Sunday, September 04, 2005

It's 10-30 at night. But I am still in the lab reviewing two papers for an upcoming security conference. I live just a five minutes walk from the University. So it is not a problem for me to work late at night in the lab. But my mind is extremely disturbed as I just had a very bad news from home that, in a bus accident, my brother suffered injuries (not very serious) in the elbows, knees and the back. One bus was trying to overtake the other on the same route while negotiating a bend, lost control and hit the wall of a nearby building; a very common phenomenon in the city of joy. The boy who was on the footboard of the overtaking bus, was flung out of the gate and fell flat on road hitting his nose, back, knees and all. A lot of blood was discharged from the wounds and the cuts. To make matters worse, the accident led to a huge road block around the site and some overzealous folks tried to beat the reckless drivers and set the buses ablaze and so on, while no traffic police was around to resist them. The crowd rushed to my brother lying on the road, everybody was trying to offer their help in Calcutta's trademark officious ethos, making the chap more nervous under all the goggling eyes of the crowd. Well, the boy is now totally out of danger and will presumably fully recover in a few days. Still a few feelings are writhing in discomfort inside me to break free. The accident for which the post is written will be forgotten shortly, however, it opens our eyes to some bigger issues which are of course trite through overuse, but should not be ignored just because we have grown used to that.

My family lives in Salt Lake which is one of the very few so called "worth living" places in Calcutta and sometimes dubbed as the capital of Calcutta for being the living place of a large number of political honchos and intellectuals. Despite the fact, the public transportation in that area is miserable, more pathetic during night time (somewhat like the US, if you don't own a car you are doomed), and what's more, the area is fast becoming roaming grounds for criminals shortly after nightfall and bribe taking police winking at all the corruption happening right under their nose and so on. So one can imagine the conditions of the other parts of the city and the people who live on the margins of the society. A mayhem, I can assure you it is, chaos, unruly and a total absence of discipline. You have to depend too much on your destiny to come out safe and alive when walking on the road or waiting for some public services in hospitals, government offices and like, a little slip will see you fall downhill and take your life. In such unhealthy, unconducive, rotting and fetid atmosphere, you cannot expect the habitants of this city to channelize their potential and talents in any fields, be it science, sports, arts or whatever, and blossom on bigger platforms. Those who are a little fortunate to have crossed the borders of the country for a greener pasture in the West, sometimes twitch their nose in shame and try to slip all such horrid facts about their homeland under the carpet lest they may feel embarrassed and abashed in presence of more shiny, silky, western folks. Such hypocritical tendencies are time and again visible when we observe uproar from the relatively well off Indians against books, films and documents portraying the misery and the plight of the common people of these countries in the crudest form. First and foremost, nothing can be more unkind and selfish than such behaviors from the people at a higher rung of the society. And more ironically, by being oversensitive and uneasy to the hard realities of their country and pretending as if they don't exist, they unknowingly provide huge testimony to the matters they find creepy and try to hide obsessively.


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