Governments may come and Governments may go. Celebrity cops may come and  may go.Veeramanis and Veerappans may be eliminated. Land grabbers may be arrested and jailed. Bank dacoits may be done to death. The government and the police may even dispense justice without the intervention of the law courts. But the daylight robbery of Auto drivers will continue and will continue forever. We are fated to put up with this nonsense.
As our friend had said, Chennai is, no doubt, an unfriendly city to the visitors and tourists. You may have come across slightly-different-coloured autos displaying the words ‘Tourists friendly’ and you may think these autos would charge you as per meter, if not, reasonably. You are sadly mistaken. These breed of auto-drivers too are as bad or as good as the other men of their tribe. This is the situation in Chennai.
Of late I am shuttling between Chennai and Bangalore too often, so much so that I have become a frequent-train traveller and can claim rebates in fare if the railway ministry announces one. That apart, my travels in these cities have become real travails. In Chennai, I have switched over to Fast Tracks and Friendly Tracks – call taxi operators. I must confess that I am more comfortable with Taxi drivers for there is no haggling for fare. The meter shows it and I pay without a murmur.
In Bangalore, till recently the auto travel was okay as hiring a taxi near the railway station is a tough job. None can guarantee the genuinity and authenticity of the fare conversion tables displayed by the taxi-wallahs. It was better to hire an auto there.
Of late that too has become yet another tough job.The autos have chosen to boycott the pre-paid stands and park way off the stands. If you choose one of them you will have to end up in haggling and paying a hefty sum rather than as per meter. The police are there but as onlookers. This is the state of affairs now in Bangalore.
Recently I read a news item about an application which can download on an iPhone or Android phone by the auto-rickshaw commuters. If you have a smart-phone, this GPS-based fare calculator can compute the exact fare. Known as the A-rix Meter, this has been designed and developed by a Bangalorean design student Siddharth Vanchinathan.It is claimed that it could be the answer to many auto woes, especially now, with the new auto fares coming into effect from Monday the 12th  March at Bangalore.
The A-rix Meter uses the GPS function in your smart-phone to pinpoint your location accurately to within 10 metres. When you get into an auto, simply slide the yellow button to the ‘start’ position to start the meter.The meter will run in the background as you continue to do other activities on your phone. When you reach your destination, slide the yellow button to the ‘end’ position and the meter tells you the fare.The A-Rix app can be updated for the new fare

If you’re new to the city and if the auto drivers are not the honest kind, they’ll take you around in circles. Siddharth Vanchinathan points out that by using the inbuilt maps, you will also be able to check the route and even guide your driver if he doesn’t know the way. Also, A-Rix has fare information of several cities in India, so based on your location, it loads the fare charts for that city. So if you happen to move to a new city, this app is a great way to get comfortable with public transport.

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A RETIRED BABU’S DAY OUT – “My Dad on his day out for a course on Citizen Journalism”

I am a migrant to Bangalore. I had to follow my son who secured his employment in the Bangalore’s IT industry. Though my home- town is Chennai and my roots in that city are half a century old, domestic compulsions made me migrate to the city of Gardens and my home, in this city, is very close to the largest of the gardens, the Lalbagh. Thus Bangalore has become my second home and Bangalore is no different from other metros – bumpy roads, impatient driving, traffic jams, indifferent public, greedy auto drivers, corrupt politicians etc. etc.

After my retirement from the central bank of India –RBI, I spend most of my time in reading, mostly the newspapers and of course watching the News channels and the talk shows. The news item on JM programme on Citizen Journalism which appeared in Bangalore Mirror, somehow, escaped my attention. It is my caring wife who pointed out the news and encouraged me to attend the event and today I am here participating in the event. I am very happy that I am back in the class room atmosphere sitting with the young and the old – a unique experience indeed.

I am a post graduate in Journalism and mass communication and hence familiar with the concepts of Media and communication. But these concepts, when explained by working journalists with live examples and livelier experiences, one is able to comprehend them unambiguously .When Aloke Thakore , while teaching the craft of writing a story, explained the five ‘W’s and one ‘H’ with the Hindi song “Ye Kya Hua, Kab Hua , Kaise Hua………..” it was pedagogy of altogether different kind. The same can be said of the story told by Shishir Joshi of a citizen journalist in Mumbai who traced the idendity of North European who died in accident and who could not be identified by the concerned agencies of the Government.

Turning to guest lectures and the guests, I can tell that the RTI Activists, Vikram and Viresh, did their job precisely, concisely and comprehensively within the limited time. The activists-duo, supplementing and complementing each other,shared their experiences which was like hearing straight from the horse’s mouth. Though frail in their physique they have taken on the bulls by their horn, have exposed the corrupt and ensured that the funds of the government are not swallowed by the babudom. This is what inspires those budding journalists to do their job fearlessly and farely.

The top cop who lectured on the “police system,rights ,duties and conflicts”, shared information on some positive developments in the police force, their interaction with public and their sensitivity and on the working of his department. One could also see that he was blowing his own trumpet –his impeccable record and his forays into the Facebook. All said and done, the police still appears to the public as an unfriendly and suspicious and corrupt outfit, of course with some exceptions here and there.

The President of the Press Club, Mr.Ponnappa who inaugurated the programme, could have been more magnanimous and addressed us in English. All of us would have understood him and his speech instantly. Anyway his lieutenant Mr.Shenoy, the Press club Secretary, was at his bilingual best and made good the shortcoming.
Summing up, I would say that it was an interesting day out for me.