Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Let’s try a rhetorical question-what is more random, the hapless ranting of a battered heart or the methodical, mannered machinations of an administration? Surprisingly, it would seem that the latter is the answer, trumping the former by an uncomfortably healthy margin. Perhaps Nietzsche was correct in saying that a casual stroll through a lunatic asylum is sufficient to learn that faith does not prove anything.

National Highway 1 of India is currently in the throes of an expansion spree. It is not just the oldest National Highway and an arterial lifeline but also a source of pride, given its antecedent history. Yet, the manner in which it is being treated and the consequent treatment it metes out to those who ply its span is appalling to say the least.

I have driven across it very regularly over the past few months. The expansion of the existing 4 lanes started over a year back but is far from being complete. China completed the 41 km long Jiaozhou Bay Bridge in four years but our highway is nowhere in the vicinity of completion. Forget nearing completion, it is not even past the threshold that might be said to be the beginning of the end. Save a few intermittent stretches which bestow you the grace of an unhindered drive, the predominant span of the road is pockmarked with diversions. And here I do not mean the sedate form of diversions that beseech you to kindly opt for an alternate path. I am referring to the mind-numbingly annoying yellow boards, hand-painted with a scraggly black line, that appear before just as you have finally gained some momentum. Bad enough as they are during daylight, they are potentially lethal at night.

But let’s play the devil’s advocate and treat these diversions as a functional imperative. Let us also don the mantle of punctilious, law-abiding citizens who heed the law in letter and spirit. This then exposes to us the true intellect of the gems who man our administration. I am not, admittedly, so conscientious as to not succumb to the temptation of tweaking a few rules every now and then to suit my convenience. And thankfully so, for if I was one such, these wizards who make the rules would have me drive at a speed not exceeding 20 kilometres per hour for almost 100 kilometres in a 250 km journey! Sure, these people are the experts but has any of these geniuses ever even tried to drive a car at the speed of 20 kmph-I did and trust me, even those obscenely over-loaded tractor trolleys rumble past you effortlessly while its occupants shoot quizzical looks at you.

Speaking of obscenity, one wonders who runs the Censor Board these days. This is the same august body that once had a problem with showing smoking onscreen lest it corrupt the impressionable minds of our future generations. How then did they overlook the inherent vulgarity of the abomination called “Delhi Belly”? Forget the movie, it is impossible to resist a spate of uncomfortable cringing should you be unfortunate enough to have any of its songs play on the radio as you drive across your city with even your domestic help in the car. Or is it possible that the members of the Board are so ingenuous and have lived a life so much more sheltered than the one Gautam Buddha’s father envisaged for him that they do not know what successive enunciations of the name “DK Bose” allude to?

Any fool can make things worse and more complex. It takes a touch of genius, however, to continue to move in the same direction. And the government seems hell bent upon proving its brilliance.

But then, as the ancient Chinese said,

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”.


  1. More, random.

    The government is a highly evolving organism. Its current brilliance is surpassed only by the promise of future glory. Only, in the case of the government, each iteration leads us closer to a black hole of despair.

    My primary concern is one of future leadership. Who among the younger corps is going to become the elected semi-despot when the oldies totter off? I see scandals and scams flying around and sticking to every face. So, if I have no respect left for the contestants of the elections, I am torn between two poor choices. Choose the (seemingly) lesser devil, or abstain. But the question of leadership still remains.

  2. Even more random.

    Democracy, good governance and modernity cannot be imported or imposed from outside a country.

  3. Is it random, or a pointed barb, I wonder?

  4. It has the potential of serving as a barb, for sure, but is actually Wilson's perception from his seminal essay of 1887.
    Actually, it IS a barb for those with single-alphabet names !!

  5. Indeed it did feel like a pointed barb. And on face of the newest bomb blasts, it hurts even more.

    Btw, what single alphabet names are we talking about?

  6. The blasts are unfortunate indeed, especially since they come in the wake of a couple of equally tragic railway accidents-a very unpleasant reminder after a relatively sedate period following the 26/11 episode.

    The name "I" was talking about was this person who used to refer to herself with the fourth letter of the english alphabet(although she did suffix it with a double dose of the fifth letter of the english alphabet too !!!) .

  7. She is free to call herself what ever she wants. Her identity though, will always remain the same.

  8. She is a passionate, mostly chirpy sometime retrospective, bitchy, slightly (?) crazy tomboy-ish lady, who likes her food, alcohol and friends; maybe cooking too. She appreciates her family enormously, albeit from a distance. Loves to read, can curse fluently in multiple languages and enjoys a challenge.

    PS: She can kill for a bike ride in the US.