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Opinion: Bandh baja
Bharat bandh today. No office. Go back to sleep and enjoy your dreams." That was the first thought that came to my mind especially since I woke up at that unfortunate moment when in my dreams I was cruising down the highways of Florida on a Harley Davidson Street Bob... As you all will agree with me, that wasn't the ideal time to wake up but now that the opportunity was lost I decided to evaluate my situation. There was a lot of talk about the Bharat bandh on my way back from work the day before. Palpable tension on the faces of the office goers and hidden glee on those of the college students, for obvious reasons in both cases.
The hike in petrol price has stirred this bandh and it's a national one at that. At OVERDRIVE, we were advised to take it easy and take the day off if needed. It was the logical thing to do. But then a thought struck me. For ages I have been thinking of taking my Pulsar 150 to work only to be discouraged by the possibility of encountering huge amounts of traffic which means I would take more than two hours to get from home to work. Dombivili to Dadar, on the bike, is not the most pleasant ride. But this bandh seemed to provide the perfect opportunity. So I set off.
Ditching the ever-efficient railways (and I say that with utmost sarcasm) I took to the road.The roads would be empty today (just the very thought of a bandh is enough to scare people off the road) and it would be fun.
I was initially sceptical of riding (truth be told - terrified). After all a guy in riding gear, on a strike day, stands out - for the policemen or for those zealous, diligent 'patriots' trying to enforce the bandh. I was given those weird glances but thankfully no one stopped me. Those carrying saffron flags too cast a glance or two, however, the moment I showed a thumbs-up sign to them, they mellowed down.
The road today felt arrow-straight and butter smooth instead of the usual traffic-enforced curves and potholes. The air felt a lot cleaner than it usually is thanks to less number of trucks and buses. Why, all of a sudden, even the sky felt a lot more blue rather than the dark grey that it tends to be normally. One day minus from the roster of those smoke spewing vehicles and me thinks, we will live a day longer. There were small patrols of policemen with barricades along the length of the road and at strategic locations but then they weren't asking people to stop. More like a decoy to miscreants than a fence. I even asked one of them for directions. Very helpful I will say. As a result of the bandh, I reached office in just an hour (and ten minutes to be precise). Come to think of it, I wasn't even pushing the motorcycle. Instead a sedate 60-70kmph was all it took.
That shouldn't be too bad for the motorcycle and the resulting fuel economy either. After all, petrol prices now stand at Rs 78.19 per litre and floating.
I am not much of a politico, this bandh was for the reduction in the price of petrol and while it may be a burning issue, I don't agree with the means to the end. And whether it's a success or not, whether it gets the political mileage or not, I have decided on my contribution every time there's a bandh. I will ride to work or to wherever I feel like (which I have done many times in the past).
So to all those thinking of the next burning issue, how about a bandh on Monday to protest against denying Poonam Pandey the right to strip. It's been more than a year since India won the World Cup and still no sign of the promise being kept. Bharat Bandh!
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