Thursday, May 10, 2007

Mumbai's women-only taxi service
Monica Chadha
BBC News, Mumbai

A woman cab driver in Mumbai
Forsche is aimed at well-paid working women

Women in India's financial capital, Mumbai (Bombay), now have the option of travelling in taxis equipped and run specially for them.

The service is the brainchild of 47-year-old entrepreneur Revathi Roy and is called Forsche - Porsche spelt with an F, but pronounced 'For She', because it is for ladies only.

Ms Roy said she felt the growing female workforce in the city was not being looked after well enough and decided to start her own service that appreciated the needs of the female gender - cabs driven by women, for women.

As a frequent cab user herself, she said, she felt that regular taxis were unhygienic and had poor drivers.

Male dominated

"I am a very fussy passenger and I would get upset that the seat was not comfortable, or the driver was driving too rashly for my liking," Ms Roy told BBC News.

Revathi Roy, owner of Forshe taxi service
Revathi Roy says she is a fussy passenger

"I would also find it irritating that some drivers would stare at me from their rear-view mirror and one day, I just decided I had had enough."

The initial stages were difficult but friends and well-wishers helped her get started.

The hardest part then, and even now, is getting female drivers who are well versed with the city's geography, she says.

"Driving is still very male dominated and in Mumbai where most people travel by public transport, there are very few women with driving licences," she explains.

Ms Roy began the service in April with nine vehicles and hopes to increase the numbers in the next few months.

I hopped into one of them to see what the fuss is all about.

The white taxicabs have Forsche and their contact numbers written on the bonnet as well as on the doors on either side.

They cost about $4 an hour to hire - double the rate charged by a local cab - but these medium-sized vehicles are air-conditioned.

Freshen up

And when the car is stuck in one of Mumbai's notorious traffic jams, there is a magazine rack at the back for some light reading.

To ensure time does not have to be wasted on the trip, a bottle of nail varnish remover is provided to get rid of the remnants of that month-old manicure and nail clippers to shape fingernails.

And if you are a woman rushing from one important appointment to another, there are wet wipes and perfumed talcum powder, too, in case you need to freshen up.

Taxi union leader Anthony Lawrence Quadros
Taxi union leader Anthony Lawrence Quadros is not worried

Ms Roy said she thought of offering all this to her lady passengers because as a woman herself, she would appreciate it if someone took care of such details for her.

Some passengers say a little bit of pampering on the way to work is a great idea.

"I think all these facilities like nail polish remover, magazines for reading, all these would make travelling on jammed Mumbai roads so much more comfortable," says Shruti Gupta.

There are already more than 50,000 yellow-and-black cabs on the roads in Mumbai, but most people rely on public transport.

The taxi unions say they do not feel threatened by the new cabs.

Union leader Anthony Lawrence Quadros said the new service was targeted at an upper-class niche market while ordinary taxis cater to the masses.

"This is only for women, women and women. In that case they don't want to take any male passengers and their rate is very high," he told the BBC.

"I can call this taxi a hi-fi taxi. I don't think it will affect our trade because our taxis are mostly used by the middle-class and working-class people."


The Forsche service currently runs from 2000 to 0800 hours and only within the limits of Mumbai city.

Mumbai resident Tina Khiara
Tina Khiara has doubts about the service

Some women would like a service like this late at night for security reasons and say what Forsche is offering is rather restrictive.

One working woman, Tina Khiara, said: "I would not be able to travel in a cab that is available only during fixed hours. It will not allow me to travel with my male friends and I can't hail it as soon as I step out of home."

Forsche is still in its infancy, considering it is only a few weeks old.

But businesses, hotels and even call centres have expressed an interest in hiring these taxis for their women employees.

With more of them hitting the roads in the near future, Forsche's future seems to be on the fast track.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Corbin Harney invites everyone to a Mothers Day weekend gathering

and reunion at Peace Camp,
Nevada Test Site, May 11 - 13

I will post when I get back from this Gathering,honoring
Corbin Harney, who is the Spiritual Leader of the Western Shoshone people. Corbin is currently suffering from prostate cancer which has reportedly spread to his bones.

A great teacher - Activists rally for ailing Shoshone leader Corbin Harney

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

India trying to save the world from yoga patents
Western governments are granting patents, trademarks, and copyrights over yoga to con-artists who claim to have invented the millennia-old practice. The Indian government is retaliating by publishing a giant, multi-lingual database of yoga-stuff so that patent examiners can see that "yoga didn't originate in a San Francisco commune."

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued 150 yoga-related copyrights, 134 patents on yoga accessories, and 2,315 yoga trademarks. There's big money in those pretzel twists and contortions - $3 billion a year in America alone. It's a mystery to most Indians that anybody can make that much money from the teaching of a knowledge that is not supposed to be bought or sold like sausages.

The Indian government is not laughing. It has set up a task force that is cataloging traditional knowledge, including ayurvedic remedies and hundreds of yoga poses, to protect them from being pirated and copyrighted by foreign hucksters. The data will be translated from ancient Sanskrit and Tamil texts, stored digitally, and available in five international languages, so that patent offices in other countries can see that yoga didn't originate in a San Francisco commune.

It is worth noting that the people in the forefront of the patenting of traditional Indian wisdom are Indians, mostly overseas. We know a business opportunity when we see one and have exported generations of gurus skilled in peddling enlightenment for a buck. But as Indians, they ought to know that the very idea of patenting knowledge is a gross violation of the tradition of yoga.


I will be out of town for a few days

I will be out of town for a few days but will be posting as soon as possible

Sunday, May 06, 2007

You have to go to the main site to get a clickable map with wonderful stories and much more

Welcome to the Indian subcontinent, one of the most fabulous travel experiences a person can have. You can either click on a black place name in the map below, or choose a tale from the chronological list below.

* Map of India
* Destinations
* Agra
* Ajanta
* Alang
* Amritsar
* Aurangabad
* Bangalore
* Bhavnagar
* Bhopal
* Bijapur
* Bikaner
* Calcutta
* Chennai
* Darjeeling
* Daultabad
* Delhi
* Dharamsala
* Diu
* Ellora
* Fatehpur Sikri
* Golconda
* Gwalior
* Hampi
* Hyderabad
* Jaipur
* Jaisalmer
* Jodhpur
* Kochi
* Kodaikanal
* Kollam to Alappuzha
* Konark
* Madurai
* Mamallapuram
* Mandu
* Mt Abu
* Mysore
* Palitana
* Pondicherry
* Puri
* Pushkar
* Sanchi
* Thanjavur
* The Thar Desert
* Trichy
* Udaipur
* Varanasi
* Other Tales
* Air Coolers
* Buying Music in India
* Camel, One Previous Owner
* Cricket and India
* Death of the Ganges
* Death on the Platform
* The Dogs of Bhagsu
* Hindi Pop
* Hinduism and Indian History
* The Holi Festival
* Hyderabadi Conversations
* The Indian Film Industry
* Indian Television
* I'll Have a Limca, Please
* James Bond in India
* Kama Sutra
* Lies, Damned Lies
* Louis Armstrong
* Music on the Brain
* Nuclear Testing
* Pigs Over Jaisalmer
* The Post Office
* The Power of Authority
* Reflections in Bangalore
* Religious Tolerance
* Schrödinger's Cat
* Service Station Hell
* Slowing Down
* The Sound of Indian Politics
* Surviving India
* Thoughts Before Arriving
* Thoughts After Three Months
* The Toy Train
* Travellers in India
* Travellers' Opinions of India
* Yogi and Babaji