Harthal Festival

State: Kerala
‘Official’ Festival: Harthal a.k.a Bandh

In the state of Kerala – which is located at the southern most tip of Republic of India - we celebrate a unique festival. According to the official records, the state festival is called Onam which is celebrated once a year in memory of a long lost paradise. But recently, there has been some change in situations. There is another festival which is gaining popularity. Its called the Harthal. Previously it used to be called Bandh. The name change was due to a court order which says it conflicts what’s written on the Indian constitution.

The most unique feature of this festival is that it can happen at any time of the year. And it can occur any number of times a year. Some time it can be celebrated in a local area, some times all over the state and some other times, it can occur all over India. So it can also be called as a national festival as well. Sometimes they last for 12 hrs, and at other times even 24 hours. The most recent one happened was an all India one and it lasted for 24 hours.

During the harthal day, the supporters of the group who called for a harthal, wake up early in the morning and go out in the street to celebrate the festival. They stop all the vehicles in the roads and ask them 'politely' to participate in the harthal with them. They even stop train services some times. The supporters conduct rallies during the harthal day which is very inspiring to the common man. If there are any shops open during the day, they come in masses and help the hardworking shop keeper relax and enjoy the festival by closing the shop. At times some of the supporters gets a little excited and ‘accidentally’ break some windows of an office or a vehicle. If the police arrest them, don’t worry, the other supporters will help him escape. The government also supports the festival by providing all the help needed for harthal-ites. How can a government say no to people having entertainment?

This year itself, there had been around 100 harthals in Kerala. For the occurrence of this particular event, there are no special reasons. Any group who has some courage can declare a particular day as harthal. It’s up to a citizens will, whether to participate or not in the festival (theoretically). If you are willing to participate in the festival, you have to stay home and do nothing. That’s where the greatness of the people in Kerala deserves the limelight. 90% of the people willfully participate in the festival. No travels, no shopping, no work. As for the rest of the 10% who are stupid enough to go against harthal, they get special gifts like mental torture, attack on property etc.

Usually a harthal is called up by political parties. Sometimes even religious bodies also call for it. Regardless of which political party or which religion or which class of the society a person belong to, the people of Kerala supports a Harthal with their whole heart. That’s why I recommend it to be considered a national festival.

Some of the citizens who don’t like these festivals came up with a case in the court against the previous form which was called bandh. That’s when the court banned the festival. But the clever supporters found a workaround; they simply changed the name of the festival to harthal. Recently the high court of Kerala made a comment about these festivals which goes on something like this, “If the government is also supporting these 'festivals', even the God cannot save Kerala”. From what?? Need to spend some time thinking about it.

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Skillful Driver

I have noted this almost one year back. Its on the way to the place where I stay. My roommate pointed this first. I took these pictures some 4-5 months back to write a blog about. Its only now that I am doing it.

Well, at first glance, even if it may look like an ordinary picture, look closely. Look at how that vehicle is parked. Its parked perfectly between a tree and the electric post. Well, as some of you may think, my first impression was that its been parked there for a long time and the electric post was fixed in front of the pickup later. But then the next day while I was passing I noticed the vehicle was not there. And I saw some one driving it through the street. Again the next day I noted the vehicle back there. I am really wondering how that driver parked perfectly in between those two obstacles. He really is a skillful driver or a very patient one.

An Idea!

It actually started as a joke during my undergraduate studies. One of my friends told me about it. There is this friend of his who is not that brilliant and once she wanted to copy some files from my friend’s PC to her PC during a computer lab session. She came to his seat, used the mouse to select the file, right clicked the file and selected the option copy. Then she asked him to give his mouse. My friend got surprised and asked why? She said, “Now that I have copied the data to the mouse, I can connect this mouse to my machine and paste it there”. I am not sure whether it’s just a story or whether it actually happened. But since I know her, I consider all the possibility for this situation to happen.

When this ‘urban legend’ was supposedly happened, computers were running Windows 98 on PII/PIII processors, where mice used PS/2 connectors and I wonder whether flash memory and memory sticks were ever heard of the except as a costly gadget of a geek. Now that, around 6-7 years have passed, computers have powerful processors, almost everyone has a USB mouse and it’s difficult to meet a person without some form of storage, whether it’s a flash memory stick, or a portable MP3 player, or IPOD or even a portable HDD.

Now let’s come to the idea. Why can’t we think about what my dear friend had suggested? Attaching a storage device to a small mouse? Many of my friends including me have a laptop and it’ll be with me almost all the time and I keep a mouse also. In my case, I don’t like using the touchpad that extensively. So I take the mouse with me whenever possible. As of now, if I have to copy some data, I have to connect it through the USB device, copy it there. But if I have a storage attached to my mouse, may be I can simply connect my mouse to a USB port, click ‘copy to mouse’ and that’s it. Like my dear lady friend said, I can take the mouse out and connect it to another computer and it has the data.

Since most of the mouse models these days use a USB interface, there may not be much hardware innovation required I think. I am not that expert in the hardware design and all, but I hope this can be done without much trouble. One of my colleagues is carrying a small mouse with winding cable (which will go inside the mouse). In that case it will be very handy also I guess. Since both mouse & memories are relatively cheap these days, cost-wise also this may not be a trouble.

Right after writing till here, I did a Google-ing to find out whether anyone has already did this, and the results amazed me. Lots of them have already been out in the market. Here are some links.

I think I am little late with this idea. Anyway I cannot say the idea is really mine. Hats off to my lady friend, who had the foresight to predict such a product, even if it was an ‘accident’. One should not forget that many of the great inventions are the aftermath of ‘miraculous’ accidents.

ps: If this idea had struck me sometime back, I could have patented it (joking).