Tuesday, February 26, 2013

From Palavakkam, with love

Deepika Ramesh,
AKA A budding journalist,
Tamil Nadu,

The leader of Tamil Nadu,
AKA (Sorry! Too many names to remember)
Tamil Nadu,

Sub: The usual whining and begging

Respected leader,

Before I start explaining the purpose of writing this letter to you, I would like to give a background about myself. I work as a journalist. No, I’m not trying to do any serious journalism here. (You guessed it wrong!) I’m writing to you to put forth certain things to you from a common man’s perspective. (Technically, a common woman too! Buhahaha)

I’m a 25 year old incorrigible woman, who lives in one of the cursed places of Chennai – Palavakkam. Does that ring a bell? Yes, you cross my area everyday en route to work. Let me confess shamelessly. Yes, I used to be a part of the group of people who drop all their work and gather in the main road to get a glimpse of you. But not anymore! I shall explain the reason.

As I told you, I live in Palavakkam and I work in Guindy. I move my lazy bum to work between 10.45 am and 11.15 am every day. Sometimes I take the Thiruvamiyur route or depending on my mood, I take the Old Mahabalipuram Road. A couple of days ago, I was about to cross the manned signal in Tidel Park junction, a cop who seemed to belong to the law and order department stopped me. Well, I understand that he should be older than me. But how could he choose to address me without respect? So what did he say? “Nillu, Nillu! Wait pannu. Mukkiyamaana aalu poraanga. Anju nimisham aagum.” I didn’t have the guts to question him back as to why I had to wait. Yes! All that I know is to write letters. But then I realized that you are a super-being and so I had to succumb. I waited for five minutes. I could see the sign of your cars approaching the signal. There were around 50 policemen. All of them were on their toes. I could hear the sirens screeching. There came four to six Innovas, a couple of Honda Cities and a couple of more cars. (Sorry, I didn’t know their names) I’m sure that the cars were speeding way too fast. Perhaps, they ran at a speed of 100 kmph. Finally, after you passed, the rude policeman again told, “hmm.. po po po.. naguru naguru naguru.”

Well, that was about what happened few days ago. I’ll definitely have to tell you about what happened this morning. As usual, I left home by 11. The East Coast Road was clear and I could see many cops across the stretch between Tidel Park and Neelangarai (I presume that your house is somewhere near Neelangarai). I enjoyed my ride from Palavakkam to Thiruvanmiyur. Thanks to you! There was no traffic. But my happiness didn’t last long. I had a panic attack. I realized that I had left my cell phone at home. So what big deal? I told you that I’m a journalist. Just like how a phone is important to a call centre agent, so it is for journalists as well. I knew that I was already late to work. But there is no use in going to work, when I had left the most important tool at home. So I took a U-turn in Thiruvanmiyur and chose to take one of the right turns in ECR to take the road that goes to my house. A policewoman, who was in the junction, didn’t allow me to take the right turn. I asked her why and she told that you might cross anytime. I told her that I could pass in a blink of an eye. She was so stern and refused again. I really wish that we had her kind of cops everywhere and I wish they had the stubbornness to say ‘No’ to bribery as well. She suggested that I should wait for five minutes. I knew that I couldn’t wait a minute more. So I moved on to the next junction and the situation was not different from what happened in the previous one. Hence I moved to the third right turn, the man with the big-belly told ‘No’ too. And as I chose to move to the fourth junction, I could hear the sirens again and so I waited wherever I was. But in this process, I realized that I missed three right-turns that would take me to my place and I was almost one and a half kilometers away from the last one too. And finally, you crossed with a bunch of cars and I sighed. I’m sorry. But I have to open up about this. I was almost 20 minutes late to work because of you. Hence, I would like to record my thought process here.

I understand that you lead the state
Your responsibilities are critical
Your safety matters a lot
You are under an immense pressure to do some good to the state

Well at the same time, it would be of great help, if you get to understand my position as well.

I’m one of the bread winners of the family
Punctuality is one thing that I’m striving hard to achieve (It certainly goes for a toss since our schedules clash)
I’m answerable to a boss (I’m not sure if that’s the case for you too)
I can’t speed to work, since I ride a Scooty streak (Unlike you, who travels in state-of-the-art cars)

Having understood both of our positions, now let’s try to understand what usually happens on the East Coast Road, which both of us use every day.

The road is full of stray dogs (Your cars might hit one of those)
The road is again full of cows, which await their end in one of the butcher stalls, but which feed on the wastes that are thrown on the roads by the vegetable vendors
The road is extremely full of jay walkers and reckless drivers
People can’t reach their destinations on time (In my case, I just had to go home to pick up my phone. But imagine the plight of people who had to go to hospital or think of situation of folks who were in some sort of predicament)

So what does one deduce from this letter? Well, I don’t want to look like a cynic to you. I should also thank you for some of the nice things that happened after you started using ECR. The roads were widened. There was a huge house that protruded till the road. But it was demolished overnight and the roads were laid in no time. We used to drive almost in dark every night. But now, there are street lamps in working condition for almost a nine kilometer stretch. On the other hand, as an innocent citizen, I really wish that you could understand some of the discomforts (directly or indirectly caused by you) that the common men face. I’m definitely not expecting things to change for good. But I’m at least feeling light for having been able to vent the frustration.

Many thanks,

P.S. – I just have a quick question for you. Since your cars travel in some 100 kmph, how would you get to read the umpteen number of banners (they carry pixilated pictures of yours), that are planted in the medians?


  1. Super de !! U know what..Today I filled petrol in the Palavakkam petrol bunk and I was not allowed to go from there..I was stopped right there in the Petrol bunk by a police woman ...she said.."THA IRU ENNA AVASARAM :( "...I was sitting in my scooty and waiting in the BUNK for almost 10 mts !!

  2. see! see! this is atrocious! I condemn this!