Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Terrorists? Naah,..This Is Chennai After All!!!

Never send a man in to do a woman's job, proclaim the male-bashers. Or better still, if you want a job done right the first time, send in a woman.....
Easier said than done, my friends.
What does one do when the woman who is supposed to do the job not only refuses to do so, but also confounds the daylights out of you by shadow fighting invisible demons around you?
This was what I had to contend with at the Chennai Railway station early this morning.
Considering the increased security at all stations and airports, I assumed that I could no longer indulge in the luxury of racing in at the last minute and chasing my train down the platform as I was want to do.
So for once, I was at the station early...
Truth be told, I was rather pleased with myself as I alighted from the cab with my countless bags.
And why ever not?
Here I was, being a responsible citizen and doing my bit to keep the motherland safe....The very thought put a spring in my step, even at that early hour!!
I cheerfully flagged down a semi drunk porter, who fortunately was too far gone to take umbrage. A few terse sentences later, we had arrived at his price and were on our way towards the friskers,beepers and the men in khaki.
My bonhomie went down a notch at the first entrance, which much to my surprise,seemed quite deserted. Even the guardians of the detector frames were missing in action. Every now and then, a stray citizen with a heightened sense of patriotism dutifully walked through the detector wearing a baffled expression that questioned the purpose of his act.
I would have liked to stop and stare and ponder on the mystery of the deserted entrance but the speed at which my inebriated porter was racing ahead precluded any such thought. So I raced after him through the bustling crowds as if my life depended on it. And in minutes, I had joined a score other passengers in a queue that slowly snaked towards the beepers. Beside me an indolent, pot-bellied cop yawned..Once...Twice....And then I forgot to focus, because my attention was arrested by the sight of my porter who adroitly sidestepped another slumbering man in khaki to run around the beepers and into the station.
I grimly looked around for a vigilant officer of law, half expecting one to spring out from behind the detector frame and pounce on the porter. But no one emerged. It appeared that the only eyelid being batted in surprise was mine. Apparently, miscreant porters dashing past security lines was quite the routine and no acts of terror anywhere else in the country was going to effect any change in the system!!!
As for my rogue, did he even stop to glance back at me?.... Oh no, he did not!...
He forged on ahead to goodness knows where, while I fumed in the queue and bid goodbye to my worldly belongings. Fortunately for me, he was not just drunk and without sense, but was also unschooled in numbers and alphabets. As I watched his retreating back, he stopped short in front of a display board and stood there swaying, with my bags on his head, peering uncertainly at the streaming information.
Heaving a sigh of relief and sending up a prayer of gratitude to the powers above, I turned my attention back to the business of being frisked and searched.
Indignant complaints about the miscreant porter died on my lips as I realised that people ahead of me in the queue were merrily dashing through the beepers and past a lady cop with a frisker who seemed more interested in practising her backhand than frisk people. This was indeed a state of affairs to be remedied...
Patriotism rose to my mouth as bitter gall as I watched her prancing around sweeping and stroking the air around her...and occasionally jabbing some invisible foe.
" Excuse me, but I am waiting for you to frisk me"
" Oh, that's OK madam...you can go on"
" Are you not going to frisk me???" My voice dripped with saccharine sweet venom which glided off her back with no seeming effect. Clearly, her invisible foe merited greater attention because with a long suffering expression she tried to wave me on
" Madam, please carry on..."
" How can you not scan me??? Or anyone else? Did you not hear about the attacks in Mumbai?? It started in the railway station...."
" Madam, I can see that you are not a terrorist..." She explained patiently, all the while eyeing a point beyond me with increasing malevolence. If I didn't know better, I would have assumed that she was trying to turn her xray vision on to my form to scan for concealed arms and ammunition.
" And you are allowing porters to walk around the detectors...Do you realise how easy it would be for anyone to put a bomb in the station or any train??..."
Behind me, I could hear a gentle rumbling. Aha, more patriotic citizens making their displeasure felt, I gleefully thought as I wheeled around to deliver a rabble rousing speech....But, much to my dismay, I was faced with a series of cross, disgruntled faces. Someone in the crowd said I should take my argument elsewhere. Another grumbled all too loudly about modern day girls who were all too anxious to seek trouble where it did not exist. People, it seemed, had trains to catch and lives to live which did not offer much scope for terrorist involvement.
As I swallowed down my anger and frustration, the lady Don Quixote in Khaki sought to reassure me
" Don't worry madam...which terrorist will come here? After all, this is Chennai..."

Numb with shock, I could only allow myself to be carried forward by the surging crowd...towards the perplexed rogue porter who was still peering at the streaming information.
I think I shall be a wee bit more careful the next time I am tempted to moan and gripe about Chennai. After all, one can never say when one's words will come back to bite her on her posterior!!!
Talk about cosmic retribution...
* deep long sigh*

6 comments:

Ganga Dhanesh said...

Sigh...

HowYouDoin said...

Today is sunday, so no checking. This is what I heard from a friend who was there in Ernakulam Railway Station.

shail said...

Aaaargh!

Roopa said...

God! I think India really deserves everything it gets. If only there were more passengers who made sure, like you did, that they should be frisked and their bags should be screened, the message would have gotten across.

Miaow!!! said...

Yes Roopa, We have no one to blame but ourselves for the mess we are in!!!
Isn't it amazing that we are willing to write furious reams and scream till we are red in the face about all that is wrong in this country..And yet, we cannot take charge of the environment we exist and operate in!!!

Miaow!!! said...

Yes Indeed Ganga & Shail...

How You Doin, That was as bad if not worse than my experience...