July 9, 2011
There are people who are lucky to be born as SC or ST or OBC and get reservations for Government Jobs, while some are born with reservations to being Government! Rahul Gandhi, a 41 year old youth, who has been blessed with reservation for the PM's job and also youthfulness which lasts even in his forties. A lot of things have been done with the "padh"! Amitabh Bachchan has danced on an entire song, where he basically told everyone that, "Meera had tied ghoongaroo to her padh and danced". But what the young Gandhi did with his padh or in literal terms- feet, has inspited this story!
I am a typical urban educated young man, who belongs to the growing Indian Middle Class. Reading a few newspapers and watching TV news, I am intellectual enough to have strong views on everything from Lok Pal to Telangana. I passionately love my country; my blood boils when I hear about 2G Scam to Commonwealth Games Scam to Aadarsh to Maria to Yeddy and also Reddy. I feel true happiness whenever a Ministers walks into the 7RCR to resign. I thank the heavens. I work for an MNC and am extremely well connected. Well, in the modern way. I have access to Internet thru my phone, my laptop and also my tablet. The world is at my finger tips.
Well, watching TV news one afternoon, I came across "Rahul Gandhi’s padyatra", where he was walking some 60 Kilometers in 4 days, to meet farmers in villages to understand their miseries. The media was excited and the opposition was angry. Nonetheless, it captured my imagination.
The closest thing, I knew about Yatra was Yatra.com! I searched their site; they had everything from cruise to rail yatra, but not Padyatra. So, I called up the Call Center of another company to make my Trip. A call center executive picked up, stating "My name is Shalu, How may I help you?" I fumbled and said "Hello" and she repeated, "My name is Shalu, How may I help you?" in the same voice diction and speed.
"I would like to go on a Yatra."
I thought for a while and said, "Bhatta Parsual"
She was puzzled and said that she didn’t have any package to that country. She offered me exiting offers to Dubai and Malaysia. I politely refused. I was already furious about the discrimination. The politicians had special travel packages to special places, while taxpaying common man like me, had nothing! My thoughts were disturbed by a call. Well, it was from the Call Center, who wanted a feedback about the call. For a call that lasted less than 2 minutes, I gave a feedback for 17 minutes.
Finally, left with no other option, I thought of consulting the "Know it All" genius of the world. I went online and Googled. And there it was - 23123873 results on Padyatra in less than 0.21 seconds.
I read about Padyatra and was enlightened to know that it was a journey which usually took one to power. Mahatma Gandhi, most probably invented it, but he did not file a Patent for it. I read about the famous Padyatra of S M Krishna in 1999 and Y S R Reddy in 2004. It was in infallible route to the throne. BJP on the other hand, had their own Rath-yatra. Advani ji has gone on several of these Yatras. There was an analysis by statisticians which said that the chances of the Throne were more for the Padyatra. I later read about the aim of Rahul Gandhi’s Padyatra - to hear from people.
Well, I wanted to be the next most powerful man in India, the Lok Pal or Friend of the People. I quickly tweeted about it and waited for two hours. But none of my seven followers had any comment or question. Well, I changed plans. I posted it on Facebook. Within no time, there were 18 Likes and 3 Comments! I was excited and encouraged.
Like Rahul Gandhi, I set out early in the morning, from my middle class dwelling on the outskirts of the city, a concrete jungle built on lands which were once lush green farms, acquired by bullets and tear gas shells. Though I had strong views against the Government of the day, I also had a beautiful house and a recreational center to spend my weekends. I walked out of the gate and reached a taxi stand a furlong away.
A manager was garlanding a small statue. He stopped his activities and turned to me. I politely told him that I come to hear his problems. He was puzzled and said after a thought, "You hired a taxi and had problems?" I shook my head and said, "What is your problem?" I was expecting him to start complaining about Price Rise to Corruption to Traffic, like they do on TV. But then two minutes later he got irritated and pushed me out of his small office.
Still determined to be successful in my Padyatra, I walked into a gated colony. This colony housed professionals and richer of our middle class. I had seen on TV that Rahul Gandhi was offered a Chaupal to sit on and given tea and biscuits. Old Ladies lovingly blessed him, while he listened to the problems. I was expecting the same treatment. It’s a democracy and it was 8 am after all.
I went from house to house, but the gates remained closed. Well-trained dogs barked their lungs out and the neighborhood guard was suspicious and trailed me for a while, before being the first one to talk to me. I asked, "What is your problem?" Well, he did answer my question. Alas. Success. He said Neighborhood Residential Welfare Association Secretary had instructed him not to let strangers linger around. So basically, I was his problem.
I continued my Padyatra as the traffic was building up on the roads. There was no media following me, neither was the SPG arresting people with guns who wanted to shake hands with me. Nobody was telling me their problems either and all I could hear was angry voices shouting at each other in the jams and the horns blazing. It suddenly rained and potholes got filled with water.
JNURM sponsored buses, left the potholes and came on what was left of the footpath following the road expansion. A pedestrian walking a few paces in front of me was hit by a bus and died on the spot.
We talk a lot about drunken driving or air crashes or train derailments, but I discovered that Padyatra was the most dangerous form of travel in this country.
I finally completed my Padyatra, reached office without hearing a single complaint and was covered in the dust and splashes from the pothole on my trousers. I seemed out of place for my swanky office and that was my little Padyatra! Unheard & Uncelebrated, but certainly a Padyatra.
Ayush Prasad - Archives: