Yes, this is how it always happens when you talk about changing or wanting to change someone or something or some place or some attitude or some moment. You invariably have to say: Please turn… I want to kick your backside!
Delhi is a stubborn city as the people here are either netas or babus or someone who always knows one of these two. So if a traffic cop stops a driver for a traffic violation, the conversation generally goes like this:
‘That’s a violation. Please hand over your driving licence.’
‘Arrey baba, I never drive rashly. Even now it was that cycle wala who was bang in front of me and I wasn’t able to clearly see the traffic lights.’
‘Please hand over you driving licence and the RC.’
‘You don’t know who I am. Satyendra Gupta, your Commissioner, is my bua’s best friend’s chacha. Come on sir ji, this was hardly a crime. Just forgive and forget.’
‘Please hand over you DL, your RC, and the pollution certificate.’
‘I am from Sheila Dixit’s colony. She is my next door neighbour. But you I don’t want to trouble her for such a small thing. We people from Hissar never trouble people unnecessarily.’
‘You’re from Hissar? Arrey, I am also from Hissar. You should’ve told me earlier. Come lets have some tea together and you just give that constable a hundred rupees. Dekho bhai, the force has to survive.’
This is so Delhi.
Each of the concern that I plan to write in this post is absolutely so Delhi. But hey, my wife just read my rough notes and had said, ‘This is so Patiala!’ Specky is from Patiala, you see. So I might as well accede to the fact that most of the things that will follow would actually be so India.
Girls after 9
The crime against women in these past few months has led to a situation where most parents aren’t happy to allow their girl child to step out of home after nine. ‘It is for the safety of the child,’ is how they explain. But the way I see it, we should actually be asking our boys to stay at home or be home by nine… and let the girls reclaim the nights! Why must boys have all the fun, eh?
But the truth is that Delhi girls are now reluctant to step out after nine in the evening.
And this is so Delhi.
Shift the shifts
There are night buses, night taxis, night autos, night patrolling by the police, night shifts in BPOs and KPOs… and most of the night jobs have been cornered by the men. Now this is so ruthless. Give the girls some space man… let them come out and zip around when the moon is lighting up empty streets, so to say. Delhi is one place where our attitude simply doesn’t let women take up night shifts. Listen, why don’t you realise that if night shifts are dominated by women, they will be out there in groups and merrily chat away. Which criminal would have the guts to go and attack a group of yakking females?
But no, Delhi doesn’t believe in making the romance of the nights available for women – working or otherwise.
And this is so Delhi.
How far is Kalka ji?
If you’ve travelled by bus, the most frequently asked question has words like where and how far… How far is Nehru Place? Or How many stops yet for Munirka? The conductor sits there staring at nothing with a bored look. Most of the passengers just nod which means neither a yes nor a no. Some hazard absolutely hilarious guesses like… ‘But bhai, Nehru Place is near Chanakya Puri. I have been there once to see a show about stars. Nehru chacha’s birthplace, you see.’ The nodding, meanwhile gets fiercer until the conductor simply shouts, ‘Nehru Place, get down fast.’
So what we need in Delhi are monitors in every bus that are connected to the GPS in it and show the entire route and the current location of the bus. Why just buses… this system should be installed in every public transport, taxi, and auto too. Why leave out the rickshaws and the battery rickshaws that some people call a tum-tum? Seriously, these monitors will not just make Dilliwalas ask fewer inane questions, but would also make the public transport so much safer.
But until then, a wily bus conductor can always spot a lonely young damsel, lean out and say, ‘Haan, this bus goes to Narela’… when the actual fact is that it is going in the opposite direction.
And this too is so Delhi.
80 year old chowkidars
Come on now, Modi has agreed that he would love to be a chowkidaar… does he know that most of Delhi’s security in most of its blocks of DDA ruins called flats, is consisting of either senior citizen or people straight from some remote village. Yes, some of them are from apni dilli too but they too are the ones who cannot read nor write. So imagine a security guy sees a hit-and-run case. What happens? Nothing. He cannot read and just stutters to the enquiring constable, ‘It was a blue car.’
