Why I won’t be buying an XUV500

Since its launch in India, I’ve been obsessing over the Mahindra XUV500. I missed the boat on the first lot of bookings and was then stunned to know that bookings had been suspended. Earlier this month, Mahindra re-opened them for 7,200 cars to be delivered across 19 cities. But I’m no longer interested.

Dr Pawan Goenka, President, Automotive and Farm Equipment Sectors wrote a rather moving letter to potential customers last week. This actually worked and I was still interested… but over the preceding weekend, I realised that my chances of actually getting one are slim. Moreover, the money we pay Mahindra for the booking will only be refunded after a month (or within, I think) according to the ‘draw’ T&C.

(This whole draw aspect reminds me of the 1980s when people waited months for phone connections or vehicles.)

The trouble is, that according to the numbers, each city would be allocated about 378 vehicles. I am positive that from most cities, there will be at least 1,000 applications each. That itself puts my chances at 38%… 1 in 3. There is no mention of how many vehicles are being allotted per city if in case this is the approach.

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And he’s back

Suresh Kalmadi

Sigh. Just when we thought the city was safe from the menace called Suresh Kalmadi, he’s free to prowl Pune again. What can you say? It had to happen. In a country with such lax anti-corruption laws, people like him were bound to be set free to continue their plunder.

And with civic elections around the corner in Pune, he will once again have a shot at power. Most distressing.

Surely, he must have been plotting for the elections sitting in Tihar. The only positive would be that he won’t have much chance to do publicity given that the code of conduct is now in force. Of course, he, like Ajit Pawar is above the law so let’s not rule it out totally! Never mind how upset some people may be!

Sadness looms…

Kolkata to cry again?

A crying Vinod Kambli walking off the Eden Gardens in 1996 is one of the most haunting memories of Indian cricket. Since then, the Eden Gardens has not had the best of times and has unfortunately seen India lose far too often. The ground developed a reputation for having the worst crowds and soon enough, the city lost out on hosting key matches. The emergence of better grounds and facilities at venues like Bangalore, Chennai, Mohali and even Nagpur meant that the coliseum that was Kolkata was reduced to a footnote.

Come 2011 and the Cricket World Cup, big time cricket would have returned to the Eden Gardens. But alas, typically lax Indian planning and work ethic meant that the city has been denied this chance. Despite the BCCI trying (not too convincingly, if I may say so) to get an extension for the work completion date, the ICC has refused to budge. Unlike with the CWG 2010, there isn’t to be a miracle at the Eden. Probably because the list of pending work is just too long.

While the result is sad for the cricket fans of Kolkata, it is a serious wake-up call for sports administrators in India – BCCI included. There never seems to be a plan and deadlines mean squat to any of these. It has always been known that the fans’ are at the bottom of the food chain for sport administrators in India but this sort of callous behaviour only re-emphasizes it.

Being from Pune, a city where cricket has had a sorry excuse of a ground for the last many years, I totally understand the frustration of fans. Often, Pune was left with the worst possible games in a tournament, if at all. As a fan, it’s a task to watch the game at the stadium. Hopefully, with the new stadium coming up just outside the city, this may change.

For Kolkata, however, this was a chance that was available “now”. And it has been mucked up. Typically by administrators.

Pune Warriors takes shape

IPL-Player-Auction-2011-LiveThe second weekend of the New Year will be remembered by Pune’s cricket fans. This is the day when the city got its first set of players for the IPL team. The mix is an interesting one:

  • Yuvraj Singh ($1.8m)
  • Graeme Smith ($500,000)
  • Robin Uthappa ($2.1m)
  • Tim Paine ($270,000)
  • Angelo Mathews ($950,000)
  • Ashish Nehra ($850,000)
  • Nathan McCullum ($100,000)
  • Callum Fergusson ($300,000)

See complete list of auction here.

