October 25, 2007

Bangalore Smokers : Paradise Lost

Bangalore, Bengalooru, City of gardens, City of retired men, City of lakes, Air Condition city, Silicon Valley of India, Pensioners' Paradise,.. now add this "Somoker's Paradise". Public smoking is the biggest fashion here.

Over last few years smoke has become an integral part of a Bangalorian's daily life. I am not talking of those tons of smoke emitted by millions of vehicles (Specially the autos and the modified RX 100s) on jammed Bangalore roads. I am not talking about the smoke emitted by the manufacturing industries in Peenya. I am talking about the smoke that comes out from the burning stick held between two fingers of an out of the world individual.

Everyone in Bangalore is a smoker. Everyone. If you say you don't smoke, you just say you are not a source of it. Nevertheless, you consume equal or more amount of smoke, daily, when compared to a smoker. No matter where you go, no matter what you do, you can not escape smokers. Every public place is full of them. The roadside Darshini restaurant, the apparently good looking community park, the tea shop on the corner, the lanes, the crosses (And if you have the appropriate room-mate, even home) .. every where they are present like fungus. Everywhere you consume their sins, you just can't escape it. End result, your body doesn't know that the smoke is coming from your cigarette or some one else's. You die with them. So that qualifies we all Bangalorians to be the same - smokers.

A non-Banglorian, or even a foreigner, can feel this particular cultural revolution i n the city, the moment he steps out of Bangalore airport arrival gate. Yes, believe me. Not road side shops, not Cobbon Park, not even toilets .. Bangalore airport is "The best place" for the smokers.

As a passenger when you come out of the Bangalore airport, you will be immediately greeted with the pungent smell. Ten people from ten different directions will throw smoke on your face. You will feel the arrival door is not a very comfortable place and will look for fresh air and tea. Fighting with the crowd you will reach the place under a big tree (There, this is the only place to spend some time.) This tree is the only shade provided by the government in the airport. On the front side, under the tree, you will find four shops. A coffee day outlet, a juice center, a snacks outlet, a stationary shop. But to your surprise, most of the crowd will be gathered on the backyard of the tree. There will be a tiny tea shop out there. But the crowd will not be for tea. The shop's cigarette stock needs to be refilled every half an hour. In that place if you look around you will find that you are surrounded by (1) couple of beggars (This part of the world hosts best quality beggars. E.g. women carrying dead babies, small girls showing basket containing snake to everyone) (2) couple of eunuchs (3) hundreds of smokers. All packaged under the tree.

If you stay there for more than ten minutes, the same eunuch will exasperate you three times and the same snake girl will frighten you four times. But what you really can not escape from, is the smoke. Airline worker smokers, HAL employee smokers, shopkeeper smokers, air-hostess smokers, foreigner smokers, college student smokers, police smoker ... if you don't smoke, the only way you can contribute to the wonderful ecosystem is by coughing hard. And Don't worry, no one will say sorry to you. No one will throw their smoke in a different direction. After all, this place belongs to them. The city belongs to them. You will be an odd intruder in the smokers' paradise.


1) In Kerala I found strict implementation of the law banning smoking in public places. There is no doubt all the states in India, at least the cities, should learn from them.

2) If any smoker feels hurt, insulted or humiliated after reading this article, please write to me. I will send you a 'thank you' in reply, and don't expect a 'sorry'!


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October 16, 2007

My Story : A Cubicle

You can call me whatever you want. You can call me "little cube" with love, you can call me "jail" with hate. Or you can call me "The F***ing Hell" with disgust. I don't mind. All these are chords of euphony to me. I am the silent spectator of quite flowing lives in your firm. The world renowned private firm, Intel. Your office.

I see you everyday. I see you in different times in different moods. In different uniform, with different friends. Leaving the insignificant few hours you spend in home everyday, I am always watching you. I have seen you to deceive your boss while engaged in those computer games, without a tint of shame. And last Friday night, when you told your wife you will be late because of work while fixing some other appointment on the chat window.. I closed my eyes. You spilled coffee on your keyboard and told the maintenance person that you don't know why your keyboard stopped working. You whispered on your office phone making all personal STD calls without feeling guilty. I know all your sins. I am your cubicle.. you are bound by me.

Don't worry my friend. I was a part of your sufferings too. Do you remember the last year appraisal day? You came back after the meeting with your boss. Oh boy! You should have seen yourself. You looked like a figure of dejection. A crestfallen hero. I wished I could shade some tears for you. I wished I could pat on your shoulder to tell you how many such stories I have seen here. Stories like yours. How many hard working talented people got dumped because of reasons far beyond my comprehension. I wished I could exaggerate their later success stories to you. After all, I was the only witness to your over night fire fighting for the next day release. I saw your blood red eyes starring at the computer, when your hands were shaking on the keyboard. I witnessed those thundering discussions with your team where you were trying to make your point. I saw a drop of sweat coming from your nose tip, when every one shook their head in disagreement.

Last Monday your boss came to your seat and yelled at you like a street dog. I was then recalling a morning, few years back, when he was standing like you and listening to his boss in the same place. Time changes, people changes. But the cubicle stories don't. They are flow of life.

Today I heard Mr. O'Brien laughing on my wall colors. "I love what you guys have done with the color here. I think the gray
looks very nice with the gray and works very well with the grayish
Yes, your company led the cubicle revolution in the 70's. Yes, I was the role model of many companies' offices for decades. But no more. Slowly but definitely, the world has changed. Today Mr. O'Brien told me "This is good. There's no individuality. There's no hope."

My days will be over soon. Its the age of advance communication and not of incubation. Its the time when people work from home. They work while traveling on train, while trekking on the hills, while having dinner with family, while playing with kids, while listening to music. They come to office late and go home early. Home is their office and office is their home. No office needs these wooden structures scattered on the floor any more. But.. before I go obsolete, before my name gets removed from all the dictionaries of the world.. I would like to ask you.. "Is this the life you want to live? Do you call this life?"

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