Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Auto Sir... Auto... Taxi Sir... Taxi - Back to India
"Auto Sir... Auto... Taxi Sir... Taxi... Cheap and best sir.... "
To hear the familiar sound of Auto and Taxi drivers run out to you when you come out of the International Airport in Chennai brought back nostalgic thoughts of my days in Chennai. I guess the Autos and their drivers will always remain an Integral part of what Chennai means to us. It was refreshing in many ways to hear the deafening sound of cars "honking" for the smallest of reasons and for the longest of times. I guess Manila has made me realize that it is possible to drive a car without having to honk every 20 seconds!
Even as I waited to clear immigration after landing at the Chennai airport - I was reminded of the "openly" corrupt nature that India was in. The Philippines is known to be as corrupt as India but I still am yet to see the brazen openness that we see amidst the cops and politicians here. While we stood in serpentine queues to get our passports stamped - there we see a police guy (pretty senior official) wait inside with his wife (Though us "normal" folks aren't allowed to come in to the aiport). They were waiting for their son to arrive. As soon as he gets to where we were standing, there are a few cops who take his luggage, take his passport and run to the official at immigration and get it stamped for this guy. Why, even the guy sitting at immigration stood up to salute this chap! Lol... I actually smiled watching all of this and then reminding myself that India was still the same! Well, I carried on waiting for the next half an hour in that line and I was tempted to call a friend's mother to get help with all of this (She was in a senior position in the airport), but then I realized that there would be no difference between that Cop's son and me then.... and that I would have no right to crib about such things in India... and so I didn't make the call.
While I waited to get my check-in baggage from the baggage collection point, I saw this young couple struggling with a huge bag. Before I could offer to help them, I see this guy (With a badge and stuff - I presumed that he works at the airport) offering to help them. He brings a strolley cart and starts lifting their bags to put it on the cart. In all, he would have spent about 5 minutes carrying and arranging about 3 suitcases/bags onto that cart. I was impressed! But at the end of it, I saw him asking this guy in the classic Indian fashion for money! While the couple looked at each other and the guy pulls out his wallet, this guy goes saying, "Please give me Rs.100"! Whew! 100 bucks for just that???? And the audacity to ask for money like that. How I wish I had the authority to fire that guy! But then what difference would it make - That's how our system works... right from the top to the bottom! And there are more than enough people to point fingers at but not enough people to take these people to task.
Well, this was my sweet welcome back to India.... I sat and thought of what all needs to be done in our country before we can become truly competitive in the Asian context (not even Global). Maybe we do need a dictator to rule us for a few years to set things straight and to change the way most of us think. We take our life for granted and don't even want to change any small aspect of our lives! I kept thinking... and my eyes closed... as I sat at the domestic airport waiting for the next flight.
Posted by Kumaran at 10:37 PM