Pune traffic and roads

The situation: I happen to run into a number of people who complain about Pune’s traffic situation (“Pune in the Fast lane? No way!” – Times of India). The roads are bad, pot-holed and congested to no end. I understand their frustration. I categorize most folks into 3. Those who want to do something about it, those who don’t care about it much and finally, those who just want to leave the city and its problems behind.

I intend to get in touch with friends and citizens of the city interested in solving this issue. The idea is to try to come up with an overview of any long-term plans in the pipeline relevant authorities (Central Institute of Road Transit?) might have, analyze them for deficiencies. If there isn’t such a plan, then we need to make sure the authorities sit up and take notice. Perhaps if the situation were to remain in constant public focus, a lot more resources would be devoted to solving the issue.

The cause: I came across this article on Suresh Kalmadi’s web-site (“Dealing with Pune’s sloow traffic“) that stated the following reasons for poor/congested traffic flow:

  1. Heavy vehicles using the city as a transit point, they usually slow down and congest traffic.
  2. Inadequate parking infrastructure.
  3. Enroachments on footpaths, poor pedestrian discipline.

It appears that the focus has been to build wider roads, build highways that bypass the city entirely and to enforce better discipline (I don’t see much of that claimed enforcement around these parts). The current approach has helped alleviate the conditions, but it appears that the growth in traffic originating within the city will easily outpace both road-widening attempts, flyovers and other attempts to improve the city’s existing roads.Somehow, parking infrastructure has been neglected entirely, people are still allowed park along most roads, even those that are critical arteries for the city. The roads are also in very poor shape and probably cost the authorities a fortune to maintain, aggravating delays and congestion.

I am of the opinion that Pune’s roads have been stretched far and wide enough.

Some Internet aware organizations exist that also want to solve the problem. Their focus lies with self-discipline, observing traffic rules, minimizing pollution by making sure vehicles are tuned and so on (Save Pune Traffic). While road discipline is important, I don’t think one can ignore the core problem – the existing infrastructure cannot support the volume of traffic.

Initial thoughts: Cheap Mass transit, rail, below ground maybe. I think Pune Municipal transport buses are also a big part of the problem. Get the citizens off the roads, off their two wheelers, out of their rickshaws and onto tracks on trains or trams. The idea is to maintain the trip between any two points within the core city area to within 10 minutes by rail. Important areas would include, main-City, Nal-stop, parts of Cantonment, Shivajinagar, Deccan, University and other congested areas.

At first, the idea seems to be an expensive proposition. Rail will also never be able to rival PMT’s extensive service coverage of popular destinations and the accessibility of PMT bus stops. Building a rail network will probably take ages while Pune traffic will continue to congest, pollute, delay and harm citizens. Despite the negatives, I think that a radical change in mass transit is necessary to ensure that the city’s growth does not outstrip its existing transport infrastructure.

Perhaps this idea has already been discussed and labeled as not feasible. But the need still remains. A long-term solution is needed that moves massive number of people efficiently and beats the use of surface roads. If you have any feedback or relevant information, I would look forward to hearing from you.

India: January 1st to 24th.

For most of January, I will be in Pune, India. I hope to spend the vacation with friends and family. Maybe catch an international film festival :-). If your a fellow blogger, or just a friend and you happen to be in Pune around the same time, I would look forward to hearing from you.

Revisit Pune

I am going to be in Pune between 3rd of January and 24th January next year. Drop me a line if you would like to meet up!

Is anyone even reading this :-)?

Interesting startups

Start-ups based in my hometown – Pune:

So who got funded in the fourth quarter in 2004? Here are some of the start-ups I thought were interesting!

* KXen – About: KXEN (Knowledge Extraction Engines) is a global analytic software company that provides advanced analytics to be embedded in existing enterprise applications and business processes. KXEN makes cutting-edge data mining technology available to both business decision makers and data mining professionals. KXEN provides them with more accurate, timely and actionable information. Customers will have the ability to understand, predict, manage and influence through a better knowledge of the information contained in their corporate data.

