Friday, April 13, 2007

Sonia Gandhi ,the Kerala police and a messed up weekend!

We all have been at some time subjected to inconveniences because of scheduled or unscheduled VIP visits and the associated police ‘bandobasts’.I would like to recount a little experience I had .

Timeline : March 2006 ,Sonia Gandhi visits Kochi
My usual working pattern is from 8:30 to 6:00 on all days except Sundays.My wife of 2 months duration has an almost similar schedule .So weekends are kind of special for us.It’s a time to unwind ..listen to some music ,take in movie or laze around with a comfy book.As usual, the last Saturday was to have been spent in the same leisurely bliss…except that Mrs.Sonia Gandhi and her cats (of all hues ,including the mandatory black ) had other plans in store for me.I got out of the hospital by 5:30,the general idea was a quick shower followed by dinner and a second show movie.My wife had already reached home and was doing the groundwork.I reach the road cutting into NH-17 near Edappally and suddenly there’s a long caterpillar stretch of motor vehicles neatly stacked bumper to bumper.Suprisingly the main road is totally empty.What gives?So I get out my car and check with one of the ubiquitous khaki clad gentlemen littering the empty road.In the totally expected ,crude style of our ever so polite police force,I am told brusquely that the road has been cleared for Soniaji’s visit. Cleared? I query curiously. Well ,of course you nut, cleared as in ,the ‘pilot’ vehicles have passed by and now we’re waiting for the queen bee. “Ok.So when do you expect the queen bee to fly by?”.”Hmmppph… idea”(why are you so bothered, anyway?)I parted with the constable on relatively harsh terms.I simply couldn’t understand the zeal with these policemen were carrying out there ‘duty’. If the same enthusiasm was extended to their everyday work I think Kochi would be a much better place than it is.Anyway , I do think that I managed to get my viewpoint across,not that it mattered to Mr.Policeman though.
Anyway I get home bruised and battered after an hour of bumper to bumper traffic and with some strength of character managed to convey to my understandably angry bitter half that the days’ program stood cancelled.”I’ll make it up tomorrow I promise” . Thank god for instant noodles and soup I managed not to go hungry that night.

Come Sunday morning ,most of the dark clouds had shifted away from my dear wife’s face.So we make our next set of grand plans…a lavish breakfast at home,then I go to the hospital to rush through my rounds and then we go to the lending library in town ,get a few good books ….and so on and so on.Things were going according to schedule when Soniaji gave us another rude jolt .The roads leading to the library were blocked .As is the norm a horde of policemen were standing guard every few meters.I tried parking my vehicle on a empty piece of landscape ,but no sooner had I stalled the engines that a rapidly moving mass in khaki scurried over asking me to move out as though the future of the nation depended on it.It is a fact that I could have reached the library by following some rather circuitous routes ,but I was so utterly disgusted by then that I headed straight home.

Now just imagine if there had been some really serious matter I had to attend to (rather than bother about my wife’s happiness,which by itself could be quite a serious matter!)...I’m sure that the same day there would have been people with pressing need who would have been depressingly delayed just because Mrs.Sonia Gandhi had a fancy to visit Kochi.Personally I am as apolitical as a person can get (I really believe that there is no difference whom you vote for in an election as all politicians in time turn out equally bad),but this one experience ensured that no matter what, I am not going to vote for Soniaji or her congress ever again in my life.Interesting a large bunch of the so called part worker who had descended in hordes to Kochi were too drunk to listen to Soniaji’s speeches.It is evident that a lot of these people had been paid some ‘pocket money’ and a bottle or two of liquor to rally around their ‘leader’.Can our politicians really get cheaper?

Actually ,I really don’t know what makes me more angry…the politicians with their rallies and ‘hartals’ on the drop of a hat ,the policemen with their crass behaviour or the general public who seemed to have forgotten to question the wrongs happening around them.Everybody seems to just accept things as they are.It’s time people really started acting as responsible social animals .We have this tendency to engage regularly in conversation degrading the official machinery of our country ..but what do we do about it?Given an option of getting things done easiliy by shelling out a bribe ,most people go for it.I have had a rather bitter personal experience of having to spend 4 months trying to get my passport ,basically because I didn’t deem it proper to grease the hands of the police constable who came in for verification.I must admit that following the interactions I have had with the famed Kerala police, I now have a natural bias against them.But it should be understood that it is the general public which has contributed to making the police the monster it is now.(For example ,it is generally an accepted fact of life that if you want your passport ,you need to give a couple of hundred bucks to the verifying official.If everybody just refused to give in to the policeman’s need to be bribed ,things would change automatically.)
Just take another example.On the bypass between Edappally and Vytilla it is common to see ‘flying squad’ vehicles lying in wait to pounce upon drivers.Interestingly in the west (Infact in most civilized societies ) the general norm is not to bother a motorist as long as there is no valid reason.Here innocent people rushing about their daily routine are hauled up and literally harassed by the ‘flying’ and the ‘saada’ squads.The problem though is that many of these harassed motorists shell out a sum of money to get the issue settled quickly.True the policemen at times behave worse than seasoned criminals ,but what do we become when we bribe them?? ‘Arise .Awake and bribe not till the goal is reached’?


Anonymous said...

great writing

Anonymous said...

great writing dude!