Folks, I am going to leapfrog two posts that I wanted to post last week, but I was quite busy with myriad works... They will come pretty soon. But right now, I want to blog about the sad state of affairs in (and around) this city, Coimbatore over the past three or four days!
12:30 am, Monday... I am on my way to Coimbatore in a err..hmmm...ok fine...a comfortable bus (being 6+ foot in India is the most easy-to-carry problem) and was just falling asleep now and then (bus was already into its 4th hour of the journey). And then suddenly I hear a thud... Felt nothing strange thanks to my sleep, but did hear something. And like all those who get woken up suddenly, I too was looking around at the people around me in the bus. And more than surprisingly, half of them were looking worriedly at me... And the other half, at the couple sitting behind me... Apparently, two stones of atleast a pound each in weight was hurled at the moving bus from outside and they crashed into the window between me and the seat behind! Luckily it missed my head by 6 inches and missed the lady (behind me) by another 6 inches (flew between our heads, so to say, both stones) and hit a gentleman sitting on the other side of the aisle! For a whole minute I didn't realise what had happened, and the "story" was hard to believe. I had pieces of glass all over me but was still sitting there comfortably. No one was sitting in the seat next to me, and there I noticed pieces of glass. Still unsurprised, thinking it was a dream, not even caring to look at the window, i took my kerchief and pushed down some big pieces of the glass, and stopped doing so. It WAS REALLL. IT DID HAPPEN. Thank God, I didn't get hurt in what might've been a serious injury to my skull! But now, let me look at myself! I was "drenched" in pieces of glass... On my shirt, on my laps, some waiting for me to move, so it can trickle into my pockets, some went inside my trousers! The more I searched, the more I found. I thought I should get up and dust myself, flap my hands on my shirt or something and get rid of the glass (plexi glass, so, little pieces, not as sharp or dangerous). Surprise surprise! I got up and saw the seat I was sitting on, and the sight was horrific - I was actually sitting on like about half a kg (little over a pound) of glass pieces, none of them greater than 2 inches on either dimension, quarter inches thick! It was a bed of glass pieces that evened out on the seat once I got up, as if they were waiting for the comfort of having the whole seat for themselves. Funny, none of them pricked me! But, how would you react at it when you know that you were sitting at the very point of accident, besides a broken window pane, with half the pieces splashed at you? I was in a state of shock. I felt the shock now. Looking at the pane (no more) and my seat, the lady who was sitting behind me directed me to another place... And I never slept for the other 90 mins of my journey, and for another 30 mins in my room! There was a complaint made to the police at the very next police booth, but I don't know how understandable they were, and the poor conductor asked the driver to pull off, as nothing seemed to help the situation here.
End of a real nightmare! Why do we have a nation like this, where people love to kill one another? (as said in RDB) Anyone can change this? Its tough for us common public to change the attitude of the ones in power. (read my friend's blog post on similar lines). The police were equally ineffective. I heard nothing good or developmental from them!
Fine, end of this night, and I've returned home after looking at the empty beautified highway of the city ready for the Classical Tamil conference to be held from Wednesday onwards.
A host of police keeps coming into the city, and start trying to familiarise with the place. Half of the local constables in some random place in the state are now the traffic constables in the city. All the traffic lights are switched off and these people will now rule the streets! Fifteen people direct one car! One says go straight, one says go left, other says, "sorry, you can't go left. please take right", another says, "stop, you can't move now". Too many of anything spoils the scene. They just wear silly gloves and frantically wave at the people. There was this one policewoman, who was holding the transmitter radio for the first time in her life... She is listening to the radio "gttchchch gtchchchhch gtcchhchchch" sounds close to her ears and gives an impression like she is listening to some important instruction from her chief (morse code, was it? the sounds didn't make sense)... and yeah, her other hand was free, so, she waves and swears and waves directions at a moving vehicle which was abiding by all the possible rules laid in the jurisdiction...but the uniform lady wanted to show her power, that she was the ruler of the 20 meter distance that came under her "king(queen)dom". Yes, there was a police(wo)man every 20 m on Monday!
Tuesday evening, 7:30 pm.
