Tuesday, January 23, 2007

One Giant Leap for Mankind

By Gaurav Parab

I use the bus service to commute between work and home. Since there are different vendors at play (There are days when I wish they were at work), the buses are usually different from one another. What cannot be denied is that each bus has character and something different to offer.

The first thing you would notice when you step inside are the signs. And I swear I am not making any of these up.

“Please kept your bus clean”

Now isn’t that nice? I hope Mr. Please is alive.

Then there is this sign in one bus which says, “Closed the Window before leaving the bus”

Not an observation or a sign - A confession. “Ah! What the heck closed the window and painted that I did so”. In fact, I am planning to close one of them windows soon. And then I intend to write a simple – “Gaurav closed the window before leaving the bus” - In small, thoughtful solar powered LEDs.

Speaking of windows, we should be thankful for the appetizing similarities the windows have with slabs of tasty brown bread. Can any shade be better in preparing you for the waiting breakfast in the canteen? In fact, the Indian Army has a term for this. It is called ‘Acclimatization’. Soldiers are slowly eased into cold regions before they eventually move to Siachen.

The windows no longer need to be cleaned. They now have a permanent settled look to them. Would you ask Linford Christie to run faster? Would you ask Irfan Pathan to bowl any slower? Some things are a given. After all, why would you need to look out of the window on the Pune Bangalore highway, when all you would see is similar windows on similar buses? In fact, I suggest we remove all the windows and board them up. At least, we would have space for people to write “Closed the Windows before leaving the bus”.

Then there are the nice thoughtful clocks that some buses have. Tuned to different time zones (24 X 7) these clocks have managed to beat the Americans, Russians and all the bright minds of the People’s Republic who have been toiling to make time travel a reality. I got four words for you “We are already there”

My bus, unfailingly picks me up at 6.00 everyday, reaches the company at 6.00. After a hard 12 hour day, I leave for home at 6.00 and reach just before the clock turns to 6.01. Eat that NASA. I have been secretly working in a timeless dimension for nearly 2 years now. No wonder India enjoys a cost advantage. Leave the Forrester study for a moment, come and see my bus.

There are some inherent safety features that I think we should discuss. While the Japanese were talking in terms of the Quality Circle, we in India invested in the Quality Blob. (Blob is a shapeless object of 2 to 20 people jammed together to perform different functions, one of which could be drive quality control)

This is how it works. You would invariable see people standing in my bus. Do resist the temptation of passing judgment and saying that these fine individuals, even if they are standing, are performing no worthwhile function at all. Maybe as a single unit they can only think about what is wrong with the LDAP server, but as the Quality Blob they are on to bigger things. The Blob is a different animal altogether.

As the bus brakes, they all reach for the hanging handles suspended by the cross bar running through the center along the length of the bus. At that critical moment, what these individuals don’t realize is that not all buses have handles to hold on to. These people extend their right arms upwards, palm shaped to grip the non-existent handle. As realization dawns, they try to reach the giant crossbar. Just as the bus rapidly looses speed, these fine 20 individuals, now grouped together in a Blob, throw themselves towards the driver’s cabin, arms still pointing skywards.

When the driver glances in his rear view mirror, he see’s a large group of people charging towards him, with what looks like a giant invisible spear in their hands. An expression of displeasure regarding his driving skills clearly written on their face. He steps on the gas, to push the Blob back to their original position. He makes a mental note. The Blob may just land on his lap the next time. He needs to keep driving at a steady speed. Drive quality is enhanced. And baselined.

But what is the most important contribution the buses provide is towards space exploration. So, when the time comes for mankind to move on and leave earth, we are ready.

While the Russians invest nearly $ 5,000 per person on every flight of the IL - 76 aircraft to teach their Cosmonauts how it feels to work in a zero gravity environment, we in India spend about Rs 45 per programmer for the same. While the IL-76 dives suddenly into a parabolic free fall to create zero gravity for 10-15 seconds, our buses suddenly go into a free rise to create the same conditions for minutes at a stretch. In fact, with the municipality planning to dig all roads as part of its expansion program soon, our shuttles soon look forward to employees having thoughtful conversations about the LDAP server – while floating close to the ceiling.

One small pothole for a bus, one giant leap for everyone inside.


Anonymous said...

Indeed ur best one to date.. had me laughing all the way :).. Have read all ur posts on the BB and must say u hv a great sense of humour and a Mark Twain'ish way of writing (read sarcastic)...
Keep posting :D

Winner said...

This too is good

Imtiaz said...

good shtuff Gaurav. I like to write as well not as good as your bus piece... check out my yahoo 360 space... 360.yahoo.com/imtiaz0

coming soon a piece on how my wife joined Infy for a day and then resigned and how the HR jokers took 19 days to finally release her.... in the process making me drive a total of 4000km in 20 days....

aah it would be an interesting and definitely provocative piece (provocative for all InfyScions)....

Keep blogging

Anonymous said...


That was endearingly funny. I really enjoyed reading your article.


Anonymous said...

Tu lay bhari ahes……..

- Gouri

Anonymous said...

Man…u are at it again, eh? Very nicely written! Keep it up!

- Satish K

Anonymous said...

2 gud Gaurav!!!

This is the 2nd time, I’m writing u an appreciation mail. Looking at ur writing skills, I wonder, why don’t u get ur work published!!!!


Siddharth S

Anonymous said...

haha.. amazing as always. Good start to the day. Well, actually the day starts with a close encounter of the bird kind in our flying buses, but I choose to be oblivious to that and laugh to this instead

BTW.. I missed your 'Magic of the Written Word' session thanks to unforeseen circumstances (Any chance you'll have that session again and will the ones who missed out last time be invited again?


Anonymous said...

Good one man…

- Sachin S

Anonymous said...

Nice one

- Reema

Anonymous said...

Awesome one… u did keep your promise of having the second post… way to go dude..thanks for the laughs.


Anonymous said...

Couldn’t be a better start for the day!


Anonymous said...


Special mention – quality blob.

I thought you have recently become way too serious – too many poems and no trademark humor lately.

But now that you are back to your old ways I have no complaints.

You made my day in this absurd city!!!

Do keep it up!

- JM

Rohan said...

Great blog filled with creativity and humor. Keep it up :). These days haven't seen much from you on the bb.

kapil said...

Your 'pieces' (as we writers like to call it) have the pace and catchiness of a talk show and wit and pithiness straight out of a Douglas Adams book. You should explore a career as a stand-up comic (or sit-down, if you prefer 'bhartiya-baithak') or a talk show host, dude......