An Empty Parking Spot

An Empty Parking Spot
27/06/2018

An Empty Parking Spot

“I got complimented on my parking today. Someone left a note that said PARKING FINE” – anonymous.

Ever wondered what it must feel like to be a vacant parking spot? To listen to people arguing over who saw you first? How must it feel to be so wanted?

Everyone who drives a motor vehicle is familiar with the woes of finding parking. It’s always a gamble, setting out of your house headed to your workplace or the mall or even the supermarket. Will you get parking? Or worse, what if you do get parking but you end up getting towed?

Or the situation is reversed. You’re driving on narrow lanes, bumping into potholes, trying to drive around the occasional cow and find yourself stuck behind a parked lorry or taxi. You curse and honk away for all that you’re worth but its of no use because the driver of the parked vehicle is MIA.

And the rest is history.

India is notorious for narrow roads and more vehicles than it can take resulting in traffic jams whether or not there’s a traffic light. Statistics reveal that more than 40% of Indian roads are occupied for parking. Without designated parking sections like in developed countries, there’s no option but to park where there’s space available. This leads to congestion.

Things have really escalated if a trip to the movies with a bunch of friends turns into the Indian version of nightmare on elm street. Except this time, the horror is a long waiting line for a parking spot and its not elm street, its DLF Mall of India.

You’re not just late for the movie by a few minutes, by the time you find a good spot that is legal and not to far from the mall, you arrive right on time for the interval.

British start-up JustPark has been delivering top notch solutions to this menace in the UK through an app-based service. The app matches drivers on the hunt for a parking spot with available spots in in commercial and public car parks, and private parking spaces. Founded a decade ago, it continues to provide some relief and a quick solution to the rat race.

India’s answer to parking issues includes apps like Parking Rhino, Get my Parking and more.

But the simpler solution is to simply reduce the number of vehicles on the streets by switching to a carpool. From “I’m late because I couldn’t find parking” you could go to “I’ve been clocking in early for the past week, give me a raise.”, and that’s the kind of glow up you really want.

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  Movies with a Message

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  Movies with a Message

                                                                           

 “I’m interested in the impact my movies have on people and how it affects them, and what they like and what they don’t like- and what they take away from it. What leaves an impression you know?” – Thomas Jane, actor.

Movies are entertainment for the masses. Nobody says no to a good movie with a great plot, stunning actors and a happy ending. But, some movies are more than that; are more than what they seem to be. These movies take what seems like a mainstream story and discreetly insert environmental messages into its layers. In some, the green message is all you can see, and in others, it is lurking in the backdrop.

For example, the 2009 James Cameron helmed Avatar. It is an important movie not only because it is the highest grossing movie of all time, but because it shines the spotlight on one of the most critical issues we face today: climate change, environmental degradation, declining health due to pollution, and the list is quite endless.

In Avatar, James Cameron directs the movie so skilfully that we find ourselves sympathising with the indigenous and disliking the humans who are trying to take over their land…until we realise that we ourselves are doing the same thing to our own home. We are the villains in our story.

Avatar sends a powerful message in terms of what kind of situation the Earth will be in, a few centuries from now on. Thankfully, this masterpiece is not the only movie on the list.

Here are 6 other movies that glow with a green message:

 

  1. The Lorax

The Lorax is a delightful animated version of Dr.Seuss’ popular book of the same name. It tells the story of the Once-ler, who in blind greed, cuts down an entire forest and eco system to make his business prosper and reach new heights and little boy who tries to undo this mistake.

The movie quickly spirals into a thrilling adventure of a cat and mouse chase in the attempt to save the last surviving seed.

If you haven’t seen this movie, it’s a must watch for children and adults alike.

 

  1. Erin Brockovich

This 2000 movie based on the real life experiences of Erin Brockovich isn’t exactly an environmentally based film; however it shows the devastating effects of pollution and chemical waste on animal and human health.

With Julia Roberts in the lead, this movie is a winner on all accounts.

 

  1. 2012

As the title suggests, 2012 showcases the famous Mayan prediction that the world will come to an end in the year 2012.

It is perhaps one of the most watched movies after Avatar which deals directly with the environment.  The movie brings out the poignancy in human nature in the face of survival. With superb CGI effects, it will bring you to the edge of your seat in excitement and anticipation. It delivers the whole package.

