Sunday, November 15, 2009

Human side of super star Rajinikanth

These pictures you get to see the human side of the great Indian bus conductor turned super star Rajnikath is from the personnel collection of his close friend and co-worker Raj Bahadur who had worked as a bus driver.

Bahadur now lives a one room pad where the superstar frequents in disguise to meet him and stays with him during his Bangalore sojourns in the Chamrajpet area. Bahadur adds that his superstar is still the same old friend he was during their tenure as driver and conductor in the BTS (Bangalore Transport Service) now (BMTC), and their friendship as deepened even as Rajni kept growing from actor to super star of the south Indian cinemas.

Raj Bahadur says that his simplicity is evident when he come to see me we drink the same old rum, ask for egg laced delicacies from by sister who lives one floor below mine and more so when it is bed time he sleeps on the floor without any complaints. Bahadur also adds that how during their camaraderie days in the then (Bangalore Transport Service (BTS) now Bangalore Metro Transport Corporation (BMTC), Rajni used to practice during every short break he gets with his stylish stunts of throwing his cigarettes in air and trapping it with his mouth.

Bahadur goes on to say how this super star comes unnoticed to his home and adds that he comes in various film characters from beggar to a plumber into his home and leaves after staying with him for a day or two depending on his mood. He shared some of the things which his friend had shared with him during many of his stays and meetings with him after becoming an action star of the Indian cinema. One such incident Bahadur says was that Rajni was on a shoot in Rajasthan and the role demanded that he dresses up as a beggar, in between his shoot, Rajni decided to visit a temple close by since he is a strong believer in gods. On his way to the top of the mountain temple a lady dropped a rupee 10 into his palms thinking he was a beggar.

After paying his respects inside the temple Rajni on his way out when he was getting back into his SUV car, the same lady who gave him 10 rupees ran towards him and apologised for her part and asked for her note back with his autograph. Rajni refused and said I am sorry because this note is mine now and I am going to keep it for life and you need not be apologetic, since you have appreciated me, and left for his shoot after giving his autograph to her in another book. This Bahadur says his friend Rajni still cherishes as one of his best moments in life as an actor and still carries the rupees 10 in his purse as a remainder that all humans are equal.
For a man who started his job as a bus conductor with a monthly salary of rupees 30 , more than 25 years ago, to the present man who now gets paid rupees 30 crore per film and yet remain unmoved by all the money is a great feeling and more so since he is great friend, till death parts us, adds Bahadur with tears in his eyes, which he was unable to stop.

G R Adinarayanappa one of the fellow daily wage bus conductor who had got the appointment letter along with Tamil film superstar Rajnikanth in 1970.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

That's not right, said Fred

French artist arrives at Visual Arts Square to find nothing, except a bamboo log, waiting for him.

This story was done after I had reached the spot of the annual Bangalore Habba’s arts teaching and display at the St George’s square. I saw a lot of commotion as artists of great repute were dismayed at the pathetic conditions with no tools given to them to run the two day show, all this after the sponsors and the organizers had announced a big sum of more than 50 lakhs of rupees sanctioned to hold various cultural, performing arts and other mediums to promote the heritage to the youth. As usual the reporter assigned did not come to the spot on time and missed the whole action of a French artist who was very cheesed off with the person who invited him for the event.
The story was later narrated to the reporter who had come after a 5 hour long delay when everything was sorted out and the artists had started to work. Back in the office in (Bangalore Mirror) I narrated the whole incident to the Editor for which his reaction was ‘damn good story’, and summoned the reporter who was to cover the event and asked her what she saw in the event. The reporter’s reply was the show was great with no hic ups, to which the editor’s reaction was a pale look into the reporter’s face and asked me to narrate the whole incident of what I had seen and taken pictures them too. The reporter said that it was a small incident, to which the BM editor said you call this small, we invite a French artist and treat him in an utter shameful fashion when a whole load of money has been given to hold the event successfully. So finally it was decided that the reporter take my full version and adds inputs of the organizers reactions to the story to give a whole picture of the mud slinging in the annual ‘Bengaluru Habba’.

