Agni - God of Fire and Purity

Fire on the Road: Aug. 7th
Over the last week on our way to InfoSys, one of the omnipresent road obstacles we have been driving around is a slowly burning lorry truck. The truck has "turned turtle". Probably the driver drove too close to the edge of the road, a wheel or two came off the dirt road, and while the driver desperately attempted to get the truck back on the road, it jack-knifed and rolled over. The gasoline tank exploded, taking the driver with it. When the gasoline was spent, the truck’s contents (paper), its tires, plywood, upholstery etc provided a cloud of acrid black incense that lasted for the next three days.
While the truck continues to burn, scavengers are dismembering it. Eager to get what they can, while they can, the scavengers have removed the sheet metal panels, engine parts etc., and over the course of three days the truck is gradually being reduced to its I-beam skeleton.
Accidents in India can be irritating - a fender bender, life threatening - a smashup, or deadly - a head-on collision. In all cases, the first step is to surround the vehicles with a stone ring that resembles a miniature Stonehenge. Traffic does not stop. It merely veers around the stone ring, as if the accident were just another large pothole. The next step is to call the police. After 3 or 4 hours the police will arrive.
Of course any accident or repair is a source of interest to folks passing by. Bystanding is an Indian pastime. Our American friend Damon was lucky enough to have his car get a flat. The driver pulled it over, and then proceeded to hammer the wheel off and back on again (there was a jack, but of course there was no wrench). Observing how thirty people had congregated around the car, in a span of ten minutes, Damon observed that "it takes an entire village to fix a flat tire".
Accidents are even more exciting. The audience will behave just like Americans at a prizefight. Sides will be taken in the prizefight for damage claims. Due to the existence of a crowd, and an often-unruly one at that, the passengers will have wisely "absconded" in the nearest rickshaw, leaving the driver with money and a wish for good luck.
Once the police officer arrives, private discussions will commence with each party. The one that offers the highest bribe can have the report written in his favor and the insurance company (state owned) can then commence with the formalities. A damaged, but repairable, car will now require a visit by one of India’s true geniuses, a roadside mechanic. Since tow trucks do not exist, all repairs are done in-situ on the road. Enough jury rigging will occur that the car can be taken to the mechanic’s shop for more work, and the driver, having spent eight to twelve hours in tension, can now consider the ordeal over.
If death occurs, however, more police work will be required. The intended side effect is that the vehicle will sit on the road for a few weeks more — a voiceless reminder to the over-eager or inattentive driver.
Since this particular lorry truck was carrying a couple of tons of paper, (now being jokingly referred to by Sanjay as carbon paper), Sanjay said that this probably meant that there was going to be a shortage of paper for the next few weeks. No surprise then, when the following article appeared:
Express News Service - Aug. 7, The Indian Express, Bangalore Edition

They had answers, but no answerscripts

Bangalore, Aug. 6:

Several Engineering students appearing for their examinations on Monday were put to hardship as Bangalore University failed to supply adequate number of answerscripts.

Students appearing for II year and IV year annual scheme and II Semester examination were the worst hit as even graph papers to draw charts and other diagrams were in short supply. The students feared that they may lose at least 25 percent of the marks as they could not submit the answers on graph.

The University had scheduled several examinations, including those in Structural Mechanics, Electrical Engineering and Electrical Circuits for students of the II year annual scheme, along with papers like Design and Drawing, Mechanical Design and Control Systems for the IV year annual scheme students on Monday. Under the semester scheme, III year students were writing the exams in Fluid Mechanics, Electronics Circuits, and Instrumentation on Monday.

Half way through the exam, several students were shocked to find that there was no supply of additional answer sheets and graphs at the examination halls. The invigilators threw up their hands in helplessness and the students had to return from their examination centers without answering some of the questions.

Confirming the fiasco, Bangalore University Registrar Prof. M.S. Thimmappa told the Indian Express on Tuesday that the shortage in answer sheets was due to the withdrawal of over-time wages to the University Printing Press employees for the last one-and-a-half years. The employees refused to work beyond office hours, thereby affecting the printing work at the University Printing Press.

"To overcome this, we had ordered the printing press to take up only the printing of answerscripts for a couple of days. The total requirement for the present examination season was around 60,000 answer sheets and we were able to print and send 15,000 answer sheets on Tuesday. We will be dispatching another 30,000 answer sheets on Wednesday and on Thursday. The required stationery will be met completely for the season," he added.

"To meet the immediate requirement for Monday’s examinations, we had instructed principals of the colleges to supply xeroxed graph papers to the students," Prof Thimmappa said.

But the students continue to be worried over whether they will be granted marks for not attempting those questions because of shortage of answer sheets.