Memorable take off to India

The characters in this story are NOT fictitious. They are people whom I know, however spread across the globe!

Vj Mac, Jai and Mony just cannot hold back their excitement! For their first vacation, they are going to India. Proud computer architects-in-the-making they are ...but all they could think of now is mom-cooked hot bajjis and puris

They queued up at Walmart and Kohls to pick chocolates and perfumes and T-Shirts for their parents and girl friends and relatives! One more day for take off – they are seen running up and down their tiny, untidy apartment in search of bags and suitcases to stuff in their extra baggage. Mony, from somewhere managed to find an age old bag, faded and whose handle is almost broken. 

But today, for all the three, anything and everything seems to be alright. Why??? …because they are going home - a place they are dying to get back to; but grew up wanting to leave!

At the airport, each of them stacked their bags one on top of the other and pushed the trolley counting down the number of hours left to reach home. Yeah... everything seems to be alright until the officer in black smart uniform asked turning to Mony, 
“Gentle man... something suspicious is spotted in your bag. Request you to open this reddish-yellow... no ornagish-yellow backpack of yours!” 

Mony mumbled to himself, “Did I keep my shaver or scissors in this? ...or am I not supposed hand carry my under garments? Huh?? What the hell does this idiot want to pull out?” 

The officer put his hand inside the bag and dug …to get the ‘suspicious’ thing exposed! The next moment he howled, grabbing the attention of everybody around. He shouted, “Anthrax... anthrax!!! I don’t believe... I just touched it! Oh Christ; Am I going to die?” His hand is covered with grey dust; poor fellow, in a minute got drenched in sweat! 

Our friend Mony is now experiencing the ‘Moment of Life’! 

He is surrounded by eight police officers, with their guns pointing right at his chest! Mony cried, “No no... this is not.. never Anthrax”. Trust me... I have not even seen that in my life. That is ‘bhasmam’. Kadavulai, Guruvayurappaa.. How do I make them understand?? Officer… you know, we Indians have this religious powder'!! So not to worry.. what u just touched is  our religious powder! The kind and understanding God in India will bless you! …n actually the bag is not mine, I borrowed it from one of my friends.”  

Turning to Vj, almost in tears he asked, “Allada Vijayaa…? Nee satyam parayada…” (Isn’t it Vj? Tell him the truth)

Vj and Jay are witnessing the play as if they were watching a dramatic Bollywood movie. Prankster Jay whispered in Vj’s ears, “Why don’t we add little more spice to the whole episode, to make our journey absolutely unforgettable?” He continued at Vj, “What will happen to Mony if we shout, Escape... there is a bomb too, in that terrorist’s bag!” 

Vj couldn’t help laughing, thinking the after effects if they had actually shouted that! While these two are found giggling, the rest every single soul at the airport stood frozen, waiting for the result. 

In a few minutes, there comes another officer. He shook hands with Mony and said, “May be next time, you should bring your ‘religious powder’ in a zip lock cover!!” “Guruvayoorappa… rakshichu…!!”, Mony murmured at himself! 

The three of them are delighted; right from the start of their vacation, things are turning out to be eventful..!

Cycle of Problems

The history of terrorism in the country was being re-written by a group of highly trained and provoked LeT terrorists from Pakistan, when the city of Mumbai was attacked. To kill nine of them and capture just one, it took 60 longs hours at the cost of 20 security personnel and 300 innocent lives! Is 20:10 a fair ratio?

The funerals are over, politicians have resigned, from the front page, news has started taking space in the inner pages.. from today it’s a fresh work week and people have started getting back to normalcy! Yet.. the truth remains the same: (sadly) we have lost the battle against terrorism! Slipup in the whole system?? Whatever the reason be, we were not able to foresee and hamper the terror attack. We are still not sure if there are any more terrorists walking in the streets of Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi or any other cities of India.

Not always Indian soldiers and encounter specialists become heroes! We wait for something like this to occur to acknowledge them. We become patriotic when we listen to “Jana Gana Mana” in “Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham”, we become patriotic when we watch “Chak De India” or when India beat Pakistan in a cricket match. There is no shortage of patriotism in our country. But, do you know that there is a shortage of officers in the armed forces? Why?

Is the risk to life the only reason? No!!! We see thousands of youngsters line up for auditions to get selected for do-or-die reality shows. Youth of today are daring; at the same time very ambitious. The armed forces, unfortunately is not a desirable career choice for many; I would say low remuneration is the primary reason!!

I was shocked to find out the salary scheme of the army officers! The maximum salary of a Lieutenant is ONLY 10,000 rupees a month, while that of a Captian, Major, Colonel or Brigadier ranges from Rs 11500 to Rs 19,000! We are living in an era where a call center professional just after Class 12 easily earns Rs 15,000! Let me ask the same question, which every Indian asks, “Where is all our tax money going?”

The NSG (National Security Guard) has completed more than two decades in rendering momentous service to the nation. The commandoes go through vigorous period of training to equip themselves in situations of emergency. But, after all these they are made to guard politicians. Is that a necessity?! In India, security is provided to high-risk individuals depending on the threat perception to the person. Being placed in a category (which ranges from Z+ to X) is viewed as a status symbol by politicians, and many use their power to secure a Z+ security cover.

Only Prime Ministers, Presidents or former Prime Ministers deserve to avail the luxury of being guarded by SPG (Special Protection Group). If so, how do Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka fall in that category? When Mayawati moves around, she is escorted by an army of at least 350 policemen and an assortment of 34 vehicles! Her latest proposal is to have a helipad built right across the CM's house. However, submissive people in the country don’t blink an eye at spending millions on worthless politicians.

The government is inclined to function in a customary manner and modern equipments are often found only on paper. The lack of integral assets which is meant to possess rapid mobility for organizations like NSG is a major hitch, requiring prompt attention. At Taj, about hundred fire fighters were sent in.. with just two bullet proof jackets!!! Awful…!!! All this has been evident for ages now, but government shows interest in only those matters which will positively affect their ballot boxes.

Let me abruptly stop here, screaming at the accountable people: “Wake up….!!!!”

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