Monday, June 28, 2010

Bengaluru Days - Jalvayu Vihar in Bangalore - A lesson in self help and good management practices

Jalvayu Vihar, a residential colony of 540 houses spread over 22 acres was built in 1990 by the Air Force Naval Housing Board. The colony is located in Kamannahalli.The apartments were built for the officers and men of Air Force and the Navy. The colony came into existence at a time when gated colonies of this scale were new to Bangalore and the city was yet to come to terms with gated colonies and high rise buildings. The colony has over a hundred clusters and each cluster has four to five apartments. Built in stone, the clusters give a very robust appearance of a medieval fortress. The excellent ratio between the built-up area and the open land allows the colony to have broad roads, walk ways, jogging track, gym, community hall, market area; children play ground, school and the main play ground with an amphitheatre. One cannot ask for more.
Originally the colony was inhabited by two kinds of people, senior members from the Air Force, and the Navy. Over a period of time the houses have changed hands and a number of civilians have also moved into the colony. The colony has been largely influenced by the military background of its residents in its day to day functioning and management. The colony is managed by a President and Board of Members elected by the residents. Years of military service helps in running the colony in an efficient, disciplined and friendly manner. The BOM is supported by a host of support staff such as office assistants, plumbers, electricians, mason, gardeners and conservancy and so on.

The Pilgrim Fathers though it fit to plant various kinds of trees. It is now 20 years old and the colony is really looking beautiful with Bougainvillea climbing the entire 1 KM fence around the colony with its attractive red, purple, white, yellow and pink leaves. We have more than a 700 trees making JVV one of the most wooded and green colonies in Bangalore. We have assorted trees such as the Banyan, Gulmohar, Mango, Colville’s Glory, Copper Pod, Jacaranda, Tabebuia, Neem, Jack Fruit, Drum Stick, Coconut to name a few. Early morning walkers will go to any length to exalt the virtues of walking in this garden and sucking lungful of fresh air and dozes of ozone. In addition, majority of the residents have their own little gardens adding to the overall beauty of the colony. We have many birds visiting us, such as the Parrots, Myna, Koel, Hoopoe and at times the Robins.

A band of dedicated conservancy staff toil each day to keep JVV immaculate and tidy. You will never find loose paper, stray plastic or even dry leaves on the road or in the open areas. The colony is litter free and it gives us a sense of pride that we belong to this place. The residents willingly participate in maintaining the colony clean. I must mention that the garbage is removed from the door step and segregated in a common place prior to being loaded into BBMP carriers. As the garbage is not stowed any where for a period of time we have successfully eliminated all stray dogs from the colony – a very big achievement indeed. However our cat population has increased.We have a doggi – do pit for all the dog lovers to take their dear ones. Regular fumigation keeps the mosquitoes away. The staff is looked after well and a majority of them have worked in JVV for more than 15 years.

Apart from the web site we have a very efficient process in place for reporting defects, their rectification and follow up if required. All defects are attended within in 24 hrs and a completion report rendered. All essential services such as pumps, community centre, common area lighting etc have a back up supply provided by a generator. We have managed very well on the water front too. The main water tower representing a missile meets the bulk of the requirement and augmented by bore wells. The residents are extremely conscious of the growing importance of water and its judicious use. We have put in place Rain Water Harvesting and are seriously considering Recycling of Water in the years to come.

We have a great community life; the young parents meet every evening with their children in the park. It’s a common sight to see the senior citizens sitting in large numbers on the benches and chairs spending their evenings in the company of each other. We have a very efficient security system in palace to ensure the residents spend their retired life in peace and tranquillity. We celebrate Deepavali, Ganapati, X Mass and New Year in a big way. We always look forward to the JVV annual day when the whole colony is lit up and the play ground is filled with eateries, shops selling artifacts, big companies showcasing their products. The variety entertainment is another big attraction with quiz, dances and skits. The two days of celebration is attended by one and all.

We have a number of regimental shops inside the colony providing us with our daily needs of provisions, vegetables, fruits, laundry, ATM and Post office . Outside we have number of good restaurants, lounge bars, eateries, ice cream parlours, bakeries, Pizza joints, garment shops, banks and the rest.

The residents play a very pro active role in the overall functioning of JVV.

We have our share of politics, groupism, in fighting,black sheep, rotten eggs and bad apples. But in the end the military discipline and camaraderie ingrained in all of us over the years, acts as a governor to ensure better sense prevails for the good of the community.

