4 November 2010

Garbage Evangelism

In our cities, an overflowing garbage bin by the roadside is a common sight. Not only is the bin filled to the brim, but because of the stink, many do not even bother to empty their waste into the bin but rather around it. This leads to the perfect eyesore. The bins are also magnets for many young adults in the recycling business. Many a times, perched on top or by the side of the bin, is a young man in tatters, rummaging through the garbage, quietly sorting out what would get him money and what won't.

Does it have to be this way?

There is certainly money in Garbage. Otherwise, no young man would be going through it without as much as a glove or face mask. Ergo, I have been contemplating a business with my title being Garbage Evangelist.
To me what is distasteful is someone having to dig through muck to find their gold. What if we can convince householders to sort the waste themselves? And then have the recyclers pick them up from home? The biggest problem here is convincing people to sort their waste. It requires commitment and space. There in lies the biggest caveat of my business idea. There are so many apartment complexes that I see springing up (even my own for that matter) where if people were to sort their waste, not only would it benefit the environment, but that perfect eyesore may actually get less stinky. It amazes me that no one in this building is bothered that right at the entrance of our complex are two bins exactly as I have been describing above. This is also Banjara Hills, the 90210 of Hyderabad, yet no one considers the garbage bins worth their attention. Apathy I suppose, is a different rant altogether.

My vegetable vendor commented the other day that in the 15 years he has existed in his corner I am the only regular customer to bring a bag! I was quite happy to note that at the Ryathu Bazaar, you have to bring your own bag or buy one (plastic!!) before you enter the market. This was a tangential self complimentary passage.

I am interested in knowing how it would be possible to organize the "recyclers", engage the locality with them and set up a chain of "door to recycling" system. It means integrating newspaper and bottle collection walas, the people who pick through garbage, the household/ industry that generates waste and the people who run the recycling plants. Maybe such a system already exists and those of us who recycle can plug into it? I have been discussing this idea with many people and they all agree that the biggest problem is convincing people to sort their waste. One person suggested providing an incentive to sort - coupons to the local beauty parlour! This was spawned because we assumed that it's women who would do the sorting and making it lucrative for them might be a way to go.

What I am certain of, is that this cannot be an NGO idea. We can't expect people to act from the goodness of their heart; empowerment to the recyclers too can only come through capitalism. I don't have an MBA but what I know of business is that there is going to be profit and loss. I understand that selling the sorted stuff makes money but would that be enough to cover the cost of labour and incentives? Also, I would like this model to provide a mechanism for the recyclers to benefit from the amount of work their put in - more households they convince to sort, the more "clean" garbage they collect, the more their dividends should be.

One thing that really bothers me about my current recycling program is that all I know is that my maid gets money for all the things I set aside. But what happens to them once they are sold? Does it really make it to a recycling plant? It yes, what does each item recycle into?

My thoughts on this post are the like thoughts in my head about this matter: scattered. But I am certain that there is merit in the idea. Anyone know more about what I am talking about?

On a similar issue, a friend pointed it out to a blog to me, a group that actually acts on its rants: http://www.theuglyindian.com/

29 August 2010

Tetris Traffic

There are people in this world, who when you meet, envelope you with their light of compassion, gentleness and calmness. I am not one of those people on a good day and even less so, when behind the wheel in India. Something about driving here brings out the Shaitaan in me.

N got us a car so that we could run our errands and have a life outside of the auto circuit. My world view now can technically expand beyond Road no 12. Yet, each time I take Nandi, our car, out on the streets everything that is wrong in our attitude as Indians hits me in the face.

The traffic light is a stop light purely in the optional sense. Till the light switches to green the entire block of vehicles is involved in a giant game of tetris - nudging, swerving and edging into crevices so that when the light does pop, we are in the most convenient position to skip it. It doesn't matter where you want to be - left or right; after the light,what matters is - have you crossed it?

I started driving at 18; my Dad insistent that this was one skill I should learn as soon as legally possible. I went through a driving school: one of those places where the instructor is a sarcastic man who think women make lousy drivers. Although, in the end it's all for the the good because his chief talent is not teaching, but ensuring that on D Day you pass your driving test. My family of course, did not buy the credentials of the driving school and after I got the license I was put through the back seating driving instructions of all the adults who drove our cars: mum, dad AND grandma. Having all three together, I imagined sometimes, was like being a charioteer in the Mahabharat war.