The Visual Arts Square at the Bangalore Habba got off to a colourful start on Sunday morning. The square, which showcased the talents of various artists, had many of them coming to Bangalore just for the occasion. But for one artist from France, the lack of proper arrangements at the event was just too much to handle, or even comprehend.
Fred Martin, an expert in making masks by way of putting an individual’s face into partially-wet plaster of paris, was in for rude shock when he landed at the venue. He alleged that despite his informing the organizers what his requirements were, nothing was organized properly and none of the material he needed could be found. As a result, he had to do everything himself.

To carry out his form of art – interactive installations – two primary things are required: plaster of paris and plywood frame. “The material should be at least 18 cm deep so that someone’s face can be put into it. The frame is required to hold the wet plaster of paris, keeping it within its very boundaries. But instead of the plywood frame, what they got me was a bamboo log from Bamboo Bazaar,” he added.
A lot of effort goes into preparing the material for the masks, he said. The plaster of paris is mixed with water, after which the artist has to make it soft by walking all over it-a really time-taking process. “I have not had my food since morning. Maybe I’ll get time to eat once I finish the clay work,” a visibly –upset Fred said at 3 pm. In the absence of the frames to carry out his work, he was down on his knees cutting the frames himself.

“I wanted plywood frames but you brought bamboo logs. Okay, I will manage with the bamboo log, but one is just not enough to set up the whole frame!” Fred could be heard saying angrily to the event managers around him.
“I informed them about my requirements the very day they approached me. All the material should have been here by 11:00 am. But nothing is in form yet,” he said, adding, “I bought six plaster of paris bags all by myself.”


“It was starting problem… but now everything is under control. This event is a collective effort of the organizers as well as the artists. While other artists started working from last evening, Fred came only this morning… and so there were a few setting-up problems. But everything is fine now,” event coordinator Meena Vari said, when asked to comment on the matter.


The visual arts square event, being held as part of the BEngalooru Habba, began at the St George’s Square (Minsk Square), Cubbon Park, on Sunday. Organized in association with the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, it is slated to go on till December 6.
The visual art square is a platform for artists presenting contemporary as well as innovative art forms. Posing a treat for the senses are an exiting and diverse array of interactive art stalls, showcasing unique forms of artwork by various forms of artwork by various artists. Some premier art institutions from the city, such as Chitrakala Parishat and Ken School of Art, are supporting the event.
Offering a wide range of art activities for people from all age groups, the interactive art stalls features tile & mask making techniques with Dwarka Nath of Rangayana, Mysore; recycled materials art with Amaresh; clay collaborative installations with Kiran Sahi and Roshan Sahi; paper art with Stephen from Vistar; live paintings with Satish and Rizwan; live animation with Lyos Roberts; Nature Speaks with Smitha Cariappa and on-th-spot portraits by art students. There are two art installations- creative accomplishments of the students of Srishti, and visual artists Ravindra Gutta and Jehangir Jani.


The Habba Swim meet was organized by ace swimmer Nisha Millet and the Indian Swimming Foundation at Bowring Institute, for participantsaged between seven and 16, on Sunday.
A number of sports celebraties such as Pankaj Advani, Ashish Ballal, Ashwini Nachappa, Shika Tandon, Rehan Poncha and Vimal Kumar, who have craved a niche for themselves at a young age, were present on the occasion.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Meet the cops'presiding deity

This story was done with the crime reporter S M Shashi Prasad, during my stint with the Bangalore Mirror in 2007-08. We both were covering a routine media briefing by the Bangalore city police commissioner, when I noticed that a large number of policemen gathered outside a small makeshift room next to the file room at the commissionarate. I quickly got all the details myself and left the spot since I had to hurry inside for the media briefing. By the time the briefing was over the place where I had been earlier was also empty. I quickly briefed the reporter about the news and he agreed to get some official quotes for the story and we went ahead with the joint credit the next day.

A 50-year-old temple in police commissionerate premises shifted to new spot.