In any colony there are various types of residents, we have ours. The Auditor. They are self appointed watch dogs who will never miss an opportunity to point out mistakes and irregularities. There is yet another tribe “The Know All” whose main duty is to recommend various improvements ranging from Solar Power to Vertical Parking. The “King Maker” who immediately starts searching for the new king , the “Yes Man” who agrees with all and sundry and finally the poor “Keen Kumar” who volunteered to stand for the election and takes up the thankless job of running the colony.
All things said, over the years we have created a very dignified, comfortable and secure colony to spend our retired lives. I understand that a Japanese delegation was brought to JVV many years back by a Karnataka State minister show casing Bangalore, they left impressed and the minister asked “Why can’t whole of Bangalore be like JVV”.

I also ask the same question.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bengaluru Days - A tribute to Mr. Munivenkatappa. Swimming in the lakes and wells.

I lived, played and schooled in and around Gandhi Bazaar in South Bangalore for a number of years starting 1949, that’s when I was born, until I left home and joined the navy in 1967. South Bangalore was the soul of the city. It reflected the ethos, traditions and the culture of old Bangalore. Those formative eighteen years were probably the most rewarding years of my life, happy go lucky, foot loose and fancy free. There is so much to recall, I really do not know where to begin.

In those days there were hardly any public swimming pools in Bangalore. The one nearest to us was located next to the city Corporation Office. My father used the pool regularly and I have a number of photographs of the pool in its hey days. Over a period of time it had developed an unhealthy reputation concerning its cleanliness and the elders generally discouraged us from using the pool. It was rumoured that the boys living in the vicinity of the pool would come for a bath after their haircut. So, one kept a safe distance from the pool.

When we were staying in Gavipuram I must have been around eight years and used to visit my grand parent’s house very often as they were in the next street. Naga was the son of their domestic help who used to tag along with his mother. Over a period of time we became friends. Between us we hatched a plot unknown to the rest and Naga took me to Kempambhudi Lake to teach me how to swim. Looking back, it appears to have been a very daring and dangerous act. Later on I came to know that the lake was indeed the centre for learning swimming. My father learnt swimming under the tutelage of one Mr. Munivenktappa. Many years later I was privileged to become his shishya.

Mr Munivenkatappa is in the centre with a garland. My father is sitting 2nd from right. A close friend of father and my maternal grand uncle Prabhakar Gurjar is next to him.
Mr. M from Bangalore, not to be confused with the M from James Bond was a bachelor who lived near Gandhi Bazar circle. A man of gigantic proportions, he worked in HAL and represented the state in swimming. He taught swimming to two generations of boys and girls in and around Gandhi Bazaar. His training camps were held in a huge well in Dorasanipalya, located in the outskirts of the city. The main well was very deep and may be 50 feet in dia. It also had a key shaped shallow end meant for drawing water using a Koda. The facility had a pump house and acted as the change room. A load of us, cousins and friends used to be driven to the well in a car three times a week. Under the watchful eyes of Mr. M we learnt swimming – undoubtedly the “King of Outdoor Activity”. Thanks Mr. M.

I can never forget the triumvirate Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara. To mark the end of that day’s training, all of us were subjected to a frightening manoeuvre in the well. It had three deadly parts. Using his massive arms, Mr. M would push us down yelling, “Brahma!” As we were going down, “Vishnu!” was his battle cry and finally he would push us further by exerting a massive force on our shoulders through his legs. The cry “Maheshwara”, accompanying the most powerful of all the three dips. This was followed by tucking down huge helpings of idly, dosa or uppit in the Iyer’s restaurant opposite the well.

For many years, Sunder, Babu and I used the well to enjoy ourselves and also to impart training. We taught Dooma Chandu, Guru, Kumar, Mallesh, my brother and our neighbour’s children Raji and Ramu. The list was endless…..

I learnt my diving in a well located in the compound of Maratha Hostel which was close to my house. Unlike in Doresanipalya, the water level in this well was about 20 feet below ground level. We used to stand on the rim of the well and dive in, a frightful experience till you mastered the technique.

I was posted in Nigeria and our colony had a swimming pool where my children learnt how to swim. It’s now the turn of my grand children to learn. Today, Bengaluru offers many facilities and residential colonies have pools and there is no need to go to either of the wells. Those were the days my friend.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Lose Weight Quickly

I recently retired. Today my life is slow paced and I have enough time to stop and reflect on many matters which affect me. There are a number of issues which I require to discuss and understand in greater detail. One such subject is about losing weight. I am sure this affects many of my friends who are similarly placed.

It’s not the kind of weight you and I normally understand – it’s heavier than the normal weight and believe me, more difficult to lose.

In our formative years, most of our time was spent in making friends. Over a period of time we made our own little circle of friends and our lives revolved around it. Along the way we also developed acquaintances, associates, contacts in our work place, sports field, and travel and so on. We also had our share of relatives. We constantly interacted with each other. These social interactions formed the very foundation of our existence. Barring a few, most of these interactions were healthy and fruitful.