I drove to college everyday with mother by my side hearing constantly "Don't go beyond third"; the magical gear beyond which our Maruti 800 turned into a Porsche. Other unforgettable advice from mother dearest included: "Drive slowly, you don't know when a child/dog/cow/buffalo might wander on to the road"; which remains solid advice even today. Given this history then I was smugly happy when the parents visited me in the States. Ah-ha, only I can drive here and that too, in MY car. Sweetness. This emotion was short-lived. On a drive from Long Island to New Jersey, my dad chided me for not pulling up the handbrake when I stopped for the light and then later as the car picked up speed, he slept in the back seat, requesting the radio be off. Where he left off, my mother started. She watched the speedometer intently, not pausing to blink even and orally recited the speed every five seconds. I had my very own speed gun and FYI, I have never got a speeding ticket in the States.

Well, I digress from my rant. Driving in India makes me mad and fills me with moral righteousness which is completely unjustified at times. I am in the middle of reading a book by V Raghunathan "We are like that only" where the author makes an attempt to draw analogy of our lousy choice making to game theory. It's an interesting read: the author himself starts out by talking about how he cuts lines in India! However, these intellectual pursuits do not aid whatsoever in a better driving experience in India.

I never enjoyed computer games so I do not possess either cunning or the agility to grasp a quickly changing traffic scene. Consequently, I sit at lights for minutes on end; annoyingly, this city has pathetic choice of FM stations as well. There is only so much Telugu pop one can take! I have to admit then, driving in the States was a much more pleasant experience and I miss the orderliness and NPR.

16 July 2010

31 and counting ...

It's the time of the year again - when the phone doesn't stop ringing and another year has been attached to my age.

I go through ups and downs about my feelings on how to celebrate my birthday. For some years I didn't think that a big deal need be made of it but on others, I would like it to be an event. Some of the best birthdays in fact was while I was in Stony Brook; there was a lab celebration, a home celebration with L & E, celebration with N in New York and then a celebration in NJ. It was a week along affair.

And this birthday I wanted to have some drama so I informed my partner that I expected to be given a present every single day for a week preceding my Birthday. And what did I get: seed packets! Everyday I got a different seed pack, mainly Basils with a lone oregano to break the routine. I was quite impressed with the gifts actually but to give myself credit I had requested these seeds; they just arrived one day at a time.

Otherwise, life is good. As I did last year, I am writing a letter to myself just to keep track of how I am growing. I read the letter I wrote last year and it's interesting that events that I expected to have resolution about have indeed occurred.

Happy Birthday to me.

5 July 2010


I think its a foregone conclusion that Rahul Gandhi is going to one day lead the nation in the position of the biggest cheese aka Prime Minister of the Republic of India.

So as someone who considers (ahem) her tax contributions seriously – I really want to know what the deal is with this gentleman.

Scholar (ahem, ahem) that I am I started at what I consider the backbone of character: Education. I am not much of a detective so I went to wikipedia to look up on these facts. Doon school (snob), Harvard (would he have made it if he was a middle class chokra from vile parle (E)?), then Rollins College (never heard of it) and finally, Cambridge (M Phil in Dev. Studies). At some point it would interesting to read his thesis work for the Masters.

Although he finished studying in 1995 and worked for 3 years after that, he only came back to India in 2002. So what happened in those intervening years? A lot of speculation is possible here so I'll come to a point that is really dear to me:

What exactly are his politics?

What does he think of GM foods? The Bhopal tragedy? The bofors scandal? Homosexuality? Sex education in Schools? RTI & RTE? Ration cards? Free electricity for farmers? The “Maoist” insurgency? Of Indians killing Indians? On Kashmir? On Tibet? On his Grandmother' brilliant idea to declare Emergency?

Which side of the line is he on – left, right, ambivalent or what I fear the most: without the intellect to have an informed opinion.

One thing I constantly hear in the media is that RG is all about young people joining politics. Good show – I agree. But what's the point of signing up – do good for the country? Now if that really was a reason to be in politics then I am St Megha, sign me up. He seems to be able to get the vote out – what is he selling these people – his grandmother's dream of roti, kapada aur makan?

RG seems to be a classic case of a mystery wrapped in an enigma. Pathetically, I too am going to lament his lack of a partner. Simply because that would have been an opportunity to discern his taste.

