Friday, February 15, 2013

city of goons

Gurgaon is a city of goons and hooligans.

I experienced that when my mother got nearly run over by a car but not even an apology was forthcoming from the Head Constable driving it. He was far too busy talking on the cellphone even as he reversed the car from the spot where it was illegally parked  to take the trouble of honking the horn. I rushed towards the car to stop it, madly beating upon the rear windscreen, and when it did, I asked him to step out of the car. At first, he completely ignored me, talking continuously on the phone, waving me away as if I were a particularly obnoxious fly. Much yelling ensued ( I was the one yelling, while he continued to talk on the cell phone) and when the offender finally condescended to emerge from the car, it was with a highly exasperated look. I am getting delayed for my father's superannuation party, he informed me. When I insisted on getting his and his reporting officer's name, rank and telephone number , he looked at me as if I were out of my mind. I finally got the details, but even as I was scribbling them down, he vanished! Till the last, he had not removed the cellphone from his ear and was continuously engaged in a conversation. That he had nearly run over a grey haired lady old enough to be his mother was of no consequence to him therefore the question of apologising did not arise. I called up his reporting officer and lodged a complaint. No action has been taken, of course. I am told that the police constabulary in Gurgaon is rolling in wealth, and difficult to discipline because of political patronage . One of its critical jobs is brokering real estate transactions. 

My son had a similar experience when he was pacing up and down a shopping mall, frantically looking for the phone he thought he had misplaced. Are you interested in the girls who are sitting beside us, he was challenged by a couple of young men whom he had not even noticed in the anxiety of having to tell me that he had lost an expensive phone. He was so taken aback that he burst out laughing. Of course not, he replied. Yes, you are, those who had accosted him insisted. Struck by the ludicrousness of the situation, my son who is all of 15 continued to smile while assuring them that he had not even glanced at the group. Kiski chaurh hai, they asked. Roughly translated, they were asking him whose ( goons, politicians, bureaucrats etc etc ) support he enjoyed. They would not believe that his smile resulted not from bravado which had such "support" as its basis but the fact that he had committed no wrong. Before a confrontation of the nasty kind could take place, a member of the gym where  my son works out sauntered over and asked the hooligans, whom he knew since they haunt the mall, to back off. They did, not because my son was innocent of any misdemeanor but the youth who had turned up could summon a couple of hundred "supporters" in a trice, with no more than a phone call. He's a local politician's son, and rolling in wealth.

It isn't good enough that you are educated, decent,hard working people, we have been advised by a friend who is a senior police officer. You must "plant your feet firmly in Gurgaon soil"  so that a mere phone call can have at least a hundred people rush out in your support, whether you are right or the opposing party, he says. 

Is it any wonder then that my sons, who were all of 9 and 11 years respectively when they repeatedly watched Rang de Basanti , so fired were they with patriotic fervour, now wish to study and work abroad? Things aren't so bad elsewhere in India, I assure them, but they don't believe a word of what I say. I hope they will outgrow this disenchantment with the land of their birth and realise that if we wish to live in a better world, we must build it. I hope my hope is not misplaced. 

1 comment:

  1. I live in UAE. A nurse had been waiting on a round about for the traffic to clear up. A speeding police van stopped in her lane but not before it caused a dent on the rear side of her car. As she came out and protested, the policeman gently apologized and noted down her and car's registration details. Within two working days he visited this lady again and got everything fixed - of course, the cost was borne by his insurance. May be someday this will happen in India.....