No na? NO!
Yes na, No na. Why na….so on say the current gen. `na’ing evry word is not an unusual phenomenon. In my earlier years we used to say `yes no?’ and sometimes `hye I was kidding no’ and things like that. `no’ing was a common addition to a word or a sentence. But in the paradigm shift of generations no has been replaced with na. Well this article is not about no or na, nor about English and its usage. This is about a ride I am afraid I am going to be taken- a car ride!
I like cars and I like driving. I had a lovely morris minor which I had been driving till the engine died beyond any possible intervention- mechanical or divine. I still have the car in my backyard, with loving memories. And again this article is not about my love for a car. It is about a car which I promised myself that I would love.
I was like one of the guys who claim to be potential grooms and drool at the pictures of women who willingly display their pictures to get selected as a marital mate. I saw the pictures of this car (and many others too) and felt that I had found mine! Like in so many miserable marriages of India, money became selection criteria. This was affordable. This was perfect, like having a wife, who costs very little to obtain and who can be maintained at an affordable level, yet who can be used to go to social gatherings with some form of respect.
Like all those grooms who settle for the affordable and available bride shelving deepika into a reference shelf for fantasy use only, I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of the good day when I could put my hands on the car. Though I would have been termed middle class and just tolerated by the valet parking gentlemen of starry hotels, though this additional object would cause some distress in finding a suitable place to keep, though it may actually be used with a pang of jealousy when an audi or a benz pass by, I was determined. This was going to be my car. `I can and therefore I shall ` was my philosophy for my new found passion. Again, like most of the potential grooms I began to build little dreams about my little car. I had blind faith. I was sure that I would take possession of the car this year. After all this was the year of the Nano according to media headlines. I was right na? I wasn’t wrong no? I wonder!!
With protests in the building site, sincere and real yet political and farcical, the fate of my little car seems to be dangling dangerously awaiting the divine political and saintly business souls to bless and make the project proceed. Again this makes me wonder. And I am not keeping on wondering every now and then because the whole matter is wonderful but because the whole thing is such a brutal slap on my sensibility and I am not even feeling the sting of the pain inflicted on my honour.
The project was declared in the grandiose manner that it deserved. The comrade country that embraces capitalist contribution with cool political sense and alleged social commitment, gave enough (perhaps more) land for the project to commence. There was a small snag at this beginning. The land belonged to poor farmers who preferred to have and use their lands despite the offer of monetary compensation. The disgruntled farmers would in the normal Indian course have been silenced with money or shut up with the strong arm of political law giving them a tight slap. There were protests- mild in the beginning but becoming louder as weeks passed on. Ms.M, one of the many magnetic dreamers of the coveted PM post of the country decided to fight for the down trodden- come on, they have votes. Then began the most disgusting fiasco of the communist state. The CPM in the government condemned the attack on these farmers while the attacks were designed and executed by their own CPM cadres. The pseudo-righteous government was watching their comrades ravage the villagers’ homes and even kill some of them. They were of course as is their wont, issuing statements that were not even from the tongue but from standardized phrases of Governmental apathy and impotence. There were riots, looting and killing. Turmoil and tears, blood and pain in the area did not deter the industrialist from building the factory that was to roll out the dream car which should wipe out the problems of Indians. From the very beginning the place was besieged with problems. And the problems were the result of political arrogance and the industrialist’s ignorant premise (based perhaps on past success) that finally money will win all. It still may, after all a lay person like me has to depend on the news offered by the media who need sensationalism than analytic accuracy nowadays.
This is what I have understood. The project was given land that belonged to farmers who were not willing to give it away for whatever the compensation. This situation was there even on day one when some people would have posed for some photographs marking a new beginning. Despite the protests, the factory did come up, and if current reports that nearly 50,000 workers are unable to continue the work, the factory must have been built over a period of time during which this issue could have been resolved. But with the support of the comrades in and outside the government the factory felt safe. After all these poor farmers can be hushed and pushed away any time! Well, it so happened that these farmers had grit. The courage was born because they were right and grew because they were right about their rights. With politicians entering the fray to maximize their vote banks, the situation just was bound to worsen. Yet the Tatas went ahead. Why? What gave them or rather who gave them the confidence? Perhaps the police and the angry comrades who went after the villagers with unabashed violence would have made the factory a faux fort. Perhaps the political and monetary clout was so enormous that they felt they could go on and do what they wanted.
Then came the show. Live coverage on TV showed the big Tata cramped inside the small Nano but still smiling as he drove it on to the stage. The world gasped and India cheered. The villagers were temporarily forgotten. Cameras had turned away from them though violence had not. India was promised the car before the year ended. Even BMW owners were waiting to buy one just for seeing what it was. Slowly the one lac car was going to cost a `little` more than a lac, said the news leaks. Ok, said simpletons like me. I had even started saving five rupee coins to manage the deficit.
With just a couple of months before the alleged rolling out of the car to happen, Tata became concerned. He is worried. He is pondering. And at times he is even thundering that he would rather lose 100 crore or something like that than put his employees at risk. Oh how sad, comment the media, that he will have to lose that much and once again start scouting for land in some other part of this land. There are still many more farmers owning land. They can still be bought or bullied. All fellow industrialists tut-tut the turn of events. One of them say it will bring down the country’s image. The image that would be unblemished if a few farmers are killed and kicked for wanting to hold on to their small pieces of land. Mamta may feel victorious, Budda may feel frustrated, pseudo communists will feel vindictive, politics will go on.
Tata gets a breather. The car need not roll out now and accrue some loss owing to its ambitious pricing. The villagers and farmers of Singur may get more beatings. Power brokers would make a quick buck to relocate the factory. The common idiot, like me, would have to drive the dream car in dreams till the factory is built and then the car is built!
A shrewd businessman with years of successful mergers, acquisitions and other areas of expertise in marketing as well as management would have sniffed trouble even a week before the factory blue print was put on his table. Yet the show went on. Now, with the dates nearing the moment when the little cars should be clogging Indian roads, he becomes aware of the problems, gets concerned about this employees, bravely contemplates losing hundred crores, but he does not say anything about giving me my car this year!
So what na? No car na! The `na’ becomes ‘no’ again. Roads have gone to the past in which the new car won’t be present. My middle class mindset will start nurturing another dream in utter selfishness and absolute disregard for some poor man who is fighting with tears and blood to save what belongs to him. The businessman would launch another campaign and the media will try to suck me into believing it. Politicians will have a field day. And I will always wait to be taken for another ride!