In the weekend section of The Hindu there is a game (if you figured that the game is called guessWHO then you win a mugful of ready-to-use organic kitchen compost) : A fuzzy image of a well known person is presented and you are supposed to guess the name. I feel Rahul Gandhi is much like that for me right now. And as a young person (Ok, I am going to be 31, so not that young) and as a tax payer, I would like to know why I should be voting him to the hot seat.

4 July 2010

An unsuitable comparison

Its Sunday afternoon and the weather is compelling me to be contemplative. I actually reached back to my time in Seattle and thought about how I spent my time on weekends there vs here. When I moved to Seattle it was the first time that I was living by myself in a new city, much like right now. So, there is one element of similarity between the two periods : Alone-ness. I thought about that word because I wasn't and am not lonely; I wasn't and am not single. I was just by myself. I read somewhere that the ability to be by yourself is a strength, not a weakness. Certainly in Seattle if I wanted company I had to seek; not so much here in India because someone's always ringing the bell. Without more ramble let me recount a Saturday here vs what I did in Seattle.

Seattle: July 2006

6:00 AM catch bus to Green Lake. Run around with the Miles for Smiles gang - the Asha Seattle Marathon training unit.

9:00 AM Back home. Tea and a large eggy breakfast.

10:00 AM scrub Bathroom, kitchen. Write checks to cover utility and other bills. New Jersey Family catch up on Phone.

12:00 AM Walk down to neighbourhood cafe for a cappucino. Hurrah! I have had 10 stamps and this is the 11th so its free. Make list of things I need from grocery store.

1:00 AM make plans to watch Football with friends.

1:30 AM Very frustrated, as have no car and getting to Friend's place involves two buses. Wish had bike at least. Meanwhile, match is ticking away...

2:15 PM Reach Eastlake. Watch some of the match; eat lunch.

4:00PM Post match and hang out. While here best to finish grocery shopping; step into store but do not like shopping in grocery store where I don't know layout: this means taking more to get the things I want due to lack of orientation.

5:00 PM done with shopping. Bags heavy but must go to a hippie spice shop that makes best garam masala in town.

7:00 PM finally home. Hamstrings sore from running. Organize dinner from left overs; heat things up and open a book I got from the Library.

8:00 PM Dessert, fruits and a cup of tea. Talk to mom, dad and sister as it is suitable time in India for chat.

10:00 PM Bed

Hyderabad: July 2010

7:00 AM Milkman. He had forgotten that I had asked him not to give me milk for 2 days as I have been unable to get through the week's supply and my fridge was resembling a storage unit at a dairy plant.

Back to bed.

9:00 AM Remove dosa batter from fridge. Organize Coffee.

10:00 AM Bell rings. Its A, my maid. We gossip over Dosa and Coffee. She chides me for not eating well - she knows from the type and number of dishes in the sink whether my meal from last night was appropriate. Talk to Mom

10:10 AM Am out of gas. Frantic phone call to gas agency. I will get a delivery today. Hurrah! Continue phone talk with mom.

12:30 PM after countless chase phonecalls, many in my poor Telugu, the gas man arrives. Talk to sister.

1:00 PM Put water out to heat because the water supply to my water heater runs out after 10 AM and if I want hot water for a bath I have to do it the old-fashioned way: Boil water on the stove!

1:30 PM Exit Buckingham Block. Negotiate Auto ride. Off to Crossword to pick up Steig Larsson's Millennium II.

2:00 PM Arrive at Ruchi and Doni, upscale grocery store and Bistro with book in hand. Settle down to a read and supplied self with delicious pasta, banana crepe and Arabian Tea.

4:00 PM Head home. Continue reading. Nap a bit. Drool all over couch pillow.

6:30 PM walk to the market: veggies, fruits and other sundry items. Berate fruit chap about poor quality of mangoes I purchased last time. Quizzed him about Mango situation in country. He gave me the stink eye for refusing to put mangoes in plastic bag and instead ,in my cloth bag. We settled on compromise. I will place mangoes on top and not dump any more things in to the bag. Luckily I had two bags. Up the road is Veggie chap; chides me for dumping all veggies into one bag. I retort that everything goes into the same stomach.

7:30 PM settle to watch FIFA football Match. Eat Khichdi. Talk to Dad. Talk to sister.

10:00 PM fighting to keep eyes open; have to finish book. Did not; instead sleep on top of book.


Life is good. It was good even back then. The differences in lifestyle are obvious and so are the similar threads of routine. However, did you notice how in India I talk a lot more? I used to find this community business quite overrated but after having experienced the western concept of space and the Indian concept of distance, I personally prefer the latter. There is a lot of energy we exchange when engage in conversation and I see myself benefiting from that enormously. May not work for all, but does wonders for me.

