07 September 2005

Its been a hard day's night ....

I have been away for two days now. Not very far. As '52 weekend breaks' says "just round the corner". But it was indeed a far away corner. I traveled down NH17 Goa highway for 170 km to just short of Mahad to conduct a medical camp. Great location. You have everything here. A river, a bit muddy but nevertheless a river, hills, spectacular green now after the rains with a few tell tale signs of landslides, a few diminishing waterfalls, a curving road, now potholed after the rains with immense traffic - why the hell every one is going to Goa on a weekday? On the way I crossed Konkan Railway many times. I remember when I was in college someone had said Konkan Railway was the greatest engineering feat independent India had achieved and we all seemed to agree. Well I had the opportunity travel on it last year and I had high expectations. Yes spectacular sights and a tunnel every 10 mins is indeed a joy for a rail fan like me but punctuality and comfort were two words missing from the dictionary of KR. But I have seen worse so it was still five point something. The country side sights here are good. Sloping roofs of homes thatched with Mangalore tiles and an unbelievably green landscape. Development? I had read some time back regarding the relative lack of development of the region, its inaccessibility and the vagaries of nature all forming a vicious cycle as they often do with minor change in script al over our country. So here I was looking for signs. Well I got pretty anbiguous ones. May be because I did not venture far from the highway. There are roads, electricity, schools, health care ( although a little shaky), representative grassroot democracy ( how effective and how representative?). But then delve a little deep. The classification of society and the people who are in the margins - the adivasis. There is a palpable difference in the way the goods have reached the various classes of society. Well it would be too much for me read into it after all I was there only a day. The other amazing thing which I noticed was Timelines and their relative variance. Mahad, 52 weekends, claims is just 4hrs drive well for us it took nothing less than 6.5. Well there was a traffic jam and we could not travel fast as we had 4 huge behemoths in tow who were not sure of the way so it was more like herding cattle than cruising on a highway. But then I met people who have claimed they have done it in 2.5 ( in their SUVs). I could gauge a remarkable difference in perspective regarding the same landscape. Time to go back to 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance'. Signing off for now.

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