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The Random City Rant!

Isn’t it amazing how much everyone dreams about India coming to be a superpower and the likes. Not to mention us competing with China and being one of the leading countries of the world. I wonder how that’s going to happen. I mean I don’t see it coming with the way things are going anyway.

I was on my way to New Friends Colony one day and as I gazed out of the car window, I saw the regular things in the Capital. Bad roads, dirty footpaths, slums and the regular trash on the road side. I mean it’s normal for us Indians but not normal for superpower Indians.

Have you ever noticed how small our roads are? I did that day. Completely un-leveled and unmarked. And to make it worse the damn pot-holes on them don’t let you have a smooth ride. So much for roads. What about the footpaths which accompany them? Battered, broken, worn out are some of the words that I can possibly think of to describe them.

Not long after that I got stuck in a traffic jam. The reason? The traffic signal wasn’t working. I had to put my driving skills to test and somehow got out of it yelling and using the choicest of abuses directed towards my fellow drivers. Not that there’s usually much of a problem with traffic signals but when there actually is a problem with them there’s nothing we can do about it.

As soon as I was out of the jam I noticed a road sign. The arrow pointed forward and it said CORTS HOSPITAL. Corts Hospital? Then another one on its right read ASH. “Aye Caramba!” I thought. Was Aishwarya Rai up ahead? But I knew better. It was not CORTS HOSPITAL but ESCORTS HOSPITAL and ASHRAM not ASH. The trees were covering the initial letters of the words. Wonderful trees. I think it’s very generous of our dear government to fill the entire capital with trees. And let’s face it. We need them. But c’mon, with all due respect to environmentalists what good are trees if they remain totally untrimmed since they’ve been planted and become an inconvenience to the city citizens? They cover half the road signs in the city y’know. And what good are the road signs then.

And then I noticed the biggest contributing factor of them all. Dirt. It’s a common sight to see garbage always lying around on the streets and by road sides What’s even more pathetic is that you never see the authorities cleaning it up. Once while traveling with a friend I happened to mention about the pollution. And pat came his reply, “Bloody Angrez, this ain’t your foreign, this is India and that’s the way things are around here”. Another time I happen to be roaming around in a South Delhi market and noticed people eating and throwing away garbage with glory right on the street. And perhaps that’s the main reason for all that I mentioned till now. Even the people have stopped caring.

And that brings me to the point. We dream of Delhi being London and Mumbai being Shanghai? No, lets not. New York, London & Shanghai have all the basic amenities that I talked about. They have authorities who work for them. They’re roads are wide, footpaths are clean, trees are trimmed, they have proper electricity with water supply and the people dream of a better tomorrow. If just one day of rain can drown our metropolitan cities and leave the people with no electricity then better improve the drainage than compare the city to international ones. Let New Delhi be New Delhi. Let Mumbai be Mumbai. Even as I write this now the electricity is gone and the UPS is going “beep beep”. It’s time for our leaders and authorities to put our money where they’re mouths are.

Sure your home might be the best place in the city. But your city isn’t the best in the world. What defines the city initially is what it looks like. And by the looks of it, our cities don’t impress.Correct me if I’m wrong but aren’t most of the things that I mentioned to be taken care of. Don’t I as a citizen of this country have a right to proper roads, footpaths, traffic signals and clean surroundings which allow me a smooth ride to my friends place? And that’s why I have a right to ask where the entire tax payer’s money and allocated funds are going? If our politicians put that money right where it belongs instead of they’re already inflated pockets then maybe some improvement can actually be seen.

Let’s get a reality check. Our cities aren’t becoming any better. Not if the authorities work the way they have been working. Forget skyscrapers, world class malls, high tech airports. Those can come later on. First get the basics of city planning right. I don’t know what to expect when I become a tax-paying citizen of this country. And frankly I don’t blame the people leaving the country for better ones. I don’t see Delhi becoming London and Mumbai becoming Shanghai. At least not if things keep going on the way they have been. And the day Delhi becomes London, the party drinks are on me.

P.S – I wrote this rant when I was in 3rd year of my college. That was two years ago. I came across this while randomly going through my folders. And the situations mentioned above still hold true. And that ladies and gentlemen is why I decided to publish this rant!

Shahrukh Who???

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Now why can’t we get over the entire SRK being detained in the US saga? I’m not too happy with Indians or Asians being profiled at US airports either, but it’s a well known fact now that such checks are a regular occurrence. Except for the fact that some people are treating this case as one in which sacrilege has been committed (This being India some fans might actually think so). The most ridiculous line I’ve heard so far is “Who hasn’t heard of Shahrukh Khan?”

Picture this. Out of the many flights that land at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi international airport, lands one from the US of A. Not that there’s a problem with that, but out of that very flight comes out a haggled man named Alfredo James Pacino.

Of course Mr. Pacino is in India for official business.

Everything’s fine until he’s pulled up by the Indian customs officials. Something’s not right. Alfredo James Pacino? What kind of name is that? It sounds Italian. He even looks Italian. No way near American. So Mr Pacino is quietly escorted to the holding area for questioning.

Customs officer 1: Why you come to India?
Al Pacino: Uhhh…I’m an actuh y’know…uhhh…quite a stah.

Actor? Really? This short old guy? Who’s he kidding? And even if he is, he ain’t no Amitabh Bachchan. Obviously there are protocols and they can’t let no short old Italian guy passing off as an American get away with this. They have a hunch something is wrong. Wait!!!! Let’s check his luggage.

But misfortune struck Mr. Pacino the moment he landed in New Delhi and it refuses to leave. His baggage can’t be located. So he has to face another volley of questions and instructions:

Been to India before?
Do you have any Indian contact?
Don’t you use your phone mister!
You’re an actor? We’ve never heard of you!
Why are you trying to pass off as an American?

Now Mr. Pacino is obviously losing his cool. He’s been here for quite a while and these funny Indian customs officials are holding him for no good reason. He’s got his papers in place and they won’t even let him make a phone call! They don’t even know he was in The Godfather!!!! After about a good hour and a half when the airport officials finally verify his credentials and the American embassy has vouched for him, they let him out.

The news of this unnecessary detention reaches the American shores in no time. People are outraged. Some find it funny! Didn’t recognize Al Pacino????? How funny is that? It’s just harassment. No! It’s reverse racism! An American congressman calls for the same treatment towards Indians (chuckle, chuckle!) While Jessica Alba tweets, “Oh my god! Like who hasn’t heard of Al Pacino guys. This is ridiculous.”

And how did we Indians react? Obviously, the majority of the Indian population hasn’t heard much about Al Pacino. The fact that he is a highly rated, accomplished Oscar winning actor gives no kick to the custom official who was perhaps born somewhere in Rajendar Nagar, grew up admiring Rajesh Khanna and takes his work very seriously! If Al Pacino wants to come to India then he has to go over the same treatment given to every other unrecognizable Joe at the airport. Mr Pacino gets no sympathy for his sad story here.

When normal Indian folks like taxi drivers, government officials, school kids, grandma n pa, office executives and housewives hear the news of a firangi star being detained, they question, “arrey kaun aal pachinu???”

So relax, come back to reality, and simply accept the fact that the American majority has never heard of Shahrukh Khan. And him being detained for questioning is no big deal.

I’m in the dark here!
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