Hope you are having a good weekend.

14 June 2010

India knows I'm here!

A delightful slip of a girl came in the morning and counted me as part of the census. I'm in the system! The only question that really bothered me was they wanted to know if I was married or not. hrrump. Happily single was not one my options. Also, it was a bit discouraging when she asked me my place of birth and I gleefully replied, "Jaipur, Rajasthan" and she goes, "Country?" Surely our kids deserve a better education.

The chick was obviously more comfortable in Telegu but she bravely noted everything in English, with me interjecting and supplying spellings at every step. I also like that they asked my Dad and Mom's name; usually its all about Father/ Husband name, and I rebel and only write my Mom's name. And in the evening, stuck to my door was a long receipt in Telegu which I think is my receipt for being counted. There were no digits or numbers on the receipt so I am assuming it's not a bill and just an acknowledgment that Deepa (she signed her name in English!) stopped in today to count me.

13 June 2010

Recycling in India

Compost, at last! It has taken me 10 months but finally, I have organic compost from my kitchen waste. This good stuff went into my garden today and I am planning to give the rest of it away to other gardeners in the building.

I have been meaning to write about recycling for a long time now but I wanted to make it a well researched article rather than a ramble but my attempts to talk to the rag pickers in my broken telugu have come to naught so I am just writing up what I do. May be you are doing something that I too can co-opt?

Compost: All my kitchen waste and pigeon poop goes into my compost bin. You can look at picture of my Khamba here. To get one, visit www.dailydump.org; If you think that living in Bangalore is a prerequisite to owning this beauty, then let me shatter that notion - Just call Daily Dump and they will give you the contact number for the city you live in. I recently did that to source a compost for my brother in law in Delhi, so I know it works. Doing the compost is a little bit of commitment. For example, all the kitchen stuff has to be finely chopped up and you have to stir the mix around every couple of days. My compost has also turned into a friendly hang out place for lizards and it was freaky to have them in there. But, live and let live eh?

Plastic: You would be surprised at the number of plastic things that are recyclable. Milk bags, shopping bags, even the plastic that your sugar or dal or rice comes packed in. I basically collect all this plastic, rinse if wet and dry. I put this away in one paper bag along with empty plastic bottles (Shampoo, Harpic, Lotion etc). When the bag bursts its seam, I just tie up all the loose plastic stuff and put the bag out right next to our local garbage can. Ok, so I have indirect proof that this stuff is useful - 1) The bag always disappears - I did peak into the stinky bin once to make sure it didn't get tossed in there. 2) A, my maid, now takes it to the raddiwala and gets money for it.

Paper: Most people recycle newspaper. But what about cardboard boxes (like the one your cereal came in) or milk boxes (the tetra packs are recyclable!)? My principle is simple: if its made of paper and is not soiled, then it can be recycled. Similar to the plastic bag, I have a separate paper bag in which I now throw away receipts from stores I know I don't need and all the silly notes I write lists on. A manages to sell all the content of this bag as well.

I still have garbage - plastic bags with oily stuff in them, lint, pigeon feathers (they compost very very slowly) etc, but on an average I take out my garbage once a week. My bin is not large BTW, it can only hold about 15 L of water. Also, my bin never smells.

Inspired to recycle now?


There comes a time in life where you wish you could jump off a cliff - well, I did and live to tell the tale. Ahem... I do, of course, grossly over-exaggerate for dramatic effect, but I did jump of a cliff with a glider strapped to my back.

A couple of months ago GHAC organized a trip to go paragliding. Frankly, I had it mixed up with para-jumping and was looking forward to jumping off a plane in tandem with an experienced chump who would pull the chord so that we landed gently on the ground. Anyhow, the person who wrote it up on GHAC was nice enough to insert a picture of a paraglider so I was all cleared up on what to expect. Turns out that picture is only true if you have been gliding, like, forever...

The one cool fact I learned while on the trip was that Kamshet (about an hour's ride on the train from Pune), the launch point of our training, is one of the best places in the world for paragliding. The geography of the hills allows you to glide here for at least 10 months of the year. Ergo, we can have a 3 day course and actually fly a bit. Apparently, in other places that are not so conducive to this sport it might takes weeks for the conditions to be right for your 3 day course to complete. Mera bharat mahan right?

