Visitors throng Maruti pavilion

The beautifully decorated pavilion of India's largest carmaker -- Maruti -- at the ongoing Auto Expo in Pragati Maidan is drawing huge crowds. The main reason behind this popularity is not just the display of its new models but also two unique features that allow people to design their own car and also test their driving skills on a simulator.

More than 1,000 visitors are testing their skills at each of the stalls -- "Carrozzeria" for designing and "Test Your Driving Skills", equipped with simulator consoles -- without paying any charges. Interestingly, those visiting these stalls are also getting printouts of cars designed by them and also a performance evaluation certificate regarding driving skills.

Stating that the two stalls always remain overcrowded and there is a long queue to register for the two events, a senior Maruti official said the idea was to increase the level of interaction between the company and visitors besides getting a feedback on their products and services.

"Such events also help us in formulating our future plans. We use feedback from such events in designing our limited edition models. Designs and colours used while designing a car at Carrozzeria tell us about the choices of people and we accordingly adjust our production plan so that people get colours and designs of their choices," he added.

Similarly, eight French simulator consoles are helping Delhiites to test their driving skills in a three-minute virtual drive in different driving conditions. "This approach has proved very effective globally as it provides interaction between a vehicle, its driver and driving problems without any casualty to life and car," the official said, adding that Maruti was going to add to its list of three driving schools in India to take it to 15 by the end of this year.

-- Sandeep Joshi

Arts festival

For the first time, Delhi will be hosting the Vikram Sarabhai International Arts Festival. An annual event showcasing the best of creations from the arts workshop "Darpana'' in the past year, the three-day festival travels from its native city of Ahmedabad to open at India Habitat Centre in the Capital on Tuesday.

Started by Mrinalini and Mallika Sarabhai to honour Vikram Sarabhai's love for the performing arts, the first day of the 30th edition of the festival will see a contemporary dance performance by Mallika Sarabhai with music that ranges from the renowned L.Subramaniam to "Indian Ocean". Exploring an individual's angst in modern society, a dance opera conceived and written by Shivani Tibrewala will be presented on the second day. The last day will showcase a spectacular theatre-cum-dance piece created and directed by Italian director Rita Maffei. The two-women show, tracing a Western woman's discovery of an Indian and herself, features Maffei and Mallika Sarabhai.

Established by Mrinalini and Vikram Sarabhai in 1949, Darpana is an arts workshop where tradition meets technology to break down boundaries of art and life.

-- Madhur Tankha

A mockery of the system

"Green Delhi, Clean Delhi'' has acquired an all new meaning on the slip road leading from Ring Road to Vikas Marg near the Players' Building which houses the offices of the Delhi Government. Motorists taking this road are surprised by a well-grown peepul tree that has come up right in the middle of the road! While the four-foot-tall tree stands upright, it is not a miracle that has sprung up on the busy road all of a sudden. The tree owes its origin to some ingenuous personnel of the Public Works Department that maintains the road.

As there happened to be a pipe rupture below the road at this point which caused a cavity on the top, some personnel thought it wise to put up the tree there to warn passengers about the impending threat. No wonder the caution has been well taken. However, along with the three the motorists also find a broken barricade, some pieces of stones and bricks at the spot that pose a real danger to the unfamiliar ones at night.

Besides the dried up tree, what also makes a mockery of the system is that in these times of advanced construction technology -- as demonstrated amply by the Delhi Metro across the Capital -- those in charge of maintaining the road did not manage to find even a single fluorescent tape to mark out the spot or bollards with shiny strips to provide adequate warning to the motorists about the threat.

By using such inane objects as shrubs and trees, they have also shown how unprepared the authorities are to tackle any problem which may spring up.

-- Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar