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Thursday, 27 August 2015

Happy Streets!

Queue for that bargain sale?

Any guesses what the above picture is all about? No, it is not the crowd of Diwali shoppers at Ranganathan St. or Gariahat Junction. No, this is not Ahmedabad either where people have queued up demanding reservation. It is also not those routine ‘Run for…..’ marathons which are dime a dozen these days. What you see is one of the busiest traffic junctions in one of the fastest growing cities in India. It is the Diwan Bahadur Road/Thiruvengada Swamy Road junction in R.S.Puram, Coimbatore. It is a picture of Happy Streets!

An initiative of Times Of India Group and Coimbatore Police, Happy Streets is a programme wherein no vehicular traffic is allowed on the stretch covering the two streets between 7 AM to 10 AM on Sunday! It is an initiative to get citizens to walk that extra mile. An initiative to let people realize what they were missing. A Traffic, noise, stress and parking woes free roads!
A 'normal' Coimbatore street! 

You know the initiative is a hit when your children wake up on their own on a Sunday morning  at 6 AM! As it has been the case with many a household in Coimbatore ever since Happy Streets happened. You know the citizen support the initiative when polite notices and barricades asking people to cooperate by leaving their vehicles behind or take a diversion are adhered to with a smile. You know the programme is a success when the otherwise choc-a-bloc streets are free of honking cars, indisciplined bikers criss crossing or the arguments over parking are missing.

Look Mamma! I am climbing ladders!

You know you are onto a good thing when the above are replaced by a buzz! Buzz of human voices, chirp of children and an occasional ‘thwak’ of bat hitting the ball or a crescendo of a Laughter Club!

Cricket, Football Same Same!

Or showcase struggling art forms!


Can we ever be away from music and dance? Never!!

Dandia minus the danda!

Or simply give the Taekwando School a miss for a day. Only the school not Takewando!

Hooo Haaa!
Happy Street for us and Happy Street for them too. They would approve of Happy Hours too if it meant this!

Thank You Sir!

I am told this is not so unique an initiative, other cities also have or had such a programme. If such is the case, bravo Coimbatore for having joined the club. And if not, I hope other cities emulate the same. The sheer thrill of letting your hair down on the main roads far removed from the chaos that the streets witness is indeed a unique, relaxing and a refreshing experience.

One sore point though. While the citizen enjoyed the Happy Streets, what they left behind didn't leave a happy feeling. At least not for the folks in the picture below. Don't we owe them a Happy Street too Coimbatore?

Not So Happy Streets for them!


 PS: How I wish there were some thought provoking street plays too? C'mon Coimbatore! Streets are here, get in the play portion. Make the Happy Streets, Happier Streets!

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

When I grow up, I will.....

“What I want to be when I grow up?” I am sure none of us have escaped from this question. At least those of us who have had the good fortune of going to school and receiving some sort of a formal education.  This is possibly the most popular and oft repeated essay topic in primary schools of India. I was terrorized by it too. And like most of you reading this “I want to become a Doctor!” is possibly the most frightful chestnut, with the Engineers making it to a distant second in the list! (I am yet to see any child wanting to be a Cricketer or a singer or a social worker but then I digress!) However much I tried dodging the above question, I couldn’t. Not when the question carried 10 marks! The tryst with this question ended rather quickly for those lucky souls who didn’t have the ignominy of being selected to represent your school in elocution competition like yours truly was. On these occasions one had to have a loftier ambition as ‘suggested’ by the Class Teacher and I ended up as the Prime Minister on one occasion and a Nelson Mandela on the other! I also was a Soldier wanting to “save Mother India” on a few instances. By the time I was about to pass out from school the teachers after having a good look at me, my essay and my mark sheets, repeat, repeat once more,  ended up doing what the children now-a-days describe  as “lol” and “RoFL”! To cut the comedy short, I had no clue what I wanted to be and what I would eventually become. After meandering aimlessly through the college canteens and ‘cutting-class-to-watch-QSQT’ I suddenly grew up. A mandatory degree and a perfunctory PG later ended up running around like a lost ant ‘bechu da’!  

Those who know me personally and have been sending those “Happy Birthday Mate!” messages on Facebook would be quite surprised to be reading this note. I am sure they would be wondering why should somebody who is already well into his 2nd innings of his life be thinking what I want to be when I grow up? I agree. For those who came in late, I am indeed in that phase of my life where I have graduated from being  a Shahid Afridi (See the ball and Maaro!), moved past being Virendra Sehwag (Method behind the madness) to presently being in the Rahul Dravid Zone (Outside off, don’t take risk, Leave it!) A stage where the time I have already lived is likely to be more than the time I have at my disposal to live. A time when most kids address me as ‘uncle’ rather than the ‘anna’ that I had always been. A time when a dash of philosophy is permitted; nay expected of me.

It is not so much about money alone any more. I mean, of course I need money. Truckloads of it! I still have a long way to secure the future of two Indian citizens I have been blessed with. However I now have a craving for something more than these alone. The above are a chore, a responsibility, must be carried out and will be carried out. What I am now looking forward to is stop being an automaton and for a change live the life too! Today is as good a day to possibly share with you as to what I would like to do with this one life of mine. Believe me it didn’t take me any effort to jot down this list. If I have to think as to what to do and it is not top of my mind then I am most likely to be cheating myself and you. So here goes……..

I promise to myself this day that I will sing. As much as I can. Whenever I can. Whatever #SongPlayingOnMyMind. Whether anyone likes it or not! I will sing. For life. For me!

I promise I will not die till I master reading and writing my mother tongue Tamizh/Tamil. And I refuse to die till I have read every nugget written by Mahakavi Subramania Bharathi and devour Kalki’s epic Ponniyin Selvan.

 I promise to keep myself fit and healthy. As a regular blood donor I owe this to myself and to some needy soul somewhere that I am always in a position to do so till I live. And once the umpire up there raises his dreaded finger on me to signal I am out, I want to my mortal remains to be put to use for the benefit of my fellow travelers I leave behind. Hope my heart will beat in somebody’s bosom and my eyes will continue to see this beautiful world. 

They will continue to see the beautiful world...... 

May be it was planned. Maybe it was just a coincidence. May be it is my destiny. Whatever it may be. For whatever time I have left with me on this earth, I promise to live up to the name given to me by  parents! Anand! I promise to be happy. I promise to spread happiness!



I don’t think I can write the Post Script to this note. One of you would possibly have to do it. Only I am sure you will call it an Obituary whenever it is written, if at all!  

Bechu Da : Kolkata slang for Salesmen
Maaro : Hit!
Anna : Brother

Anand : Happy/Happiness