Our training school was called Indus and it was a Fri, Sat, Sun deal. They prefer if you do a 5 day course for the total experience, but since we are the blackberry-totting-instant-oatmeal-kinda-club, the 3 day training was negotiated. May is hot month anywhere in India. So we arrived sweaty and dusty at the local train station to be met by our trainers who curtly informed us that we were late, and to swallow our lunch because training starts in the afternoon, right away. The package, BTW includes food, acco, the glider and not to forget, the instructions.

Day 1 involves getting whipped in the face with a tight rope, that is if you are standing. Its technical term is ground handling - you are shown various parts of the glider and the theory of how it works (which your brain understands but muscles remain deaf to). The whole thing fits in a backpack (heavy) and you trudge it to where ever you have to practice from. Everyone was informed to bring a full sleeved shirt and full pants, but of course, the fashion people didn't and they had the best bruises to display that evening. Once you reach the spot, you open the package, wear the helmet and gloves, hold the two riders and run right into the wind. Now if you were really listening to the instructor, whose voice booms from a radio strapped to your chest, you may actually use the wind to fly. Instead, if like me your muscle coordination is non existent, you will fall flat on your face over, over and over again. One of things I am thankful for is that I didn't break any teeth.

Day 2 involves trekking through the plains to reach the base of mountain. The idea is to put your ground handling to test by launching yourself off about 20 ft. I have to report one bourgeois aspect of Indian adventure sports here - if you are really lame, you can employ a tiny tot from the village to carry your glider from the van to the base of the mountain. A weird economy has developed in Kamshet - the local kids know when and where to show up, and as soon as you land they storm the parking lot, willing you to use their services. I am not sure what carrying such items is doing to their backs - a 12 yr old should not be carrying a 20lb bag! But, like all other things about cheap labour - why carry your bag when someone will do it for a pittance?

Day 3 you jump of a cliff and its ironic how difficult Day 1 and 2 are as compared to the relatively low intensity strength required for the actual paragliding. You basically run to the edge of the cliff, hope your glider has inflated and get picked up by the wind. The backpack which was a ruddy pain to carry around till this point, automatically turns into a bucket seat and you can fly about in a very comfortable position. You use the riders to glide left or right and the brake riders to descend. The only foolish thing you can do is not listen to your instructor!

When I recalled this adventure to friends their reaction was geared towards my fearlessness rather than the thrill of flying. Funnily enough, it never once struck me that something may go wrong. It was remarkably calm and the instructors do a wonderful job of ensuring your safety by reminding you again and again, that the only reason you will injure yourself is if you listen to your dotty mind rather than the instructions - I'll vouch for the truth in that. In any case they do make you sign a legal document that should you die, they aren't to blame.

I would recommend paragliding to anyone who is looking for an active holiday. Being up in the air really makes it worth it. The season in Kamshet runs from Sep to May; I am definitely going back.

15 May 2010

Three favorite things to do in Hyderabad

Its 45oC outside and has been for several weeks. I was getting a bit low just sitting around at home on the weekend, with the curtains drawn and the fans on full blast. Mind you, even with all these preventive measures I was sweating a bucket each minute; the type where after 5 minutes on a chair your undy starts sticking to you.

The weather in Hyderabad sucks. But like everything in life there is always a silver positive lining that you have to think about. So, I am writing about the three things about Hyderabad that I enjoy, in spite of the weather.

1. Daram : My wardrobe has significantly improved ever since I started visiting this store. Daram is an arm of DAMA, an Andhra Mahila club that supports the rural handloom industry. DAMA markets the textiles and Daram is the retail branch that sells ready made garments. If you like Fab India, you will like Daram. I am inclined to believe that both Daram and Fab India have similar philosophies: to empower traditional workers by preserving their art, yet providing them a market to ensure their financial well being, although I have not really examined their business models in great depth to make this an academic claim. However, I can confidently say two things for Daram: firstly, all their stuff is handmade locally (AP), from fabric to stitching and secondly, their cotton is very comfortable. Besides they have local groups from different parts of the country coming over to sell things like lumbini work from north Karnataka, chanderi silk work from Rajasthan etc. I always find things at the store from different parts of the country. The prices at Daram are reasonable. There are no home furnishings here unless a group specifically selling those is visiting. I have been to a couple of DAMA sales and the whole cloth is available there if you fancy making curtains out of their cloth. The store never has a sale since they think selling something below price would disrespect the people who worked for creating the product you are wearing. Timbuktu Collective, which grows organic produce in Anantapur district also sell their products here - I am a big fan of the cold pressed groundnut oil and fox tail millet from the collective.

