The radio broadcast recording all done, we herded the Swiss to the Kengeri campus to attend the Bhasha Utsav, Ethnic Day, at their campus. Since they would all be flying out tonight and missing all the fun in the main campus, we figured this would be a suitable peek into what an Indian college fest is.
Travel for these guys is jinxed for sure.. We were just past the major hour-long traffic snarl, when the bus refused to start any more. The fuel gauge showed empty. Some magic with the choke and PGS behind the wheels and we managed to drive up to the gas station up ahead.
We were in time to join the last bit of the procession. After sweating it out, taking pictures, we doubled back to the auditorium, to our front row seats. We knew our mistake as soon as the MCs came on. We had two speakers directed straight at us and between their screeching voices and the music, we had a headache in 10 minutes. The Swiss lost it at 5, I think.
Unity or diversity
The events for the day had performers from each state or region putting together a show. The Malayalis came on, then the Telugus who claimed bharatnatyam was their own, and the Tamils sang about Tamilan pride and the Congolese sang in French.
Through it all, as different sections of the audience roared to support their community or region, I wondered if such events brought us together or simply showed where our allegiance would truly lie. All the malayalis sat together as did the Tamils or the International students. There was no evident intermixing. The Tamil students did not go manic when the Punjabi did their Bhangra and the malayalis did not care much for the kannadiga percussionists.
So are we really that united, after all?
Travel nightmares continue
The return was a more nightmarish ride than onward. A few had to drive to MG road to drop off a USB drive, which meant that they had to be near college before 3. We were near college at about 430. The little bus driver took crazy short cuts and diversions and still got us stuck in traffic. My temper was sky high.
I think my mood was wrought all the more because of the attitude of the Swiss. I’m not going to glorify the traffic jam and the mish-mash of houses in the slums. But if you wanted an authentic Indian experience, then this is it. And I’d recommend you sit tight and watch, instead of riding your holy horse and making value judgements. Even Google hasn’t figured out an algorithm to predict the traffic times in India. So it’s highly unlikely any of us have. When we tell you 30minutes, do realize that we are not fortune tellers and have no control over the city or the people around.
When we eventually reached the Uni, we got together for one final, farewell chai. I had gotten TallSwiss a bottle of Indian gin and the delight on his face was unimaginable. I didn’t realize in the last two weeks that the sober man could get this excited.
It surprised me that a few had tears in their eyes. Perspectives. They were all missing perspectives, I think. This was a professional relationship, and the network would be alike, no matter what. So, why waste tears?
I made sure that I said a personal goodbye to all, and apologized to a few for any hassles they would have faced in the last two weeks. Why was I apologizing? Some sense of accountability for the country, I guess. ‘Give India a chance’, I told some and laughed inside a little.
“Does this mean that you will not bore us with anymore stories of the Swiss, S? I did like some stories.
So, this fancy dress of yours. Looks pretty on me too.” Scotch