I'm in a major bus terminus of the city, and boarded a bus to my place, which is 7km away. It took blood %^$&$$%^(*&(*^& 150 minutes to reach my place. One side of the road (down) was emptied and this side of the road (up) was jammed! Politicians were to arrive in the city at about 8:30 pm or so, and the whole place has been brought to a standstill from 7 pm itself! And for the sake of not more than 6 politicians, the traffic pace lost the olympic marathon to a common snail, which slid past me giving me a "muhahahahaha... bye bye, slow poke" look and went past the bus! this was irritating me. Then came the "dignitaries" from the airport (that was another 5 km away, so, my estimate - 8 km of jam on this side of the road and another 8 km of traffic beyond the airport... 16 km OF ABSOLUTE HAVOC 6 POLITICIANS!!!!! Aren't they common people? Aren't they the face of the common people? And guess what? each of them had 20 cars in front of them and behind them...every single one of them... all of them filled with police, filled and overflowing (outside the car) with them actually! And ambulances for every dignitary... No, the cars were not ambassadors, they were all Toyota Innova! I bet I saw more than 100 Innova within fifteen mins!!! If I got the rent that the govt paid for the Innova cars for this night, I promise I won't need to ear for at least an year and I can visit the top-10 places on my list of "places to visit before I die"! When the govt's show of "how rich we are" cleared, I saw the common man's world - people were flooding here, to attend the conference from every nook and corner of the state, nation, world! They had no place to go to, daily wagers had not even proper clothing, food was once a day for most of them, finding water was so tough for them that they would ask bus passengers if they had a bottle of water to offer! It was a pitiful sight :-( . And all of them were pointlessly moving around, not knowing even a bit about this new city they have just poured into.
After a few skipped stoppings, detours, and long directions, I returned to my place, tired and deflated, had my dinner in an overcrowded restaurant... But fortunately I knew the people in the restaurants who helped me find a comfortable seat and I had a good dinner, capped with friendly hospitality from the waiter :-) .
On my way to the restaurant, another funny thing happened. I was walking on the side-walk, heading to the restaurant and this one young policeman, who surprisingly didn't have that characterisque tummy that the TN police is so (in)famous for, asked me to stop. I stopped. I looked in the direction of the restaurant. Everyone was standing still. Someone tried to move, and this guy asked that fellow to stop. Why? because the CM was going in his vehicle on the streets (yes, with the fleet of other cars behind and ahead of him). So, next time you see (on news channels) loads of people looking at any politician's vehicle when its moving on the road, please keep in mind that its not because all the people want to see the person, its because the people are held up and forcibly made to do so! I spoke about govt wasting their money, now they are wasting MY time too...
well, had dinner... And then went back to my room and slept after a long night. The next day, the first day of the conference, was declared a holiday, so I had the license to sleep till late :-) . I had bought bread for breakfast, as I didn't want to risk anything in the morning (the city was set to have a parade)!
OKAYYYYYYYYY... Its Wednesday! Day one of the conference! (anyone thinks I am attending the conference or covering anything about it in this? NO! not me)
I get up leisurely at 8 am... couldn't sleep any further because the surprisingly out and shining sun was gleaming at my back, and it was hot. That was unusual in my 10 day long life here. So, I'm up, thanks to my mom's phone call, which overcame my body's desperate resistance against the heat for another few mins of sleep! So I had some slices of bread and spent the morning watching an NBA game that I had just finished downloading. Good game, good day thus far. Mid-day already? aaah :-( . Bathe, I said to myself, and after the bath (the water was lukewarm :-) , its usually cold). And now, time for lunch. I had to be physically ready for this. The restaurant it 8 mins walk, 6 of those mins are on the highway I was talking about a while ago. (no, I'm not cooking in my room now, for reasons I can't disclose publicly). I hadn't heard anything loud from my room all day, so I thought the situation was fine.
