The day started with business-as-usual - early morning bus to the factory on the outskirts, a quick 30 minute tea session to start proceedings and a fast-paced 15 min walk to cover the canteen-office distance of 300 meters. The meetings proceeded as usual, with us making all the right sounds – grunts to express displeasure, shrieks to express pleasure, oohs and aahs to express pressure and the well placed sigh to display our empathy towards the client’s problems. Communication, they say is 50% body language. And we did make the right moves in that department too, as two ill-meaning well-rounded consultants were meant to.
Morning turned to noon and lunch turned to high tea. Very soon the 6o’clock bus stared at us waiting to take us back on Route No. 5. The morning journey of an hour would take an hour-and-a-half in the evenings we were forewarned. Forewarned is forearmed and I promptly armed myself with 30 minutes of uncustomary sleep in the bus. Traffic in Bangalore, as in any other city with its BMI, displays a form of chaos by dusk. In another hour or so I expected myself to be transported to the CBD. A good pair of summer shorts was the need of the hour – the impending long weekend gave an opportunity to visit Goa. We grabbed it with both hands and such tight vigour that the opportunity felt violated.
Alas, the return journey from office to home wasn’t meant to be such a breeze in the evening hours. The neta had come. Strategically placed at the heart of the city is the Palace Grounds. To be fair, as all consultants are, Palace Grounds was there before the darn city. The neta had decided now was a good time to have one of those rallies. One of those where each participant gets a biryani and a ‘quarter’. They also get transported, with much fanfare from distance places and get paid for visiting - something on the lines of a symposium at the neighbouring Indian Institute of Science. The trouble began many kilometers away. Vehicular traffic piled up for miles away and many times did a traffic light turn from green to red, before it was our turn to pass.
‘We shall ensure there is excellent infrastructure’ he announced, as the bus ran over one more section of nice road to ensure the potholes were evenly spread.
‘Fuel prices shall be brought within reach of the aam aadmi ’ was the next promise from rote, while 300 vehicles idled at the junction, hoping that the next 10 seconds will turn the signal green, saving them the trouble of turning off and restarting the vehicles.
And while the neta stressed on what his party had done for one community of the population, Hindus and Muslims walked along the narrow open drain whose edges doubled-up as a pathway parallel to traffic, warning each other in the dark of impending gaps.
On a high from the ‘quarter’, the neta’s supporters lit fire-crackers. A kaleidoscope of colours rented the skies. Little did they know that those very hands that lit the firecrackers could bring down a regime. It happened in other countries and it could soon happen here, and THEY could be the agents of change. For now though they walked back through the chaos of traffic. Warm biryani awaited them. It was 2 hours and 30 minutes before we made it to our destination.