While on back from Golkonda Fort to Museum, a passenger “Are you also an outsider?

“Yes, how about you?”

“I am from Delhi and you ?”

“Bangalore. Are you here for a visit?”

“I am a star!”

Some people give a first impression that would cloud over all the conversation and make you look at everything they say with a tinted glass. Even if it was not meant to be. I am too a victim of this normal behaviour. Anyways here I continue my discussion along with the notes and thoughts which I could not / did not utter to him

“Excuse me?!”

“I work for Star TV”.

“Oh! really. That is nice. What do you work as?”

“I am with news”. “I have come from Bangalore, want to go to Mumbai the trains are stopped.”

“Are you on official duty or personal?”

“Personal.” “I had 2 days and am visiting here”

“You have come here, just because trains are not there for 2 days?”

“I have free tickets/pass anytime to anywhere in Indian Railways.I always get a confirmed ticket, on the spot”. I am a star. “Company has bought me a yearly pass.”

“Your good name?”

“Bajaj, Kumar Bajaj”. Bond, James Bond.

“Do you carry and ID, pass?”

“No they are safely kept. You can look at this id”. He showed the medicard. Kumar Bajaj, News Television. Also pulled out a visiting card and put it in as fast as he pulled allowing me to see only the “Star” in corner.

“This is medicard. I can get hospitalization from 600 hospitals in India. I have a list of them. There are 4 here in Secunderabad.” I am a star.
“What exactly is your designation?”
“I am a freelance reporter”. Now I know that visiting card wasn’t yours.

“I know J Nagar”
“Sorry?”
“J Nagar, 4th Block, Bangalore. 4th Block”
“Oh! Jayanagar.”
“I have 2 houses in Bangalore. One in J nagar and one in JP Nagar”
“Have you stayed or plan to stay in Bangalore?”
“I do not like Bangalore”. I know where it is heading. I did not ask him the reasons.
“There are 3 reasons: It is costlier. Unnecessarily. Roads are too congested. No good north Indian food available”.

Let me look at these reasons. People have a tendency to look at the results rather than the causes. Costly. People want Bangalore. There is cash inflow. Inappropriate, yes. But the inhabitants of Bangalore have not become rich overnight and are able to hike the prices. We middle class men are neither hiking the prices nor are we able to afford them. Nor are we happy with that. It is mostly the inflow from other states, north India, business men, who have made it expensive. We the middle class people have not. It is not, also, by the so called IT people. They too are finding the cost of living expensive inside the city.
Second, congested roads. I have nothing to say here. Unfortunately, yes. After having looked at the three main cities of South India, I concluded that Bangalore needs roads. Better roads, more roads. But what has really led to this state of affairs. Lack of vision to look ahead, to anticipate by the administration. Sudden growth and population inflow.
Third, north Indian food. Hey, Bangalore is in south India, fyi. Very much. Why should you expect good north Indian food in the first place? Get me a good Idli, Dosa corner in North. If you name Kamath and Udipi, I have an easy answer. Necessity is the mother of invention. If there is demand, there would be supply. Most of those Kamaths, Udipis have at least one link back to south. Why don’t north Indians come and open some north Indian food joints and serve the food the way they would like. Or better still, adjust yourself. Be a Roman when you are in Rome. Don’t make it a reason. Don’t complain.

“Err…why do you have 2 houses in Bangalore?”

Why don’t you see yourself off from South India?

“Huh..that was a clever investment I made.” I am a star. “I bought a house for 34 Lakh an year ago which today quotes 58 lakhs” “Unnecessarily, there is a cost rise”.

Hello..why are you complaining dude ? Unnecessary? Basic rule of economics says, if there is high demand and shortage of supply, the price goes up.
And look how my thoughts are true. Who is able to afford 34 lakh and who is hiking the price. Not us, my dear. Who is making the profit, taking the advantage? And ironically, who is complaining ?

“You know in Delhi, this same flat should cost 8 lakh”.
Yes, put your 34 lakh in Delhi and then whine about not getting your returns.

“Here in Bangalore people park cars on the roads. In Delhi I can park 4 cars of mine in the basement. I have 4 cars”. I am a star.

