Bengaluru, Gurugram rains: Are names of cities more important than people?

We all have learnt the hard way - nothing changes, not the mindset, not the responsibility and definitely not the roads.

 |  4-minute read |   30-07-2016
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A couple of days ago, a Romanian friend was talking about summer showers and how she loved the weather. I didn’t want to rain on her parade, so replied cautiously, "I enjoy it too, but only till a point."

After all, most of us have spent our childhood in the rain singing that eternal Jagjit Singh ghazal, "Woh kagaz ki kishti woh baarish ka paani..."

However, the ominous point came sooner and harder than I expected, but my optimistic friend probably dismissed all apprehensions; after all she had heard everything - from pollution to the politics of India.

I redeemed myself when I sent her some pictures of friends wading through water in Gurgaon.

Also read: Gurgaon is flooded with water and Twitter with #Gurugram jokes

"Do you have a boat," she asked jokingly. What she didn't know was how close to the truth her joke was.

How does one explain to an outsider that the flooded place in the picture is our beloved "Millennium City" Gurgaon,  where people were stuck for an average three hours on the national highway.

Some were stuck in a 16-hour traffic nightmare, and after being forced to abandon their cars, walked miles to reach home.

How does even an Indian, jaded as he may be, comprehend that prohibition orders were in place simply because it had rained.

Down south, in Silicon Valley, Bangalore, IT professionals were fishing on what was once a road. Many were rescued on boats.

"What’s the point of a Swacch Bharat cess or a service tax," shrieked a friend in Mumbai desperately trying to reach a meeting on time, "when the streets are a river."

At least the country unites in misery.

Nature will do what it does best - challenge us time and again, and predictably, we will cave in, quite literally.

It amazes me how do we manage to function as a nation despite all our "systems". I can continue the obvious rant about infrastructure, but it is pointless; next year, it will be back to square one.

The other day, my child’s school bus was late by more than half an hour. It was only a slight drizzle, so we couldn’t even blame the rain. Panicking parents kept trying to call the teacher on bus duty, but she had probably anticipated this, and had put her phone on silent mode.

A gentleman visiting from abroad was aghast that no one had even bothered to inform the families. It’s what all the parents at the bus stop felt, but after a tense half hour, were just content to just take our kids home.

We all have learnt the hard way - nothing changes, not the mindset, not the responsibility and definitely not the roads.

So, we all work and live "ram bharose", any wonder then that most of us finally give in and resort to "jugad" wherever possible.

Everyone is conscious of their rights, only a few of their duties, and if you are in the government service, your job is always more "pucca" than your neighbour’s street.

Pay Commissions will never change a babu’s attitude. Or else how can one explain as to why did the administration in Gurgaon wait for students to reach school the next day only to send them home. They could have simply declared a holiday after the chaos.

Public memory is faint and this too shall be forgotten, just like the flyover collapse in Kolkata that killed 27 people earlier this year.

Now that we have stopped romanticising the rain, the next concern soon will be dengue. A couple of years back, the club next door discontinued tennis classes for children because most kids were down with dengue. Even after that, it wasn't easy to get the drains covered. As always, no lessons were learnt.

But my absolute favourite is the kawariya season. So far, they are walking on the sides, but soon, they will take over the road, riding motorbikes at reckless speeds. Many others will be running around trucks that are blaring loud music. Religion and piety were meant to be personal, but many of these young men make a mockery of it.

We have no discipline and no inclination to be considerate towards others. "Baap kee Sadak" has the same meaning for different sections of society.

So schools will have to be shut because there is no way anyone can reach the school gate on time.

In all this, our leaders are busy doing what they do best. A chief minister thinks that the prime minister will kill him in frustration, another politician is so busy with his photo-op hugging a Dalit woman that he is clueless about her criminal record.

The rest are probably wondering which city to rename next, because as Gurugram and Bengaluru have showed in the last few days, the name of a city is more important than its people.

Writer

Jyotsna Mohan Bhargava Jyotsna Mohan Bhargava @jyotsnamohan

Worked with NDTV for more than a decade and now writes on a variety of topics for several news organisations.

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