Sunday, April 27, 2008

Canal Road : Faster access of ITO from East Delhi

While the South Delhi has been strugling with the botched BRT corridor, it was a pleasant experience for me (and many East Delhites) while going to office on Friday. The newly constructed Canal Raod, constructed parallel to the Vikas Marg, has been finally thrown open to public the previous evening (24th April, 2008) by Delhi CM Smt Shiela Dixit. In fact, this is the second official opening of the road. It first thrown open to the public on February 14, 2007 by the then Delhi PWD Minister Sri A.K. Walia.

This 2.9 kilometre long road, connects the Marginal Bund Road (Pushta Road) near Geeta Colony with Karkari Morh. Constructed for Rs 102 crore, it has come up over an old canal, which now serves as a drain and carries sewage and rainwater. This is a brillinat concept of creating a parallel road over an old canal. However you will have to bear the stench of the sewage while waiting at the traffic light at the karkari Morh on return. If you are travelling from Anand Vihar side, then the cut down is available from the middle point on the Karkari Morh flyover. Therefore, instead of taking the Vikas Marg by turning left at the point where the flyover has started, one should continue on the flyover and then turn left. The cut on the flyover is on the Karkari Morh - Jagatpuri side, i.e., on the Preet Vihar side not on the Karkardoma side. Once the the Yamuna Bridge at Geeta Colony is completed, the time of travel between Karkari Morh to Shanti Van will be reduced to just 20 minutes. This is suppose to provide signal free travelling from Karkari Morh to Kashmere gate ISBT. As of now, for going to ITO, one is required to turn left at Geeta Colony and get lost into traffic at the ITO bridge.

This new road has cut short my brief journey to office by at least half a kilometer. More importantly the time required was cut by about 15 minutes. Ever since the work on metro started on the busy Vikas Marg about a year back, one had to avoid the Vikas Marg becuase of the heavy traffic, specially during office hours. But this road has brought cheer to all of us in the office.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Exploiting power of the net for tourism

Many a times I am surprised by the amount of information available online today. Just 5 years back, I had to re-plan a trip because I had failed to find information about the place I wanted to visit. But the scenario has changed drastically in these intervening years. The tourism and travel industry had understood the potential of the unimaginable reach of the internet. No one will deny the value of having a website and tap the potential customers.

Take for example of a place named Corfu. I can bet that many of us have not even heard of the place. It is an island in Greece and a popular tourist destination. The 1981 James Bond movie ‘For Your Eyes Only’ was filmed in this Greek island on the Ionian Sea. But I was surprised to find the no. of sites catering exclusively to Corfu, hitherto unknown to many, including me. I picked one of the sites Fantastic Greece and found that Corfu is a popular place with many attractions. Useful information is presented on the page in a simple, clean and uncluttered way. I like such uncluttered WebPages devoid of animations and distractions.

Anyway, this was just to be bemused at the power of the net. Such information helps one choose peaceful destinations that is not on the radar of general tourist. This is one of the reasons why the internet continues to fascinate me.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Jim Corbett : From a hunter to a legend

Ramnagar, a small town in Uttaranchal, is infatuated with the words Jim and Corbett. Everything from dhaba, to tailor shop, to saloons to costly resorts has to have one of these two words in their name. The town has probably nothing to do with Lord Ram, but with Jim Corbett. It owes its fame to the Corbett National Park which provide livelihood for a sizeable population of the area. Such is the importance of these names that the town should have been named Jimnagar, Jimpur or Corbett nagar.

Anyway, my renewed interest in Jim Corbett after my recent visit to the first national park of India, now named after the famous British hunter turned conservationist, had made me acquire a compilation of his famous books. His hunting stories have been translated into almost all languages in India. I had read few of his stories translated into Assamese as part of our curriculum, probably in class VI or VII, i.e. some 25 years back. Such powerful and engrossing were the stories in that book called Araonyar Moh (Lure of the Jungle) that they are still vivid in my mind, specially the one about the Man Eating Leopard of Rudraprayag, the Man Eater of Mohan and the Prince of Powalgarh. Corbett’s translated stories had left indelible mark in our young minds. 25 years hence, I saw the original books written by the man Corbett himself in the souvenir shops around the park. These books are published by Oxford University Press, India. I wanted to get the one named ‘The Jim Corbett Omnibus Vol-I’ which is a compilation of his 3 famous books viz. Man eaters of Kumaon, Temple Tiger and More Man Eaters of Kumaon, and the Man Eating Leopard of Rudraprayag. However none of the shop were willing to give any discount on the MRP of 555.

On my return to Delhi, I had procured the book through the newly launched site A1Books India. I got the book for Rs.475 (against MRP of 555) with free delivery and delivered in 2 days of placing the order. It was quick service, may be because the vendor was from Darya Ganj, some 10 km from my address. But I was happy with the service. The reading started the night of the books’s arrival.

