Wednesday, 15 July 2015

The Rainbow Treatment

Recently I gave the rainbow treatment to my Facebook profile picture. I had earlier read about it and seen some people do it but had left it at that. You see, I’m not that big on symbolism. While I dearly hope the LGBT community succeeds in their endeavour to get accepted around the world as regular human beings, I didn’t feel my face in rainbow was going to make any difference whatsoever to that effort.

Then one day, a Facebook friend posted a message on his timeline asking his friends not to promote gay marriage with this rainbow thingy. The usual reasons – god, devil, Leviticus, etc. I’m not that Facebook-savvy, in the sense that I started using it only a few months ago, though I had an account for long. I don’t have many fb friends either. I accepted requests from people I knew. This person also was one such acquaintance, but he turned out to be god overload. His posts are mostly about god. Perhaps he thinks god is actively trolling the Internet to see who is posting what or who is surfing the smut channels. Anyway, my friend doesn’t realize that I’m not big on god. Sometimes when I see a whole bunch of god-related messages such as “share if you believe blah, blah,” I go “avantammoommede…” To be sure, I don’t mean anyone’s ammoomma, but use it as a general cuss word in the privacy of my home.

Why are these religious people going ape-shit over this issue? Wouldn’t the all-forgiving, compassionate, loving, merciful being forgive these LGBT people (by burning them in hell, forever, ha ha), that is, if what they’re doing is a crime/sin? At any rate, they, the LGBT people, are not going around imposing anything on others. They’re just asking for equal treatment as human beings. And the religious people want to deny that. They want to impose their beliefs, based on some medieval stories, on others.

The Jesus & Mo cartoon of July 1, 2015 expressed it the best, where Jesus says, “It goes against our fundamental right as believers to tell other people what they can and cannot do”.

And that is what got my goat when I saw his message. So, I decided to convert my iruttinte aatmavu (soul of darkness) profile pic to a rainbow aatmavu. Not just in support of the LGBT movement’s victory in the US, but to support freedom in general. Freedom to be yourself, freedom to not conform, freedom to think, speak and write. Freedom from bigotry, freedom from racist, religious and parochial nationalistic brainwashing, freedom from bullshit. I can dream, can’t I?


Friday, 22 May 2015

Garv se Kaho "What?"

Foreigners new to Japan initially find it hard to understand the calendar here. According to the Japanese calendar, this is the 27th year of the Heisei era, which started in January 1989 when Akihito, became the new emperor following the death of his father Hirohito. Hirohito’s era from 1926 to 1989 is called the Showa era and he is now known as the Showa emperor. This is used officially too, so you should know how to convert from the Gregorian to the Showa (I was born in the Showa era!) or Heisei when filling in your date of birth in some government form.

The Gregorian calendar has the birth of Jesus as the starting point. How did they come up with that date? Don’t ask unnecessary questions. We demand unquestionable faith. Coming to the current era, we, now have a chance to devise a new calendar.

I recently found out that I may not have been proud to be an Indian till 2014. This was revealed by our prime minister, who is now the “greatest leader of the greatest nation on the earth”. That sobriquet, till recently, was owned by whichever douchebag was the president of the USA at that time. So, at some point of time in the past Nixon and GW Bush were the greatest leaders of the “free world”.

Now that mantle has been appropriated by Mr. Modi, if you believe the noise in the Hindu web world. Global leaders are kowtowing to him (though it is our leader who is going around). Everybody is respecting Indians (except maybe Indians). We have reached superpower status where we can project our *#$% into other people’s affairs and get away with it like the USA (we could try Maldives? Maybe not). Canada gave Indians visa on arrival (VOA) status (Don’t try it. It is the other way round. We gave VOA to Canadians). Perhaps if we repeat it enough times all these will come true.

With nothing to be proud of pre-2014, we ought to divide our calendar as BM and AD, i.e. “Before Modi” was elected PM in 2014 (hereinafter “AD 1”), while retaining AD but altering its meaning to Anno Domini Nostri Modi.

“Hey, hey, what about Gandhi? Surely you can be proud of him!” You might ask. Well, what about him? Look at him. The man was walking around in a loincloth. Was it a designer langoti? Was it monogrammed with his initials MKG? In gold? No. I doubt whether the langoti even had the black dots and lines the dhobis put to identify clothes. On the other hand you won’t catch our PM in the same dress twice. Pretty soon he will have the RSS musclemen in designer khaki knickers (made in China).