The Mayans may have gotten their prediction wrong about the year, but to put it bluntly, we are giving mother earth a slow and painful death.

 

  1. Moana

Moana has the genius of Walt Disney Animation Studios with the voice of Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson. That should be ample reason to watch the movie. Although, there must be a few people who haven’t watched this beauty, if you already have, watch it again.

This time, focus on the smaller stuff. Notice the subtle references to how the earth is slowly slipping into the same state as the island Moana is so desperately trying to save.

Imagine, if the Goddess Te Fiti actually existed and became the red eyed demoness in her anguish and rage, tried to wreck the world apart.

Yeah, I wouldn’t like that much either. Also, the very sexy Maui is a crude representation of what us humans think about our technological progress and inventions. To Maui, his actions are justified in trying to bring glory to the lesser beings and playing hero. That didn’t turn out too well did it?

Now where have I heard of a similar story of people going out their way to make life easier and instead ended up turning the green, green earth all brown and wasted?

 

  1. Wall-E

Keep your tissue box ready for this one. Wall-E is the story of a lonely robot that is responsible for cleaning up the e-waste that was left behind on earth when the humans packed up and left to go and exploit other resources.

The sheer amount of electrical waste it desperately tries to clean is eye-popping.  And then to realise that if Pixar really wanted to make the movie look as authentic as possible, it needn’t have worked so hard on the animation. All they had to do was shoot the movie in an e-waste dump in some corner of a third world country. Same thing, really.

 

  1. Happy Feet

Surely everyone has watched this adorable emperor penguin starring offering from Warner Bros. But did you pay attention to the scene where one of the penguins ends up choking on a manmade item in innocent curiosity.

This is the reality of marine life that is constantly dying due to the waste that is being thrown into the oceans and they surface to the shore with their bodies stuffed with plastic.

With peppy songs and over the top cute penguins, this movie is a must watch for everyone. And if you have already seen it, well, watch it again. At least for the penguins who will soon be extinct.

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Episode 2

mother nature
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Episode 2

I can’t believe this.” I said. “You’ve filled my house with all the empty take-away coffee cups I’ve discarded over the past month?!”

Yes, well, I thought it would be a good way to show you what exactly you’re doing to MY house, and honestly, this-“‘Earth’ gestured vaguely with her hand. “This doesn’t even begin to cover it!” she raised her voice shrilly.

But-but you’ve made my house STINK!” I was losing my mind.

You’re making my house stink too, you know? You’ve been making it stink for over 100 years now! What am I to do about that eh?”There was a sudden rumble. And just like that, the only clock I owned crashed to the floor.

Earth looked at the shattered pieces silently. “Sorry about that. I didn’t mean to lose my temper.” Her shoulders sagged and she looked so miserable that I felt my anger evaporating.

You do know there are over a billion people living in ‘your’ house and dirtying it and you choose to fill my house with garbage?”I asked. “What’s the deal?”

She frowned and said, “I don’t know, I gravitated towards you because you looked pretty lonely, I guess.” She shrugged.

My insides twisted like a pretzel. “That’s below the belt. Even for someone like you. I am not lonely.” I hissed at her. “I just prefer to be alone.”

Hey, whatever floats your boat. But I wish I could be like you in that case, because you happen to be killing all MY friends!” she lashed out again.

I sighed. “All right. What would you have me do? Given your way, I mean.”

She looked up. There was a strange light in her eyes. “Actually, that was the point of my cornering you like this. It’s all part of my grand plan to take matters into my own hands and-“

All right all right, come to the point.” I said, interrupting her before she got worked up again.

Her eyes glittered. “One week. Give me one week’s time to tail you everywhere and teach you how to treat me better. I’m confident that by the time I’m done, you’ll be leaving a much smaller trail of chemicals and garbage behind you.’’

I blinked, speechless.

Do I have a choice?” I edged.
“Uh, no. Not at all.” She smiled cheerfully.

I huffed and turned towards the colossal heap of plastic overflowing over my mouldy couch. “Do I take that as a yes?” she asked, behind me.

I closed my eyes. Truth be told, I was rather alarmed at what she’d shown me. Is that how much coffee I drank in a month? With a sickening thought, I realized just how much waste I would’ve created all my life. I took a deep breath.

