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Honesty is the best policy, Is it?





If you own a motorbike or a scooter in Shimla, then you must read it as you would often require the services of a mechanic for regular maintenance or for fixing mechanical troubles a vehicle gives you.

A couple of weeks ago, I visited a bike mechanic who owns a small workshop near powerhouse at ‘Tavi Chowk’ in Shimla. I was having troubles with self-ignition, which in turns was linked to battery. Somehow, I managed to start my bike in gear and approached the mechanic. After making me wait for an hour, one of the boys at workshop checked my bike and told me that the battery needs to be charged. When I asked him how long it will take, then he asked me to return in the evening. Regarding cost, he told me that it’ll be between Rs. 70 -80.

When I returned in the evening, my bike was fit and fine like before and I was happy about it. He asked me to pay Rs. 200 to the owner for charging the battery. Then he pointed to an electrical part and whispered in my ear, “Your bike had more trouble than it appeared initially. This part was also damaged as you had ignited the fuel chamber in a heavy gear. Original and new part is very expensive, but I managed to replace it with a spare one without telling the owner.” Then he asked me to hand him Rs. 100 as a payment for his additional favor. He told me not to mention it to the owner of the workshop as he would find it annoying to have helped me and not selling a new piece. Now, I had to pay Rs.300 for the total service. I was a bit disappointed at the additional expenses, but was still happy for the personal help I received from that benevolent boy. At least, my bike was working fine then.

It didn’t give me the same problem until a couple of days ago when it again behaved in the same manner. Again, I managed to approach the mechanic, but not the previous one. This time I parked my bike in front of workshop situated on Power House to Totu shortcut. I was certain that the battery needed to be charged again. I told the mechanic to check it. He just opened the chamber where battery is located and inspected it. He grabbed a screwdriver and tightened the wires at positive and negative terminals. It hardly took more than two minutes for him to do that. He pressed the self-ignition switch and voila! It was fine. He said, “It’s done.” I surprisingly stared at him and again confirmed whether it was done or not. He confirmed it again without a second thought. I told the mechanic about the previous incident, which made him laugh while he sarcastically said, “It just takes Rs.30 to charge a two wheeler’s battery.”


Damn it. The other mechanic, he wasted my whole day and charged me Rs.300 for screwing two nuts. All he exploited was my trust in humanity and lack of knowledge regarding the basics of my bike. I asked him to check a few more things about my bike, which he immediately did. In return, when I asked him how much should I pay for his service, he reluctantly asked for Rs.10. I gave him 30. I was thankful to him for being honest and not taking advantage of the situation like the other one did.

Now, when I observed these two incidents objectively without being personally biased, it revealed that actually I was entirely dependent on what the mechanic told me, because, I don’t claim much technical knowledge about the mechanism or parts of my bike like most of other people with vehicles. Mechanics will take advantage of it and use it to loot you when you approach them with a face like an innocent, ignorant banana and cry your worries about your bike/vehicle. To convince you that your vehicle is in some expensive trouble, the mechanic could give you thousands of mechanical reason, which sounds like alien linguistics to you.

Our society is full of such people. These people don’t have any faith in honesty or any interest in preserving moral values. Perhaps, their struggle for survival has corrupted them. When I visualized the whole incident from their perspective, I almost found it justified to be cunning and keep up with Darwin’s evolution theory, which claims the fittest creature survive best on in our ecosystem. When the political leaders and wealthy miscreants can loot the country and its entire population, then why can’t they loot a few customers using the only power they have; mechanical knowledge. Greed is the conviction of our country’s corrupted political history and present phase of poverty is strengthening it. Corruption has degraded the human element in most of us. It makes me feel sorry about people who have accepted the reality, but instead of correcting it, they have become a part of it. Still, the evil must be exposed.

Obviously, I’ll never visit this guy again and I’ll find pleasure in spreading the word among my friends and anyone who could read this. Beware of such guys whenever you face some mechanical problem with your vehicle, a problem which is beyond your knowledge to diagnose it or fix it. My basics about the simple instruction regarding the maintenance of battery would have been comprehensible for me if I would have read the manual that came with the bike. Same applies with electronic devices such as computers and mobiles.

However, staunch criticism isn’t the conclusion for me. In the same society, we have honest souls as well. The other mechanic is apt evidence that trust and honesty do exist amidst the rubble of corrupted morals. I would prefer to forget about the cheater and be glad that now I have a better mechanic to consult. As a little promotion and encouragement to the good guy and as a little lesson for the bad one, I request HW to publish the images of two mechanic workshops. I am certain that they don’t have access to internet, but I hope, may be, someone would tell them about this story. If you ever visit any of them, do tell them what you read.

