November 21, 2006

Driving Test

Indian drivers are known for their passionate distaste of traffic rules, liberal usage of the horn, and uncanny maneuvering abilities. They are also required to pass a rigorous written examination if they wish to obtain an authentic driving license. As a frequent “joy-walker” I must also be aware of proper road regulations. The top ten excerpts from the state of Karnataka’s practice test:

12. Which lane must you be in while making a right turn:-
a. any lane.
b. extreme left lane.
c. extreme right lane.

28. Before leaving a vehicle parked, you should:-
a. Turn the ignition key off.
b. Stop the engine, lock the ignition, remove the key, and set the hand brake.
c. Look the car.

56. Over speeding or dangerous driving:-
a. Attracts strict warning from the authorities.
b. Is an invitation to accident.
c. Is an offence and is punishable under the law.

72. A pedestrian is crossing the street at an intersection in an unmarked cross walk, you should:-
a. Yield or give the pedestrian the “right-of-way’.
b. Proceed with care as pedestrian is ‘joy-walking’.
c. Reduce speed and warn pedestrian.

87. When the Motor Vehicle Inspector demands any information:-
a. Not obligatory to furnish it.
b. It is obligatory to furnish it.
c. He can refuse.

102. Why do we have speed limits?
a. To keep the traffic within a safe speed for existing condition.
b. More vehicles can be used on roads.
c. Authority can identify who is speeding.

106. When you approach a barrier, it is:-
a. Obligatory to stop the vehicle.
b. Mandatory to stop the vehicle.
c. Caution to stop the vehicle

116. When a cow is standing across the road:-
a. As to and wait until it clears the road.
b. Pass if from front.
c. Pass it from behind.

134. A driver shall drive in ‘one way’:-
a. Always in the direction specified by sign board.
b. Reverse direction in emergencies.
c. Both ways on Sundays.

136. If you are fined for any traffic violations you must feel:-
a. Proud.
b. Humiliated.
c. To correct your attitude in future.

Answers: 12. (c), 28. (b), 56. (c), 72. (a), 87. (b), 102. (a), 106. (c), 116. (c), 134. (a), 136. (c)

The complete practice exam can be found on Karnataka’s Road Transport Office website.

November 17, 2006

Hyderabad Happenings

Between Hyderabad and its sister city Secunderabad lies the man-made Hussain Sagar lake (or “God’s gift to Hyderabad” as the signage proclaims). In the center of the lake is an island containing a gigantic Buddha Statue, which is illuminated once darkness approaches. When the statue was initially being ferried to the island it sunk. A few years later it was rescued from the depths, perfectly intact. I took a pleasant boat ride to visit this monument.


The Ganesh Chaturthi festival is celebrated with much aplomb in Hyderabad, with the bulk of the celebration centering on the lake where thousands of Ganesh idols are immersed. A substantial portion of the general population attends the event. After some strenuous, shouting, dancing, singing, powder spraying, and exploding of firecrackers, 3 or 4 men load the large idols onto a platform, which is then dropped into the water with the assistance a crane.


I feasted on a plethora of intriguing creatures such as rabbit, pigeon, and quail. These had to be ordered several days in advance, so that the restaurant owner/meat provider would have sufficient time to acquire the specimens from the “farm”. The tandoori rabbit was the most delicious of the bunch, followed closely by the pigeon. Arab-speaking companions found it humorous that Arnab (“rabbit” in Arabic) was eating rabbit. While a single rabbit can feed three grown men, it is advisable to order 2 pigeons per person as they do not contain much meat. Quail tastes like a combination of chicken and egg, which makes it quite a delicacy.


Due to my pending departure to Bangalore a few more farewell parties were held (9 in total). ARNABash (intern edition), ARNABash (coworker edition), Arnaberfest, and the Arnab Poker Challenge were attended by various luminaries. To illustrate the diversity of Satyam’s Crossover internship program, there were attendees from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Holland, India, Mexico, Poland, South Korea, Sudan, Sweden, Turkey, and UAE.