Okay. I’m in.” I turned towards her. “However, im gonna have to find another place to crash. I can’t take the smell anymore.”

Oh, I can fix that. Don’t worry.” She snapped her fingers and the smell disappeared.

I whipped around to see my room looking exactly like I’d left it in the morning. “Good old fashioned magic huh.” I whistled.

Yup. And you better get to bed early. Netflix is no longer an option. You won’t believe what I’ve got in store for you.” She said, clapping her hands enthusiastically.

Careful” I warned. “You might start a tornado or something.”

She rolled her eyes. “I’ll be back when you wake up.” She said, walking out of the door.

Wait! Where will you sleep?” I caught the door before it swung shut again.

She was gone.

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Traffic- A Revolutionary Evolution

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In the beginning of Damien Chazelle’s La La Land, on a searing hot highway in Los Angeles, the first visual that greets us is a bumper to bumper traffic jam that transforms into a vibrant dance number. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t imagined and hoped that the same thing would happen to me when I was stuck in a traffic snarl myself.

Commuting to the workplace for 2 hours everyday is no joke, when all you have for company is yourself and the stereo system and the endless honkers around you.

If you have read any of the previous blogs on carpooling and pollution, you must know by now, that there is an alarming number of vehicles on the streets of Delhi; a number that has gained international attention.

Have you ever been stuck in a traffic jam that was so bad that you found a bullock cart not finding it very difficult to match the pace of your fancy Maruti Suzuki?; Or a group of school children making their way past your window, while your speedometer was stuck at 5kms/hr, staring into the sea of glaring red brake lights outside your windshield?

If you haven’t, according to the Hindustan Times, that day might not be far off. To quote HT, “Experts say unless immediate steps are taken to unclog its roads, Delhi might find itself crawling at 5kmph-the average speed of a human walking-in the next 10 years.”

Delhi gained international attention from the WHO for being one of the most polluted cities in the world, added to that, the capital got nicknamed ‘India’s Asthma Capital’ , courtesy of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

Like the evolution of humans, traffic in our cities has also evolved, faster than us. Let’s put a brake (pun intended) on that highway (double pun intended) on that shall we?

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Episode – 1

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Episode – 1

It all started when I left the coffee shop. With the last of my caramel latte  sloshing around in my cup, I make my way back to the office.

It was a clear day, the noon sun high in the sky and blazing down on the hot tarmac.  I take a last, grateful sip of the cold drink and throw it aside. I’d walked a few steps forward when I realised that something was amiss. I hadn’t heard the sound of the cup hitting the street.

I stop and look back. There was nothing in the place where the cup should’ve been. Had it been carried away by the wind? But it was a still day. There wasn’t a trace of breeze. I decided to dismiss it as my imagination running wild and move on.

                                                 *******

Mulling over the end of another uneventful day, I walk down the road to my little studio apartment and see a little figure standing motionless next to the door.

I walked slowly down to the door and see that it’s a woman. She’s slightly shorter than me and dressed in a flabby shirt with her hair in a loose bun.

“Can I help you? “ I ask, squinting down at her in the dim light of the overhead bulb.

“Are you Tara?” she asks with a small smile.

“Yes…I’m sorry, do I know you?”

“Oh no. But I wish you did” she says mysteriously.

“Excuse me?”

She holds out her hand. “You can call me Gaia or Tonantzin or, if you prefer to keep it local, Bhuma Devi. It’s nice to meet you Tara.”

I don’t quite know what to say to that.

“Cat got your tongue?” she tilts her head slightly.

“What? I’m sorry, I think you’ve got the wrong person. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to..uh..go. “ I push the door open and slam it shut behind me. I run up the stairs and almost run right into the woman from the front door.

“HOW ON EARTH DID YOU DO THAT?”  I yell, frightened out of my wits.

She bursts out laughing. “Funny you should ask” she gasps, holding her stomach.

“I’m going to call the police.” I say as I whip  my phone out, slightly panicking now. “Oh, don’t bother dear. You won’t receive any signal. I’ve notified the clouds and they’ve promised me they would block your phone’s reception.” She smiles cheerfully as it was her regular hobby to corner strangers and block their connectivity. But dammit, unbelievably she’s right. I look ay my phone now,  which is flashing the ‘No Signal’ sign. 