“How about the Gupta period? Y’know, the Golden Age blah, blah we learned at school”. Stop asking questions. We’ll instruct you on what to learn, do, eat, think, wear, etc. in due course of time. Just follow our lead. The last time we were close to being proud was about 7000 years ago when we had intergalactic space machines and our gurus were doing head transplants. Got it?

So, now I am a proud Indian. Proud of things we are instructed to be proud of. Proud of the fake Macaulay minute of 2-2-1835 in sepia print floating around in the Internet, where he saw a super country when he travelled the length and breadth of India. Did he come down to Trivandrum? If he did, he could have seen my great-great-great grandmother walking nude waist up because it was a great period and feminists were having a “Free the Nipple” campaign of their time, and not because of some crazy caste rules, as the fake historians would make you believe.

There is a right-wing narrative being slowly scripted now, of what a super race we are (were), of how we had invented everything that had to be invented, of how all these foreigners looted us, etc. Some of it may be legit, but quite a bit are based on dodgy historical interpretations and on mythology.

And it is being implemented stealthily and incrementally. A beef ban here, a new history book there, a religious nut in an education board here, a dress code there, a false quote (Macaulay) in social media here, a fake Vivekananda smart-ass riposte to a white man there. It is slowly building up and at some point of time it will reach the critical mass needed to engulf a naïve public who is taught not to think for themselves and not to question authority. The modus operandi is somewhat similar to the right wing in the USA, where the Christian right (in some States) wants the Genesis to be taught as science along with evolution. So, it is possible that in the near future we might be taught there is nothing to be proud of Gandhi, Nehru or Tagore, or that we did the first live television broadcast of a major war thousands of years before CNN brought the Gulf War to the living rooms.

Any which way you look at it, we are screwed.

We will be screwed left, right and centre – by the lame and limp left; by the rabid, rampant right; and the corrupt and clueless centre. And, to rub it in further, we’ll be screwed all over by the corporates, for whom these three exist.

A prime example is Trivandrum. Mr. Modi, the Calendar Divider and the Generous, recently gave a billion dollars to Mongolia, which has a population about the same as Trivandrum district! At the same time, these three groupings (the left, the right and the centre) are falling over each other trying to screw Trivandrum, whether it is over a mass rapid transport system, the Vizhinjam port, a waste management system or any other development whatsoever.

My only hope is that one day Mr. Modi the Generous will throw some spare change our way from the air when he flies over our airspace to some distant land.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Paramour of the Nation, Earth Hour, etc.

When you live in what is essentially a police state, clumsily camouflaged in democratic garb, you have to be doubly careful about airing your views. Especially when that police state is slowly but steadily going down the theocratic path, as is happening in India. I think almost all countries are police states to a certain extent. Look at the USA, the biggest “spreader of democracy” in the world. Look at how a black person was shot dead from behind by the police recently in South Carolina. If it had happened in India, there would be big hue and cry about human rights violations, blah, blah by the foreign media. In the USA’s case it is just an officer “executing” his duty.

Well, I’m least bothered about countries whose democracy spreading fervor is largely dependent on access to oil reserves and other self-interest factors. It is the theocracy that is spreading its tentacles in India that has piqued my interest now. Every other day a new swami or swamini comes out of the woodwork with wacko solutions for the problems we face, and not all of them are from the fringe. Some are reigning ministers in the central cabinet. One guy, Baba Ramdev, who was caught cross-dressing once, has a cabinet rank in Haryana. His yoga apparently can cure homosexuality and even AIDS! I hope the Indian government lobbies for a medical Nobel for this guy.

Another guru said we have to make the cow as the mom of the nation. That raises interesting possibilities. We already have a guy as the pop of the nation. Now if a cow is going to be the mom, where does that leave the bull? The paramour of the nation? The bull excrement is hitting the fan and scattering around the nation rapidly. And no one can stop it.

Maharashtra recently banned beef based on questionable interpretations of our religious and cultural traditions. The Aghoris, who could perhaps be considered as the real spiritual guys in India for the way they renounce all worldly things, are said to eat human flesh. They smoke ganja and drink liquor too. They are a part of our culture, whether our globe-trotting, a/c-loving gurus and matas like it or not. An Aghori (harmless in most cases), eating human flesh, can roam around free with his skull and other ghastly paraphernalia, while a Malayali (harmful at times!) in his lungi in Mumbai might end up in jail for five years for eating some heavenly beef ularthiyathu. Go figure.