2. GHAC - Greater Hyderabad Adventure Club. A few months ago I was moaning to a friend about the lack of activities to do in and around Hyderabad and my inability to meet new people. My friend suggested meetup.com and it's there that I found GHAC. I couldn't have been more wrong about things to do around Hyderabad. You join the group for free and there are different events organized: from trekking at the outskirts of the city, overnight camping and adventure sports. I recently went on a 3 day paragliding trip with people from the club. It's a great group to do something active and meet new people. I was worried at first about not having my own transport to get to places but the group is quite friendly, so there are always people willing to make accommodations. Just RSVP and enjoy.

3. Share autos: I have blogged about this before and continue to maintain, this is the most amazing eco-friendly and commuter friendly mode of transport for short distance. Although, you have to completely ignore western concepts of safety to enjoy the ride. At a recent chat I discovered that this concept exists in several cities but Hyderabad and Panchkula (by accident) are where I have taken it. My last ride was quite memorable. My other companions were 5 summer camp going girls: giggly 10 yr olds with plastic bags stuffed with tiffin dubbas, crayons and chart paper. For some reason they couldn't get over my presence and giggled the entire way of the ride. What was really amazing was that they weren't being chaperoned by anyone so I think the auto driver was a regular to them. Once the giggling started, I couldn't stop smiling either so we all were a giggling for the next 3 minutes. I thought this was simply swell - everyone giggling for no reason.

15 March 2010

And... cut to March 2010

I was tied up. With something as silly as work. There really is no time for all the nothing I want to do.

I would like to chronicle an adventure I had a few weeks ago on my beautiful street. Nor was I wearing orange, neither was in a mini skirt but still the following incident occurred. It was a quiet day as a local holiday was in effect. The chai shop at the corner of the street was missing and so were his auto driver clientele. It was enchanting in a way; once you crossed the overflowing giant open garbage cans on the side of the road. I stood at the usual spot for the share auto service and was enjoying a cool breeze when a white car sided up to me. The man looked fishy; my pervert-sensor was on high alert but having listened to parts of a Gita commentary the previous day, I was willing to set my sensor on vibrate and proceeded to lend this man my ear. The man mouthed something which I didn't understand so I moved a bit closer to the vehicle only to notice that up-down movement which all men should suitably execute only in the privacy of their own home, with the curtains drawn. The jerk was jerking off. For a minute I was fascinated: how does one drive a stick shift, place a hand on the wheel and have another free for the biological stick? This thought was swiftly swept away by the taste of bile that had started to collect in my throat. The man caught my expression and moved off. When such things happen, and women who are reading this blog will understand, you always wonder if what happened was real? Maybe you mistook the gesture? This fool though comes back for another round. And this time I was taking no nonsense. One bitten, twice fomenting. I informed him that if he asked me one more question I would call the police and began to pull out my mobile phone. I noted his license number; stupidly, only in my head.

I have the Banjara Hills police station on my speed dial. Ladies, as much as this stinks, let me tell you that the power of having a number on the phone itself was quite empowering. I informed the person who picked up what happened (no, I couldn't describe the scene in Hindi):

Hello? Banjara Hills police station? Haan, a man just came up to me and said dirty- dirty things; he was doing dirty things too. He is in a car.

Madam, we can't do anything till you make an official complaint.

Ahem, I am on my way to the office so I can't come right now but I can see that guy in the car and I don't want him to tease other women.

Madam, unless you come to the police station we can't do anything. You can come a few days later as well.

OK. That I could do. So the next weekend, I followed his directions and arrived at the police station. As soon as I walked in, a seat was cleared up for me in front of the information desk. At all points during my conversation there were at least 4 other people speaking in 3 different languages. A suspect too was being interrogated: retail chap accused of stealing. The policeman was attentive, took down my complaint and pronounced that nothing can be done because I didn't get the whole license plate number. I only clearly remembered the last 4 digits. Anyhow, he had a solution for me. He took my mobile, dialed a number from it and spoke to the beat cop, introducing my mobile number to the man. Next time I have an incident I have to just dial this mobile number and the beat cop will be there in 5 - 6 minutes (the cop's guesstimate) and I can have the pervert booked on the spot. So, in addition to the police station number, I now have the beat cop's number on speed dial as well.

How is that for service? Glad I pay my taxes!