Sunday, February 24, 2008

Good, Bad and the Ugly...

A trip to India is always special as you come across the irony of the country where good, bad and the ugly co-exist with a scary understanding between each other. The special part about my trip was that there was far much good, far less bad and patches of ugliness. The immortal line from Rang De Basanti seems to be coming true, "Koi country perfect nahin hoti, usee perfect banana padhta hain". I hope in this effort of making the country perfect, we don't forget some of the imperfections that make the country all the more special.

The Good(s)

One thing that has transformed Delhi forever is the start of Metro. For me, Metro is a 21st century miracle almost comparable to building Taj Mahal in the 17th century. It may seem like an exaggeration but the truth is that Metro has put Delhi ahead of any other city in India atleast when it comes to transportation. The miracle is the speed, the smoothness and the efficiency, with which the whole operation is running. Infact, when the whole debate about Bharat Ratna was going in India, the first person that came to my mind was Elattuvalapil Sreedharan, the man behind the miracle called Metro. My experience on the Metro was great. I always wanted to take a ride even though have been on countless similar subways because c'mon this is Delhi's Metro, it has to be special. I loved the security, the efficient and unique ticketing system, the frequency of service and cleanliness of the place. Hats off to everyone responsible for making it possible!!

Metro Station entrance at CP

Although, there are Malls everywhere you look around, it was good to see that Mom and Pop shops are still running and fighting back with gusto. My Mom still feels more at home at a kirane ke dukaan than a swanky shop in a Mall. I think she still prefers bargaining than going through the impersonal store with prices written in stone for everything. I also felt more at home taking Mom to the nearby dukaan to buy aata and seeing the dukaanwaala bhaiya starting with, "Namaste Aunty jee" rather than a scantly clad girl asking "How can I help you Maam?"

My Mom's favorite shop for chunnis in Karol Bagh

My automobile genes got a huge kick on this trip while checking out all the new car models. Its just a coincidence that Auto Expo started as soon as I landed in Delhi. By far, my best vehicle on Indian roads was Mahindra's Scorpion (and it has nothing to do with similarity to my zodiac sign). The hype around Nano (or lakhtakiya car) was another interesting part of my trip. I liked the innovativeness of our channels to show the Nano to the world with catchy titles like, "Nano se naina mil gayee". Although, Nano maybe ready for Indian roads but are Indian roads ready for a Nano, that's a million dollar question for future.

The Great India Mall (ironically with all the American brands inside)

There were thousand other day to day good things about India including the sumptuous food items, family and friends around, a sense of belonging and so on, but those vary from person to person and frankly doesn't make India unique. Its the way India is trying to find its own self that makes India unique. Indian identity which may seem getting lost in the Malls is still found in the bylanes of places like Chandani Chowk. India is not only alive but thriving and ready to sore only if it is able to curtail the few bad and ugly things around it but we will talk about that some time later. For now, let's celebrate the goodness of the place that still feels home, India.