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Archive for June, 2008

TTD Inc.

A recent visit to TTD in Thirupati made me realize how commercialized temples have become these days. Before making it uphill to visit Him, me and my family visited His wife residing at some distance from the  foothills. On the one hand were the officials who were looking out for suicide bombers and terrorists, while on the other were middlemen who would take people in through the exit – here’s another definition of bending rules. We first had to find the counter hidden behind the public toilet there, pay forty whole rupees per person and obtain a quick darshan ticket, after which we get to join the stampede. I don’t understand the point in calling the so called special-entry ticket as quick darshan, for either ways one gets to see the deity inside for not more than 5 seconds (5.8s if you are lucky). Finally after being squashed in the queue, I got a glimpse of the idol inside. Just when I thought it’s over, I noticed temple staff standing outside giving out thertham and placing the chatari over everyone’s head. It seems to me that they’ve become very adept at executing their duties with just their right hand, so their left hand is open facing upwards with a folded ten rupee note (indicating that you’re not to offer donations of denominations any lesser). Only after all this did I notice the gold plating of the central shrine – and at once I realized where my darshan-ticket money went! The amount of money they’ve invested in placing color CCD cameras all over the place could have been used up to teach the people standing in the queue to maintain one-arm’s distance with the person standing in front. Furthermore, I happened to notice that the 40 rupee ticket entitles you to collect two ladoos free of cost – now here’s an effective marketing strategy! Finally thinking that my ordeal for the night is over, I walked up to my car (parked on the side of a road – which by no means is a parking space) and started my car when a man sprang out of nowhere to issue a parking ticket to me – I then realized that his sole job was to issue those tickets and not guide the cars coming in.

This isn’t the end of the journey – Thirumala hill was still worse still. The AP police have a checkpost wherein every vehicle intending to go uphill is to be checked. There’s a group of officers who check every passenger, run their hands through the baggages and then clear you through. If by any chance your vehicle has more than the prescribed number of people (4+1 for a santro), the extras would have to step out or else your pass would be cancelled. Furthermore, putting up an “L” sticker on your car is now a hazard (even if the person driving is an experienced one) – I didn’t know that a car with a learner’s sign could make problems going uphill. So I stepped out, boarded a jeep behind (and that driver made an additional 30 rupees thanks to me) and endured 40 minutes of jolting before I reached the entrance of holy town uphill. We hunted for accommodation there for an hour and finally slept. The joy ride continued next morning when we had a darshan of the deity uphill. After being pushed out of the central shrine like dogs being shooed (this was special treatment because the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh had an appointment with Him uphill), we went to the free-prasad counter wherein ten rupees earned me two extra ladoos exactly one inch in diameter. Once out of the temple, I stepped into the final queue to collect the ladoos as part of my darshan ticket. Finally after this we left Thirupati.

Now here’s an experience that’s taught me several valuable lessons. Here’re my nuggets to anyone intending to visit TTD:

keep enough keep enough ten-rupee notes with you (they help bribing people)
possible bribe hot spots:
free-prasad counters
the staff pushing people inside the main shrine
the lost guide like guy standing beside the ticket issuing counter
be prepared to spend at least half an hour searching for a parking space
forget you own a mobile phone and leave it in your car – it’s bound to get you into troubleten-rupee notes with you (they help bribing people)
possible bribe hot spots:
free-prasad counters
the staff pushing people inside the main shrine
the lost guide like guy standing beside the ticket issuing counter
be prepared to spend at least half an hour searching for a parking space
forget you own a mobile phone and leave it in your car – it’s bound to get you into trouble
  • keep enough ten-rupee notes with you (they help bribing people)
  • possible bribe hot spots include the free-prasad counters, the staff pushing people inside the main shrine, and that lost guide like guy standing beside the ticket issuing counter
  • be prepared to spend at least half an hour searching for a parking space
  • forget you own a mobile phone and leave it in your car – it’s bound to get you into trouble
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Aangilam again

School days make us nostalgic in more than one way – innocent infatuations, ruthless running around campus without meaning, and the list goes on. One thing that makes us laugh every time we think of school is the language used by most physical education trainers, who’re more fondly called PT sirs. I’ve even enjoyed discussing some of the quotes my trainer with peers from other schools. I present to you some of the ones I’ve cherished – I’m sure you’d have heard many of them yourself.

  • Sit together separately
  • I saw you three going doubles last evening
  • I have two daughters – both girls
  • Stand in a straight circle
  • Open the window, let the atmosphere come in (or for that matter, let the air force in would fit in just as much) – and for those of you wondering when the trainers come inside classrooms, they do so when they act as proxies for other teachers

And I had Nikhil add some more to glorify the list

  • Boys, come in! (to call us to attention)
  • Tell 1,2 da! (to split the class into two lines)
  • Principal is passing away (when they mean to say passing-by)
  • There is no wind in the ball, da! (priceless)
  • She talking, me talking – middle middle why you talking?

… and that brings us to my all time favorite: “boys stand to my left, girls to my right, and others in the middle.”

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