* Ironport systems – Powered by IronPort’s SenderBase, the Industry’s first and largest email traffic monitoring network, IronPort’s new Threat Operations Center Report, now offers an unprecedented view into global email activity.

About: IronPort Systems has become the leading email infrastructure products and services provider as Global 2000 companies race to replace out-dated, non-secure, non-scalable, and costly messaging infrastructures. IronPort has developed a family of products called Messaging Gateway appliances that offer breakthrough performance, unprecedented ease of use, and reduced total cost of ownership.

* Laszlog Systems – Software platform to enable next generation Web applications.

* SugarCRM – Open Source CRM software
They lived off Yahoo’s Instant Messenger, enjoying free phone calls via its Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) offering. They worked out of their homes, chatting through the night on their headsets via their VOIP hookup. They met once a week at a small office borrowed from the SDForum, a software development group in San Jose.

By June, they had launched a test version, and had 1,000 people downloading the software. Roberts hit the pavement at Sand Hill Road to raise money from VCs. “I was a total neophyte.” He felt crazy pitching a company called Sugar, especially since few open source applications had been funded. “We were freakin’ nuts, burning through our savings.”
complete article

This research is courtesy of Mercury News – startup watch

More to come…

Pune International Film Festival

Pune is playing host to an extensive International Film Festival. I was lucky enough to catch two cool movies.

If I were a rich man (France) a decent film about a french salesman who has had an extended run of bad luck. His wife is having an affair with his boss, he hates his car and there is just about no one who can give him a break!

Sky Hook (Yugoslavia) a real tearjerker film based on the yugoslav conflict. It’s about a national team basketball champion and his son Jovan. I thought it was really well directed, incorporating certain elements of the war to project gloom. It ends rather tragically!

When I watch an international film, I hope for something out of the ordinary. In this case perhaps I was somewhat dissapointed. In any case, Pune Rocks!!

Vacation time

Admittedly, my motivation to blog is way below anything else. I present, Santosh’s mind on vacation in Pune. I left the United States in a hurry hoping to get back home soon. However, luck deserted me midway. My domestic connection to Los Angeles was grounded in Chicago because the Pilots reported an anamoly.

I reached LA 2 hours later, rush to the international terminal – I told myself. I found my Air India flight had left, on time. In this instance, Air India seems to have pulled off a total blinder 🙂 what is the probability of an on-time departure for Air India? 10%? 1%? haha Merry Christmas.

Air India were kind enough to put me on the next flight out of LA, to Mumbai, this time over the Atlantic. The flight I missed was over the Pacific via Kuala Lampur. United pitched in with a Hotel and Meals while I waited for the flight. I was grateful, but I was bored, LA had nothing much to offer me for that one day. I spent most of my time on Venice Beach, reflecting, watching the waves roll in.

Later, that evening, I boarded the Air India flight out of LA, bound for Mumbai. I was happy to be well on time. My bags had been located, that definitely made my day. Lot’s of flirting with a pretty ticketing agent didn’t help me get an upgrade, but hey, I’m single so… that time spent is forgiveable.

A LONG wait at the gate – the flight was 2 hours late, I struck up a conversation with Barney, a law student from Michigan. His excitement was fuelled by the fact that he was flying Air India. He had heard stories that had mortified him, and so here he was, his maiden flight to India, on the national airline. This surprise perception, atitude melted away any cynicism and brought out the humour in the confusion of the Air India agents and other staff. They were trying their level best to pacify the waiting travelers and do their job. Kids were crying, youngsters were pacing, there was no doubt …. everyone were getting edgier by the minute.

