Off the record

Differently jolted

Kerala’s capital Thiruvananthapuram and neighbouring Kollam districts were rocked by a mild earthquake last Friday around 6.50 pm.Though it did not cause any harm, the tremor was vigorously felt by those who were indoors. Here’s how different people perceived the tremors differently.

Dr Ashok Kumar, a professor working in the United States who was at his house in the city, said he felt a small ‘vibration’ indoors and a sound outside as if “a vehicle fell into a big pothole’’. However, he was amused to see no such vehicle when he checked it out. According to another gentleman, there was a trembling as if ‘“ near-empty bus (of the State Road Transport Corporation) shifted to first gear’’.

A housewife living near a railway gate near the city said her house “shivered for a few seconds as if a train had passed by.’’ Several others staying in the suburbs of the city reported that they heard a “loud cracker blast outside’’ and felt a jolt. Interestingly, Dr Ashok Kumar came to know it was a quake only when he was alerted by his wife from the US who saw it on TV there.

R Gopakumar, Thiru’puram

Of fire and backfire

Setting trains on fire in Bihar on flimsy ground is no news. But what makes news is the decision of the Nitish regime to not only identify and book the culprits, but impose collective fine on people who descended from adjoining villages and extended their support to the mob in torching the train.

On August 18, some irate students had set Shramjeevi Express on fire at Bihta station when the RPF men disallowed them from entering the AC bogies. One month after the incident, the Bihar government has mooted strict action against the hoodlums. Based on TV footage, the 27 students have been identified and sent to jail. Besides, a collective fine of Rs 3.5 crore has been imposed on people who were tacitly or indirectly involved in the incident. The quantum of fine has been worked out on the assumption that cost of the four bogies burnt will be anything around Rs 3.5 crore.

Hope the marauders will now think twice before resorting to arson again.

Abhay Kumar, Patna

Dosa and discrimination

Pungent and spicy Indian food might put off most foreigners. But, not for this US diplomat, who has returned to serve in India after a gap of 20 years. “Even today, MTR’s dosa is still tasty. I liked it”, Consul for Public Affairs at American Consulate General in Chennai Michael P Pelletier, observed.

He was of the opinion that developments in Bangalore have proved doomsday sayers wrong. “There is still a lot of greenery. Cubbon Park and Lalbagh are still wonderful and there are a lot of trees. I went for a walk in one of the parks. They have not been converted into parking lots yet.”

“During my last assignment in Chennai, I found my partner”, he added with a smile on his face.

On Shah Rukh Khan’s episode in the US, Pelletier, who joined service as a career diplomat during the Ronald Reagan administration, said the security concerns are most important. Indian media was fair in the coverage. “I understand that there was no racial discrimination in the episode. It was just a random check. I also understand that there was some delay in getting clearance for his baggage. I subject myself to security checks. I did it, when I came to New Delhi”, he added.

R Mohan Babu, Bangalore

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