“Unnecessary there is a costly life.”

You want your investment to double, but do not need a costly life. Pity who is paying for it all.

“There is a demand for Bangalore, which explains the raising cost”. I finally show courage.

“Demand? No one likes Bangalore. No one from India likes Bangalore. Only foreigners like Bangalore”

Yes sir, thanks! We run a black magic business to attract them, you see. What the heck? Who is forcing anyone to go against their wishes. When people spoke about the costlier life in Bombay there was a sense of pride. When they speak of Bangalore there is a sense of hatred. I am getting into this discussion too many times. Leave us alone! We were content. We didn’t welcome outsiders nor did we try to block them, as Shiv Sena wanted to do in Mumbai in eighties. Guess where all this leads to.

“I personally know people from Hyderabad, Chennai, North who want to settle in Bangalore but not in their towns.” These cities are a part of India.

“I think Chennai is far better than Bangalore”.

Oh! Not again. Go stay there for a month and get back to me. No, let me clarify, I have nothing against the city.

“There is good north Indian food in Chennai?”
“No”
“You have 2 houses in Chennai?”
“No”
“Have you stayed there for a day?”
“No”
“Have you…”
“I have never been to that place.”

No, let me clarify, I have nothing against the city. Nothing against anything. I don’t like blindfolded baseless accusation against Bangalore. I hate hatred. I hate jealousy.

“Do you know the issues with the city?”
“No”
“Do you know the advantages of the city?” No I am not talking about the cost of living.
“No”.

“There is climate problem, water problem. And few people from there prefer other cities”
“Water problem. That is why they fight for Cauvery water”.

Ok, so you have some awareness. But fight? We need to co-exist. We need harmony. Who wants to fight? We fought for our freedom. After that there was no need for fight. There is a lack of strong motive to resolve the issue amicably, and a stronger motive to keep the issue burning always. For reasons beyond and against the usefulness to general public. It is a trivial issue, if there is a will.

“How long have you been in this profession?”
I am more curious about your 4 cars and 34 lakhs. And I want to change the topic.
“8 years”
“Before that?”
“I wasn’t doing this”.
Of course I can understand that from your previous reply.

“I worked for National Geographic. You know National Geographic?” I am a star.

“I guess yes. How was the experience?”

“Good.” “But no food, only biscuits and chocolates.”

Thank god you are a vegetarian.

“The tiger you see so near in the TV is actually not as close as they show. It is very far. They use good lens”.

Of course yes. If the tiger was as near as you had wanted, you would not be alive here today explaining your star status.

“I covered Kargil too.” I am a star.

“Rajdeep Sardesai, has started his own TV, no?!”

….Do you have any such plans? I am cut short.

“Who ? There are many offices in Delhi.”

“No, he was in Mumbai”

“Then I don’t know him. There are many employees.”

“I will tell you the reason for all this. In India people want cities. Everyone wants Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad. Leave other parts like that and move towards the cities. This is the problem”.

He got back to the burning issues after some silent moments.

“My mother stays in California, 45 miles away from the city. Very happy.” With a pinch of anger, sorrow and disappointment.

Go 45 miles away from Bangalore and invest your 34 lakhs. Or 45 miles from Delhi, where you would get good north Indian food.
But anger apart, I feel, this was the most sensible statement made by the gentleman, without a tone of ‘I am a star’. Yes, there is a polarization of population towards the cities. We have forgotten that development of villages is development of India, Gandhiji’s belief. We are our own victims.

“Look what happened in Mumbai. 70k are ill and are going to die. Malaria. Diahorrea. I am carrying medicine from here today. All hospitals and chemists are empty.”

That is a good service.

“Look at what we have achieved in 50 years of Independence.” He pointed towards a rusted bus stop. Now his wrath seemed to turn against whole of India.

“Let me tell you. We are 1000 years behind other developed countries. One thousand years”.

I am not a reporter and I can’t be that accurate with numbers.

Yes, sir. That is an exaggeration, but yes. But look at the reason behind it. We were the richest and developed in the world. Before we were invaded. Looted. Followed by more than a century of foreign rule. America got lucky and got its independence approximately 2 centuries before we did.

