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The Game the Politicians Play

December 29, 2008

Last fortnight I had a first hand account of the plight of a North Indian in Mumbai.

Like the Carnatic Music season in Chennai , during this time of the year, various medical specialties have their annual conferences during December. I had to play host to a few cardiologists and neurologists from across Palk strait.

The Cardiologists Society of India had their annual affair at Chennai, during the first week of December. We had sponsored a few cardiologists from Sri Lanka, which means that from the time they landed in Chennai to the time they took off I was responsible for their well being and happiness. As we were driving to their hotel from the airport, what struck them was the multitude of people everywhere; on the roads, hanging out of buses, cramped in the cars, 2 wheelers, bullock carts Statistically, Chennai houses 4.5million people in 200 Sq.Km area, while the entire population of Sri Lanka (area close to 650,000 Sq. Km.) is 21million. In effect it means that 21% of their population cohabits in just 0.3% of their land mass. They were amazed by the way our driver could weave in and out of traffic, often squeezing between buses and trucks without being hit or hitting anybody else. With this kind of skill, it is a pity that Indian driving licenses are not valid in other part of the world.

Similarly the Neurology Society of India (Neurocon 2008) had their annual jamboree in Pune, last fortnight. I was playing host to 3 leading consultant neurologists from Sri Lanka. They were flying in from Colombo. I joined them at the Chennai airport on our onward journey to Mumbai. We had planned to go from Mumbai to Pune by road. On the flight, the doctors wanted to know about the terrorist attack in Mumbai, the Tamil-Nadu politician’s view of the war in Sri Lanka, the cricket scene etc. I gave them politically correct answers (years of being in marketing had honed my diplomatic skills that I could make a good diplomat). We reached Mumbai in the evening. We had hired 2 Taveras to take us to Pune. The ride was fun especially on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. We were doing 110-120Km/hr. It is a marvellous piece of engineering,tunnels and all. We reached Pune around midnight of 16th (Read what Big B had to say about my visit and also about the city here).Trust me, one of the wonderful things he was mentioning was my visit.

My idea of Pune of being a small town was shattered when we left for the Armed Forces Medical College, the venue of the conference. The traffic was horrific even in the early hours. What I noticed was there is no let up in the traffic till late in the night and it was not confined to the main roads but also spilled over to the arterial side roads too. I think I will not be able to describe the city as accurately as Mr. Bachchan has done. The conference was for 3 days and this gave me sufficient time to do a recce (one of the hot words now) of the city. I did some window-shopping, visited the Central Mall, and ogled at the girls from Ferguson College (does it come under window shopping too?). I started noticing a palpable tension in the city. I just couldn’t put my finger on it. It was as if the city was stifling. On the third day it hit me. The city was just not able to handle 2 great people at the same time. So in the wee hours of the 20th I left Pune for Mumbai and from there to Chennai, letting the Big B to do his work peacefully.

The North Indian I mentioned earlier was not Amitabh Bachchan, but one of the drivers who drove us to Pune and back. He was from U.P. and has been working as a driver from ’86 in Mumbai. His family consisting of his parents, a brother, his wife and 2 children always thought of Mumbai as their own city. Not any more. They don’t feel safe in Mumbai. He asked me if I could find him a job in Chennai, so that he and his family can move out of a city that has been theirs for 22 years.

The game the politicians play.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. PNA permalink
    December 1, 2009 23:31

    Me First:))))))Now that I have secured my position, let me read the post:)))

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