Off late I have been whining a lot about the inconveniences of living in a small city in Western Uttar Pradesh. I promised myself that the next post in this series was going to be a positive one. One that talks about rainbows, candies and butterflies.
Over the past week or so, I actually had a bit of fun. I celebrated Janmashtami here by visiting the temples and watching all the beautiful decorations and lights. I visited a nearby village and smoked a “hookka” with the members of the Panchayat for the first time. Ate a lot of the wonderful Tandoori Chicken and Alloo ka Paranthas.
But then, something went southwards. As I write this post a curfew has been declared in some parts of the city, and I have locked myself in my apartment with atleast 5 days worth of chips, fruits, drinks and noodles.
(I still have to go to work though)
According to news reports, few days ago a sweeper while cleaning the “Small Streets” of Small City got into a fight with a man over some garbage dumping issue. Soon, I do not know why or how, the argument took a communal shape and before we knew it, people were pelting stones at each other, setting shops and cars on fire. The police force of the Small City soon stepped in and even though the violence stopped, the tensions kept rising when young men of a particular religion were thrown into jail without reason.
Uttar Pradesh have since been making headlines and the word on the street is, things are about to get wilder. My friends from the Small City told me stories of how the police raided the houses of their friends and families at night and jailed them without reason. Ofcourse the so-called leaders have stepped in since then and have expressed their politically motivated opinions and statements.
Communal violence is not new to Small City. There have been many instances during my stay here when these communal spats have taken place, but never before have I seen these instances stretch out for so long.
I will not write about rights and wrongs here, because that is not what this post is about. Instead I will write about how I am passing time when the city outside burns, fights and cries. I hear stories from the locals about how they spend sleepless nights guarding their kids and property, hoping and praying that the police will not show up, arrest a bunch of them, beat them up at the station and throw them in jail.
These days, I keep getting texts and calls from friends asking me if I am doing okay. I have got so sick of them that I have stopped responding to their calls.
“Ofcourse I am fine. Worry about yourself, you loser” I replied to one text message that woke me up in the middle of the night. (Yes I was rude but come on, who sends texts at 1 am to a guy who hates texting!)
So, what do I do all day locked up alone in my shitty apartment. Well apart from a lot of television, I have caught up on my reading. Almost through the “City of Djinns”. Wonderful book about my hometown, Delhi. I have been watching a lot of movies as well. Some good, some horrible.
And the best thing about the curfew is the food. Earlier, I had to walk for 10 minutes to the nearby shop to buy food. I asked them many times to deliver them at my home, but every time they politely refused. But now, that the shop is closed, I just call the owner and tell him what I want. He sends a guy, who for some reason acts like he is peddling drugs when he delivers the food and whispers the amount I need to pay. I like him because he adds a mysterious twist to the otherwise boring activity of buying food.
Also, I do not have to attend boring social gatherings.
“I would love to come but I do not think it is safe. You guys carry on without me.”
So, basically what I am trying to say is that life is actually better here in Small City during the curfew. I hear awesome riot stories. Get my food delivered on my doorsteps. Watch a lot of movies and read a little. And best of all, leave work early.
Hope that the riots never end. Or atleast they introduce food home delivery system here in Small City.