The pothole in Berlin

The other day on my way to office, I saw a sight thats so rare, that in the 9 months that I have stayed here in Berlin, I have seen that sight just once. That sight was the sight of a pothole. A pothole the size of a volleyball. That was to my knowledge, the one and only pothole in Berlin.

I have known Germans too well for too long now. I took a picture of the pothole on my cellphone -- I ll tell you why -- coz 36 hours later, the pothole was gone. I knew this was going to happen. Only, I didnt expect this to happen in 36 hours. For the Germans, a pothole was a national crisis!
As I walked to my office that day, a thousand thoughts flooded my mind.

I remembered the bumpy rides in my own country. I remembered cursing the government, the officials... I tried to remember when was the last time road repairs took only 36 hours? It usually took months of complaining or an accident or better still, a visit by a politician to that road.
People like me, who love their country, start defending their own arguments which expose our incompetencies. Berlin is rich, I thought - they can afford the repairs - we dont have money - maybe one day we will have money - then we ll see...

The truth is - in PPP terms, Mumbai is richer than Berlin. The truth is - we cant hide behind the developing country tag anymore. A boy becomes a man when he takes responsibility for his actions. Maybe its time that we, as a country, grow up.

Honesty is such a virtue. Why have we put people who dont have any in positions of power?

The other day, at a high profile meeting here in Berlin, during a presentation, the name of India came up. The presenter talked about the CommonWealth games fiasco. The theme of the presentation had nothing to do with The commonwealth games.Cheapshot? Yes. It was. It made me cringe. The news reports about Kalmadi never bothered me before, but that day, they did.

And I am sure all is forgotten back home. I have no access to Indian news channels but I am sure news channels must have found a new topic to discuss. I am sure Dhoni's bike/hairstyle or Katrina Kaif's legs/cleavage forms the crux of the breaking news.

Why are we so complacent? Are we so big a country that no one is ready to take responsibility for anything? Are there so many people in there that its easy to find someone to put the blame on?

Do I sound to harsh for your Indian ears? Well, I am just being honest. And you know it.

And its not just us who are like this. I talk to a lot of people around the globe(except India). There is a marked difference in the people from the developing countries and the developed countries - It doesnt really matter what continent the countries are. People in Japan are similar to Germans when it comes to work ethic. While there are a few other countries, which remind me of India sometimes.

Back in India, in MDI, Gurgaon, when we saw our European friends complain about stuff, fight for what they thought was right, while we used - "chalta hai" attitude, each one of us thought they were being fussy. But now that I see them fighting for what's right even in their own country, I understand what their culture is all about. If something is not as it should be - it should be reported. It should be changed. Put into order. That explains the 36 hour repair of the pothole.

I am not saying we should mimic the west. In fact I strongly suggest that we dont. I am just saying, perhaps being complacent is not the best approach to being a successful nation.
Being colonized is the worst thing that can happen to a country. It's worse than losing two world wars. It's like being in a war for 150 years and losing it every year. Little by little, the soul of the nation is dies.A fractured, frail soul takes its place. What follows is appreciation towards the ruler and disrespect for self. This is why we regard learning English as more important than learning other Indian languages. This is why we buy "imported" stuff, even if its made in Taiwan. I have a German friend who I met the other day. She had worn her grandmother's earrings. Of course they were classy and subtle. My question is, how many of the girls in India would wear their grandmom's jewelery? If I was a girl, I wont. They would be too gaudy for today's generation. But arent we supposed to be gaudy? Look at our weddings for example and then compare it with theirs. Look at our festivals then have a look at theirs. Around 200 years ago, not a long time for a country whose civilizations dates back to 2600 BC, we would have been very comfortable in our skin. Now, we are just wannabes.

I dont know if you remember, but around 15 years ago, Doordarshan would show the Population clock everyday at 12 noon. It had this ticker which showed a number close to 92 crores (India's population at that time). It was supposed to spread awareness about family planning. In school you were taught that India's biggest problem was its population. Now, they say we a country of a billion opportunities! In 15 years, we could change the way people think. How many countries in the world have seen that kind of turn around? If you ask me, this quite a time to be born.