We are coming back. But it takes time. We are not as fast as Japanese. We take time. Plus there are limitations. Population explosion, in the first place. Deep rooted corruption in the second. We lack a leader who can evoke a uniform patriotism or inspire people to work integrated, selflessly towards improving ourselves. Need for another movement like the Independence movement, may be. The poverty follows closely. Then there is brain drain.

“In California, there are no ticket counters in the entire nation. Not a single booking counter. Not a single TC.”

“Oh!”.

“There are vending machines every 200 yards.”

“In Mumbai the other day ‘There is a possibility of train, which was scheduled to leave at 11hours, to leave at 17 hours.’ Sambhavna hai. That also they are not sure. In California, everything is perfect”

“You plan to settle in California?”

My tone often hides my tone. I mean more than I say. Why don’t you run away to California? We won’t do worse without you.

“See, if you are not planning to start your own business, in which case any age is ok, you have to migrate before you are 35”. A scent of disappointment.

“You know in California, you can buy a car free of cost!”

“Ya ?!”

“I mean you can get a car without paying. Instead you can get paid”

Magic?! But you don’t need them You have 4 cars and you are a star.

“I had interviewed a mechanic who told me there are 2 ways to get an used car free of cost. If a car requires a minor repair, they don’t bother to get it repaired. Instead ask the mechanic to take that away from their garage, where it is using up their space and pay him 250$. It is just 2 months salary for them to buy a $10k car. Here you have to save atleast for 3 years to buy a car. Many Indian mechanics are repairing these used cars and make them look like brand new and then deport them to India for sale. They are making lot of money like that.

Another way is when they are fined 4 times for breaking the traffic rules, they disown the car the 4th time.”

“Except for a few people there, who earn $11k-$12k per month, the average is also very good $3500 per month”

“Is India ka kuch nahi hoga”

I don’t know about that. But this mentality doesn’t help either. I am an optimist and like to see the better face of everything. I do not accept that Indian cricket team involves in fixing the matches. I feel hard to digest that Supreme Court judgements are rigged. I don’t listen to those who say Sania Mirza is a bubble and will disappear as soon as she has appeared. I can’t take that the rising index of stock market is a hoax or an illusion. I would like to believe that we are getting better everyday. There are visionaries who have predicted good things happening to India in another 20-30 years. And I will be alive to witness all that. You poor soul, you are a bit early. Those who fought for our freedom, if saw us today, would not have been very happy with the state of affairs. Their efforts, sacrifice sure deserved better returns. I accept. They sure had better plans, thoughts, dreams, visions for us. I agree. But we are not that bad either. There is a potential. There is an urge. There is a necessity. We need to accept our shortcomings and strengthen our strengths.

However she is, this is my nation. I love her and am proud to be Indian. Jai Hind.

2 thoughts on “A conversation

  1. I would like to quote a statement made by an old freedom fighter on the occassion of Independence day. It was shown on Doordarshan. He says, 'I agree that the India today is not the same India that we dreamt of on August15, 1947. But, it is also not the same India which was 60 years before. All our dreams may not have come true, but many of them have. If we achieve fully what we dreamt of.. then nothing would remain to achieve. There will be a fullstop'.

    I'm also reminded of the famous song by Huyilugola Narayana Rao 'Udayavaagali namma cheluva kannada nadu'. It had become more famous in the voice of P.Kalinga Rao before the formation of Karnataka(linguistic state). Once, Karnataka was formed on Nov 1,1956, P.Kalinga Rao sang it as 'udayavaayitu namma cheluva kannada nadu' (our beautiful kannada state has risen). Then the great poet stopped him and said, he would never expect this from 'His' kannada nadu. Once it has fully risen, it will lead to stagnancy. Also there is fear of fall. He has some great hopes and dreams about the kannada nadu and there should be constant efforts towards achieving it. There should be constant efforts in making it rise. The efforts would stop if it rises.

    I'm greatly inspired by these 2 situations. We may not be a developed country.. the reasons for it may be numerous. but we are also the fastest growing economy. Be happy by seeing the +ve side.

    Whatever she may be, however she may be, she is my Mother and I love her.

    Jai Hind!

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