Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Select your leaders:VOTE

''Si j'etais un pays .....je serais l'Inde'' was my spontaneous reply when my pretty French teacher popped the question that if I was a country what would I be. I know it is a little comical but these French are different class of people altogether. We were having the class on Le conditionnel Present[present conditionals in english]. So we were each given different hypothetical questions.

Answering the question was a little sentimental, I was dewy eyed missing my Bharat, my home, my family, my friends. When we are living in India we want to go abroad and when we are abroad we want to go to India...irony of life.

The resplendent colors in the saris of the traditional ladies to the jingling bangles of a traditional girl.[I know it is changing with western influence, that is why I am specifying traditional] The mouthwatering roadside panipuri to the heavenly halwai ki dukan. The celebration of lights to the celebration of Eid.  Drinking cool Lassi , sucking on cold watermelon in summer to adorning light sweaters in Bangalore winter......I miss it all and miss much more.

It reminds me of a particular incident when I was for a vacation in Bangalore and would love to share it.

One particular day when I decided to meet my friends, I chose to travel by BMTC bus to Forum mall where we were supposed to meet. I roughly calculated about an hour to reach there considering the ever growing Bangalore traffic. I merrily hopped into the bus towards Shivajinagar. As soon I climbed in the bus, people started scrutinising me with their looks. I sighed and muttered to myself 'It happens only in India'. The ride was nice after a very long time. It was a mixed feeling seeing the mediocre and the underprivileged in the bus.

There was immediate comparison running with slideshows in my brain. It was feeling of jealousy that the Europeans do so much for the common man and in India our politicians do so much for themselves. My eyes were filled with sympathy as my eyes darted towards the torn cotton saree of the woman with a flower basket. 'Life is so tough' was clearly written on the creases of her forehead and the roughness of her shriveled hands.

May be when I start to live in India for good it would become a part of my life and I would also be a mute spectator caring only about my life, but the sting is felt when you have just returned from a different part of the same world inhabited by humans only but who live differently and think differently. I was lost in the feeling of anger towards the government and anguish towards the indignant politicians, when a yell from the driver brought me back to my senses. Due to heavy traffic, he was asking all of them to get down and walk to the stop which was about 200 meters away. Oho, I was already late as per my calculation, I had already exceeded 15 minutes to reach my destination.

I got down and could see a sea of people on the road at half past four. I quickly decided to take an auto from Shivajinagar to Forum mall. I showed my hand signaling few auto rickshaw drivers.

One auto halted in front of me and the young driver quickly brushed his hair with his fingers and raised his collar, looking in the eye.

He asked 'kahan jaana hai'?(For a minute I wondered whom is he talking to, but figured out there was nobody other than me.)

'Forum jaana hai bhaiya'..

I replied stressing a little more on Bhaiya. He gave me a weird look.

He said 'pundra rupaiye extra'[15 rupees more,baap ka paisa hai kya??]

For heavens sake the clock did not yet strike 9 pm. I said thank you looking at his old conventional meter and sensing his clumsy demeanor, walked towards another auto driver. The uncle was slightly better with less attitude and a digital auto meter.

Driver:yes madam

Me: Forum bartira(I decided that I will speak in Kannada from my previous experience)

Driver:huttu rupai jasti madam,tumba kashta wapas barakke.

(He asked me 10 rupees extra quoting the reason that he would not find customer
coming back to the same place)

Me: (@#%*%* in my mind)Yakri kodbeku,innu ratri agilla.nanu bere auto thogantini.

.....I meant that why should I give you when it is still not dark, I am going to take another

Driver: Ok madam,yake kopa maadqullotira, banni.

I think he read what I said in my mind than listening to the words from my mouth..he he.
He agreed to give me a ride.

Me: Swalpa begahogi ( can you go quickly? politely with a 32 teeth smile, I was running late)

Uff !!the auto guys can be full of attitude, they behave as if they are the bosses of the roads. I was reading the information given in the template behind his seat and casually asked him where exactly was the place where he stayed. He replied he stayed in a low lying area to the south of Bangalore. Then I casually started asking him why auto-drivers still used the old meter thinking that traffic police had a rule asking them to change the meter 2 years back.

He said casually that they make rules there in Bangalore, they don't care much for the corrupted police. He said with difficulty they earn throughout the day, a policeman stops them and with some cunning pretext takes away money from them. He explained that that the recession has hit them hard, with no call centers and no much businesses running well it was a difficult life. I told him that I see no much development since a year and half that I was away.

The driver poured his heart out giving his opinions, his complaints against the government and his suggestions for a better Bangalore. He was telling about the difficulty of raising his children. It was surprising that he had in depth knowledge about GEORGE BUSH. He was cursing him for the bad economy of the world.

He was pleasantly amused that I was giving a keen listening ear and sympathizing along with him. When the destination was close, I had changed my mind and decided to give him 10 rupee tip which he had initially asked and which I had refused. I could help him in a very small way.
When the auto stopped the meter showed 53 rupees and I dint have change of three rupees.
So I gave him 60 rupees and waited till he could give me back the change and then I would surprise him asking him to keep the change.

It was something which I dint expect, he handed the 10 rupee note and said it was OK if I dint have the extra three rupees. I told him to keep it, he said he could not accept the note as I dint have a good feeling to offer him the money initially and that money would bring only harm in his life. I gave a smile and said I wholeheartedly offered it now. His weary eyes suddenly twinkled and his sagging face lit into the most broadest smile. He thanked me and accepted it after insisting. He bid goodbye and it had made so much difference to my soul. I went ahead to meet my friends in the mall, though I was 3o minutes late, I was the first to arrive. Grrr..I had to wait another 15 minutes to see them and it was a great evening discussing, laughing and reliving college days.

Thinking about the incident, I feel that's how the people of India generally are, the poor may be weared out from the difficulty of life but still have great values and warmth in their hearts.
If only we as one nation worked to together to build a better country, We would be the greatest nation in the world. No where you would come across such people who consider a goodwill more important than a bill, despite the need. I feel such people deserve more in life and I am sure God will help him someday.

We need to fight dirt on our hearts which may be in the form of corruption, greed, ill mannerism. I am sure you look closer the dirt can be wiped to reveal a human heart that is in ever need of care and kind words. You need to take the initiative to wipe. It only needs direction to work in unity to help in the progress of our country. That direction my friends can be with the help of genuine leaders and each one of us can make a difference by choosing and voting for a good leader.

Best of luck for the coming elections and go ahead and make a difference.

Well friends, considering the time and the text of today's blog I bid goodbye till my next update.

Smile is a curve which sets everything straight...so dont forget to smile:)