I hope one day we get a prime minister who is a devotee of an Aghori guru. National weed – Ganja; National flesh – human; National plate – skull.

A few weeks ago, Rinpoche, a close friend, posted a message in our WhatsApp school group asking to turn our lights off for one hour on March 28. Rinpoche, a bleeding heart liberal if ever there was one, always wanting to help the poor, the destitute and the old, posted that with good intentions, because, you guessed it, he is also worried about the environment. He was taking part in a global movement called the “Earth Hour”. This is one of those highfalutin ideas about which I am always sceptical. A group of guys in the developed world get together and do something symbolic accompanied by big hype. Then it becomes a global movement. The resources, not just energy, that these countries consume (waste) is what gets my goat every time I hear such gimmicks. Conceited grandstanding, that’s what it is, by a bunch of people who have wrought more than enough damage around the world through their imperialism and their meddling in other countries’ affairs. Per-capita power consumption in most developed countries are 5 to 10 times that of India. We are already enduring many “earth hours” a day in scheduled and unscheduled power cuts. So, let us know when you are ready to do an Earth Month, or at the very least an Earth Week.

Aisatsu-mawari – In Japan, when you move into a new location, you go around saying hi to your neighbours with a small gift to introduce yourself. A new person taking charge of a company or a department also does something similar by visiting clients and all other departments. This is called aisatsu-mawari. Our prime minister has been on an extended aisatsu-mawari, and at times it seems he is on a permanent aisatsu-mawari. Our man was recently sighted in India preaching to his choir. He said his government was for the poor. Well, we know that, don’t we? All governments are for the poor; i.e. the poor corporates and the poor oligarchs who fund their elections. In his speech, he asked whether it is wrong to think that each citizen should have a house to live in. I don’t doubt his sincerity (if it was a Congress PM, we would have laughed our freakin pants off). However, like his exhortations on toilets (see potties in Gujarat), his track record in tackling homelessness during his 13-year reign in Gujarat is nothing to write home about. Gujarat ranks 6th by population and 2nd by percentage of homeless people among the major States. Maybe, he would be better off adopting the Kerala model for everything else other than sucking up to industries and swamis.
P.S. In the meantime, back in God’s Own Cakkoos, the railway god appeared to complain that the high priest (our CM) and his coterie are denying him the chance to shower his metro blessings on the people of Trivandrum and Kozhikode. This blog knew that nearly four years ago in 2011 (see monorail, yay!).

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Inter-galactic Dreams

Circa 5000 BC (7,000 years ago) – Wing Commander Gopal Biogas was sitting in the cockpit of his interplanetary aircraft. He is taking a bunch of wealthy Indians to a spa resort in Venus to get their fat asses burnt. He despised the lot – sitting there, enjoying their somarasams and samosas, whereas he, the working man, was kept on a diet of milk of buffalo, cow and sheep! Oh, how much he hated that Rishi Bhardwaj, the man who drew up this diet.

The aircraft was a huge jumbo plane – 60ft by 200ft – and had 40 engines (Interplanetary travel), which ran on fart. There was an elaborate system in place to collect human as well as bovine fart, which was then used as aviation and other fuel. The aircraft ran on a self-sustainable system, wherein the passengers are fed samosas and chana masala to generate flatulence, which is then channelled through holes in the seat to the fuel cells. Belching was not allowed. Today’s trip will take them on a sightseeing trip over Europe, where the natives were still living in the Stone Age as hunter-gatherers, before proceeding to Venus.
Fast forward to A.D. 2014 – Captain Anand Bodas, a descendant of Gopal, is flying a contraption built by the descendants of the Stone Age hunter-gatherers of Europe. It ran on fossil fuels. He wondered when people will come to their senses and go back to fart. He flew over the nation and found that close to 600 million pooped outside (Open air defecation), wasting so much energy that could have fuelled interplanetary travel as his ancestors once did. How did this happen to this great civilization?

One day we’re flying on fart; the next day (well, technically not the next day) we can’t build a decent potty and are farting and pooping in the open. One day, our plastic surgeons are transplanting elephant heads on to anthropomorphic bodies; the next day we’re cultivating superbugs in our hospital beds. One day we are observing aircraft images in “rooparkanrahasya”, or the ancient radar; the next day we are observing kidappara rahasyam (bedroom secrets) in WhatsApp, again, something developed by those European Neanderthals. He, Captain Bodas, was not going to stand by idly and watch this civilization go down the drain. He decided to go to the Indian Science Congress and get them pseudo-sickular scientists to build real planes!  Planes that can fly to Venus. Planes that can kick ass!

