Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Free-Wheel: Ode to Vehicle


Public transport is a Tata Sumo is a multi utility vehicle.

Tata Sumo! An accepted mode of public transportation in hilly region, which can carry ten passengers in each trip excluding the driver. Three in front, four in the middle and four more in the rear.

However, travelling in it is both extraordinary and a grueling one, especially when you are going via Hoji to Itanagar or Ziro.

Nearly three hours ride of rough road.

Did you ever notice that the onus is always on the passenger no. 3 who usually does the work of a doorman? If a passenger from rear seat need to shed some loads or for some other purpose, it’s no. 3 who has to get off first.

A scrawny passenger like me can be easily tossed about like a roll of dice in an empty vehicle or when it had too few passengers. So I always have had to grab whatever support I could find and hold onto it to stay put in my seat. But, when the vehicle is jam-packed with passengers and I find myself seated between two plump passengers, which may have never happened with you, can instantly reminds me of the thin slice of salami of SUBWAY’s sandwich.

In such lucky hot humid dusty summer day, when perspiration rise from hibernation and tickles every passengers’ foreheads (I guess plump people sweat more than the skinny one) and its odor amalgamate with strong perfume that your co-passenger is wearing to conceal their body odor, then suddenly someone rolled up the window to prevent the dancing dust to get inside the vehicle. I tell myself it’s not a carbon monoxide. This is not a time for your breathing exercise. Inhale it just this once and won’t feel the difference later on.

Then there’s the fare of Tata Sumo. Brand new fare for the passenger travelling to Ziro from Itanagar and vice versa at Rs. 300/-. I reminded the employees at ticket booking counter that it was Rs. 250/- sometimes ago. “Hike in petrol price, they reasoned.” But their faces seem to be saying, “You Moron”.

Increment of Rs. 3/-in petrol price is directly proportionate to Rs. 50/- from each passenger. I said, “You Moron” with my face. I immediately realized, while taking out the Rs. 50/- note from wallet, that I was actually the real moron – you know, he was the first person to use the word and besides I was paying him.

Imagine you are languishing in a hotel owing to Strike/Close/Bandh for three or four days while hotelier is happily lapping up your rapidly running out cash with their worthless but expensive breakfast, lunch and dinner. You spend a wakeful night in a hotel bed, counting the remaining coins and praying “bandh, bandh ho jaye”.

In another trip; in order to escape from money sucking leeches, nauseating Tata Sumo and to deprive the employee at the booking counter of an added argument, I decided to drive my third-hand motorbike to Itanagar. The ride on my motorbike was pretty perfect until my return trip to Ziro.

This time I choose to dodge the rugged road that test your spirit; that test your endurance.

En route, there were almost half a dozen cattle resting on the warmth of bitumen covered road. My eyes were on the road. I remember seeing an ox approaching the resting group. Suddenly two ox packed with full of testosterone and their horns locked against each other, moved swiftly towards me and bumped my motorbike.

The impact of smack was great. But I am amazed; the first thing that occurs to my mind was will I be able to reach home. What if my bike is broken down completely? So I got up to see the damages done to my motorbike. It looked okay. At that moment, I realized that the bone at the ball of the thumb is dislocated. I could clearly hear a sound which was a little familiar – F@%k! – When I was fixing my bone by myself.

Really I am not that very enthusiastic about motor vehicle as I am in to some other things. Bookcase crammed with novels? Yes please. iPod? Definitely yes. PS3? Why not. I can comprehend people’s fondness for their engines. And why the “have-nots” want to have it? I, at any given day, I would settle on hitchhiking rather than maneuvering it – talking to the person on steering and keeping him awake.

Last time when I was at my friend’s place I asked for a car as a present for my “not-in-the-sight-marriage”. I was, in fact, kidding. Have I succeeded to give you a fright, my friend? Don’t worry I would be more than well-contented with the Dslr you are planning to buy from online shop.

I wonder why Department of Transport won’t upgrade all those vintage “blue and sky blue colored buses” that have been plying on the road of Arunachal since time immemorial.

Would it be a sin if I plead to be carried in a clean public transport? Not in freight truck.

Till then, can I hitch a lift with you? We could save some fuel, money and bloodshed. More importantly, I can give you a treat to a plate of “butter chicken and Nan” at Punjabi dhaba in Banderdewa. All on me.

(Cross posted here)

Monday, October 10, 2011

An open-letter to all the "Bandh" callers of Arunachal Pradesh

Dear President of [put your organisation's name],

Lest you feel that I'm against your organization and invite unnecessary attention to myself, let me make myself clear at the very outset that I'm not writing in to protest or to criticize your organization's act of repeated call of "Bandhs". In fact, I'm writing in to show my solidarity and gratitude for your frequent "Bandh-Calls". You are doing yeomen service to the people of Arunachal Pradesh by calling "Bandhs" and I highly respect and support your cause/s-be it political, apolitical, personal, non-personal, profit, non-profit or even the "Bandh-Call" against "Bandh-Call", of which I believe that even the Apatani Protagonist would surely agree with.

Had it not been for your "Bandh" call, we wouldn't have this "quality time" with our family that we forgot in the midst of our daily chores of running around to make our ends meet. Now that you've called a "Marathon Bandh" giving us whopping 4 days of "quality time" with our family, we are really indebted to your organization.

The general public is of the opinion that the development of the state has taken a backseat due to your organizations's frequent "Bandh Calls". I say, to hell with your opinion. You and your organization are doing great job by letting the public servants of the state avail paid absence from their duty and they are indebted to you and your organization. Their only complaint though, is that two of your organizations are calling the "Bandh" on same day, therby depriving them of one more paid absence from their duty. They would really appreciate if one of your organization defer their "Bandh" call to another day not coinciding with any other organization's "Bandh" call. Further, they have a request that kindly prepare your annual schedule of "Bandh Calls" and circulate in the greater interest of the salaried personnels so that they can plan their station leave in advance taking into consideration the scheduled "Bandhs".

The Business Communities of Arunachal Pradesh are complaining that their business are dipping owing to your frequent "Bandh Calls". I say, are you kidding! What abour the profit made by you during the non-"Bandh" period by charging us above MRP's in the product/goods, huh! You and your organization are doing great service to the consumers' by making the business establishment shut down their shutters and letting the consumers' pay back the businessmen by not letting the consumers' making any purchase during the "Bandh" period. The consumers' of Arunachal Pradesh thank you for your kind act.

Elected representatives of Arunachal Pradesh are complaining that their business of developing the state is getting hampered owing to your frequent "Bandh-Calls". I say, excuse me, sir! But for their organizations' frequent "Bandh Calls", you are getting this opportunity to remain absent from your duty and head off to foreign tour or to some farm houses in some exotic location. So, you and your organization are doing great services to our politicos too.

I say, keep-on doing the good work that you are doing and don't listen to what your detractors have to say about your act. After all, you are doing the act in the interest of the people and the development of Arunachal Pradesh and one day, who knows, you and your organization may bring laurel to the state by making Arunachal Pradesh a numero-uno state in the country in terms of number of "Bandh" calls in a year. Amen.

Long live "Bandh culture".

Indebtedly yours,