Monday, July 05, 2010

Fear of GOD

I have many a time wondered how easy it is to scare people.

Terror strikes, bomb scares, kidnapping, homicides – all these sure put fear in to people’s heads. But, they are coupled with in depth planning or extensive damage to public and private property or both.

What is the easier way to put that fear in to people? To keep them on tenterhooks, not knowing what would happen next? To make them look around with stricken eyes, restless thoughts and a readiness to bolt and run at the simplest sound?

Call a strike.

In a span of two years, I have had my fair share of strikes in this city. The reasons have been many – fuel price increase, arrests of noted political personas, regional disfavors. However, the result has consistently been the same.

Fear and panic.

So, whenever I have got into a vehicle during any of these occasions, the driver has always asked me, in rare concern, ‘Akele jaa rahe hai aap?’, and then proceeded to bolt all the doors from the inside and roll up the windows – even those rickety old taxis where locking is of no use and the windows no longer roll up.

I very badly need to digress here to provide some unwarranted information.

I hate dependencies. For instance, I hate having to wait for someone to pick me up and drop me. I would much rather prefer getting out of my house and finding some public transport that would take me wherever I want to go. That is one big reason why I love Mumbai much more than, say, a Gurgaon.

On a similar note, I hate having to curb and foil my plans, ‘voluntarily’ of course, because someone decided somewhere that normal life should be disrupted. I become fiercely defensive at such times. Wanting to rebel and prove a point to no one in particular, one of these days, I might just step out despite all warnings and go wherever I am scheduled to go, as if nothing is wrong with the world at large.

Today, despite not being crazy enough to do something like that, I had some other reasons and more importantly, the right support systems, to venture out and, as a result, got a chance to write this –

The roads were empty, sunny and wide
But, there were policemen on the side,
And, a bandh with no taxis to ride,
And, a bandh with no taxis to ride.

I also got to see that fear again in people’s eyes, the same one I saw on television during 26/11 days. Yet, it did not take much doing. No guns, no bombs, no terrorists taking the sea route, no demolition plans. Just one simple ‘Bharat Bandh’ to show “solidarity”, a solidarity that would ensure that stones are pelted on transport systems, shops are shut down for no rhyme or reason. And, that 10% of Mumbai's populace which has traveled defying all odds would be shivering inside office cabins, not knowing how it will get back home.

Then again, we need to be rational and reasonable. Life is full of trade offs and we get only an assorted deal if we want to enjoy the luxuries of a developing, democratic country. Like how we are entitled to elect our favorite candidates, write and speak whatever we want to and migrate freely across the country, unlike some of our dear Asian neighbors, we are also at liberty to call our own bandhs and strikes and ensure general disruption of life.

8 comments:

RK said...

For me a strike means a day off.. you either work from home or stay at home... No fear.. and No worries.. no one can tell you to do anything.. You can blame it on the damn strike!!!

Yogesh said...

Thank God for small mercies like strikes.
Only that some of us have to crib, no matter what! :D

Kavity said...

@RK:
Different perspectives I guess..

@Cribbesh Yogi:
Pot calling kettle black. Hmph!

sathish said...

bt ws surprised to c things being normal in Chennai with public transport in full swing.. I realised that it ws bandh today after being reminded by an auto driver (wt more reason do they need for hiking auto fares)

Shreya said...

I was and am on leave. Missed all the fun! These experiences are integral to a rich blogging experience! :D

Kavity said...

@Sathish:
Would have known a different reaction if DMK had been ruling there but been part of th Opposition at the Center. Fortunately for the people of Tam Land, it was not to be so.

@Shreya:
:D strong agreer!
You are still on leave?? And, dreaming about work??

Epping Electrical said...

Our bountiful rights in a democratic nation should come with at least a few responsibilities, shouldn't they?

I remember being the first one to be sent home from work during the unrest in Bangalore after Rajkumar's death, I was fearing my life as I drove through crowds of people breaking shops, buses, cars and anything they could lay their hands on, really.. At one time in school, we missed so many classes due to Mamata Banerjee's bandhs and CPIM's bandha to protest bandhs that the school had to make a rule of Sunday make-up classes if there were >2 bandhs in the week!! And my aunt lost her newborn in 1991after rajiv gandhi's assassination when the "protesters" refused to let a sick baby through to the hospital..

Kavity said...

@GodM:
That's quite terrible! Yeah, never realised to what extent a strike or unrest might affect people's lives!