P.S. Some people might say that this is all delusional, because god created the earth only 6,000 years ago. Well, he has decided to bring them back home and let them see the light.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Year-end Ruminations

Sometimes, even though you don’t want to, you end up thinking of the year that went by. So, here are some random thoughts that crossed my mind, sitting in snowed-out north-eastern Japan, -15°C outside, WhatsApping with friends around the world; something which I wasn’t planning on six months ago. I have been trying, often without success, to keep technology at bay. A phoneless cord? Maybe. A smartphone? No way. That used to be my policy.
Things, however, don’t go as you planned, especially with kids around, and I ended up with a smartphone, knowing well that it was a slippery slope. One good thing that came out of it, though, was getting back in touch with long-lost friends over the last couple of months.
For Trivandrum, it was again a continuation of the disappointments, neglect, maltreatment, etc. from the ruling class. The Mayoress, the government and its umpteen ministers, including one representing the city, all have conspired to crush the soul of this city. The Mayoress, by failing to find a solution to the city’s garbage issue, into its fourth year now. The government, by actively scuttling any development that matters to come here. And to rub salt in the wound, they have built a monument to ineptitude that stands like a middle finger being wagged at the citizens' faces. That is the “newly inaugurated” central bus station at Thampanoor, which resembles Fallujah after an US bombing raid. The contempt is palpable.
Which makes one wonder whether a win for the BJP guy in the last parliament elections would have made a difference. Now, that is another slippery slope. Already there are signs that I may have to read the Gita every day (instead of, say, the Kamasutra) if Madame Sushma has her way and makes it the national scripture. Or, worse still, I may have to reconvert (Ghar Wapsi!) to Hinduism in the near future. Where would I start? Perhaps as an untouchable and work my way up the caste ladder, if that is possible in one lifetime. I don’t want to go through all those karma, reincarnation cycle till moksha. Reminds me of the movie dialogue “What does a snail have to do to reincarnate? Leave the perfect trail of slime?”
Despite trying their best, the ruling class (who have suckled at the teats of this city, living here, sending their children to schools here, drinking the water from one of the oldest water supply system in the country, pooping into a sewerage system, which again is one of the oldest such systems in the country) has not managed to kill the city’s spirit...... yet. I believe, it is still one of the best places to live in this country.
Speaking of poop - I am now in Japan, where pooping is a pleasure. Here is a rehash from a piece I wrote almost a decade ago. The system was new at that time, but I won’t be surprised if the Japanese have come out with a system that measures the amount of doo-doo you make and flushes the appropriate amount of water. It is all eco-friendly nowadays, you see. Save water.
Some 74% of houses in Japan now has high-tech toilets. In comparison, 53% households in India do it in eco-friendly, natural settings, upholding the spirit of being one with nature (nice positive spin, eh?). The potty I have been using here in Japan allows me to set the seat temperature (important in winter) as well as the water pressure, position and temperature. You can set it for automatic flush, so that it flushes when you raise your washed, rinsed and cleansed bum off the toilet seat. Women can also use it as a bidet.
I sometimes dream of having one such potty in my house in Trivandrum, but then good sense prevails as my brain reminds me of how fried nuts would look like when the voltage shoots to 4000v unexpectedly in a lightning storm. Have to safeguard the family jewels!
Finally uploaded the pictures of potty control panels! Hope you all have an un-constipated New Year.

Above - the panel I use

Panel at my in-laws place (Added later to a regular potty)

The one at a hotel I stayed recently (attached to the toilet seat).

Well, this blog also seems to have run its course, looking at the recent output. Wish you all an interesting 2015 and beyond.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Had Enough of Monorail, Now Suck on Some Light Rail

Three years ago, people in Trivandrum (and Calicut) were thrown a bone by the Chief Dream Merchant (CdM), which we all lapped up (see Monorail for Tvm, 2011). The Railway God had appeared to him (maybe in his dream – him being the dream merchant – or maybe in person; nobody knows) and said a monorail is what these people need.

Lo and behold, there were colorful images of monorails in all newspapers warming the cockles and other unmentionable parts of Trivandrumites. We were glad that the Lord upgraded us from MEMU trains and buses to this modern contraption. Soon, the coffers of DMRC, the temple trust looking after the Lord’s interests, began filling up with consultancy offerings. DPRs (not related to DPR Korea) were prepared, alignments were marked, and historical buildings were threatened – all in paper. People were given controlled doses of euphoria-generating news featuring unauthorized copies of monorail pictures from the web, which kept them baying for more.