Old-timers in the city police commissioner's office (COP) narrate a tale of how a gardener unearthed an idol while digging in the premises around 50 years ago. He build a small temple at the spot after providential intervention - God appeared in his dream and mooted the idea!

Thus came up the Sri Muneshwara temple, which superstitious cops believe guards the main building. However, it was never maintained and was cleaned only during the rare poojas organized by the cops or the public. But matters changed when Seetharam Shastri, who took charge as reserve police head constable in the late 80's, decided to give the temple a makeover. "I cleaned up the temple surroundings which was littered with dead leaves. Since the past 19 years, it's my routine to perform pooja every morning and evening," said Shastri, now an RSI (reserve sub-inspector).

With the old commissionerate building giving way to a new one, the idol was relocated to a new spot in the COP premises on Wednesday. Though the engineers had promised to retain the temple at the existing spot, it had to be shifted due top some technical problem.
Around 40 families living in India and abroad visit the Muneshwara temple annually. "They visit the deity when they either buy a new vechicle or before marrige functions or when their children bag a good job," said Shastri.
Shastri uses the funds donated to maintain the temple. 'It's commendable that men in kahkhi are keeping alive such rel;igious traditions," said M K Veeresh, a frequent visitor to this temple.
The canteen in the COP supplies free prasad every Saturday when a special pooja is conducted.


* A police officer in the rank of sub-inspector once prayed to the deity for his marriage to materialise. Presto! Within a month, he tied the knot.
* An unemployeed youth prayed to the deity for a job in the police department. His prayers were answered. After a long career, he retired as an SI. he visits the temple every year in gratitute.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

9999 once in Thousand years

This picture was taken at home after my wife read in a Tamil newspaper that once in a thousand years one will get to see the 9th minute in the 9th hour on the 9th day, of the 9th month, in the 9th year of this century. Well I for one on the 9th day of the 9th month waited for the clock to tick the 9th minute on the 9th hour. It is not a great picture. But the Moment is timeless and will remain for another thousand years till someone updates this bog a thousand years from now.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Go electric!

This story was written over a week’s time since I needed some pictures to co-relate with content. The theme of the story was very simple; when the present UPA government was busy hiking the oil and petrol prices by hefty margins I noticed a sudden spurge of e-bikes on the streets. This led me to a discussion with my BM Editor, and then we decided that we will run a story on the environmental aspect of the e-bike.

A battery-powered bike for the daily commute and a Nano for the weekend family outing. Is it the beginning of the end of two-wheelers as we know it?
It’s a combo the middle class will just not be able to resist: A Nano for the weekend family outing and an E-bike or E-scooter for the office commute. Call it collateral benefits, for prior to the launch of the world’s cheapest car, the conventional 100cc bike reigned supreme and even the concept of an alternatively powered two-wheeler provoked a smirk.
All that has changed following the Nano launch. But hold on, first a brief priemer for the uninitiated: An E-bike or E-scooter of high tensil steel –MIG welded Fork, with a heavy duty shock absorber and a hub motor with 240V BLDC geared drive. It can go at a speed of 25 kilometers with top speed of 45 kilometers per hour.
As those who have tried it on vouch, you get the feel of a real two-wheeler while also driving the very real advantages of a vehicle that is noise-free, free of exhaust and generally non-cumbersome. And finally, the real incentive is the price, which is Rs 15,000 – 20,000 for a basic model and up to Rs 28,000 for a enhanced one.
When we spoke to various middle class families who are current bowners of two wheelers, most of them were genuinely enthused about how a Nano and a E-bike would markedly improve the quality of their lives.