Somebody cheated you, did not help you when you needed help, played dirty, let you down and the list is endless. You resented the act at that point in time.

Some how these bitter interactions have a knack of digging deep into our conscience and remain hidden only to popup at regular intervals. These events unfold extremely clearly, as if it happened to us just yesterday. Somehow we relish and enjoy recalling these totally irrelevant and useless incidents. We go to great lengths in explaining what happened some twenty years back – what a b3$6%*d he was so on and so forth. The list is really endless.

We have been unwittingly carrying this bitter baggage on our backs ever since then. Each incident has a weight attached to it. More the number, heavier the baggage we carry. When we were young it did not matter, we were strong and we could carry any amount of weight. Its not the same today, we have grown in years and not as strong as before.

Time has come to shed the baggage and feel light, relived and happy. Try and erase it from your mind. Go to the nearest lake and throw the baggage into it.

However tempting it may be to recall these bitter incidents avoid doing it. Suddenly you will realize that your mind is free and the body is light. You are no longer a “prisoner of your past” Your mind and body are free to enjoy the present and eagerly wait for the future to unfold.

In the end you will certainly come out a better person and lovingly cherish each relationship and the passing moment

So my dear friends lose weight quickly.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Walking for Pleasure

"Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it." ~Soren Kierkegaard

I frankly do not know who Soren is,but I agree with him.
Walking is probably the cheapest and yet an extremely efficient way to exercise.The colony where i stay - Jalvayu Vihar has a fair share of walkers.Some prefer the early morning and others the evening.It does not matter so much, which part of the day you choose, but - walk one must.Just get out of the house and start walking.

I have a few tips.A well fitting pair of shoes is a must,a cap to protect your nut will help,music is optional and at all cost avoid carrying hand bags. I prefer to walk alone.Walking is very therapeutic. It helps to calm your mind,allows you to think and reflect.At the end of the walk you feel relaxed and come out feeling happy.

If one has to walk in company i strongly recommend you to limit to only one - preferably your dog.If you are not blessed with a dog, then choose someone with whom you can talk freely and without any reservation.Somebody with whom your chemistry matches.At all cost avoid arguments and heavy topics which instantly raises your BP,heart beat,breathing cycle and decibel level.

At all cost one should avoid the bore. They normally wait behind bushes or in blind corners and are ready to pounce on any unsuspecting walker.If one is able to spot the predator in advance quickly do an about turn,increase pace and disappear. Should you get caught,extrication is not simple. He will narrate boring incidents from his life with utmost sincerity. He will tell you how the - Jackson pump failed to give the right pressure during the jackstay and all hell broke loose and he had to tell the engine room to tighten the L joint and quickly release the crank shaft. Try showing no interest and he will change the subject to - "when i was in the dockyard" - Ghatkopar Gokhale the supervisor in the steam shop once came late and i had to tell him, friend its you are me and nobody backed me at that time,believe me i was alone in all this - you try to make some noise and he will swiftly retort - you should hear the incident i had with welder Vasu. There is no end to these stories, which have absolutely no connection with you whatsoever. The best way to get rid of him is to introduce him to the next unsuspecting walker who comes along and do a hasty retreat.
Knowing all the threats that you may encounter on the way, choose a pace and distance which suits you.One of my well wisher thinks i waddle.So be it. It does not matter at all,keep your head high and waddle along and you will certainly reap the benefits of walking. Take your time and appreciate the nature as you walk along ,smile at acquaintances,do not hesitate to stop and share short pleasantries with friends and generally proceed without any care in the world.
Whenever i visit my daughter in Pali Hill, I look forward to my evening walk in Mumbai like a kid would, a visit to the zoo. I do a 4km walk either in the Joggers park or on the Carter road promenade. Both are full of people from every walk of life and description.The rich,poor,fit,fat,old,young, every body is there with a single purpose of walking or playing .I must give full marks to Mumbaikars for creating these parks,promenades and breathing spaces and maintaining them in an excellent state.There are at least a dozen in Bandra alone. They are all clean and tidy in spite of thousands who walk and play.You pay Rs 2 and get inside to seek endless pleasure in walking and breathing fresh sea breeze. Children have a ball playing with others of the same age group. The old, form their own groups and sit and talk endlessly while staring at the expanse of the Indian Ocean. In the end you are rewarded with the brilliant sight of the sun setting on the Western sea board. What a majestic view, putting you into a trance only to be woken up by a gust of cold sea breeze. All this for Rs2. This gives one a feeling of contentment and you leave the place feeling 'All is well with the world'.It is really a heaven on earth.