Alas, I had to separate myself from my biryani and depart the City of Pearls, but my immediate destination was to be the City of Joy, rather than the City of Gardens. Due to some technical issues that delayed my transfer to Bangalore, I was granted a vacation to Kolkata while the matter was being settled.


ARNABombshell Status: Boiling Hot! A suspected change in the weather patterns had made the female interns frosty. As news of my imminent exit from the local landscape reached the ears of the international ice princesses, their chilly disposition towards the Hyderabadi heartthrob melted away. Lunch, dinner, and other invitations were accepted by almost all. Full details will be revealed in the ARNABiography, to be published at a much later date.

November 10, 2006


Diwali and Eid, major festivals for Hindus and Muslims respectively, occur within a week of each other and have merged into an unofficial weeklong national holiday. During DiwalEid I planned to escape the urban chaos of Bangalore for the luxurious greenery and beaches of Kerala. With catchphrases such as “On earth there is no heaven, only pieces of it…” and “God’s Own Country”, Kerala was able to live up to its boasts.

My trip began in Cochin, a collection of islands and an area on the mainland that combine to form a natural harbor. Some of its attractions are Chinese fishing nets, the oldest church in India, and a Jewish settlement (appropriately known as Jewtown). Next I went on a 22 hour backwater trip through the canals and waterways of Kerala while relaxing on a houseboat complete with cook, pilot, and a motor. I was accompanied by a German.

Following this we headed to the capital city of Kerala, Trivandrum and visited beaches such as Varkala and Kovalam. One day was spent journeying to the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu to visit the tip of India – Kanyakumari. A brief but turbulent ferry ride transported me to the Vivekananda Rock Memorial and a giant statue. Adhering to Indian subcontinental tradition, the ferry was overloaded. At this point, the Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean, and Arabian Sea converge and it is possible to see the different shades of water.

November 09, 2006

Bangalore Bound

For my transfer to Bangalore from Hyderabad, Satyam generously provided me with two weeks of hotel stay. The hotel was located in a central part of Bangalore called Austin Town. To be more precise, it was officially in Austin Town Extension, or “Echechu” as the rickshaw drivers preferred to call it. My first impressions of Bangalore were below expectations. When coming to Hyderabad I had no expectations, and they were greatly exceeded. For Bangalore, on the other hand, I was expecting a shining IT hub. What I saw resembled more of a petting zoo than the “Silicon Valley of India”. Apart from the generic cows and dogs encountered on many Indian streets, there were also chickens, goats, boars, rodents, and horses roaming around. The sewers are covered by a series of imaginatively shaped concrete slabs which combine to form the sidewalks. Frequently they are missing, leaving holes of varying sizes for the inattentive passerby to trip on or fall into. What Bangalore does have in common with North American metropolises is the congested traffic and heavy pollution, which causes me great discomfort.


To my added disappointment, mixed accommodation, even for foreigners, (i.e. Males and females living in the same apartment) was a taboo. This was unlike Hyderabad or Chennai, two places considered to be much more conservative in their outlook. Thus my options were reduced to (1) living with non-Indian males or (2) living with Indian males. The decision between these two undesirable options came down to one thing – bathrooms. Option (1) would have involved sharing 3 bathrooms between 14 people, and option (2), 3 bathrooms between 8 people. Option (2) prevailed due to its superior 14:3 male:bathroom ratio. Incidentally, that is also the male:female coworker ratio at Satyam, which is still preferable to the 9:1 ratio encountered in the Computer Science department at university. I moved into a flat in a residential area of Bangalore called Cooke Town by some and Cox Town by others. Cockroaches have an affinity to my room in this flat, particularly to my bed sheet and towel. Being a noble and glorious soul, I bought a canister containing some form of poison gas and went on a cockroach crusade.


ARNABombshell Update: Cold (or 25 degrees for Indians). The absence of female flatmates, an average 9pm curfew for girls staying in hostels, paying guests, or with their parents, and vegetarian dietary habits severely restricts my access to or interest in the Bangalore bombshells.