I was a voracious reader many years back. I was one of those kind who would finish a novel in one go. But that habit had died over the years. More so after getting married and having a kid. Every time I tried to pick up a book, the intervention in the form of my dear wife or kid would nip it in the bud. I had been trying to read Khuswant Singh's Delhi for more than a month without any success. This time I specially told them not to disturb me. My kid was happy to listen the hunting stories at bed time. Despite the occasional protest from my wife, I had finished the book containing 600 pages in about a month’s time. That is a big achievement.

After reading the book few things had dawned on me. The translated version was much easier to comprehend, specially the portions where Corbett tried to give vivid description of a location. It is difficult to conjure an image of the location from the descriptions. I had tried making a sketch on paper on few occasions to have a better understanding. The translator had probably left out those portions for better understanding of the readers.

The second thing that had dawned on me is that despite becoming a conservationist in his later life and calling the tiger a ‘Big Hearted Gentleman’, Corbett had killed many leopards and also the occasional tiger for hunting pleasure. He killed the tiger referred to as the Prince of Powalgarh apparently for no reason. It was not man eater. He had referred to hunting as sports and fellow hunters as sportsman. The skins are called as trophies. It appeared that that the tendency to kill a tiger or snake on sight is inborn in human. This human tendency has led these majestic animals to near extinction. Corbett was also no exception. However, he realised his mistakes and traded the gun for a camera. This change in Corbett was responsible for the efforts towards tiger conservation in India.

The third realisation was that Corbett was an exceptionally brave man. In simple words he was different from others. Man eater hunting on foot was thought to be suicidal. He would go into the jungle in search of a man eater and would come out after a couple of days. When night falls, he would climb a tree and sleep. He often stayed alone at deserted dak bungalows in remote hilly areas and go in search of a man eater alone. But even a brave man like Corbett, who had spent night after night in tree tops in jungle infested all kind of wild animals or sitting in dark with a partly eaten human body, had mentioned about few incidences which to him was not natural. He told that he had no explanations for these supernatural occurrences. Reporting of these incidences was from a man as courageous as Corbett makes one really ponder about supernatural occurrences.

Finally, I was almost in tears reading the story of a young Garhwali soldier who lost his legs in the World War-II in the last chapter of Man Eating Leopard of Rudraprayag. The young man, who could not see the Saheb that killed the infamous leopard because his father could not carry him the long distance from his village to Rudraprayag, was so happy that he could see and speak to that saheb after 18 years. He was happy because he can go back to his village and can tell his father and folks proudly that he had met and speak to that Saheb. Just meeting Corbett had made him forget his misery of losing his legs at war at such a young age. This respect from Indians, specially from the peoples of Kumaon and Garhwal to whom he was a saviour and who believed that he was bestowed with some supernatural power that had enabled him to kill so many notorious man eaters, had made Corbett love this country. This respect had also made him a legend for the people of the hills.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Vanishing open spaces : Tale of a park

Open space have become a scarcity, even in Delhi. Given my location in Delhi in East across the Yamuna, there is only one such place – a park one can visit for a family leisure break and inhale some fresh air. This palce closer to where I live, is the Millennium Park or the Indraprastha Park or the Nizamuddin Park as we refer to it. I am leaving out the Lutyen’s Delhi area as only place open for public are the India Gate lawns, which remains crowded on weekends.

The Millenium Park or the Indraprastha Park :
My first visit to this park was on a Sunday soon after had I started my second innings in Delhi two year s back. What was pleasing was the vast open space, lush green lawns and very little crowd. More importantly there were very few, so called lovebirds who do not differentiate between love and lust. This was an ideal place for kids. The play area for kids double their joy. But that was two years back. I had visited the park a few times during the last two years.
Last Sunday, I had paid my most recent visit. I got my first shock when parking was full. Inside the park, it resembled a mela. Even though there were vacant spaces for one to sit in the lawn, it was crowded. I had avoided growing to India Gate only to avoid the crowd. But the same crowd had followed me to this place which used to be a happy place with very little crowd. A new structure by the name World Peace Stupa has come up on one side of the park. But the peaceful ambience one used to enjoy here was gone. The so called Lovebirds were seen in all look and corners of the park, many of whom turned a blind eye to the crowd while displaying their lust thereby making it embarrassing for family crowd. 95% of the equipment in children play area had been damaged making it unsafe for use. When it started to become dusk, caretakers of the park were seen blowing whistles and herding the lovebirds out of their cocoons. What surprised most is their announcement that the park is also getting close by 8 pm. Anyway, disappointed at losing a place to visit for some open air, we had already made our way back when some people were seen arguing as to why the park is getting closed so early.