And so you are back to India…..How do you feel?

This is a question everyone poses to me from the day I have come back to India. I really don’t know what I am supposed to reply to that. For the moment I say “Its fine but the traffic is bad” but has being 3.5 years away from my country really changed my view point about my country.  Lets look at what has changed between my going to Japan and back.

2007 2010
I complained about the traffic in India *No Change*
Life used to start very early in the morning as I had to catch the 6:25 bus and ended very late almost around 10:30 or 11pm as I was a fresher to the IT industry Life still starts very early in the morning but thankfully ends a little earlier by 9pm or so as I am no longer a fresher (Being in the same team for 4 years really helps 🙂 )
I complained about auto drivers taking more than the meter showed. *No Change* 

(Subway charges in Japan are more compared to the auto charges. The starting fare is 100 yen)

I hear metro is due to be started. Only time can answer this question.
I complained about the corrupt officials *No Change* 

Probably what I miss here is the sincerity and efficiency with which work is executed in Japan. No government office overcharges or takes under the benches. Everything is systematic. You need to fill the form and pay the minimal fees and goverment officials take care of the rest.

There were K serials at that time Now, there are A,K and S serials
Vegetables sold at lesser prices than in Japan Vegetables are targetting to reach the prices in Japan
Vehicles emitting pollution are visible everywhere The vehicles are still there but seem a little lesser these days
I totally love Indian food *No Change*
I wore salwars *No Change*
I barely spoke in hindi as I didn’t have many north Indian friends I speak in hindi only. Tamil has taken a backstage. I do speak but maybe not as much as hindi.
I celebrated only christmas and easter I celebrate every Indian festival
Every other road is dug up for laying cables or sewage or for laying road. *No Change*
Bikers dont follow signals *No Change*
Traffic jams are the order of the day *No Change*
I dont like the garbage thrown on the road *No Change*

 

So, as you can see most of the things related to India, in my perspective have remained unchanged. And am sure many of you may have the same perspective as well. So, does staying away from the country really change your opinion about the country. I really wonder. This place has been my home for almost a quarter of my life. I have lived across the country, seen people from different cultures, met people with different viewpoints and seen completely opposite natured people. I grew up in a small town, moved to the big city. I learnt to be strong willed and achieve my dreams. I made the best friends, friends whom I know will always be there when I need them. Then how can moving to a new country alienate you from all these things, how can it alienate you  from the country where you were born and brought up? Yes, I have heard many people complaining about India once they are back from USA or any foreign country. Why do they do so? One answer could be they become used to the facilities, the cleanliness, the systematic processes in the foreign country and get irritated on seeing the confusion which confounds most of our government offices. But I am also sure that anyone who was born and brought up in India and has not traveled to any  foreign country would also be in the same state.

For example, to get myself an ID card in Japan it took me precisely 30 minutes of form filling and paying the required fees. I just had to go back on the designated date and collect the card. No haggling over officials, no agents, no back-door fess, nothing. But in India to get the same ID card, its like a big achievement.  So, naturally when you see such a good thing in a foreign country, you only wish that India were like that. There is no egoism involved in this. Its just a pure, simple thought wishing our country were also like that.

Of course, I do agree there is a section of the “foreign-returned” crowd who seem to make use of their “foreign returned” status every now and then. These people have never belonged to the country. They are like nomads settling wherever they go and not rooting to any place. But the larger section like me who have seen the best phases of their life in this country, travelled in the heat and dust to school and college, ate road side snacks, bargained on the pavement shops, stood in long queues for tickets, giggled away to glory with friends in the canteen ever like the stiffness of people in foreign countries. Probably never. During my stay, I couldn’t make a single Japanese friend. Their culture and lifestyle never appealed to me. I couldn’t bring myself to mingle in a society which looks a facade. Of course, I can’t apply this rule to each and every one there and this is just my opinion. Some may differ on that.

Life goes on wherever we may stay. Staying away from a place doesn’t mean we lose our fondness for the place and staying in a place doesn’t mean we become attached to that place. I still long to go back to the place where I was born and brought up but circumstances and the situation there prevent me from doing so. However dirty, unclean, non-systematic this country maybe, its still my country. This perception will never change whichever place I might be. My roots may have been shaken for a small period of time but I have not been uprooted from this place.  It will take another tsunami to uproot me completely!

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30

2 was a mystery
4 a alphabetical humour
6 amused me with numerics
8 I played with Hindi
10 was filled with the undivided attention of my parents
12 laughed at my sister taking entrance exams left and right oblivious to what it means to take one
14 gifted my family with death and illness
16 was the big bad city exposure
18 opened the gates to a dreamy college life
20 saw me flutter like a carefree butterfly
22 bit me with career decisions
24 stung me with betrayal
26 I stepped on foreign shores
28 opened my eyes to life beyond work
30 am yet to discover and enjoy …

Here’s wishing myself (shamelessly) a very happy belated b’day 🙂 🙂

Aaja meri Gaadi main baith jaa!!!!

