Tuesday, December 27, 2005 

Lalooisation of the Indian Railways

Recently, there have been regular reports in the newspapers of increasing crimes in trains coming from the so called cow-belt of India. Indian railways was always notorious for its delays, but dacoity & gang rapes were unheard of, a rare incident here and there. The newspapers have found this important, as it has been hitting front pages of all leading dailies. However, none of the newspapers looked into the reasons for the sudden spurt in criminal activity in railways. The reason can be summed up in one word: LALOO.

With the end of Laloo-Raj in Bihar, the law-breakers have found themselves without a godfather to protect them. With Nitish Kumar considering law and order his first priority, these elements are forced too look for other safe heavens, as the rule of law in Bihar is a threat to their very existence. So they have taken their activities to a place where their Godfather is still in power – The Indian Railways.

I don’t know how anybody can fail to pick this link, it is more then obvious. The timing of the spurt in crime in the railways has coincided with the fall of Laloo from Bihar, and the kind of criminal activities we are seeing in the railways is similar to what Bihar has been suffering from for over a decade and a half now.

Kulhads instead of plastic cups & bidi allowances were fine, but one has to draw a line at this latest innovation of the Railway minister. I wonder why our mike wielding media has started asking Laloo tough questions with regards these incidents?


Book Review: One night @Call Centre

What not to do in your second book!

When I read Chetan Bhagat’s first book, “Five Point Someone” I was amazed. It was a very sensitive story about 3 guys who had screwed up their lives big time in IIT. What I liked about it was the unusual approach of having losers as their protagonists. And that I could identify with some of their dilemmas, being an engineer, an having faced the same quandaries in my student life.

His Second book, “One Night @ Call Centre”, however seems to be an anticlimax after the first one. The characters in this book are almost repeated from the previous book. The Narrator remains the same, and rather then screwing up their lives, here the main characters are working in a call center, with already screwed-up lives.

The narrative can be said to be gripping, but lacking content. The story initially hems and haws about the problems faced by call centre workers, but is too full of long reminisces of the narrator’s failed relationship with one of his co-workers, to build upon anything serious.

Another major flaw in the book is the unwarranted criticism heaped on America, and the we-are-much-smarter-than-them stereotyping of Americans. Come on, they may not be the most technically sound people on the planet, but America is certainly home to some of the smartest businessmen in the world. The portrayal of America as the epicenter of all of the world’s problems starts sounding lame after some time.

And then, towards the end, the ultra fantastic idea of getting a call from God himself -What is this? Some Mytho? There are betters ways for people to realize the solutions to their problems. The call from God might have made some sense if the main cast was very religious or moral or had their dilemmas about God, and his existence been questioned earlier. But the call from God was completely out of the blue.

All in all, this is a book that can be avoided, or, at best, if you really enjoyed the first book, read it once when you have nothing good to do, and forget about it.