But this God is a playful one. He likes to toy with his devotees. And so it came to pass after three years – no, not the monorail, but the reappearance of the Lord. He suddenly revealed himself again, appearing through the monorail woodwork, to the CdM, and said, “#$%! monorail. I’ll upgrade them to a light metro rail, whatever that is”. The CdM said, “Thy wish is my command. I’ll immediately convey it to the suckers. They’ll be grateful to you for not smiting them”. Both of them sneaked a peek at the consultancy coffer and laughed maniacally (ref: Consultancy fees to DMRC).

The people were happy that their prayers and offerings have “paid off”, just like with the other gods. In the meantime, unbeknownst to man, the Lord has different plans, which he revealed to the CdM (and to me). Three years from now he plans to upgrade the plan to a full-fledged metro. And in 2020, it’ll be upgraded to a subterranean maglev bullet train, and in 2023 he will smite us all because a few of us will sin by not going orgasmic about the newest plan. The Lord moves in mysterious tracks! So, beware! You might get run over!

Monday, 13 October 2014

In praise of Modi and Shashi Tharoor

In praise of Modi and Shashi Tharoor!? Now, that is one sentence I thought I would never write, not even in my wildest dreams. And believe me, I do have some real wild dreams. I don’t buy into the jingoistic propaganda of Modi and his machinery, and I am more or less disillusioned by Tharoor’s performance as our MP. So, why the praise?
In Modi’s case, it is for initiating the dialogue on the issue of filth and for launching the Clean India campaign (though we’ll have to wait and see how it pans out). And in Tharoor’s case, it is for agreeing to cooperate with Modi in that endeavour and praising him for it.
That praise, however, did not go down well with the local Congress honchos, who began baying for his blood, and got some consolation when he was removed from the post of party spokesman. These guys are following the tried and trusted practice of the political groupings in Kerala of not letting anything good by the opposing team to become a success. We, the people of Trivandrum, are the most glaring example of this. The garbage crisis here is now three-years old. The state government and the city corporation are blaming each other for the stalemate and we are getting royally screwed.
Well, “Inside every silver lining, there is a dark cloud!”
I have now hit upon this theory that these guys have a much bigger plan. Take a look at the link below:
We’re No.1 in dengue deaths and dengue cases reported for the three-year period from May 2011 to May 2014. In fact, we account for more than half of the reported cases. The man you see smiling in the left corner of the picture, the health minister, no less, represents our city. Look at the pride in his face! We also have an equally smug-faced Mayoress, who cooperated in this initiative by not collecting the garbage for the three-year period.
This, I think, is part of a secret plan to bring the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), for which a big tug-of-war is going on between different cities, to Trivandrum. “See, more than half of the sick people in this state are from here, so we deserve it”. Plus, we need a few more cancer centres because a whole bunch of people are expected to get cancer pretty soon as we are encouraging them to burn their plastic and other stuff wherever possible.
I am waiting with bated breath. The question though is whether I will have enough breath to bate!! Because, the Marxists (drumroll) have decided to “clean the city in a scientific manner” on Nov 1, 2014.
Is the Mayoress involved in this? I don’t think I will bate my breath for that. Not worth it.
The fact is, Modi has kicked these people in the nuts and they’re gasping for breath as well as grasping at straws, without realizing that in Modi’s Gujarat, which he ruled for more than a decade, 43% of households still don’t have potties. Not much of an achievement, is it?
So, it is highly likely that all this will end up as the usual farcical photo-ops for dudes with brooms, whereas the need of the hour is to reroute rivers through our cities like Hercules did to clean up the Augean stables. If Modi succeeds in that, I will also readily chant Namo*, Namo*.
*Regardless of what he achieves, the asterisk is always going to be there against his name.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Quarterly Musings?