Credits/Source: Ankur Vaid, Shimla

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 9 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture the world around him in his DSLR lens.

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“This is a ladies seat”



Ladies seats in Himachal's buses

Shimla: Until now, I didn’t know the difference between a lady and a middle-aged woman when a ‘LADY’ on a local bus helped me distinguish it. While travelling in an overloaded local bus today, a voice from somewhere in the middle of the bus cracked into my ears saying “ye ladies seat hai.”

The irony of the situation was that the person who was trying to capture the so-called ladies seat was herself a lady, probably in her twenties. But, to my conscious, I came to know that women in their twenties are not considered ladies by other middle-aged ladies’. And, with no guilt, the ‘LADY’ took a seat proudly while the little ‘GIRL’ uttered softly but furiously “aap hi beth jao.”

The percentage of reserved seats for ladies in a local bus in Shimla is almost 50%. But this does not imply that women who are well built and enjoy a good health condition also cannot manage to stand for a few kms.

Reservation in India as a whole had already been criticized for a long time now.
But asking for a reservation for women and also granting it is not making women stronger or acceptable but weaker and vulnerable.

Women aren’t any minority in India who needs a reservation to prove themselves. And all women who think they need it are not strong enough to empower themselves.

Author: Tabbu Verma

Himachal Watcher may not necessarily share the same opinion as expressed by the author.

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Weeklong Harassment by Shimla’s Electricity and Water Departments



harrasement by hp govt departments
    If you have a property (house) in Shimla but you don’t stay here, you could end up paying a price for it. Price not only in monetary terms but in terms of undue stress and pain.

    I had been living in Rajasthan for a few months now, leaving home in Shimla only to return for the surprise of my life.

    In today’s technologically advanced system, I could be considered liable for a moment, but what transpired because of my negligence (if you may) is something I don’t want anyone else to go through. This is why I’m sharing my bitter experience with the electricity board and water department in Shimla.

    Living away from hometown, I should have paid water and electricity bills for my home in Shimla. I should have; but, due to negligence or over involvement in personal chores, I was unable to pay the bills online.

    All the while, I had it in the back of the mind but I thought I will pay the bills (with whatever penalties) in person the next time I am in Shimla.

    I thought it would be easy. Instead, I was for a week of mental trauma.

    When I came back to Shimla, a few days back, there was no electricity and water supply to my home.

    Worried not bewildered, I lived with it for the night and planned a visit the concerned departments the next morning, to clear the pending bills and have the water and electricity supplies restored.

    To my surprise, it wasn’t as easy as I expected it to be.

    When I went to pay the electricity bill at Lakkar Bazaar ( the area where my house is), I was asked to go to the main office of the electricity board in Sanjauli. I went to Sanjauli, where I was told that electricity connection to my house had been cut, and I needed to apply for a new connection.

    I was told a fresh file, for a new connection, had to be made.Now I was certainly bewildered.

    From then onward, I was sent from one electricity office to another for different papers. To the DC office for affidavits– all the procedures had to be done from scratch.

    It took almost a week (six dark days precisely)to complete the entire procedure afresh. All this while I didn’t find one person in the electricity board who cared for the mental trauma I was going through or how my family would be living without electricity.

    Finally, after innumerable visits to various offices of the electricity board, I took the file to the JE office in Snowdown hospital.

    Here, I was meted with a shock. The courteous JE informed that my family didn’t have to stay without electricity for so many days, neither did I have to go through all the pain. JE said ‘power supply could have been restored to my home in matter of few hours after the bill payment and the process for new application could have been followed thereafter.’

    He then sent a person from his office along with me to the concerned office in Lakkar Bazaar. Finally, we saw a bright night at my place.

    JE was the only person in the entire electricity board who talked nicely, gave me correct guidance and helped solve my problem.

    My worries were not just limited to the electricity board. I was all this while simultaneously running pillar to post to pay my water bill and have the water supply restored.

    The issue was an elaborate water bill, which was beyond anyone’s understanding. For us, we should have only been charged the meter rent because we had not used water for months.

    This is when I learned about plugging connection. When you are not at home and would not be using water for months, the water department requires you to plug the connection.

    This ensures you’ve only billed the meter rent and not for the usage (though, how do you end up using water when you’re not home stays an arguable story for me).