This place was a sea of people! who were all walking from east to west... God knows where? no one looked like they knew where to go to. Half the shops were closed, any shop that hosted beverages was flooded by people, my restaurant was open, I had this info confirmed the previous night itself, so, i was not worried. All these people, I don't know how many of them had proper food. Clearly they didn't have accommodation, some were carrying their luggage on the highway. Buses were diverted. The police force looked like ants infront of the tsunami of crowd. No one was listening to their instructions, anyway! After a lot of hustle and bustle through the crowd, I reached my restaurant and with a casual "hi anna!" and a wave of hand I found myself a seat as soon as I entered, double crossing atleast a dozen ignorant people to it. My friend there was very tired the way the place was overcrowded and I pitied him a lot. We were talking about the crowd, from my angle and his angle for a while... the point was clear - this crowd was not well managed by the police or/and the govt! Well, he was a bit happy that his place was easily making profit this day by means more than one. A few extra bucks on every item for the day, and they were doing good business. Then, I left the place, with a water bottle which'll last the afternoon...
Then, the night. Again, almost just as bad as it was in the afternoon! And now, I noticed another thing - the streets... They were as dirty as it could be. Apparently, the govt forgot to install dust-bins! The parapet walls that were painted with the history of the culture quite beautifully (I had been watching the painters working on it from day 1. They put in days and nights of hard work) were now the hosts of people who sat on it, and some who spat beetle leave thingy on it (sitting and spitting on it)!!! And another thing I saw that pissed me off... On the highway, the policemen were controlling the crowd. One of them was urinating just off the road. And one of them was smoking, while on duty, in a public place... Other things pretty much the same as in the morning - crowd, mild-mannerism, nomadic people,numerous jobless policemen, numerous hyper-active useless ones, numerous road blocks, diverted buses, etc). Yes, before the dinner I saw a piece of visual entertainment - firecrackers, for 10 mins... entertaining to the eye, yes... Well, for all the money that was wasted on other stuffs, this wasn't that big a waste, so to say! A bit too polluting thought, a little too much smoke lingered around for a while!
And then came today!
i had to go to office today. I was afraid how the crowd'll be at 7 in the morning! As it is, I slept too late, at 2 am, thanks to Isner and Mahut counting from 1 to 59 all night long (and thats not over yet, not over at 7:30 pm IST yet)! I got up at 6:40, raced against time and left my place by 7:02 :-) . That was some time management, with multitasking :-) . Well, the streets were clear, but there were more and more and more policemen coming to the place in vans and cars and buses!!! Office - some good 8 hours at office. Back from office, I missed my stop, dozed off, and got down in the next stop, and went to the other side of the road to get the bus to my place, but alas, for 40 mins, no bus came thanks to the great police blockades which diverted the buses. Tell me, can't the policemen even let the public know that the buses wouldn't come and we had to take the alternative??? Should they be this mum? or should I say, dumb? I was so pissed of with the sight of khakhi uniform that I curbed my anger and crossed the road to take some bus to the big bus terminus and find an alternative back home somehow. And when a neatly dressed 6'3" guy is moving somewhere with an idea bright on his face, the crowd around him follows (what an idea, sir ji?). So, a little portion of the crowd follows me to the other side like the rats behind Pied Piper. ( no, I didn't call them!). I took the bus, and the got another bus that took me to my nearest bus stop :-) . aah, I was gonna be home soon :-) :-)
WAIT!!! It ain't over yet! I had to cross a couple of road junctions! Damn it! more policemen! And all of them had ABSOLUTELY NO CO-ORDINATION... One car got direction to move and not move and back-up from three people, it finally ended up moving back and bumped into the bus behind it which was receiving instructions of "go ahead" from a fourth party. I hope you get the complete picture of the havoc now (a man just escaped a hit from a speeding car)! Safely, i crossed the road and walk home, thinking of all these incidents that happened over the past few days!
I come home, reach for my laptop and write this, finding time once in a while to remove my shoes and socks and freshening up and then changing into something more comfortable than the "good looking" formals...
Its been two hours, and I know this is a looooooong post. Thanks for patiently reading this!
I hope you do get the picture of the place here. I am not adding a few other incidences, which are pretty much like this, but equally disheartening!
Is this what I should expect from police force? Is this how a mega-event has to be controlled? Is this how much the govt loves its people? I need answers! not blaming the govt or police completely, but surely this is not how they wanted to execute this! Did they ever have a simulation? An attempt to do a similar thing at some scale anywhere????
God help the nation!
Suggestion, reviews, comments welcome!
Spl Credits to Harshavardhan for a blogpost of his that I've referred to