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The City, The Country & Others

October 22, 2011

It was quite early in the morning when I stood on one corner of MG Road. The air was still cool and the traffic was yet to get harrowing. There were no honks on the road and the loudest sound was the local merchant beating out his welcome mat for the day.

The only thought in my head was how much the landscape of Bangalore had changed. Even the building I was standing next to had been replaced in the past couple of years. There was a coffee shop and Bombay Store. I can’t remember what was there before Coffee Day… Lakeview and those other joints existed next door, but now housed in a new-resembling-old building.

The Bengaluru Metro was finally launched a couple of days ago. Everytime I see it, I feel this giddy happiness in my heart. It is weird. The metro runs between two places that I rarely have the occasion to visit anymore. But I still feel… happy. I saw it ferrying a tram-full of people a couple of days ago and it reminded me of all those movies and trams I had seen in other countries.

Of course, judging by the queue for the metro today, which went all the way past MG Road, I’m not the only one who felt this way. I haven’t yet stepped onto the Metro yet… that can perhaps wait. But here’s to a Bangalorean’s pride.

***

Bangalore’s always in a hurry. Honks are the order of the day everywhere and I wonder where on earth are people off to. Why no patience to breathe for a minute, change gears and then move? Literally. I’ve begun to often wave to people to stop honking, particularly at traffic lights. I guess they all think I’m quite crazy.

***

Pakistan was finally voted as a non-permanent member of the UN. Surprisingly, the news hasn’t been done to death in the Indian news media yet… but my instinctive reaction to the news – “oh shit” – suddenly brought to mind my globalization class a few years ago.

The class had people from every nation (well, a lot of countries). There was just ONE person from each of these countries, except for Turkey (two) and Australia (ditto). So we were all representatives of our nations in an extremely combustible class. There was a guy from North Korea who was involved with the government, and a cop from Saudi Arabia etc.

The issue was the day was India’s refusal to sign the Nuclear non-proliferation treaty. As an Indian, I never thought we should sign it. I mean… who the hell decides that we do not get to keep nuclear weapons or whatever, right? I’d argued various other things from a so-called global attitude but I never ever thought about the other side of the coin.

So then this girl from Costa Rica goes “Well, I really think India has to sign it. I don’t particularly feel very safe knowing that there is this country that openly vetoes the whole treaty and says that yes, it will have nuclear weapons and such.”

I began to laugh it off saying that we’d never use it. We just have it because well, you know, Pakistan does too and we just need to sorta have something up our sleeve. We’ll never use it on another nation. We love peace and all that jazz.

And then I looked at the guy from another such nation across the table… and I realised that this was sort of similar to their argument. Every nation argued that they’d never use it, they just want to keep it. Which was sort of like a guy saying that he wanted to breed rottweilers or some such thing and train it to fight but would never set it on people.

Even if that is true, why should anyone else trust you? True, we had never attacked anyone and all that but if I were living anywhere else… would I feel equally safe?

I’m not sure what Pakistan getting a seat on the UN Council actually means. India has long been fighting to be made permanent. And as an Indian, I think we should have a say. But perhaps every Iranian, Iraqi, Japanese, Korean and African guy feels the same. We all like to believe that we are important.

Of course, I did find it funny that one of the articles read:

Pakistan’s victory, he (Pakistan UN Ambassador  Abdullah Hussain Haroon) said, was an acknowledgment of the country’s services towards the maintenance of international peace and security. 

Umm… international peace and security? Really?! Huh?!

I’m not sure if this merely a reaction of me as an Indian, or perhaps a slightly broader perception of Pakistan’s role in global politics over the past few years. I would like to believe it is the latter.

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