Saturday, June 18, 2005

Every city is a village, Bangalore

Politics is something I prefer to keep out of this weblog, unless it concerns economics or business or infrastructure. Our local hero, who occassionally rides tractors in the wrong direction on main roads in Bangalore, thumbing his nose at the traffic havaldars who shout instructions over loudspeakers, has decided that the city near his village doesnt need a metro rail. That was a very long sentence, so lets try breaking that up into a big post.

Bangalore is a village that has not let go of its ancient moorings despite its gleaming facade. It is one of those villages, ruled by Peters principle driven sarpanchs who cannot think of anything beyond their village (and nose). It is not their fault, some of them ruled India like it was their village. An entirely different set rules India like it is their village, but thats another story.

Villages dont need roads, since most of the transport when the rulers lived in villages were by bullock carts ( yes, our rulers are ancient). Ergo, Bangalore doesnt need roads. And when they travel in gleaming motorcades on roads emptied of traffic by the posse of policemen, they never see any traffic.(Where are the vehicles, they ask). When they travel by helicopter, every thing looks so orderly. Besides, dont we have enough tractor paths for the upcoming technology of tractors, they ask, as was successfully demonstrated a few years ago.

Coming back to village life, most of the villages work is done by farm hands, ergo, we barely need electricity. After all, electricity is a dangerous thing, it electrocutes people when live wires fall on them. The sad thing is that electricity is available for all of some 33 minutes a day. To touch a live wire which is falling during those 33 minutes takes amazing foresight, according to the rulers, so they have cut those 33 minutes too. Our rulers cannot bring themselves to get those electricity cables underground like some of the other cities have done. Underground is for beetroot, potatoes and perhaps raddish.

Just above the electricity lines are our heritage structures. No, not stupas or statues, but unfinished flyovers that with some decent painting, would pass off as art.

Somewhere in the village which we call a city, a few bad boys set IT up. They gave jobs to educated people and built a business that did something with computers to America. They gave employment to a few lakh engineers and a few thousand drivers and another few thousands of gardeners, plumbers, caterers, security guards most of whom would not have found a good job if it were not for IT. They created their own electricity, built their own roads and provided their own transport and created a whole new economy. The village rulers were pissed, because, they said, some people from their village never got employment and because they said IT took their fallow lands at dirt cheap prices (which they gladly accepted then) and made money out of it (well, not out of land, but people and skills). Since they made money, the land owners said, give us more money now.The son of soil has since then asked for IT to move to his relatives villages, which they call cities.

Meanwhile in the big village traffic increased to humongous proportions on non existent roads and the people said, build a metro rail for us. No, said the son of the soil, let us have a debate over whether we need the metro (and then, whether we need roads or electricity).

If the underground is already occupied by the beetroots,potatoes and the odd telephone cable and the ground above by our works of art, where can we build the metro, asks the son(grandfather) of the soil. We cannot risk losing all the beetroots, can we, said he. Look at China, they have no beetroots. Isnt that sad.

This was my weekend attempt at humour. If liked by those who read it, it reads as waah! Else, its more of a weakened attempt at humour.