GDP without freedom, is just a number - ask the Chinese. Economic superpower, new world, fastest growing economy order are just words - if we cant pull our act together. Being the strongest economy in the world would make no sense if our roads are pothole ridden. Of course, there are other bigger problems. I am talking in figurative terms here.

We dont need to do anything path breaking here. All we have to do, is try our best at doing whatever we do. All we have to do, each one of us, is to take responsibility of our actions. All we have to do, is just try a little harder - 'Cause the best thing about being a billion people is -- even if all of us try a little harder -- its actually... a lot.
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10 letters to the editor:

    excellent post.....appreciable one by Berlin.....

    BTW the question that has been raised a lot more times before and I'm just quoting it once again that who will make Indian leaders aware of the situation(when everyone seems to be corrupted)?

    I know when it is said, many people come up asking why don't you young people come forward??
    But before I answer the above question you just answer me that why are we always suppressed everytime we try to take such steps.....

    On November 28, 2010 at 7:18 PM     
    Nupur said...

    When i was reading this post, I thought I was dreaming! Because I have an International Business paper tomorrow and I've been breaking my head over it since the past 2 days, and then this post!! PPP and GDP!
    Yes, Katrina's Sheela ki jawani is in the news.... CWG, Adarsh and 2G are all forgotten!

    On November 28, 2010 at 9:58 PM     
    rahul said...

    Nice article bhai... i think we are too adaptable (more than required) now whether that's a cause or effect is debatable... Though a very recent event wherein the people of Bihar for perhaps the first time voted for pleas of development and good governance rising above the petty politics of caste and freebies...
    May be Boys are finally becoming Man...or atleast there is some hope...

    On December 5, 2010 at 5:31 PM     
    Anu said...

    Good one! I have been reading your blog for a while now.....and re your comment on my blog, I wonder how my posts would come on your reader unless you were following mine... no idea really...

    Excellent post..taking the bull by its horns..Its an honest assessment of the current prevailing problems in our country ...
    Came here for first time and feel like coming again and again for reading quality stuff...

    Excellent post..taking the bull by its horns..Its an honest assessment of the current prevailing problems in our country ...
    Came here for first time and feel like coming again and again for reading quality stuff...

    well u cant change habit...we are just one bunch of hard willed lazy ass...its hard to get us into action

    not dat i m justifying...just dat i m tired of complaining...lets do our bit and not force oders to do their..coz we kno its anyways futile

    You make a good point. We should fight this and come up..

    Glad I could help :)

    Haan bhai... things are definitely changing.. but they have o change fast.


    You make a good point. Thats what is under our control. We can do only our thing and expect everybody else does theirs.

    Noble thoughts. But quite useless. Hopefully for only a few more generations though.

    Let me put forth my argument.

    It is not that we (the ones who share your thoughts, the ones who want change) do not act. I believe we all do act our parts. We take responsibility for our actions. We do try a little harder.

    But the problem lies in the fact that it is not the billion people who are trying. It is still a tiny minority. And in a democracy, by definition, we are powerless to effect any change that the majority does not want (although "need" would probably be more accurate).

    I think this scenario is going to continue for at least 2 more generations or around 30 years. By that time, I think / hope / pray that the percentage of Indians worrying about problems beyond "roti kapda makaan" would have increased to a significant one, and only then will the collective consciousness "mature".

    Just my $0.02

    On April 5, 2011 at 1:54 AM     
    Stup-pid said...

    Interesting read. One simple question: The article has pointed out about the typical "chalta hey" attitude of us as a nation. But, where is a tangible solution which is smart and implementable? When ever I read such an article, I keep waiting for a solution which can actually be made to work in the 'Indian' scenario. I appreciate your ideas and thoughts. But, please also take some time to come up with solutions that are smart.