    During the weeklong process, I was not only without electricity at home, there was no water too.

    Considering myself a defaulter, I silently kept doing what the office bearers in the department were asking me to do.I was ready to follow the procedure but it was such a pain to see that no officer was considerate enough to help resolve the issue soon. Instead, I was made to run from one office to another with documents that were not even required.

    It took me eight long days to pay the pending bills, apply to have the water meter plugged, and to have water supply restored to my house.

    This was it, I couldn’t have taken anymore but the water department wasn’t done with its lackluster attitude.
    After a month of submitting the application to get the water meter plugged, I again received an inflated bill. I called the water billing office for clarity.

    After making an infinite number of calls, I was finally informed that the water meter of my home was still not plugged.

    Alas! What had I done wrong to deserve this?

    Immediately, I called up Mr. Laxmi Thakur (the person) responsible for plugging the water meter. He said ‘Madam, I plugged your meter the same day you asked me to’.

    The linesman was a helpful fellow.He took it upon himself and went to the billing office to check why I was still getting huge bills despite the meter being plugged.

    Post inquiry, he informed me that my file had reached the water department from Mayor’s office the same day I submitted it but people in the billing office didn’t update the same on their computer systems.
    With Mr Thakur’s efforts, my bill was recreated with the correct amount, which I then paid off instantly.

    Awareness tips

    •If electricity connection to your house is disconnected for non-payment of a bill, go directly to the JE of your area. The JE will escalate the matter and power supply will be restored. Now, follow the formalities, as guided, and get a new connection

    •If you have property in Shimla but you’re out and not using IPH water supply, get your meter plugged to avoid rentals above the meter rent

    By Rajni, Shimla

    Photo: Sk-bent ex

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Sensitivity where art thou, Shimla cries for you




Urbanization of shimla

Times are changing alright; we are progressing with age and time has come when pace of Shimla is matching the pace of most developed cities in India. Time was when modesty, selflessness and compassion flowed through the heart of residents of the Queen of Hill. With development and large scale urbanization, the mindset of the town is changing – and the change is demeaning the basic culture and charm of the city.

Development and urbanization are slow poison to say. Initially they taste refreshing – refreshing to the extent that humans are lured so magnetically to them. Culminating effect is fatal. Shimla is sipping on this slow poison and is headed for self destruction.

Who is to blame? Finger pointing comes naturally to Indians, so when I ask this, all of us will have our fingers pointed at the administration.

Constitutionally this is correct – and why not, the administration and public representatives we have voted to power are responsible for it all. If there is uncontrolled urbanization – government policies should have been framed to avoid it. If there is unmanageable garbage on roads, pollution in the air and contaminated water in the taps – administration should have strict measures in place. But, considerable citizens are we the main contributors to this?

I once read “your character is what you are when you are alone”, and it has stayed with me ever since. I bring this up to validate my point. We citizens are primarily responsible for the rumpus we confront in the town of late.

Himachalis, the residents of the abode of snow, are by virtue sensitive to change, sensitive to our culture and sensitive to the surroundings. Thus, for Shimlaites this sense of sensitivity comes by default.

Change is the only constant. Change we must and so we are steadily. We are more literate, more monetarily concerned and at near prime of a standard of living. Culturally we are still rooted – probably our previous generation has instilled this sense in us. Concern looms on our sensitivity to the surroundings.

We are literate, but our education has defaulted somewhere. We are concerned but our sensitivity is lost somewhere. We blame but our self-conscience has gone astray.

Back in school (this would be some 20 years back) moral science and civics was taught to me. Back then I never realized how my consciousness towards little civic duties and efforts towards betterment of my surrounding would make a difference. Today I realize it, but my neighbour makes me believe, I am in the wrong part of the world with an unwanted conscience.

How justified is it then to be the run off the mill? Is what your neighbour doing the correct way to do things, I often ask this to myself. I don’t get an answer – an answer is difficult to find because ‘this is India and nothing is going to change here ever.’ This cliché must have reached your ears a number of times. I am growing old listening to it.

Certainly this is not how it should be, at least that sensitivity instilled in me by being part of the hill state, tells me so. Calling out to all who follow – Change we must!

Change to ask questions, why my rights are being murdered by incapable, narrow sighted governance. Change to come to terms with my sensitivity to question that neighbour who stays and feeds on my city’s resources but fails to do his bit in return. Change to question my own acts when I’m in public or when I am walking down the road by myself.

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