August 15, 2007

India @ 60

It's the 60th Independence Day and the newspapers are going gaga over it and rightfully so. The country has come a long way and in the 30 years (almost 30!) that I have been around many things have changed.

A decade ago, on the 50th anniversary of the country's independence, a friend of mine and I decided to celebrate the event by being on the streets of Delhi. Hell we thought we weren't there when it all started and we sure as hell ain’t going to be around when the country turns 100 so why not enjoy what we had. We decided to be out from 14th night to 15th morning and soak in the sights. We wanted to go to the Vijay Chowk and witness A.R. Rahman unleash his patriotism by means of his Vande Mantram. The place was so crowded that we failed to reach India Gate. That night on the streets there was chaos- traffic jams but still people were greeting each other. Every car that passed us had people shouting 'Happy Independence Day' and waving flags at anyone who crossed them.

Last night I got stuck in a similar traffic jam that took hours to clear. I was on my way back from Delhi to Gurgaon and the police was checking each and every car on either side of the road. Security they said. The sheer number of vehicles boggled me for it finally dawned upon me a dark night (the street lights don't work in Gurgaon) that it's takes cars to make India Shine. All the ugly looking glass buildings passing off, as the temples of a modern modern India were all lit up and I could see were sad looking faces working on keyboards like crazy chimps. There were people who decided to walk rather than sit in the cars and almost like a scene from the REM's video of Everybody Hurts, I saw people flooding the streets.

Not a single person smiled.

Had things changed so much in a decade?

Look around and see the things that have really changed and one of the biggest change is that perhaps we have become a sadder lot. The world thinks we are the next big thing, maybe we already are for the country's booming and this mass is forgining ahead. I am happy to be here, happy to be a denizen of this boomtown where AR Rahman is still unleashing his patriotism only this time he calls it Jana Gana Mana; instead of Cielo's there are Honda's and Chryslers; instead of two radio channels there are 20 which churn out the same non-sense; some people possessed cell phones now everyone has at least two and each car had tens of them.

I'm the last person to force anything upon anyone but I did end up feeling a little sad that in just ten years an entire generation has stopped smiling unless they have an inane stand-up comedian hurling jokes at them...other than that who's got the time to smile.

Why am I making such a fuss about the whole thing; maybe there isn’t a reason to smile.

1 Responses to “India @ 60”

  • I was there for the Silver jubilee & we went in the Old Ambassador fully packed (including 9 Months pregnant Vas- Pappu came on 28th) The car did not move at all & we were all afraid she would deliver right there with the heat & dehydration. Tivi
  • Post a Comment