The building tension was finally defused with the boarding call, buses moved the folks over to the boarding area where the Boeing 747 “Fatehpur Sikri” lied in wait. Strictly speaking, on any other day I would hate competing for cabin space :). But on this occasion, Barney and I got ahead by boarding when only passengers in the back row’s were asked to board. I might have issues with my conscience, but Barney didn’t and just decided, enough of waiting. The Captain of the crew kept announcing we were “moments away from takeoff”, I took those few minutes to email my friends a short goodbye.

My seat-mate could have been a charming, single 20-something, or just fun conversation, but they all deserted me. Instead, an overweight, oversized gentlemen jostled with me for elbow room in his economy class seat. I always knew I should have been religous at the Gym. If I had been, I would have pushed back with conviction.

At Frankfurt, the kind folks of the airport let us disembark (a first ever for me on an Air India flight). Thanks to T-Mobile deutschland I read the news and was stunned to read about the Sumatra Earthquake and the Tsunami that followed. It made me think, my troubles were so small now. More socializing followed, in German with the German airport staff, with some Gujrati gentlemen who deemed it right to warn me that I shouldn’t wear my Berry on my holster in Mumbai. Damn right, Mumbai is a nasty place alright. The restroom lines stretched across the isolated terminal. Have you ever seen so many Indians with their bladders full up :)?

Back on the flight, to counter-act the effect of the horrible hindi movies, petite Air India attendents dished out an awesome indian, vegetarian fare. Thats when I knew, I was headed for good Indian food :)… hehe I am a total foodie alright. Beers with Barney and my new Gujrati friends meant that time flew by quick.

At Mumbai airport, our bags just refused to come out for over an hour. They were probably engrossed in a conversation with the bag handling machine which had conveniently decided to throw a tantrum. I dreaded the green channel, I was carrying a load of stuff they could rail me for. Hehe, it took 10 mins to clear customs, no questions asked… shucks it must have been the dude on our flight who was smuggling in several cartons of ciggies and liquour that threw them off.

Now I’m here, in Pune, battling traffic, my loved ones’ deep and several problems. My parents repeatedly insist on intruding in on my private space which they haven’t done so for the past year. My mom almost admitted that its a power-trip for her (jokingly) hehe … Is it really a vacation? I don’t know yet, I’ll be in thousand oaks tonight.. I might find the answer there.

How far can we stretch safety?

Indian automobiles don’t have collision airbags, seat-belts aren’t mandatory, the tires aren’t high-performance, and yet Pune – Mumbai has an expressway where people can zip by at speeds touching 55 mph – 60 mph. India lacks in infrastructure and technology partly because we illogically insist on staying behind.

Article [Times Of India]

Saare Jahan se aacha

From rediff diary:

My first day as an engineering student in a respected Pune college was a memorable one.

As can be expected of mischievous teenagers, we were up to no good. Chalks were being hurled across the classroom, conversations were continuing loudly in plain disregard of the presence of our Applied Sciences professor. There were probably just a few students paying rapt attention to the lecture on Polymers. Our professor was becoming increasingly irritated with every passing minute.

Suddenly, the students began to stand to attention one by one. This spontaneous act surprised the professor. As pin-drop silence descended on the class, he realised the reason — a nearby college was playing the national anthem!

Santosh Dawara, Rochester, USA


Thanks to the good people of editing, polishing and publishing my submission 🙂

Back to School

It has been a progressive and efficient 2003, for now I plan to return to Rochester. Flight plan is Mumbai -> Paris -> Newark -> Rochester. I hope we disembark at Paris. Air India is usually disallowed from letting their passengers out into the terminal while the plane is being cleaned. That sucks!! Watching the cleaning crew walk through the plane and clean while you remain seated.

I like to think that what needs to be done, must really be done and gotten over with. That way leaving Pune all over would be a lot easier.

I will be trying to clear customs/immigration. With the new measures at the US airports, I know this is going to take a lot longer. Well, wish me luck! Maybe secretly I don’t care if I am deported 😉 ahhhhh did I just say that !!!

The weather in Rochester is downright BAD!! Have a look at the weather sticker on this page !! It’s -17 deg Celsius.