Over a glass of wine, chatting up with a long time British friend of mine, I asked spontaneously, "Harry, if you were to describe India in one line, what would that be?" His response: "I know I am taking a risk but in one line, I would describe India as a country of posters." He went on elaborate that he had travelled around the world but nowhere else had he seen so many posters of national and local leaders pasted all over the cities.
Harry added that before the USSR broke up, there were posters of the leaders in command of the country like Stalin or Lenin, but not anymore. He then took a large sip and said that in India, one could find posters of leaders, their colleagues, their relatives and even their growing-up children, all smiling at passers-by. Harry had hit the nail on its head.
From my home in Malleshwaram to Bhashayam circle along Sankey Tank, the distance is one mile. It takes 25 minutes by car with four stops to get there. All along the journey, I see posters of leaders smiling at me, saying hello, how are you today, we know that you are stuck but take it in your stride because vehicle sales are going up year by year and therefore these jams, and so, we need to reduce car production.
What they seem to miss out on is that since 1991, when I moved to Malleshwaram, till this day, the width of the road has remained the same and, hence, the traffic jams. Many would have seen ambulances stuck because there is no leeway for the traffic ahead to allow them to pass. Worse, you zoom from the international airport and then stall and crawl, stop and restart near Hebbal flyover. Thats a very good planning to smile about.
Another amusing part of the poster boys is the headlines that you will read in newspapers about the kickstarting of this or that flyover. As youngsters, we were told that you must set up smart goals. Goals that are specific, measurable, accurate, realistic and time bound. Projects were not started unless there was total clarity. Someone has very wisely said that without specific goals, you are travelling in a rudderless ship which will get you anytime, anywhere. Our city is like a rudderless ship but this ship is still sailing along the waves,for now.
Not many perhaps know this conversation between former US president John Kennedy and our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Kennedy was explaining to Nehru that it takes just two days in traffic to move from the West coast to the East coast. Nehru reportedly said, "Naturally, because you have very nice highways." Kennedys response: "Because we built them."
There is one thing in common between some of the poster boys and me: our dental hygiene needs improvement.