Edward Luce’s In Spite of the Gods – The Strange Rise of Modern India, is a brutally neutral perspective about India from an outsider’s point of view. It is not another fanboy account of India and its spirituality, neither does it make a punching bag out of my country. But despite my inner self telling me that most of what he said was true, the patriot (fanboy if you may) in me wanted to refuse to believe some of the stuff in the book. I was half way through the book as my train pulled into Trivandrum Central…
It had rained non-stop for 4 hours; that was ample time for the entire area around the railway station to get flooded, again. There wasn’t a way out with water everywhere. My dad had come to pick me, but there was no way that he could drive up to the station, unless our Maruthi could instantly transform itself into a hovercraft. So he parked up 1 km away on higher ground and waited. I was getting restless so I decided to wade through the water and walk to the place. So laptop on one hand and a heavy bag of clothes in the other, I started the painful journey. I soon realized that it was such a stupid thing to do, but by then I had already passed the point of no-return. One broken slab somewhere, and I would have atleast fractured a leg. Thankfully nothing happened and I found our car after half an hour of swimming in the city center.
Driving back, I now had no doubt about what Mr. Luce had said about our government. It really is a mystery how our country runs. The ‘water’ problem of Thampanoor (the railway station and surrounding areas) is legendary. I’ve been hearing about this since I learnt to put 2 and 2 together. With all this technology around and Trivandrum even trying to be twinned up with Barcelona (ha!) its just amazing that our administration is not able to solve this pre-historic problem. I have read about many a project trying to fix this problem, spending millions of rupees, but to what end? 15 minutes of rain (no, I am not exaggerating) and Thampanoor becomes a lake.
I’ve always been of the opinion that its not right to keep blaming the system for every flaw and doing nothing ourselves as citizens. But there are somethings that the system has to work out by itself. This is just a prime example. It’s so sad, so much public money went to the drain (pun intended) for no use. Maybe its true, as Luce implies and as one of my colleagues quipped, if the problem is solved, how will the government ‘servants’ fill their pockets? No more flooding = no more projects = no more money to steal.
For the love of my city, someone with power please do something. I feel powerless, except to shout. :(