The collection is a good one and offers the team great variety. Of course, there’s more players needed before the whole team takes shape, but this core looks good. With only 4 foreign players allowed to play each match, it’s almost certain that Graeme Smith, Nathan McCullum, Angelo Mathews, Fergusson or Paine will take the field. The possibility of Paine playing is higher given he keeps wickets while Mathews, McCullum and Fergusson would be rotated.

The team spent a total of $6.87m with another $2.13m available for Sunday’s auction. The team’s balance is tilted to the batting right now and the focus will be on bowlers on Sunday. But the start is a good one. It’s possible that the team management would be looking at Yuvraj for the captaincy, but with Smith in the team, it’s a better idea to have him captain the side. He’s experienced and used to the role.

Sublimely ridiculous

Pune Traffic is ridiculous. Pune Traffic Police do precious little do improve it. Perhaps they are understaffed. Perhaps they are under-motivated. Whatever the case, the traffic sucks. And now this.

The traffic police will be imposing fines for not wearing helmets. Ok, good. But here’s the kicker:

But the fines would be imposed only if the two-wheeler riders violate traffic rules like jumping signals or lane cutting. For example, if a two-wheeler rider without a helmet jumps a traffic signal, the police would penalise him for jumping the signal and for not wearing a helmet.

Say what? Does that also mean there won’t be a fine if I jump a signal with a helmet?

Only in Pune, I say!

Pune is a dry city now

It had to happen sooner or later. The amount of water Punekars waste was soon going to come back and leave them high and dry. And with no rains for over a month now, the time has come. Starting tomorrow, Pune will receive water supply only once in two days. Which will mean everyone is storing enough water to fill up swimming pools!

Jokes apart, though, it is always painful to see the city use water in a callous manner. We often see tankers on the roads transporting water while they spill most of it en route. Every area and locality will have their share of water wasters. This current shortage cannot be attributed solely to the administration. It is of our own doing as well.

It helps to realize that the authorities are as helpless about lack of rain as the common man is. It is pointless going to the met department as asking why their predictions went wrong. Using water based on weather forecasts is like spending money assuming you’ll earn it. If the predictions are wrong, you’re in a world of trouble! And that’s just what has happened. While the blame is currently being laid squarely on the powers that (are supposed to) run the city, citizens would do well to introspect and still mend their ways. This is not the first water shortage this decade either. It seems we refuse to learn.

For the part of the administration, one wonders why we make provisions for water only till July 15 every year. Is it assumed that there sill be enough rain every year by then to take care of the next year? For the last three years, Pune has ‘almost’ been in this situation. Yet we didn’t learn. And this year, the situation has come pass. So what now? It may still rain enough in the next two months to make up for the lack of water and give us enough water. Till next July 15. And then what?

As a city, Pune needs better facilities and infrastructure. That doesn’t merely confine itself to roads and power and bus stops and non-functional BRTS plans. Water must be part of that. And the authorities and citizens need to start planning for this today. Not after this crisis is past us.

Till then, I wonder how the city will survive on one bath every alternate day. That stinks!

Food, Pune and the Irani restaurant.

On the menu card at Good Luck, Pune: Tawa Kheema and Kheema in eggs.

In the “Kheema in Eggs” one, is there more Kheema or more eggs? The waiter at the restaurant answered, “One way or another, it’s the same thing!”

So there.

We ordered. Was great.

Also seen at the restaurant, a signboard declaring:

Don’t sit here without any work.

Do not comb or brush your hair. It may fly into other people’s food.

Both the instructions were on the same paper stuck between papers announcing Malai Kulfi for Rs 18 and other desserts on the menu (namely Caramel Custard, Caramel Pudding, Bread Pudding and Fruit Funny). We don’t think there’s any connection between the two instruction, but there could be. See, someone sitting without work is more liable to comb and/or brush hair thereby sending it into other people’s food. These old-time restaurants have it all figured out, I say.

Jus sayin’!

Speaking of desserts, we also asked the waiter the difference between Caramel Custard and Caramel Pudding.

He said, “Custard is made with powder and pudding with eggs.” He then proceeded to point at a neighbouring table where he had just delivered the goods.

