It was a romantic evening. The sun had set pretty soon than the other days. Normally during such evenings, I would be at my place, reading a John Grisham novel, or watching “Castle” on Fox Crime, but not today. Today I had to be somewhere else, some place that I had not visited for a long, long time.
I looked up at the sky; it was pitch-black. It looked like it was going to rain heavily. I hurried past the others who were walking slowly. I reached the bus stop. I opened my handbag – a Gucci, and took the umbrella. I didn’t know it was going to rain; else I wouldn’t have worn the Sari. Some of my Indian colleagues wanted me to tie a sari as they felt it would be good to wear one today as it was coinciding with an Indian festival. I didn’t know why Indians wear Sari. Not that I am not an Indian, I am, but just in my documentation proofs. This is the first time in many years that I am visiting India. I actually have a free pass, to travel to any country but then, I wanted to come to India. I had an unfinished business here to take care of in India – a land of varied cultures and traditions, a land of festivity, a land of vibrant colors and religions and also a land of rich cultural heritage… or so I thought.
The bus came to the stop in about ten minutes. As usual it missed the stop and halted a few meters away from there. People rushed onto the bus. I always wondered why in India one cannot follow the rules laid by the Government. Then it immediately struck me, only in India, government officials do not take public transportation to their offices. They have their own mode of transportation. Then how will they know the plight of a common man. They just lay the rules but do not bother to check why the rules are laid. Not even one Government official can tell what the clause number is, for traffic violation, other than the Traffic Inspector.
I boarded the bus. The conductor (ticket collector) was in the front side of the bus collecting tickets, harassing passengers to give change properly. I have wondered why we can’t have automatic ticket collection booths as in other countries. Again it struck me immediately that if we have automatic ticket collection booths, chances are high that the very next day it would have been stolen and sold off to our same Government with a change in name and at a higher cost in the black market.
I was watching the breeze blowing on my face from the window from where I sat and saw a big advertisement hoarding that was set up, for a shaving razor. I laughed at it so loud, but people were busy gossiping as usual that they did not even consider me there. The reason I laughed was that for a shaving razor, there was a lady dressed scantily holding the razor and the guy for whom the razor ad was for, was standing at the woman’s back, smiling and holding neither the razor nor the woman. Again only in India, I could see such use of the women sect in public. Not that I am a female chauvinist. Just that, Indian women themselves do not understand where they belong. Other than the fact that they are born in India, they are not using any Indian products, from their clothes to their accessories, they follow the western culture. From food to size-zero, they adapt the westerners and the irony is that the westerners come to India and study our culture. How many of us, Indians study our culture?
The ticket collector had forgotten to ask me for my tickets. So I alighted from the bus near my stop and sprinted to the place where I wanted to go. After about ten minutes, I had reached the targeted place.
A sense of disappointment came over me. I had expected to see the Big Banyan tree, but all I saw was a mall built in the place of the tree. I shouted at the security guy who was busy texting someone in his mobile. The mobile was the size of a big notebook. Ironically they called it the Note. I did not understand why people misuse the use of mobile phones. Cell phones came as a replacement of pagers which would send a message to a targeted recipient, it was essential because people from two countries can connect in seconds. But then commercialization took over. From texting, people wanted music in their phones, so Frequency Modulation came into picture (FM).
Later they wanted their own playlist of songs to be listened, so music player was added, they couldn’t use Mathematics using the knowledge they acquired from their schools and universities, they needed calculators. Later they wanted to capture photos and moments of their life, so camera was added. They wanted voice and movement to pictures, so video capture was added. Once captured they wanted to send them to others, Multimedia Messaging Services were introduced, but since the captured file sizes were more, MMS took a long time and a heavy amount from the pocket and hence they added Social Network connect. They needed to capture pictures at night, Flash was introduced. So, the phone which came to light for only sending messages became a smart phone that could do anything a person wanted to except that the once termed communicating device became smart and the person who is using it is not called smart yet.
In India, there is a rule that if you are in the age group of 21-23, you can marry and until then you are a minor. But when a child is in Pre-Kindergarten, the child can listen to songs, capture pictures and can even post a like in Face Book using a smart phone.
All these thoughts kept circling in my mind when I saw the mall. Why build the same kind of malls which offer the same services, in every area? Through commercialization, India, the land of heritage has become a dumping ground. The Banyan Tree that was there for more than two decades have been cut for opening some mall which does not represent the country in any ways possible.
I remembered the days where I had stood under the shades of the Tree, where I had eaten my lunch, where I had played hide and seek with my friends; I remembered the tree which was firm from the ground above, which had stood there amidst nature’s fury, which had given shelter to numerous exotic birds that flew and migrated from all over the country, which held India’s pride high for two decades and I just closed my eyes, tears running down my cheeks as I bid farewell to the place.
I was depressed because I had waited 200 years to visit this Banyan Tree where I left my last breath. Now I have to return to my grave with sad memories of the place it has turned into but deep down in my heart, I would never forget the Big Banyan Tree.