Saturday, 1 October 2016

Public nuisance?

This was the scene this morning in Mylapore Tank bus stop. Usually a crowded place, this road on this busy morning was swarmed with people from all over the city. Reason? You’d be wondering if a foreign delegate is meeting the CM today or if the PM is visiting Chennai. Oh it’s not that. Today is Malaya ammavasai. Sorry non-Tamil folks. There is no literal translation for such words in English. This is caused by the local people. People paying their respects to their ancestors and forefathers by causing chaos is how we can describe this occasion. This time we can’t blame the government.

This beautiful lady set up her small stall in the bus stand to sell flowers and garlands to those who have arrived today. The buses that usually halt there to pick up passengers had to speed through the limited space graciously left out by these vendors. “The hustle and bustle of the traffic is not my problem”, she says dismissively. Most of the bikes were parked on the road and there were beggars everywhere stopping everyone who passed by, asking not begging, mind you, for money. All this is happening on a weekday, blocking the road for office goers, delaying an ambulance that should reach the hospital, delaying the buses and the pedestrians.

I was there as usual, waiting for my office bus this morning. Apparently my bus driver had to drive 2 km to take a turn and reach the bus stop to pick us up. He was visibly annoyed by it. Not only were we delayed but also we were stuck in the same place for a long time. I couldn’t contain my irritation. The rustle of the vendors and the commotion created by the people there who couldn’t do their personal work quietly didn't make it better.

My bus mate arrived and as was everyone, she was irritated by this too. Only later did I find out that she was irritated for different reasons.
“I don’t know why the police are not here to control the traffic. I think the buses should be diverted to some other route”, she said with a serious note.
I was shocked. Was I thinking in a different perspective here or was she? There I was, completely annoyed on a Friday morning by the hindrance caused by the people and she was complaining about their discomforts. The flower vendor didn’t bother to feel a tinge of regret for being a part of the commotion there. People were moving here and there and no one even cared to stop one minute to think what they were doing to the public.
Just then, a heavy vehicle (cement mixer) was trying to crawl its way through the otherwise narrow road. She made another comment, "Look at that! The big vehicle is slowing the traffic."
"Really? That’s the only thing slowing the traffic? What about these people who have parked their vehicles in the bus stand? What about the beggars? What about the vendors?"
"They are seasonal and this is a one-day occurrence. We have to bend according to our tradition", she said in an irritable tone.

I am sure the same girl would complain when the police block the traffic for the CM to reach his/her destination. The audacity with which the flower vendor replied to me would be nothing less of a rage when she has to take a detour because some lineman is laying the ground. The guy who parked his vehicle in the bus stand would not stay quiet if there is a 'Take diversion' sign on the beach road for the military air force rehearsal.

Blame the CM if he/she plans to take a stroll in the city to do his/her work. Crib about the traffic rules when the police are trying to ease the traffic. Curse the Indian military when all that they are trying to do is to pay respect to our country on Republic day. We take the liberty to dish out our anger when the government is at fault but we fail to see our own mistakes. When the voters are bringing their personal work to the public places, causing nuisance it is overlooked and must be tolerated but when the lineman is doing his job, when the CM is going to work and when the soldier is rehearsing, we cannot tolerate the inconvenience. Why? Because we are the public? We outnumber them? We have the freedom to do anything we want? Because we can point our finger at the government anytime without any repercussions? Let’s make sure that we don’t have three fingers pointed at us when we point one at others.