Thursday, November 12, 2009

One Long Day

For the first time, I had to leave for home at the cost of classes and much more, and the day was much eventful in terms of actions, emotions and exhaustion for me to post an article on it.


Build Up to the Week:

While munching at a party, a call from home disrupted the jolly mood as they informed me,I was supposed to return home before the weekend following a “Police verification” regarding passport. It was the busiest week of my stay at IIT, yet I had no choice but to decide the best day to plan the departure.


An Hour before Leaving:

I didn’t have a ticket, and had decided to book a ticket for Shatabdi at the Station. With an hour remaining, and the knowledge that the station was about an hour away in an auto, I settled for a plate of Chicken Momos from SDA Market, to delay my departure for the station. An auto-rickshaw driver charged Rs. 90, I offered him Rs. 100. (Is that bribery?)


At the Station:

Having reached the station with 10 minutes remaining, it was down to nerves as there were formalities to be completed like filling forms and standing in lines. As a black-market ticket-seller shouted behind, I went with temptation just to refuse him when he charged Rs. 750 and rather stand in the line despite his challenging me about no ticket availability. With no pen to fill the form, I was left baffled as all the people around me who were either filling or had filled forms denied the presence of a pen with them, or refused to give except an old lady eventually. The ticket was available and I climbed with 1 minute to go.


In the Train:

The journey was smooth for the first 2 hours, when suddenly the train stopped near a village. All passengers looked at each other in astonishment, but it turned into fear when a policeman went from near talking in Walkie-Talkies unable to find the source. With Naxals making news daily, the possibility couldn’t be refuted. I felt a similar chill as that experienced by Harry Potter when the dementors stopped Hogwarts to enter it. Thankfully, there was no such thing and the journey resumed peacefully.


The next morning at Home:

After enjoying a sound sleep in the comfort of home’s bed, I woke up to the news my stay may be delayed as the Police Officer was off-duty till 7 in the evening. Some contacts with politicians in the neighborhood gave me hope; though helplessness reignited on reaching the Police Station, where the Superintendent said they couldn’t help until the Police Officer in-charge of it arrived, who was busy catching thieves in a mind-blowing encounter (as they said and I heard). The only hope was the Politician’s words to us, who ensured it could do be done if we arrived at 5 (train left at 6).


Evening:

As planned I set with my father to the station having revised the cooked-up story I was supposed to tell the Officer. I was a Class 12th student, who had been going to Coaching Classes till late in the evening, and for the last days I was at my cousins in Delhi (deja vu). The officer hadn’t arrived at 5, but as I waited in my car we could see him arriving in a Maruti Swift with thugs who he was slapping. There was drama as the thief pleaded remorse, and the parents begged in disbelief of their son’s deeds and promised their son’s redemption. Amidst that scene, I was questioned by the Officer through suspicious eyes and handed the sheets for the signatures. (Like a CEO who travels across cities, for signing documents) But as I signed, I asked permission to leave and was filled with guilt for having lied (though in its absence it would have been annulled and would have required tougher legislation.) I was congratulated by my Dad for getting it finished as he dispatched me at the station in good time, and told there were bribes involved like every other case that goes through. I nodded, but with a shame of having contributed to the ever-growing corruption and am sure all the readers also have done the same, though I can’t comment on if they have experienced the guilt.

Return Journey- Train:

The return journey though commenced mundanely as I progressed with the novel Never Let Me Go, it ended in a healthy discussion. As the politician sitting next to me appreciated my academic credentials (IIT), he broke the silence due to the age barrier between us. However, as the domain of discussion reached his field, i.e. politics, I remember instances where I got the luxury of contradicting his views and asking him why winning the elections was the parameter to success, rather than change (as he had mentioned to a relative in the phone). Being pretty impressed by my views, he agreed I was pretty different from people of my age and it was the moment when I could let my views infiltrate into the minds of a Congress Party Member.

Auto:

The auto trip till IIT, ended the journey in a no-less enthusiastic way, as being a novice to the pre-paid system I was cheated by the driver who let another guy 5 years older than me, have a seat charging him extra (though I was entitled to a full-auto). After getting comfortably seated the guy informed me about my rights, and demanded me to stand up for them in a bid to raise awareness. After appreciating his views, I however let the dagger rotate towards him as I questioned him why he had let the corruption be propagated by hiring a pre-paid auto despite knowing the rules. He argued long- finding loopholes in the system, criticizing the government for using cheap methods to attract tourists and advocating his right to choice. But after I twisted the arguments forcing him to question himself, he agreed his arguments were based on presumptions about the nature of government, a domain where he had never bothered to research but believed he knew their mentality perfectly. In the end, he confessed to be proud of such countrymen, but ended on the same note- that of survival and being practical and I may have to face difficulties in the nation without it.


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