Sanjay Chanappa, who is into corporate merchandising, owns an E-bike and he vouches for its quality and ease of handling. “After 18 years of using a conventional bike, I took a risk and bought this one. Well, it has, in fact, gone beyond my expectations. It’s maneuverability is superb. Once I charge it I easily get upto 55-60 km which is fine inside a city. As for pillion riding, you can always accommodate one person, provided he or she is not grossly overweight,” he explained. “I opted for this bike because ultimately it’s economical and hassle free- no cops can stop me anymore, no spewing of exhaust fumes to the chagrin of those right behind me,” he added.
There is this Madhavan family. They had an emphatic and simple view about their new acquisition: “We will get rid of the two wheeler which we own at present, and go for the Nano for the weekend use of our family and the E-bike for daily office use.”
Arul Dass, another employee with a private company, said that the E-bike would decrease air pollution in Garden City. Vasanthi, an employee with the Central Government, explained that since he husband was unable to work, she would surely go in for the Nano and the E-Bike. As to what she would do with her TVS scooty, she replied that she would sell it off at the earliest at whatever good rate she got.
Mohan Kumar, an accounts officer, who ahs been using a two-wheeler for more than 30 years, said that he would purchase an E-bike first and the follow it up with a Nano. Why E-bike first? “My work is on the desk, I will need to travel only home to work and back. But the Nano will be used for our family weekends,” he said.
“The E-bike and the E-scooter sales have started to go up since the past two months,” said R Rajagopal, an owner and authorized stockist of various E-bike and E-scooters in the city. He also added that most of the E-bikes and E-scooters are being purchased by the youth and that it was an encouraging trend. “There is a huge number of enquiries every day but actual sales have to yet reach a significant level. The current price factor could be one constraint,” he explained.
Seven types of E-bikes and E-scooters are in the market and various two wheeler companies have entered this potential market for Gen-X. Various companies like TVS, Hero and Atlas have already started to flood the market with these E-bikes.

Some of the E-bike retail shop owners say that the vehicles are environment-friendly and gearless. What is more, you don’t need a driving licence. For safety, reflectors are provided in the front and rear, in addition to the bright headlight and an effective barking system. The motor power is cut off when both front and rear brakes are applied.
The design of the E-bike is simple and free of clutter. The bike can be used in three modes. You can use pedals-only, electric-only or ‘both’ to suit your riding comfort as well as journey requirement.
Speed is controlled using the throttle on your right hand grip. While climbing slopes or negotiating head winds, a combination of pedal and electric power is ideal.
Switches that control the horn button, front indicators and headlights are provided besides the left-hand grip of the handlebar.


*Lift saddle away from the back by pressing the release lever. Unlock the battery box by turning the key anti-clockwise (keyhole is located close to the seat tube). Disconnect and pull out battery box.
*Insert battery box and connect lock by turning the key clock-wise. Pull out the key.
*Put the charge plug into the charging point. Switch on power (220V AC). A red lamp lights up to indicate that the battery is charging. Flashing green lamp shows 1-2 hours more is needed to fully charge the battery. Remove the plug from the battery box socket when green lamp stops flashing and becomes steady.


*Friction parts like the BB Axle, head fittings, chain and front hub may require occasional lubrication. For best results, it is advisable to take the E-bike to a service technician for cleaning and greasing at least once every six months, especially during the monsoon.
*It is important to fully understand the functioning of the E-bikes before your first ride. If you allow the bike to be used by someone else, please ensure that the user is familiar with the instructions in the manual.
*Should there be any fault in the electric system, it is best to take it to your authorized dealer for repair. Do not attempt to disassemble the bike on your own.
*Keep the tyers inflated to correct pressure for safety and comfort.
*While riding keep a safe distance between yourself and the vehicle ahead of you, wet road conditions may require longer braking distance.
*When parking, make sure the battery switch is turned off and the E-bike is in an up-right position.
*Never attempt reverse pedaling while waiting at traffic lights or similar situations in idle position.
*The battery should be fully charged before you take the first ride on your new E-bike.
*If your E-bike is not in regular use, the battery needs to be charged at least once a month to keep it ready and live.
*When accelerating, turn throttle gradually to pick up smoothly and protect the battery.
Keep the charger and battery pack away from water while charging. The chargers is intended for indoor use only.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

World’s longest towel in Silicon City

To catch a view of the world’s longest towel, head to Magrath Road in the city where it is it was on display at a home furnishing store till December 31, 200.
The terry towel, which is 100 per cent cotton, has entered the Limca Book of Records for its unique features. It is a staggering 419 meters long, 9 feet wide, and weighs 500 Kilograms.

