Monday, April 20, 2009

IPL Season II - Ye "Naya" Hai

Finally the DLF IPL Seacond season is here. And slowly it is gaining momentum that was nowhere in the start, unlike the first season. There are lots of expectations from the old winners. And somehow, many people are expecting the old tallies to continue. For such people, I have only three words. This is New. Ye Naya Hai.

IPL Season one gave us winners like Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings. While teams which stood high grounds on paper, like Deccan chargers, played some schoolboy cricket, especially in terms of team spirit. Royal Challengers of Bangalore looked challenged on many grounds and Mumbai Indians could not make it even with the biggest biggies around.

But if you concluded that Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the ultimate King (or Super King) whose team cannot be beaten by that of an aging Sachin or that Gilchrist, Gibbs and RP Singh cannot make a good team, it's time you think again as everything seems to be new in this season.

IPL season II proved from the very first match that one should not go by the tallies of last season when Mumbai beat the Finalist of last season, Chennai Super Kings. If this was not enough of a surprise (for me it really was not) in the second match Royal Challengers Bangalore not only won the match but Rajasthan Royals, last year's champions, were reduced to a mere fifty eight, the lowest yet in the IPL. And it was purely because of the all charged up performance of the Challengers, and their changed attitude which was clear when they were fielding.

The third match was unfortunate as the rain made things not so impartial, but the fourth match once again brought in Deccan Chargers as victors against Kolkata Knight Riders, after an extremely poor show by the former during the last season. Also, the fielding and bowling of the team looked wonderful and the attitude of Chargers on field was hardly anything less than that of the Challengers.

In short, the first two days have made it clear that the new season of the IPL has to be written in new, blank sheets and one need not think that the impressions of the last season will be found on this season too. And now even if a few matches again give the results like the past, it will not be because of who won in the last season, but purely because who is in command this time.

On that note, there is something I would say about Dhoni's comment that I read in today's newspaper. Dhoni had written that they'd make a comeback (after their loss to Mumbai in first match), but my say is that there is nothing to make a comeback to in this season. To win this one, he'll have to start anew with his team, something that Pieterson and Gilchrist are doing.

Friday, April 3, 2009

My Bangalore: Tickets, anyone?

Right now it's election time, and so, everybody is busy talking about politics and politicians, and hence, about corruption. But traveling in Bangalore I came to know how deeply we are into corruption. Here are a few examples of what has happened with me in the past six months of BMTC travel.

The first, and a highly common practice is the minimum fair minus one rupee system. When u get into a bus for the smallest ticket journey, (3 rupee or 4 rupee, depending on bus) u give exact change to the conductor and he returns you one rupee, like a substitute for the ticket.

More fearless conductors happen to tend to similar practice on higher scale and leave two-three rupees on tickets for longer journeys.

Now the interesting part is what happens when you protest and demand for a ticket. Mostly conductors don't want problems and give you a ticket if you demand for one. Some do nagging and you may need to raise your voice a bit to get the ticket. But then, there are more interesting incidents taking place too.

Once on my way to Marathahalli bridge from whitefield, I met a conductor of high corruption index. It was a Pushpak bus but when I entered the bus I didn't realize and took exact change of rupees eight in my hand, the normal fare for the distance while the actual fare was rupees ten. Now when the conductor came, I asked him for a ticket to marathahalli and he said it was ten rupees. Now he happened to see the change in my hand and asked how much it was. Before I said it was only eight, he asked me to give that itself and moved ahead without giving the ticket. When I asked for the ticket he first tried to ignore me, and when I raised my voice to call him up, he finally said that it was rupees ten and gave me a ticket after I gave him two more.

And then there was the show time. When I was getting down, the conductor asked me if I had the ticket. And as I showed it to him, he almost snatched it from my hand. now that I was on the steps, I didn't want to argue, and so I came out. And the conductor earned a full ten rupees as I'm sure he'd have reused the ticket.

Another, more interesting case was when I was traveling with three friends by a new BIG 10 bus. This time it was from Marathahalli to whitefield. I asked the conductor for two tickets as two of us had passes and he gave me one ticket and one pass. He also told me in Kannada to give the pass back to him when I get down. Though I don't understand a lot of Kannada, I got what he meant. As I was getting down, the conductor asked me for the pass, and while I gave it back, I commented that he had earned a full eight rupees. At that time he was a bit apologetic in tone and reiterated that there was someone who had not given the money for pass while he had took it out of booklet, and so he was trying to get the money back.

Though in the last incident I felt that the conductor might be true, it is also a fact that conductors sometimes do use passes to make money. Once coming to whitefield again, I was given a used day pass by a conductor when I protested for not being given the ticket. This was after ten at night and so the conductor didn't ask for the pass when I got out of the bus.

Most of these incidents look very small but they are a matter of concern for two reasons. First, these incidents anyway give rise to corruption and bring corruption to our daily lives possibly more than anything else. Secondly, these incidents, when seen from a larger frame, must be costing lacs of rupees everyday to BMTC as BMTC buses make more than 70,000 trips everyday.

I think there should be some effort to stop this practice. My suggestion would be that BMTC customers be given badges carrying their names and a unique ID and one should be able to lodge a complaint against such incidents through Internet, phone, and at BMTC offices and if there is a certain number of complaints against a conductor, there should be action taken against him. I hope the overhead of maintaining such a system would be less than the money lost by BMTC due to the bad practices going on currently. And we shall be making a better society anyway.