Well, 2014 is into its second quarter and here I am sitting in a place that is so far removed from Trivandrum, the election heat as well as the real heat there seems surreal. It is -1°C and snowing outside where I am now. The year started off crazily for me, when I was woken up at 6 am on January 1st by a distress call from Kanyakumari. I was sleeping at my friend’s place, where I had gone to welcome in the New Year, saw the city explode into colours across a 180° arc at midnight from his apartment balcony, drank and played cards till the wee hours. The call was from a group of Japanese college kids, who had gone to celebrate the New Year at the land’s end of India. “We have been robbed”, the girl said. And I felt relieved. Nobody drowned! So far, so good. She said the police just came and went and did nothing.
So, there I was, in Kanyakumari at 9 am, Jan 1, 2014. The police station is less than 100m from the hotel (Shivas something) where these kids stayed, but it might as well have been in another planet. They were robbed of couple of Macbooks, 2 smartphones and a watch, probably by the hotel staff who were watching them getting drunk and sleeping without locking their door. The kids called the police, who came after some time and asked a few questions to the night clerk and left, and refused to register any complaint. The kids were dumbstruck! Why in the world would policemen refuse to file a complaint and investigate a theft? Well, welcome to India, I said.
I took the two guys who lost the stuff and went to the police station. Only acceptable language is Tamil! The police and the hotel guys all seemed to be in this racket together. I somehow managed to impress upon the SI and ASI the need to file a complaint and give a copy each to the two kids, which they gave by noon and we left the place. They lost stuff, but stuff can be replaced, and I was surprised at the speed at which the kids recovered and decided to enjoy their rest of the vacation in Kerala. (As I was leaving, I also saw these same police guys totally ignore a man from Meghalaya, who too was robbed, and who couldn’t speak Tamil. In hindsight, I should have helped him out too, but I was hurrying to get the kids out of that place, partially driven by the shame I felt as an Indian, and partially by hunger.)
So, that was my New Year. A reality check of how things work, rather don’t work, in our country.
I was not planning to write about the election, nor anything else, for that matter, but since I started writing I might as well throw my two cents in. Last time, I persuaded at least one person to vote for Mr Tharoor. Here was a man of international stature, famed author, journalist (I used to enjoy his articles in the International Herald Tribune) and above all, a man with experience living in international cities. The only negative I could think of was his involvement with the mother of all inefficient, ineffective bureaucracies, the UN! Just kidding.
The expectations were quite high. He did perform well compared to all his immediate predecessors. But, was that enough is the question. I, personally was expecting a Rolls Royce, but think we got a Honda Accord. To be fair, the Honda Accord is an excellent upgrade, especially given the Ambassador and Standard Herald models we had before that. Still, I must say I was a bit disappointed. And, though not his fault, the fact that the State government didn’t care about our city hurt too.
So, how is the field this time? The positives, stated above, are still valid for Mr Tharoor. The controversy (controversies?) surrounding his personal life, though, is a bummer.
The BJP candidate could spring a surprise, as they have succeeded in creating lot of hype, similar to some states and cities. It could also end up as usual – all fart and no $hit.
The only thing everybody know about the Left candidate is that nobody knows him. It is a tragedy, and a pointer to the sad state of affairs in our State, that the Left is resorting to caste-based politics and pandering to mullahs, bishops and living gods for survival. He might win, if that particular group vote en-bloc for him, as it is wont to do.
A message to AAP – get rid of those ridiculous caps. You started off well by ridding yourself of that Anna Hazare clown. Now get rid of those caps. And, get some people who can speak the lingo, i.e. Malayalam, like the common man to be your spokespersons.
All said and done, the buttons have been pressed, the machines have been packed and we have a month to find out who will eventually disappoint us.
I am, however, not so sure of the voting machines. Did we have a transparent process for introducing them? Was the technology verified independently? Some did malfunction here and there. Could these be tampered with?
Most of us would like to think it is all fool-proof, but this is India and anything can happen.
Here’s a story. Long back, in the 1980s, if you were a Mallu in Bangalore trying to take the Island Express back home urgently and needed a reservation, you went to the railway canteen on the 1st floor of Majestic station and checked out Mr N, a waiter there, and he would give you a ticket, at least an RAC seat, for a small extra. Then, at the turn of the decade, going into the nineties, Indian Railways began computerizing their reservation system. Everybody thought Mr N would go out of business. He didn’t. He just moved his base to Krishnarajapuram, a small station near Bangalore, and continued with his merry ways. You had to travel that extra mile to see him. That was all. 
P.S. I would have voted for only one person (perhaps two) this time. Her name is Sheeba, and she is a candidate from Alathur. She, it seems, asked her staff not to put up any flex boards as part of her campaign. I hope she wins. Just go to Vellayambalam and take a look at those huge faces sneering down from ugly flex boards on what could have been one of the most beautiful roundabouts in Trivandrum.