I am extremely patriotic. Indeed, I was never tempted to stay back in the US(paradise for most Indians) even when we were making good money and had ample opportunity. I was so happy the day we decided that we would return to our homeland and make our life among fellow patriots. Friends and family inquired concernedly how we were adjusting to life in India and I always replied blissfully that I couldn't be more content. I still have no regrets.
But some incidences really make one think whether India can be a better place. Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG) are being held currently in my city - Pune. This was declared almost 4 years ago. A stadium had to be built at a suitable location, accomodation had to be planned for participants and visitors, roads had to be widened and traffic controlled for the event. The city municipal corporation had ample notice and adequate time to prepare the city to host the games.
My home happens to be on a road that would be the access road to the stadium. It suddenly dawned on powers-that-be early this year that this road has to be widened and concretized to be able to hold the ensuing traffic during CYG. The road widening work started just a couple of months ago, that too smack in the middle of the monsoon season. The entire road was dug up; all protuding structures were removed to provide space for widening the roads. A lot of people and commercial businesses were inconvenienced due to this. In most areas, the JCB (demolition machines) severed the phone as well as electricity cables in their sheer frenzy to meet the October deadline. At other places, the water pipes got cracked and entire societies had to make do with little or no water for days. Traffic situation was a mess as roads were closed and no detours had been planned. People could not go to office or schools when the road widening team put concrete slabs in front of their gates and forgot to build ramps for their vehicles to reach them! Any kind of communciation or advance notice of such inconveniences were thought to be superfluous and therefore done without.
An existing hostel near the stadium was evacuated at short notice to make way for a hotel for CYG guests. The hostel members were left high and dry to fend for themselves. The stadium itself was being worked upon till the last day, which left people wondering if it would be ready in time for CYG. In fact, people had given up hope that this entire mess could be sorted out before the Games. Rumors were rife that CYG would have to be postponed.
And then came the final blow. It was decided that the road-work would be completed, albeit with a few shortcuts, in time for CYG. Parts of the road would be tarred, parts to be filled with interlocking tiles. Everything would be revisited AFTER the CYG. This is the ominous threat still hanging over our heads. To have to live through the nightmare of roads being dug up again is enough to send Indians skeltering back to US. Whatever happened to careful planning, proper budgeting and quality work? It seems like the common man, the diligent tax-payer is the victim of all such reforms.
Someone asked me recently - "Would you like to be a volunteer for CYG?" I said "Are you kidding, I am a victim of CYG!"
By the way, did I tell you we got slapped with a fat bill for our telephone which has been dead for the last month? Mera Bharat Mahaan!
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