‘Which brand of car?’
‘I don’t know saab.’
How can 80-year olds be expected to sprint after gym-savvy burglars? But then Delhi has a penchant for recruiting senior citizen or illiterates as chowkidaars… which is probably the reason why I prefer to sit late in the night to write my posts.
And this is so Delhi.
The fat policeman
With 80 year old chowkidaars around, how can we not accept fat policemen with lathis? Of course they’re acceptable… we care for heritage. Let the socialites go on and keep organising ‘keep fit Dilli’ runs in every conceivable park here, but our police force is happy chewing tobacco, spitting on the roads, and being just fat.
You say we need fitter police personnel? You say we need this fit force to carry the latest state-of-the-art weaponry all the time? Wow! That sounds so wonderful but wouldn’t it destroy the image that Delhi has cultivated so painstakingly? After all, it takes years to set layer over layer of adipose tissue and it does give them an excuse to sit or stand in the safest spots while accepting bribes. Yes, Delhi has fat policemen. These policemen still carry lathis.
And burglars and criminals happily say: This is so Delhi!
Is that an ear-ring? No, it’s a phone!
This is the most common sight anywhere… inside a lift, outside a house, on a footpath, in a bus, in the office, in a park… did I miss any place? If I did, just add them all to this list… for these are the places you can see every Indian glued to his mobile. They drive-n-talk and walk-n-talk… in fact, I meet a gentleman every morning in Talkatora garden at 6 in the morning who is forever fiddling with his headset as he talks to his son and is forever solving his math problems. He is probably a teacher who is an expert in long distance mathematics!
We seriously need mobile fines to be here… but then until this happens, there will always be photographers clicking Delhi for posterity who will obviously see pictures of people with one hand seemingly glued to an ear!
And this is indeed so Delhi.
You want to shop at 9 in the morning? Are you mad?
Don’t even try this in Delhi… because even at 11 the malls are just waking up. Our shop-keepers jam the roads around 10:30 in the morning… and Delhi just doesn’t believe in wasting its mornings on commerce. I certainly wish I am able to walk into a market at 9 in the morning, complete my shopping, and be back to write my blog posts in peace for the rest of the day. But no, Delhi wants to keep their malls open till late in the night… why can’t they just set their clock right?
Eleven in the morning for shops is so Delhi.
Crossings are busy places
Ah! Yes… crossings in Delhi are commerce hubs. There are kids doing acrobatic stunts even as the traffic crawls carefully around them, yet other kids run to sell pencils and magazines that cannot read, adults keep selling the latest plastic toys that have flooded the city. The worse are the beggars. They come in all shapes and sizes… and they even come in waves. It’s actually a strategically planned invasion that they launch every time the traffic lights go red. I think begging at crossings must be banned. But who is going to bell the cat?
And until someone comes to solve this menace, they will continue to knock at my car window and make some weird gestures that roughly say, ‘Give me some money or I’ll abuse you or throw a stone at your car as you drive away!’ And yes, this has happened to me a couple of times and the right tail-light is a testimony to this attitude.
But this is so Delhi.
I’m sure almost every reader of this post who drives in Delhi, has driven on the wrong side. The excuses are the same… ‘If I go the right way, the next U-turn is a kilometre away!’ or ‘Come on, everyone is doing this.’ I sometimes get a feeling that it is me who is actually driving the wrong way… I mean almost everyone else is doing the opposite of what I think is right.
I asked a policeman once, ‘Why don’t you stop these guys from this risky hobby?’
‘Stop them?’ he drawled, ‘If everyone goes the right way, the traffic will stop moving sir ji.’
So until someone thinks of an answer to what this policeman thinks, we will continue to have people driving in the wrong direction.
Without this Delhi won’t be so Delhi.
Yes, all this is so Delhi
Another truth is that despite all this, I love Delhi. Though I sometime feel like telling the city and its violators: ‘Please turn… I want to kick your backside.’ And this too is so Delhi.
This is My Delhi Manifesto in association with BlogAdda.com.
26 October 2013