Monday, March 10, 2008

...the bad and the ugly

Every country has flaws but sometimes we become oblivious to them. Its when we go out of our environment that we notice those flaws more prominently but on the other hand we also notice flaws of the new environment when compared to the older one. The bad and the ugly side of India is not to put it down or glorify its flaws but its an observation from the outside by an NRI (Non Required Indian, ofcourse) ...

On my way to India, I was sitting next to a South Korean girl and after the initial awkwardness we started talking. She was going to India for the first time with few of her friends who were sitting on the other aisle. She took out her guidebook and started asking me about places to visit. I like a home-sick NRI started glorifying India like its the only heaven on earth and angels will come to take these South Koreans on tour of their lifetime. That was until my plane landed at Indira Gandhi Airport and I entered the immigration area. The first words on coming out was WTF (not the words I had originally thought while listening to music of Swades on the way). I had never seen so much confusion in my lifetime. There was construction going on for the new airport and so the one that was operational was as bad as it could get. There was dust everywhere and no one to help the way out. I had to help an old couple fill up the immigration form as there was no help offered by the airport staff. There was so much confusion at the baggage area that my only hope was that my baggage will come out fine. But like everything in India, amidst all the confusion everything turns out just fine and so did my baggage. As I was leaving the airport to look for my parents my thoughts went for those simple South Koreans and what must have been there first thoughts of "Incredible India".

The new airport plan for Delhi - the faster it comes to fruition the better.

The other bad part was encountered as I left the airport and that was our Dilli ka traffic. Ok, I will agree that every NRI gets a road-shock with our traffic, no matter if the same person would have been zooming through the same traffic 7 years back like he owned those roads. For me it was crossing the roads which was an hassle in itself. I remember the first day we went to the Great India Mall and we had to cross the road to goto the Gurudwara on the opposite side. It took me and Mom close to half hour to cross a damn road while people were crossing the road like they were all on suicide watch. Despite the Metro, traffic is bad enough but its the traffic sense of Delhites that makes it worse. People cross the red-lights like they don't exist and horn is used more than steering wheels while driving. I dreaded going out only for one reason and that was the traffic. It takes ages to go from one place to another and the pollution can make any sane person insane within 10 kms range. I think roads can be improved, transportation can be improved, pollution can be checked but how can we improve the traffic sense of millions of people.

The traffic is everywhere except where it should be.

Among all this confusion the most funny part was that couple of fully-functional flyovers were closed because the authorities were unable to find a bloody neta to inaugurate it. I dread the day when Nano will hit the road because where are the roads? According to a report if all the cars on Delhi start running there will be only 450 meters of road left in Delhi. Atleast that will fit few Nanos.

Ok, I haven't come to the ugly part yet. I wouldn't say there were any "really" ugly parts to my trip but there were a couple of incidents that bordered on ugliness. The first incident does not reflect majority of Indians or for that matter Delhites but it was still an ugly incident to go through. We were waiting for our red light on the way to Faridabad and like almost every red-light there were poor kids begging for money. One of the kid went to couple of guys sitting on their bikes and asked "Bhaiya, kuch paise de do, mere behen ke shaadi hain". The guys starting laughing mockingly and replied back, "Abey tere behen ke shaadi bhi ho jayegi, chinta kyun karta hain" and then had a hearty laugh. For me it was the most disgusting incident to witness on the whole trip. I can imagine that it is not fiscally possible to give money to every person asking on the streets but who gives right to people to pass judgments on someone's poverty and that too in such a sarcastic cruel manner.

I had a pretty long conversation with my cousin who was visiting from US about something relating to above when we were passing through McDonald's and she bought couple of Mac burgers for some kids selling roses outside. I argued that its all good to buy stuff for these kids but most people living in India would say that NRIs come here once every blue moon, throw some pennies at the poor and then go away to their "good" life but we have to face them at every street corner everyday. I don't think we came to any conclusion but the fact that if that kid can eat good food one night then what's the harm.

The last ugly part of the trip was where it all started, the departure lounge of the airport. Its sad but there was more security in Malls than at the airport and there must be atleast million people leaving that day. It was so bad that I couldn't even properly say bye to my family. Inside the airport was craziness personified. Although, I was at airport 3 hours before my flight, I barely made it few minutes before. A British lady almost had a nervous breakdown with the kinda of rush and heat. The ugliest part was one American white guy paying bribe to get infront of the line and airport official allowing him with a certain casualness. The first thing I did after the security check-in was to call my parents and warn them not to go outside India till the new airport is built. I was huffing and puffing by the time I reached my flight and was considering it a miracle that was able to board the flight in one piece, which was thankfully 1/2 hour late because of a snow-storm in China.

