. When two trains arrive simultaneously, its absolute chaos!

8. It's lunchtime folks! Hot Kachoris and sabzi at Khandwa.

9. We had been warned by many that we would get baked in the March heat of the plains of Madhya Pradesh.. but what greeted us was dark clouds, cool winds, thunder, lightning and drizzles! Believe it or not, this photo was taken at 1pm!

10. Savouring the rustic beauty as we slowly make our way through the tribal belt of Madhya Pradesh.

11. Kalakund marks the begining of the beautiful Patalpani Ghats and it's time to get adventurous...

12. Chaiyya Chaiyya Time! Six of us get ready for a ride of a lifetime..

13. Smoking hard, we start the slow climb up the ghats- the villagers enjoy the tamasha as six first-timers accompeny them on the rooftop!

14. ..but not anymore. Now we are as much comfortable on the roof as they are!

15. The view from up here is simply amazing!!

16. Having spent ten hours on a route where few would dare to go, it's time to pose and celebrate the achievement at Mhow!

1654 kilometres, 42 hours of non-stop travel, 15 crazy nuts... one helluva trip!

Check out this video to get the real feel of things!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The truth of Modi's Gujarat

Genre: Politics

A few days back Sharad Pawar commented that "Maharashtra does not want to be like Modi's Gujarat". Does this person even know what Modi's Gujarat is like? Presenting a few facts from Modi's Gujarat for him and other uninitiated souls-

Sardar Sarovar Narmada Project: 45,000 villages and towns which used to get drinking water once every 15 days now get it daily thanks to the World's Largest Irrigation Network made possible by the Sardar Sarovar Project on Narmada. Medha Patkar and associated idiots had been protesting against this project since years under the name of Narmada Bachao Andolan receiving undercover finance from international petro giants like British Petroleum and ExxonMobil. It was the almost-autocratic stand taken by Modi against them that helped the project see the light of day. As for the issue of re-settlement of locals, I have personally been to Sardar Sarovar and seen the novel initiative of employing the locals as tourist guides who provide info about the project and area free of cost to the visitors.

108- Free Ambulance Service: Probably one of the most useful initiatives of the Narendra Modi government is the Free Ambulance Service. Just dial 108 from any village, town or city in Gujarat and an ambulance will be at your doorsteps within 10 minutes. This is not some political announcement, I have experienced it myself when one of my relatives in a nondescript village near Navsari suffered from heart-attack. The ambulance, fully equipped with a doctor and emergency medicines arrived within 10 minutes as promised. And yes, the service is absolutely free. Does "wannabe-Shanghai" Mumbai have this facility? NO!

SEZ Revolution: West Bengal burnt over Singur, Maharashtra is seeing widescale protests against Reliance Maha Mumbai SEZ and Gujarat? Mundra Port has emerged as the most successful SEZ in the country because the government, rather than opposing the SEZ to gather votes, supported an all-inclusive model wherein the SEZ developers have provided employment to all residents of villages whose land was used for the project. Thanks to this, the farmers of yesterday are businessmen today- running transportation and logistics required for the Mundra Port.

100% e-Connectivity: Gujarat is today India's only state to have ALL its villages connected by internet. Under the e-governence scheme, the grampanchayat of every single village in the state has been provided internet connection and direct connectivity to Gandhinagar. When a project of this magnitued which should make all of us proud was inaugurated in July last year, Times of India carried just a little one column mention of it tucked away in one corner.

24 Hour Power Supply: While Maharashtra reels under 6 to 14 hours of load shedding daily, Gujarat has 24 hour power supply for all towns and villages. And, mind you, this was not the case ten years ago. That time my hometown Valsad used to have load shedding from 7:30pm to 8:30 pm daily and 10am to 5pm on Tuesdays. This is now a thing of the past.

In spite of all this, the Congress Government and a major section of the media can see only one thing- Gujarat riots happened in "Modi's Gujarat", Agreed what happened is shameful and I do not support what the government did that time, but why do these so called "intelligentsia" see only one side of the story? Did the Gujarat riots happen overnight? Why do they forget what happened in Godhra that sparked the riots? I do not say Modi is innocent but I also say that ONLY Modi is not to blame- riots have happened all over India from Punjab to Mumbai and under the Congress rule too. But all that is never mentioned. They can only see the riots that happened in Modi's Gujarat six years ago. And I wouldn't blame them for this- after all Gujarat has seen so much development in the last eight years under Modi, the Opposition is totally speechless, so they keep on bringing up this one issue all the time!

Grow up yaar and wake up to the reality! Sharad Pawar might not want to see replication of Modi's Gujarat in Maharashtra, but I certainly want to!
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