“All right. How much do you want? “ I ask, defeated.

“How much do I want of what? “ Her expression changes.

“Money of course!”

“You think I’m a petty thief? Actually, that’s ironical, given your position…” She trails off.

There’s a minute of silence where I’m too dumbfounded to say anything.

“Who are you then? And what the hell do you want?” I’m desperate. I can’t enter my apartment knowing she’d be lurking around.

She gives me a benign smile.

“I’ve told you that, haven’t I?  Tara, I’m the Earth. This my human form.” She says, spreading her hands dramatically.

I raise my eyebrows. “Okay, nice try. But it’s too early for Halloween and that’s a terrible costume.”

“So you don’t believe me then?”

“Of course I don’t.” I scoff.

She sighed. “You leave me with no choice. Open the door.”

“What?”

“Open your apartment’s door Tara. Just do it, it won’t kill you.”

Feeling like I’ve got nothing to lose, I insert the key in the lock and push the door open and switch the light on.

What I see inside almost makes me lose my mind.

“Welcome home.”

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A Carpool a Day, Keeps the Traffic at Bay

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A Carpool a Day, Keeps the Traffic at Bay

 

For those who have been living under a rock, ride-sharing or carpooling, as it is more popularly known, is when the owner of a car offers to share the available space in his or her car with other people who are headed in the same direction. This reduces the number of vehicles on the roads significantly and also facilitates the sharing of the petrol cost, because let’s face it, petrol prices in our country is higher than some of our life goals.

Carpooling is like a blessing in disguise for people who travel solo in their car for close to 2 hours to reach their workplace. The traffic snarls, the long hours, and the solitude, it’s bound to take its toll. Also, by travelling alone, we’re wasting an enormous amount of space which could be otherwise usefully occupied by a co-worker, for example.

R.B. Fuller said- “Pollution is nothing but the resources we are not harvesting. We allow them to disperse because we’ve been ignorant of their value.”

There are over 30 lakh cars in Delhi alone. Even if 50% of these are occupied by a single person, the number is still alarming. Now, if 2 people join one ride, a car is taken off the street. And this represents only one scenario. If 10000 cars stay put in their parking garages for a day, it will make all the difference.

Jatin Kuberkar’s book ‘Cabbing all the way’ strings together 4 years of carpooling into one rib tickling memoir. Thought carpooling was unheard of in India? Think again.

Across the world, Stanford University gives its students and staff a plethora of incentives to share their commute to their campus every day. Below is a testimonial published on its website.

“I tried carpooling because I was driving by myself 37 miles to work each day. I thought you know, let’s put a whole bunch of people in the car and get more cars off the road and spend less money.”- Emily Erwin, Media Production Manager, Stanford Center for Professional Development.

Carpooling has made it big in European countries. Germany has Carpooling.com and France boasts of BlaBla Car. In an interview with Heureka, Markus Bernikel, CEO of Germany based company, Carpooling stated- “We’ve (also) saved 430,000,000 Litres of gas. And 860,000 tons of Carbon Emissions.”

That’s a lot of zeroes isn’t it? With India having a population that is almost 2 times that of these countries, India should be the leading country to totally slay at the carpooling game.

Still think Carpooling is not a good idea? James Corden makes a living out of Carpool Karaoke segment on YouTube, carpooling and singing with some of the biggest celebrities on the planet.

And on that *high* note, I rest my case.

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Carpool Etiquette

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Carpool Etiquette

Did you know people find their life partners in the strangest places? You’ve probably read dozens of stories about them. A German carpooling app giant claims their users met while carpooling and ended up getting married!

DISCLAIMER: We do not guarantee that you will also find yourself a hot date for this Saturday night. What we do believe is that if you follow the steps given below, you’ll at least find a companion whom you can vent to about the disastrous date you had the previous night. It’s a win-win situation!

Let’s just say that you’re about to take your first carpool ride. You’re sharing somebody’s car or you’re sharing your car with someone else. Also, if you’ve never been in a carpool before, where’ve you been? Living under a rock?

For all you first timers, (and old timers too) here is a list of 5 golden tips to keep in mind while ride sharing. Follow these so you can make sure you’re not only comfortable during your ride, but also, have a good time. After all, why should James Corden have all the fun?

