Category Archives: Stuff & Nonsense

WOGMA trailer

Here’s a fun trailer for my friend Meeta’s movie review website – (also known as ‘WOGMA’). It’s mainly packed full of reviews of new Hindi movie releases, although it does feature the occasional guest review from yours truly. Anyway, this clip will only be up here for a very short time because of bandwidth issues – so enjoy while it lasts!

UPDATE: Have now removed the clip – the image links to WOGMA instead.

Wogma preview banner

Religion, politics and cricket

I got chatting to an autorickshaw driver – a rickshawala – the other day. This isn’t unusual, but normally my non-existent Marathi and their often-limited English restricts us to vague discussions about the cricket or the state of the roads.

Paul and Rachel in an autorickshaw, Hampi
Paul and Rachel in an autorickshaw, Hampi

This particular fellow – Ashok C was his name – spoke better English than me. We had an interesting chat on my journey from Deccan back to Tadiwala Road.

First of all he asked me about religion, and the attitude in Britain towards Muslims. He was concerned about relgious divisions and the resulting violence. “All religions share an ultimate truth. God, Allah. I have Muslim friends, Christian friends, Parsi friends. I myself am a Hindu.”

Next we moved on to politics, and the corruption and mismanagement that mars governance in India – and many other places. “If you have a product, even if the quality is bad, even if it is shoddy, you sell it in the most glowing terms. In the same way, this is how the politicians sell themselves.”

Given that India is a stable democracy, why can’t the rotten politicians get voted out of office? “If you have an honest, educated man and he stands for election, he will never win. Because he does not know how politics works… In the USA they have the right to recall. Perhaps here we will have this in 5-10 years.”

Ashok is actually a Real Estate Agent. He rents out the rickshaw to a driver who pays him Rs60-100 ($1.30 – $2.20) per day. Sometimes the driver doesn’t come, so Ashok drives the rickshaw himself, as happened on this occasion. He says that working an 8-hour day, the driver will make a net profit (after expenses) of around Rs150. For 12hrs, perhaps Rs200-500. Sometimes, this can be boosted a little: hotels pay a commission of Rs250, or taking an industrial supplier around for a day will earn Rs400 plus petrol costs. “It is the easiest way for people to make money with a limited level of education. But even then it is not enough for a family.”

The global pricehike in oil has hit rickshawalas in the pocket. In Pune, the meter rate is around Rs7 per kilometer, although prices haven’t gone up this year. “In the last year, petrol has increased in cost by around 30%. But we have not increased our fares, because then people will not get in the rickshaws. So it is a problem.”

It was a real pleasure to get these insights from Ashok. When I arrived back home, he said farewell. “I can talk to people for hours about these kind of things. But unfotunately my profession does not allow it.”

Maximum Security

Here’s a picture of something I spotted last year, at Bangladesh’s Dhaka airport.

Mystery package, Dhaka airport
Mystery package, Dhaka airport

It’s a mystery package, taped to the wall by the transit passenger desk in the departures hall.

Security risk anyone?

It turns out many transit passengers on an overnight stopover don’t fancy lugging all their bags to the hotel. So they stick them to a handy wall and collect them the next morning. I’m guessing that’s not allowed at Heathrow.

Misspent Youth

The other day, for a few, terrible minutes, I found myself possessing a copy of the Da Vinci Code. I wanted that about as much as a dose of the clap.

The result of a bungled book-swap deal, I had to get rid of the damn thing as soon as possible. Two or three years ago, someone lent me a copy, and I squandered a couple of precious, precious hours enduring Dan Brown’s obnoxious drivel when I should have been enjoying my otherwise excellent Spanish holiday.

Unlike critics who find fault with its crackpot history, ludicrous plot or even the ‘controversial’ religious content, I have no problems on that score. It’s just the way Dan Brown mangles the English language to such an extent I could feel my IQ dropping as I moved from one page to the next. Yes, you guessed it. I didn’t enjoy it much. Howard, my old Amarpurkashi parner-in-crime, writes a far more lucid critique here. Read it. He’s right on all counts.

Those wasted hours I will never have again. They’re gone for ever! Dan Brown, I want my life back! On my deathbed, I’ll be cursing my misspent youth. Along with those bloody Matrix sequels, countless pointless trips to Selhurst Park and my one visit to Ipswich, the time I spent with the Da Vinci Code will go down in my personal history as yet one more monumental waste of time. And don’t even get me started on Dude, Where’s My Car.

That is all.