For many, the first of April is a day for playing practical jokes on their unsuspecting fellow-beings.Some of these jokes may be childish and harmless, while others require steely willpower to grin and bear.For others, it is just another day blown out of proportions by some 'jobless' fellas.For Amith Varma, its a day when he said he wouldn't blog (and kept the promise! I was expecting a 23:59:59 post saying 'April Fool! Sunday Monday go to school').
April 1st 2006 was also the day when I made my long overdue 'job-treat' visit to Gurgaon.Plans were made to leave in the morning, but a combination of a sudden flash of brilliance on the project side (which turned out to be a false lead) and the promise of a good lunch in the mess leading upto the union elections made me postpone the trip till the afternoon.I set out at 14:30 by the usual 'Bahari-Mudrika'(outer ring road) service of DTC to Dhaula Kuan where I boarded the 729 to Kapshera Border.All was well along the way. Subroto Park, Mahipalpur and Rangpuri Village sped by within a jiffy.All the while I was observing the shy pair of lovers ahead of me trying to furtively touch each others fingertips, caress each other's hair and lay their head on the other's suporting shoulder; all the while feeling scared that some 'moral policeman' would come and cane them a la Meerut affair.
It was at Samalka that there was a huge pile up of vehicles. As we got closer, I observed with great trepidation that the road to kapashera was closed and vehicles were being diverted towards Dwarka.All this while the conductor was muttering stuff like 'Yeh abhi aage nahin jaayegi!Wapas Dilli jaana hoga'."Oh God!Please let him take some other alternate route,but let him please drop me at the border" was my prayer.As expected,the good Lord also failed me and here I was stranded at Samalka crossing with a fair amount of distance to cover.
A phone call to my friend made sure that he would be there to pick me up.With nothing else to do,I turned around and saw a female from my German class also standing at the same spot.Decided to muster up my guts and more importantly, get over my dirty habit of becoming an introvert when confronted with a female and talk to her.You might have guessed that this day was soon going to be renamed as Deepak's day.Just as I took my first step towards her,along came her dad and whisked her away in the direction of Dwarka."Damn!Next time I promise that I'll be quick"
Oh!Why was the road closed in the first place you ask?Well my dear reader,Delhi is in turmoil now with a pitched battle being fought between the corrupt and the non-corrupt (to put it simply and avoid complications, because its a twisted affair. Someone started something, someone encouraged something, and someone is trying to end this something which someone has started and continued).There is something known as Delhi Masterplan which also contains details called Building Bylaws which define what constitutes a legitimate residence,commercial space,when can residential complexes also contain some business interests (Ex: a doc can have his practice in his residence itself).Supposedly the MCD has woken up to the fact now that some traders have violated these laws and are running businesses from their residences itself.Hence the courts have ordered illegal business establishments to be sealed and the water and power supply to those be disconnected.This disconnection drive has sparked off angry protests among traders who are being affected.I don't blame them too.For the simple reason that they are not the ones who broke the law in the first place.I doubt if they are aware of somehting known as a Delhi Masterplan.They have gone just like everyone else to get permits issued.Whats their mistake if some corrupt MCD official decides to make a quick buck?
In protest against this sealing,the traders had gone on a rampage hurling stones at vehicles, specially government buses.They had also smeared a hoarding of Mrs.Sheila Dikshit with cowdung and with nothing else to do,I kept staring at the geometric pattern of dung till my friend arrived.
We set out towards Dwarka in search of an alternate route.We were literally stunned to see the magnificient subcity of Dwarka.Awesome roads,well planned,and with the Metro line being extended,I would have personally preferred the commonwealth games to be held here rather than the eastern part of Delhi.Just in case,you need directions,Dwarka is in the south west of Delhi.All was fine till a couple of policemen reeking of corruption flagged us down."Behenchod!!Helmet nahin pehne hain!!",was my curse of anguish.Once we stopped,the 'senior' officer (of that checkpost) asked me,"Aur bhai!Helmet kahan hain?"
M-Me P-Police A-Ashish (friend)
M:Sir,actually main bus main aa raha tha aur Kapshera ke liye raasta band tha.Isliye mere paas helmet nahin hain.
P:Acha!!To tum karte kya ho?
M:Student hoon sir.
P:(suspecting that I am lying,and having a strong suspicion that I am some well to do techie)Bag main kya hain?
M:Sir,kuch kitaben aur kapdein.
(Action performed,he was convinced that I was nothing more than a student.He then turned to my friend)
P:Aur aap kya hain?
A:Sir,main bhi student hoon.
P:Documents dikhao. (A showed him the documents)
P:Arre,yeh to original nahin hain.
A:Sir,lekin yeh attested copies hain sir.
P:yeh sab nahin chalega.200 rupaiye dedo abhi ya phir gaadi surrender karo aur kal court se collect karna.
A:Sir,dekhlijiye thoda please.
(The above sequence went on for a couple of minutes.Finally...)
P:Thik hai!100 rupaiy ka Bagpiper leke aao.Chalega.
A:Sir,utna nahin hain sir.Thoda dekhlijiye.
P:(looking at me.I had put on my 'innocent child' look which has mesmerised many teachers and kids in my lifetime) To, kya kiya jaye tumhare saath?
M:Sir,is baar maaph kijiye please.Emergency tha sir aur dar ke maare yeh galti hogayi.
P:Hmm,andar jao tum dono.
(We went in and all the while I was shivering with fear that we would be strip searched and the 3000 bucks that I had with me would be discovered.Slowly his hand sneaked into the checkpost,while he stayed outside.We placed a 50 rupees note in his palm expecting the worst.What happened was unbelievable)
P:Aao sir,paani piyo.
M & A:(wanting to get away ASAP)Nahin sir,pyaas nahin hai.
P:Theek hai,theek hai,aapko Palam Vihar jaana hai na?
P:(pointing to the way we had come by)Woh railway track ke paas ek gully dikh raha hai na?usme seedha jao aur beech me aayega Bijwasan gaon.Wahan left lelo aur pohunch jaaoge Palam Vihar.
M & A:(aloud)Thank you sir(to ourselves)"Friggin Jesus!!Why did we miss that gully???"
(We set out to leave when we were called back)
P:Idhar aao.Haath milao...
(We shook hands and left chastened by my first and Ashish's 4th brush with Indian corruption)
The drive back was through the village of Bijwasan which was seeing a gradual battle between rusticism and slow urbanisation.On the way,Ashish Khare made a very apt statement "DK,such type of cops are good for criminals but are the devil incarnate for the simple man."