Here I was at last, at the place I so much wanted to be, the place which would decide my fate. It was a do or die situation for me. The irony was I held the key for my own success/failure. Those moments spent waiting seemed like the longest moments of my life. The tension was like slow poison. It was decaying every cell in my body. I couldn’t control my anxiety any longer. It was as though the eternal call would never come. I silently said a prayer and waited. And then finally, it happened, the call came. Every decayed cell started to regain its freshness. A new energy had found its way through my body. I glided through the skating ring and made a humble bow before the cheering crowd. And then started the magical moments. The familiar music echoed in my ears and transported me to a magical land. I gently swayed through the ring dancing to the tune. With my body finely adjusted to the rhythm, there was no stopping. I danced and skated like I had never done before, the happiness refreshing my very being. The somersaults, the blind falls, each move of mine evoking a thunderous applause from the crowd. I was totally smitten and then was the time for the climax. The crowd watched with bated breath as I leapt forward, somersaulted, swiveled and climbed my partner’s shoulder for the final free fall. A free fall they had never seen. In a few moments, I would be at the pinnacle of success, I thought. And then I fell. When I opened my eyes, there was commotion around. The loud honking of horns made its way right through my ears and knocked on my inner self. Where was I? I looked around frantically and it was a sea of familiar faces and familiar roads. I smiled to myself as I realized I had just been thrown about due to a speed breaker and my beautiful dream had been shattered to pieces as usual. Well if you are travelling by bus to office every day, this is what would happen to your dreams.

Bus driving can be considered as a beautiful art with the entire city as the skating ring and the bus drivers as the skaters. Mornings, you literally dance to the tunes of the bus driver. Every turn makes you sway to the expected and yet unexpected turns of the vehicle. You roll to the right and then to the left and to the front and to the back. If the force of the turn is too much, you and your neighbour will also collide. So, its about 50 people who roll to the left, and then to the right, and to the front, and to the back and then finally collide. We are certainly saving up on the aerobics class fee. Additionally, if there is a huge bump, you can also fall into your seat partner’s lap or step on someone’s feet if you have been moving in the bus. Its like “Ek ke saath ek free. Aerobics class ke saath salsa free”. Through the entire aerobics class you have no control on yourself. Your chord is attached to the bus driver and he pulls the string.

Adding to this are the uninterrupting signals which glow in orange light. Now, please tell me what do these blinking orange lights in the morning mean. I was taught in school that orange means to “Get Ready, its soon going to be green”. Green, orange or red, all signal rules are broken and we experience the ultimate speed. “Bus nahin Aladdin ka carpet hai ye jo bas udhta hi jaata hai”. Its as though we are flying at the rate of 100km/hour. At this rate, the bus drivers can win any racing competition hands down.

Now coming to the speed breakers, they add the zing to the ride. PM’s busy on their blackberries and proposals have to safeguard themselves, their phone and their laptop. I wonder what would happen if they were in the last seat and were in the midst of a conference call. They would be yanking on the phone with another PM for a proposal or a resource, would go up from their seat and land with a thud and would continue to yank about the bad roads in India (proposal and resource all forgotten). No wonder I don’t see any PM’s on the last seat. Working ladies hold on tight to their lunch boxes, youngsters to their music players, in short, everyone protects the thing which is most dear or valuable at that time. The best in this group happen to be the freshers who are the only ones who giggle or smile in the entire bus. Others look as though they are haunted by a ghost. Anyways, for them very bump/turn/unexpected collides conjures up to a massive giggle. Sometimes, I can’t help myself from smiling looking at them.

The plight of the front benchers is even worse as they cling onto the rails least they fall off their seats. Not to mention the race that happens between the buses. The bus might have been moving at a snail’s pace but no other bus can overtake it. The other bus can glide along with it but not overtake it. That’s the birthright of each bus driver. Its a mad rush to get the first place and once attained its back to the snail’s pace. In fact, some bus drivers look back at the other one with a smirk on their face which reads “Mind it!!!”. Well in all this the front benchers are cruelly penalized and have to tightly hold onto the seat or railing whichever is nearer. One wrong move and they can be thrown out like our bollywood heroes throw out the bad goons from the bus crashing through the glass.

Evenings are the more “haule haule” rides. People travelling through Adugodi road in Bangalore will know what I mean. Every company’s bus starts at almost the same time. The roads are jam packed with vehicles moving inch by inch. So, the bus starts up every 2-3 minutes and it’s a slow “haule se” dhakka and then it stops. So, you dance to the step “Haule Haule ho jayega pyar baliye Haule Haule” and stop. So, every 2-3 mintues this step is repeated. This ritual continues for about roughly one hour. After that it’s a smooth ride with proper green, orange and red signals which some of the vehicles do try to break. There would be a biker crossing the path of your bus just because he raced off just before the signal turned red from the opposite side. So, it’s a sudden break and you do a fast jig and come back to your original position.

More interesting is the case when the bus driver drives you through a really bad road (roads with big potholes or roads which have been dug and covered with stones). It’s a real roller coaster ride but its not that scary as a real one is. Its more like dancing to “I am a disco dancer… tar raa tara I am a disco dancer….”

How much ever I might complain about them, there is still a sane section who drive safely. Our route has both the types of driver – one who is a safe driver and the other a rash driver. In fact, the safe driver takes us to office only 10 minutes later than the rash driver. So, does rash driving really result in gaining time? Really a question to ponder over.

“We can be late to office by 10 minutes instead of never being able to make it there”

Misty..

Bangalore is really really very misty these days. Especially if you are an early riser, you get to see a blanket of fog surrounding the city. Its cold but still I couldn’t help capturing it :). And hey the pictures are not blurred, its the fog 🙂 🙂

My office building is at the end of this road but I couldn’t see it…. which I can on normal days 🙂

Smoking Area is smoky without cigarette smokers 😀

 

Looks like the cyclist is driving into oblivion …

Even the swimming pool looked more like a hot spring pool

We at least walk into the warmth of our buildings but the housekeeping staff works in this cold and fog to keep the place spic and span.