We said, “…”

“Well?”, said he.

“Ok bring us the pudding,” said we!

Much joy came with the pudding – caramel and bread!

The indicator has two meanings…

Pune’s roads are notoriously unsafe. And free-willed at the same time. They run on the will of the drivers. Who run about freely without any regard for safety or rules. Ergo, free-willed.

So last weekend, I had a minor run-in (of the verbal sorts) with one such free-willed driver. While planning, attempting and then being halfway through the U-turn, the following ensued:

As I flicked on the indicator and initiated the right turn, I realized that I wasn’t going to make the turn unless I started a tad wider. So I made the minor adjustment and then proceeded to turn. In the meantime, an enterprising driver decided he should go ahead from my right (while I turned). Upon suddenly finding my car blocking his way, he became angry. Rightfully so. Who would want their progress stalled suddenly by a car across the road. He proceeded to reprimand me for my callous ways…

Driver: Kidhar jaata hai?

Me: Right ko.

Driver: Haath to dikhao…

Me: Indicator on hai…

Driver: Indicator on hai to kahi bhi turn lega?

Me: Right ka indicator hai, right turn hai, main right turn le raha hoo… problem kya hai?

Driver: Gaali kyon diya?

Me: …

Driver: Kidhar bhi turn karega kya?

Me: …

Driver: Right turn lena hai to haath dikhao.

Me: Indicator chalu hai boss.

Driver: Indicator ke do matlab hote hai. Yaa to tum right le rahe ho, ya mujhe aage jane ko bol rahe ho. Tum mujhe aage jaane bol rahe the…

Me: … … …

Driver: Vroom

Me: … !!!???

This is a real life story. No fiction. Really.

Going thin.

Yes, the blogging has been thin for a while now. However, that doesn’t mean I have been completely out of action. Work and familial pressures have kept one busy. Too busy.

But, with a renewed site design (only the first change of 2010!), I hope to be back to more regular blogging. Much has happened since my last post… India became the number 1 Test team, Serena Williams played the Australian Open and almost forgot her undies, Season 5 of Lost has come and gone and we are none-the-wiser for what in God’s name is going on on that island, Shahid Afridi has started his new diet of cricket balls and worst of all, Pune had a bomb blast.

Much is being written and discussed and analyzed about the blast. I have little or nothing to add to it. Except that it was a cowardly attack. Like all terror attacks.

While a month-and-a-half of 2010 has gone by, there are still 10.5 months remaining. With F1 coming up, the IPL almost here, the Football World Cup in June and the T20 World Cup in April, much time shall be spent in front of the TV. If I ever leave the office!

So expect all those updates, analysis and whatnot coming up here.

Till then, I’ll crawl back under the rock I came out from… where did I move it… ?

P.S.: Yes, I have also gone (marginally) thin 🙂

No World Cup matches for Pune

What a sorry, sorry state of affairs. The World Cup cricket returns to India after 1996 and there is no game for Pune.

Nagpur, on the other hand, gets four games. Including some big tickets ones including AUS v NZ and IND v SA  in addition to two smaller games. So where does that leave Pune?

The MCA has done nothing of note to build a stadium worthy of international games in the city. Even recent Ranji Trophy matches have taken place at the Poona Club ground or at the Deccan Gymkhana ground neither of which have seating.

It’s pitiable, but a reflection of what the city is doing to itself. While definitely lacking in basic infrastructure, it is certainly better in support infrastructure (hotels, restaurants etc) than Nagpur. But the basic missing link – a ground – has yet again cost the city.

As Mr Kalmadi, our esteemed MP continues to bungle the CWG2010, the city reels. Sure, building a ground is not his job, but he does have a finger in every pie in the city’s development. Or the lack of it.

Much has been said about this, and it is really pointless crying over this. We will perhaps need to plan to catch the games in Mumbai (the Final is there) or Nagpur. Or maybe Bangalore or Ahmedabad… all accessible. Of course, none closer than a ground in the city, but one can’t live on pipe dreams, now, can one?