An open Letter to Mr. Chief MinisterSeptember 1, 2010
Dear Mr. Chief Minister,
Good Evening Sir. Hope you are doing fine. It is 6.45 pm as I sit in front of my 22’’ LCD computer screen in my one BHK apartment and write to you.
BHK means Bedroom, Hall and Kitchen but don’t let the word ‘apartment’ mislead you with any illusions of grandiose. The kitchen and the bathroom are there but the bedroom and the hall are the one and the same. I like to use the word apartment as it makes me feel rich.
My name is …
Oh god!! ‘Belan wali aunty’ is at it again! No respite from this woman! The rhythmic motion of the belan pounding against the wall and the orchestra of vessels being thrown around create mild tremors in my eardrums.
‘Belan wali aunty’ is actually a late 20 something didi who looks like she is touching forty like most Indian ‘aunties’ who have gone through the vagaries of a housewife’s life at an early age.
Through my open window I can hear the screams and screeches of the neighbourhood children who are trying to untangle a kite which has got caught in the mass of wires which mark the electric pole. Numerous mother-in-laws and daughter-in –laws have also assembled outside their respective houses to discuss and exchange recipes, menus and gossip. The bhel puri wala and the golgappa (or pucchka as we call it) wala are the new entrants in the scene.
Sorry, so as I was about to say, I am one of those many youthful nobodies that left my state long time ago in search of some golden elixir of life and I am a resident of inconsequential galli in nameless nagar in one of the metro cities of the country.
I live in a one BHK apartment with two lizards, a computer, lots of porn movies and little peace of mind. Now before you make up your mind that I am a horny bastard, let me tell you that in a world full of glib talkers and fake health insurance sellers, the only honest profession left is pornography. No hassles of caste, creed, language, religion or nationality. Cum and leave. No questions asked. Porn stars are the only true diplomats left in the world.
Let me formally introduce myself now. My name is … actually why should my name matter? You can rightfully assume that I am just nobody. At least till now, in name and deed I am nobody. I haven’t won an election nor have I won any reality show or ‘talent hunt show’. I am not terribly good at anything since childhood and now since I am pushing towards the thirties the hopes of becoming good are also fast fading. Perhaps with your grace and favour, I will soon become somebody.
However, at the same time I do not belong to that exotic breed of species called ‘common man’. I am very uncommon because I think for myself and sometimes for others too which are definitely not characteristics of the common man.
I haven’t told you about my profession. Just because I happen to have a computer please do not mistake me to be one of those IT guys or worse still a MBA guy; the real ‘desh ka bhavishya’ and the ‘youth of the nation’. – The ones with those shiny cars, rolex watches and trophy wives / GFs whose idea of recreation is to go sightseeing to malls on weekends or visit some fancy restaurant. I try to write and I struggle while doing so. Hence, let me designate myself as a ‘struggling writer’.
It’s been ten years since I left ‘sonar asom’ in search of ‘greener pastures’ like many lucky northeasterners. I work 12 hours a day in hopes of minting money and going up the ladder in the rat race. There are many others like me. We were lucky. Some have escaped for good. Some like me are in two minds. With a little help from you I could make it back.
My Assamese is not too ‘refined’ if you may call it. Nor is my Tamil, Telegu or Marathi for that matter. Sometimes I want to be cool and say “Yo bro, am glocal”, but after eating wada pav and idli sambar for a week I am compelled to change my mind.
Once a year, I visit my home. It is like one of those aerial surveys of flooded areas that you and your colleagues do every year. I come, survey the changes in my city, make noises and go back. This year after an eight year long ‘break’ I went home to see lot of changes.
Numerous steel bar making companies, cement companies and ‘world class’ educational institutes unheard of in rest of India welcome me to Guwahati.
There is an influx of unknown educational institutes just like our ‘foreign friends’ from the friendly neighbourhood country. The three room ‘MBA colleges’, the numerous edu-fair hoardings tell me what a marvelous achievement you have made for the state.
Going by the cement ads in the city, it won’t be a surprise if any new visitor thought that the minute a shovel hit earth, gleaming grey cement would greet your eyes. The land of the red river and blue hills is fast becoming land of grey hills and Grey River. The ads of steel bars that dot the city every 100 meters desperately try to convince me that Guwahati is THE next big place. There is already a steel city in India. Perhaps we will become ‘steel bar and cement city’ of India. Twin honours for us. I am eagerly waiting for that day.
TV reporters blurt out ‘news’ at an orgasmic pace 24×7 and the couples sitting on the steps of the malls remind of the metro cities in the rest of the country. The sprawl of wannabe multiplexes, malls, eateries and high rise buildings tell me that we have ‘arrived’. The defining traits of a city are all fast appearing here too. People don’t know know any prominent landmarks nor do they know their next door neighbours.
Before you jump to the conclusion that I am a sympathizer of some red coloured party, let me make myself clear. I am all for full fledged development and amenities but half- baked things like unknown educational institutes , malls without elevators and AC and in short poor replicas of similar establishments just stand out for what they are, poor replicas.
Oh this reminds me… while we are on the topic of ‘landmarks’ let me congratulate you on your visionary tourism development plan. Some time back I saw this ad from your government about the progress we have made in tourism development.
Tourist lodges a.k.a ‘Jatri Niwases’ have been set up like ‘ shulabh sochalays’ all across the state and you have given fertile land to private entrepreneurs to set up hotel management institutes. Such foresight is really unparalleled.
However as they some things never change. These things are familiar and dear to me. The Bharalu nallah or should I call it river, still mesmerizes Bharalumukh with its intoxicating, hypnotizing odour which can act as a tranquilizer for wild elephants. Everytime I pass the place, I carry some of its fragrant memories with me. There are still no street lights on the roads just outside the ‘main’ city’ in the evenings and Guwahati still resembles Venice in monsoons. There are still seven hour long power cuts and I still have to run around for a minimum of two months to get a telephone connection or a dead telephone repaired. I love such connect with my past.
As I write this, I read that we have also bagged the 29th position out of 30 states in the 20- point program under the National Common Minimum Programme so I believe that we will progress hand-in-hand. I am sure we will top from the bottom in the coming years.
Oh shit! I am sorry but will take your leave now. My tummy is cringing. Must have been that blasted Dosa I had in the afternoon for lunch. I will keep writing to you and hopefully we will meet soon. In the meantime, I have attached my bio-data along with this letter. Please see if you can provide some employment opportunity in Guwahati. I also want to come back and take part in the spoils.
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