Even after all this there is something about India that makes you miss it the moment your flight takes the wings. All the bad and ugliness seem very minuscule compared to all the love and affection you get from your own people. I am already missing it and looking forward to my next trip....errr...after the new airport is fully functional.

P.S: Hindustan Times article regarding more counters, entry gates at Delhi Int'l Airport soon...


Blogger B said...

You are right about the road shock. When I went back home after a year than last trip, I panicked and didn't talk in the car for like two days on drives. Too panicky.

Nice to hear abt the airport thing!

10:25 AM  
Blogger MoonStruck Tempest said...

NRI blues! I dont know what else to say. After reading the post, I was just staring at the screen. I can totally relate to every feeling you've expressed in this post. Its the same thing always. The frustration while we're there, the home-sickness when we're here...
I can't wait till the time we can pass through airports without the danger of being stampeded or bothered for bribes...

2:58 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

yeah, the airport is bad.... can you imagine that there was no water in the loo the day we landed? not only did none of the ladies (the mens room was functional apparently) get to relieve themselves, all of us also had to bear the stench emancipating from there....

our luggage took almost an hour to arrive and as soon as we were out of the airport, i was like "Welcome to India, Welcome Home!"

and you are abs right about the Delhi traffic.... drivers are pathetic and there is abs no road sense here.... :( am really looking forward to the metro starting in my area, so that i can commute on that easily....

10:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sacchi dastaan, but i guess staying here for such a lifetime, ppl learn either to see through these as a part of the 'India way' or eat themselves up in frustration.The former is better for health in my opinion.

10:41 PM  
Blogger Moonie said...

I am happy you had a good vacation!

9:58 AM  
Blogger Marlee said...

I agree with Maria...Most of us are apathetic to all this...we are used to it...the scarey part is that we might become so apathetic that we forget how to differentiate from the good and the bad and strive for better ways.

1:01 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

only 2 posts on the India trip??? it ain't fair!!!

1:27 AM  
Blogger Beauty and the BEast said...

It is unfortunate, the experience that you have had, that is.

And as an Indian I am sorry that there were some black patches to mar your India Trip.

But there is beauty in this disorder (and I really appreciate that you took the effort to notice it) Like in every other country which is bursting to seams with an increasaing population, India too awaits the welcome bliss of solutions.

And trust me, my friend, they shall happen. And soon. And soon you will not want to leave the country behind ever again!!!

2:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I say that no country is perfect in itself would be a cliche really.I agree that out country is overloaded with people and their bad habits...which in turn overload wherever they go...roads...railways...airports...Yes,it happens.I wouldnt justify it,bcoz it cannot be.The point is that don't u enjoy it sometimes?Doesnt it tire people to face perfection all the time?I guess it does...bcoz it is the common man ,who regails in breaking the rules...people like me and you.So...I guess we like out country this way...dirty and polluted...Maybe it has its own charm.

Didnt make much sense,eh?


10:34 PM  
Blogger Ricky said...

red soul - LOL !! I was not that panicky.

Yea, I am hearing everyday on news that they are trying to make airports better all over India.

moonstruck tempest - Yea, absolutely true. Thankfully, I was not bothered for bribes :-)

anks - I can very well imagine that.

My luggage came fast but I was panic-stricken when I saw the number of people in airport, it was like a Mela.

I am looking forward to Metro in my Noida area next time too. It will make traveling so much more convenient.

8:31 PM  
Blogger Ricky said...

maria - Yea, I agree but hopefully Government will work to make things easier for everyone.

moonie - I had an awesome vacation :-)

marlee - Yea, thats the impending danger in this chalta hain attitude.

anks - Lets make it fair soon then.

8:36 PM  
Blogger Ricky said...

beauty and the beast - You shouldn't be sorry for someone else's incompetence. I had a great trip to India but these were only few bad patches.

Amen to your thoughts :-)

aindrila - I enjoy the imperfections of India until they start being an inconvenience for one and all.

I don't think being dirty and polluted has its charm. Everyone starves for a good life and so does every person living in India.

You made lot of sense but I may not have agreed with everything you said :-)

8:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i agree with you *sigh* but it isn't soooo bad.. and am sure they will find a away..

you know, a few months back, the public became so frustrated coz no net awsa coming fr inauaguration offlyovers, thta they just opened the flyover themselves. bravo!

all isn't lost.. and the India you love will surely become sth you will also admire.. :)

5:13 AM  
Blogger Reema said...

hmm.. so someone posted while i wasnt around as well :)

1:59 PM  
Blogger Jyoti said...

ah! your post was as long as Metro ;)

3:31 AM  

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