This towel can scale the Qutab Minar aound five and a half times and is woven with the colours of the Indian tricolour, said Dipali Goenka, director of Welspun Retail Ltd. The towel’s thread count (carded) is 550 GSM.
The towel will also be displayed in Delhi during the Republic day celebrations in 2008. it has been made by tectile maker Welspun Retail Ltd.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Pujaris wash temple after suicide

This story was done after I had got all the necessary material after visiting the spot for which the reporter could share a joint byline without budging himself from the environs of the office. In today’s newspaper journalism in India as taken a specific beating with most of the so called graduates in Mass Communication wriggling their way out from a story which requires field work. They prefer doing the desk job by getting the raw material or the full story from the net and worse still claiming that they have broken the story. One classic case was in Bangalore Mirror. This reporter who had given a story and since I surf the net for news had read about the same story. So I politely asked him as to how he got this story, he replied that he had broken it after two weeks of lobbying with his source. When I told him about the same story with two weeks before date line on the net, he quickly replied that he is the one who gave the story to them. ‘Funny’ I thought but he went on to add that half the material one gets to see on ‘Wikipedia’ was written by him. That was the pits of ‘lying’ and that too unashamedly. Well if you have reporters who are passing out with a genuine attitude problem of going to the field to do reportage, on the other hand you have editors who acknowledge this, but do not take any corrective steps. At this rate I fear that the near future for field reportage will no longer exists, and the ‘readers’ will be supplied with cooked up vegetables rather than street side chopped masala which he had missed on the News Television channels. I for one have given hundreds of my stories to such reporters who have no insight on the subject but yet claim that they do have.
Anyway here is the story which I was asked by my Editor in BM to share with a crime beat reporter.
Like this temple being washed away with the sinful sorrow of a suicide which happened within it’s premises, Newspaper Journalism too needs a few bold Editors who will take a corrective step on the daily reportage to keep the pitiful readers with on field reportage rather than desk top reportage.

Volunteers perform cleansing rituals through the day, keeping thousands of devotees waiting for darshan at Ulsoor’s Someshwara temple.

Thousands of eager devotees were shut out of the historical Someshwara temple in Ulsoor on Friday. They were greeted by a short notice that read: No darshan till 5 pm, inside, 15 devotees were hard at work cleansing the premises after a shocking suicide had sullied it that morning.
An unidentified man, aged around 60 years, killed himself, in a room inside the Someshwara Temple. He was found hanging in the room where the chariot bof the Lord is kept. It is believed that the unidentified man sneaked into the temple in the morning when the watchman had gone to wash his face leaving the main door open.
The incident came to light later in the morning. Interestingly, temple volunteers did not bother to wait for the temple management to act. They ‘cleansed’ the premises with water and performed homas and havans under the priest’s guidance throughout the day.
Devotees who visited the temple were shut out till 5 pm.

The Someshwara temple, a historical place receives at least 3,000 devotees every day; the figures exceed 4,000 on Mondays and Fridays.
Murgaraj, a security guard at the temple, was the first to see the body. “I opened the temple’s door at 4.45 am and was shocked to see somebody hanging. I immediately called the local police. They came and found a piece of bun and Rs 40 from the victim.”
The police are tracing the identity of the person. They are yet to find out the reason behind his extreme step and importantly, why he chose the temple premises for his last act. The body has been shifted to Bowring hospital, police said. A local resident and a volunteer at the temple, Vijay Kumar, told Bangalore Mirror that the temple was closed for devotees as the cleansing process was on till 4.30 pm. Nine different homas were performed were performed to remove the ‘impure air’ created by the suicide.
Confusion prevailed among devotees who were surprised to find the entry was bared till evening. A large number of devotees gathered in the evening to take part in the final homa and perform the pooja. “This is the first time something like this has happened. We pray for the departed soul’s peace,” a devotee said.