G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

H. P. Lovecraft: "What a man does for pay is of little significance. What he is, as a sensitive instrument responsive to the world's beauty, is everything!"

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Chris Ware: "Being a cartoonist means you don’t consider yourself too fancy."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "संदर्भ कुठलेही असोत, संस्कृत, इंग्रजी, बुद्धिवादी, तांत्रिक, इतिहासाचे, खगोलशास्त्राचे, आधुनिक पदार्थविज्ञानाचे, शिवकालीन पेशवाईतील बखरीचे, अगणित ज्ञानक्षेत्रांचे, अशा वैविध्यपूर्ण ज्ञानावर लेखन- विशेषत: कवितालेखन- उभं राहत."

Friday, May 23, 2008

Excesses on Display at Swargate, Pune Herald Mad Max 2

George Miller’s Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981) is my favourite film. The film portrays a world running out of oil.

“…The end of the world, it seems, is a sprint to decide who can consume the very last drop of oil. Which is why, despite the bizarre cast of characters and outlandish setting, it's hard to shake the feeling that The Road Warrior could happen, or at least start to happen, any day now…” (Popular Mechanics, March 2008)

If we wish to preserve for future generations what a world awash in oil looked like, we will do no better than documenting a day at Pune’s busy junction- Swargate. For me, every visit to Swargate is surreal where every square inch is occupied by machines devouring hydrocarbons while trying to kill me!

I have watched Swargate almost every month since the beginning of year 1999 and I can easily say it never looked and felt so bad and hopeless. It’s Mad Max 2 in reverse. Swargate has become an example of what we should not allow our cities to become.

Martin Wolf tells us “The market sets high oil prices to tell us what to do” (FT, May 13 2008):

“…Here are three facts about oil: it is a finite resource; it drives the global transport system; and if emerging economies consumed oil as Europeans do, world consumption would jump by 150 per cent. What is happening today is an early warning of this stark reality. It is tempting to blame the prices on speculators and big bad oil companies. The reality is different.

Demand for oil grows steadily, as the vehicle fleets of the world expand. Today, the US has 250m vehicles and China just 37m. It takes no imagination to see where the Chinese fleet is headed. Other emerging countries will follow China’s example. ..

… The market is saying that we must use more wisely resources that have now become more valuable. The market is right.”

What can people at Swargate do if they have not yet heard anything from the market or chosen not to hear anything?

The only long term solution for this mess is a reasonably good public transport that encourages people of all social strata to use it. Pune’s public transport stinks. It’s easily one of the worst of major cities in India. I know it because I use it regularly.

You also need people who are ready to make small sacrifices for the larger cause. Young working middle-class people should try using public transport at least one day in a week. Today very few do and hence they don’t complain about it with as much intensity as they do about bad roads, lack of parking space or even stray dogs.

Result: almost each middle-class Pune household has as many vehicles as number of family members.


The Spectator