It has been six months since I shifted home to Ghaziabad. Don’t cringe. Yes, I have left Delhi for good because the locality where I lived had started looking like a ghetto in Nazi occupied Europe. It used to be an open, green space some twenty-five years back but urbanization (which basically means cars and humans reproducing like rabbits) has choked it. Now Ghaziabad is the next upcoming destination in NCR and has some nice localities like Kaushambhi, Vasundhara, Vaishali and Indirapuram. One of them is my home now. Eventually they will turn into a ghetto too but till then I can breathe. Hell! Sometimes I feel like a well settled nomad.
Ten years ago if somebody would have hinted that I should settle in Ghaziabad, I would have frozen that guy with my stare. I would have preferred eating mud sitting comfortably in a pit full of vipers. My perspective has changed. It’s just another piece of land (if you don’t consider the people).
If you consider the people, to say that Uttar Pradesh is a country in itself will be an understatement. Everything here is so similar yet so different from Delhi. There is something in the air of Uttar Pradesh. Adventures are so tempting in this country. A citizen who is a submissive Dr. Jekyll in Delhi would suddenly turn into Mr. Hyde on crossing the border. Sample this:
The Road is thy playground
Somehow the citizens of U.P. love to roam in the middle of roads. I still haven’t come in terms with people strolling like lazy buffaloes on the roads. I am sure I will pretty soon need toe surgery because of the sheer number of times I have to apply brakes to my car here. And, the icing on the cake is the stare I get later on. Makes me feel like a worm floating in a drain. People here don’t believe in looking left-right-left before crossing a road. They look straight ahead, as if looking in their distant happy future. I can bet it does not include a leg broken in a car accident because I bloody apply the breaks every time. Sometimes I do have the urge to accelerate and break someone’s leg. That will leave one less person to irritate me. You see? I am halfway to Hyde.
Road signs are for hanging politicians
The first time I saw this, I was taken aback. Appalled. Scandalized. I understand stupidity but this was fuc*ing unbelievable. A lot of those huge blue road signs on NH24 are very frequently covered with posters of ugly politicians congratulation more ugly politicians on their birthdays, on festivals, on buying a new cow or on whitewashing their house. And this is on an important highway where people depend on those road signs to find their way; A highway notorious for the sheer number of road accidents that happen on it.
Mr. Politician, its great that you want to be in some hotshot’s good books, but you can send then some darned flowers instead of confessing your love hanging from a signboard.
Uttar Pradesh takes “covering up” to a whole new level.
This one was observed by my father. Most of the shopkeepers here are downright rude. You might enter a shop and stand there till the end of the world and wither away and chances are that the shopkeeper might not even acknowledge your presence. They have a what-the-fu*k-do-you-want attitude followed by didn’t-I-just-fuc*ing-gave-you-what-you-wanted? The shopkeepers here are doing you a huge favor by allowing you in their shop and expect you to kiss their feet before you leave. While in Uttar Pradesh, brace yourself for that why-are-you-even-here-as*hole(?) look in the shops.
Lanes are for the retarded
Driving in the wrong lane is considered some sort of trophy here. It makes you a real man. It is something about which you could brag to your future generations. I have ducked huge trucks coming towards my car in the wrong lane. I almost pissed my pants that day and had nightmares for a few days. People here do not take the pain to go till the next U-turn to reach the proper lane. They just drive in the wrong lane even if they have to drive like this to their bloody destination. And they are so proud of this fete. A few days back, the rickshaw in which I was going home was almost trampled by a car speeding (!) in the wrong lane. The driver after hastily applying the brakes actually glared at the poor rickshaw puller.
To think of it, most of the people settled in these localities are from Delhi and they have completely lost it and turned into Mr. Hyde. Well, lawlessness is a virus hard to contain.
A special note for the driver of the bus which drops me home – You rock! You make the Pod race sequence in the Phantom Menace look like a couple or turtles taking a stroll.
Laziness is a gift
It took me four months to have a gas pipeline reach my house. The Electricity department is so unabashedly lazy that you have to take your meter reading yourself, go to their office and submit the amount. They won’t send you a bill or come to take the reading. Complain about a burst water pipeline in your locality and the concerned department don’t even bother to ask where. The postman does not bother to deliver mails. Online bill payment is something unheard of and the online websites look like rape victims – disarrayed and bewildered. Everyone seems to be so tired of their lives and are just waiting for it to end.
After being born and brought up in the capital, I had a pretty grim picture of Delhi in my mind. Twenty years ago, I might have written a similar post about Delhi. Uttar Pradesh seems to have pushed me back twenty years. It’s like living and breathing a Deja Vu. Now how many people get that golden chance of reliving a nauseating nostalgia?