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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Bihar Yatra - I

Ok folks, the Guru is back. I don’t know where to start from, but allow me to take you from where I ended. That is the last month of the last year. Before I begin, I would like to apologize to my faithful, patient and above all, my beloved readers like Nugget Maven.

I finally made up my mind to visit my parents who I last saw when my granny died about two years back. Though I have always had my mom as my best mate, I was kinda estranged with my father since my childhood. Not that I didn’t respect him, for he is a great learned man, but I always hated his attitude since the time I can remember because of his ideology and thoughts that I never agreed with. Besides, I guess both being big egoists, we were like two swords that could never fit in a single scabbard. Still, I found it that it was my ‘duty’ to see my parents who are now middle-aged and none of our relatives were within 1500km of where they were – Patna, the capital city of Bihar and where I finished my schooling from, and perhaps had some of my most eventful days of my teen life.

Ok, now let’s speak about my Bihar yatra in this post that I promised, for that’s I want to write and that’s I promised you to narrate to; but first a backgrounder.

During my days (that is when my father was transferred to Patna from Assam in 1993), Lalu Prasad was the chief minister of Bihar and his reign is mostly remembered as the famous ‘Jungle Raj’ or the rule of the forest. I used to live in a locality called Shastri Nagar, which was (in)famous for one of Lalu’s relatives called Subhas Yadav. A henchmen of the ruling party of which, Lalu was the chieftain and the chief minister of the state, his terror was palpable in the relatively posh residential area where we resided. That is from there after I went down south to study that my father, who was by then posted elsewhere, shifted residence to a place called Jagdeo Path, some 2.5km from Shastri Nagar.

Ages passed, and Lalu still continued to rule Bihar through proxy by installing his wife as the puppet CM when chargesheeted for many crimes; law and order collapsed totally and criminals ruled the roost. The situation became so bad that even the capital city Patna was witnessing broad daylight murders and kidnappings for ransom. Doctors and businessmen fled the state and to say that anarchy was the rule of the day would be an understatement.

It was in Bihar I founded my first company after my post graduation in business administration during which I also had a three-year long serious flirtation with software programming and hacking expeditions. (The business eventually went down the drain owing to ever-diminishing lack of business from private enterprise after which I founded my current firm in 2003 that failed to make any cut as well incurring severe setbacks and losses until I relocated in New Delhi.)

Anyway, in by 2003 the situation in Bihar worsened so much that within a span of just 2 months, I was finding myself helping two people who were shot by criminals at night, and on both the occasions when me and a few accomplices were returning from a nearby restaurant (it was actually a shack) called Vatika Restaurant in Khajpura near Jagdeo Path. First, it was the obese proprietor of a famous jewelry emporium called Deep Jewelers who was shot at by criminals (maybe for kidnapping or looting while he was returning to his house just about 50 meters from his shop after closing his shop). We were having bottoms-up then after having a fantastic dinner when we heard the shots and the panicked restaurateur was pulled the shutters down when we were still inside urging us to pay the bills and leave soon. We came out and had to wrestle quite a bit to get the fat man in a forcibly stopped auto rickshaw to get him to the hospital. The man survived the bullets, but died within two months following a heart attack.

The next incident was a horrific sight that I shall not forget in my entire life. We (the same guys) dines in Vatika, returned home and were walking in front of the apartment building where I used to live in Jagdeo Path, the rest including my brother went home. We were three of us and I was the only one who had drunk a bit when we saw a man running towards us waving frenetically. I didn’t notice till he came closer that he was holding his face with one hand and waving with the other making some hoarse sound. When I turned back to see the other two guys who were with me, there were nowhere to be seen. It all happened so quickly that I didn’t understand at all what happened. The man came closer, right before my apartment building gate where I was standing. His face was clearly visible by then, I saw he was profusely bleeding and his lower jaw seemed to have been shattered. He was trying to forcibly enter my building when the guard stopped him. I had to shout at the guard ordering him to open the gates, which he did, following which the man entered and sat down on the cemented ground. I asked the guard to bring some water that the man appreciated but could hardly drink. The stench from his blood soaked body reminded me of the abattoirs where we usually went to bring fresh meat during my childhood (and please believe me, it felt just the same).

Even then, I was supposing that the man might have met with an accident and injured himself severely. There was a nephrology hospital called Palm View right in the same lane where my building was. I took him there and asked the man to write down his name and address so that we can inform his relatives, which he did. The doctors there refused to treat him. There were a few attendants of a few patients there who came forward and offered help to me. I hailed an auto-rickshaw and took him to the address he wrote down. The man was remarkably calm, but was already fainting. It was about 15km from the place in the outskirts of the city. It was already 1:00 am in the morning. By then one of the two guys who were with me who vanished in thin air appeared following a few mobile calls. Seeing me doing everything single-handedly also gather some courage and was with me all through out along with a couple of relatives of the patients who were in the hospital and came forward to offer a helping hand. While taking him off, the man showed his bike which was lying down the roadside and I still thought that he met with an accident. We managed to find his address where a marriage ceremony happened a few hours back and seeing him the relatives panicked. They called a car and took him to Patna Medical College Hospital (PMCH). I left my business card to them asking them to update me about his health the next day and we returned home by around 3:00 am. They never did that!

Actually the man had been shot and the reason the two guys fled was that they saw the man was being shot at the head (the bullet actually hit his lower jaw and ripped it). Seeing him getting up and running towards us, the assailants fired once more but seeing some activity in the dimly lit street (as we were there) they turned their bikes back and fled. It was summer, and many of the tenants of the building too witnessed the event from the terrace. I don’t really know what the story was and why he was shot, but I read it in the papers the next day that said that a man was shot and the locals helped him to take him to the hospital. I dunno whether he survived or not.

I left Patna in the winter. I had seen and endured enough and I had absolutely no further hopes about Bihar.

Since then many things changed, I gradually settled in New Delhi, my girlfriend of 5 years dumped me for no reason (apart from I was struggling then) in Dec 2005, worked like a donkey whole of last year and I can safely say that I am much better now professionally and mentally. Lalu’s regime had fallen despite his prophecy that as long as there would be aloo (potato) in samosa, there would be Lalu’s rule in Bihar.

Under this backdrop I went to Bihar to meet my parents for a week and also see my old friends. Patna seemed to have change, there were functioning traffic lights, bus stops repainted, good wide roads and a lot of construction activities were going on. One of my friends were going to buy a car and bankers were willing to finance it (a virtually non-existent thing during my days there) etc., etc.

One of my very old mates, who studied hotel management in the same institute where I did my bachelors degree in business management in the mid-nineties and now a real estate developer (he got a good inheritance) suggested we drive across the Ganges to Vaishali district and have a few drinks and country chicken for we were fed up with broiler chicken and country chicken had become almost a rare and exotic delicacy!

I agreed and went and that would be the second part of the series concluding tomorrow. It will have the story about drive, the quest for the elusive country chicken in rural countryside, my terror of even bringing out my N93 to recieve calls, the Bacardi Blast, an incident and an yet another incident during my train journey back home. ;-)

Au revoir.

1 Comments:

Blogger It's Me, Maven... said...

Namaste!

Glad to see you're back and survived your visit with the folks!

8:24 PM  

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