  1. Keep your hands to yourself

It’s always a good idea to not fiddle with the knobs and buttons of a car’s dashboard when you’re riding with a relatively new person you don’t know all that well yet. Unless your companion has made it clear that they don’t mind you making any changes, like changing the radio station, refrain from doing anything that might make them self-conscious. Just hum Selena Gomez’s ‘Hands to Myself’ to give yourself a little reminder and you’ll be good to go.

  1. Punctuality

Now, this may sound like a boring and tedious task to all you lazy ones out there, BUT, tardiness is not a quality appreciated in the carpooling community. Decide on a fixed time well before the scheduled ride so that everyone reaches where they need to be on time. You don’t want your friend to be late to their workplace because of you, do ya?

  1. Be in a good mood

Let’s be real, we all have our morning hassles. You probably had a fight with your partner about who burnt the toast. Or maybe, your dog peed all over the carpet. Maybe you’re just running late. Whatever the case, leave your temper at the front door when you shut it. It’s not going to be the rosiest of rides if you show up for your carpool looking like black thunder. Your carpool friend is most likely not your therapist. Take a deep breath, smile and hop in.

  1. Keep your vehicle clean

It’s an ominous start to the day when you drive up to pick up your carpool buddy and they have to gingerly pick up a stray Starbucks coffee cup before they take a seat. It doesn’t leave a good impression when you have to constantly apologize for a lonely sock next to somebody’s feet that you hastily shove under the seat or an auxiliary cable that’s poking into their leg because they accidentally sat on it. We’ve all been there. Therefore make it a point to tidy up your car a little before leaving your house.

  1. Have FUN

Nobody said a carpool has to be a tedious task that we only tolerate to reduce air pollution and reduce traffic. It can be the best part of your day if you wish to make it that way. Be nice, talk about that clown in your office, tell a funny story about your pet and above all, BOND with the person sitting next to you.

  • You probably chose to carpool for similar reasons so use this as opportunity to make a new friend!
  • Pi Patel never imagined he’d sail across the ocean with a tiger for company but he managed to make the most of it, didn’t he?
  • All I’m saying is keep your options open.
  • You never know, you might get into the car and it could be love at first sight. Who’s to say what might happen?

Sai Amritha

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Pollution is in the house

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Pollution is in the house

 

“Water and air, the 2 essential fluids on which all life depends have become global garbage cans.”- Jacques-Yves Cousteau.

When Cousteau said the above quote, he hit the nail right on the head. WE humans have taken Mother Nature for granted where we treat Her like our household garbage bin. The only difference is, we cannot shift the garbage we generate outside the planet like we do in our house.

At the rate we’re going, one would almost be under the assumption that if we use up this space we’ve been blessed with, we can just pack up and move to another planet which is on standby, just in case something goes wrong with Earth. But this is real life, and not James Cameron’s Avatar.

Here are a few number cookies to munch on.
According to the World Health Organization, air pollution is contamination of the indoor or outdoor environment by any chemical, physical or biological agent that modifies the natural characteristics of the atmosphere.

In a 2014 survey conducted by the World Health Organization, New Delhi ranks No.1 out of 1600 cities in the world in terms of PM2.5, to have the worst air quality. That’s a list we’ve topped for all the wrong reasons. In addition to that, Delhi is also the 3rd most populated city in the world with the numbers reaching 25 million and rising every day. To be clear, more than 25 million people are breathing the worst oxygen in the world. Feeling a little clammy yet?

As per RTO 2016, Delhi is one of the Indian cities with the highest number of cars with more than 30 lakh cars spewing poisonous gases which we inhale as a part of our daily diet.In a year, around 3000 people in Delhi die prematurely as a result of this.

However, the spotlight has been shown enough. Enough summits and international conferences have been held around the world. We need to stop looking to our political leaders to take all the action while we sit in front of the television and alternate between different news channels.

Change cannot be brought about by one person. Strikes and protests only increase awareness in a few individuals. More has to be done than just talking about it. We need to get out on to the streets and practice what we protest. In our daily life.

There are dozens of different ways to reduce pollution in our country. You can adopt at least one. Let the capital set the example for the rest to follow.

Otherwise we might realize that the pollution apocalypse might arrive sooner than expected. And there’s no plan B. Or C.

Sai Amritha

 

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