Why don't I?

I’m in Bangalore. I enjoyed the days of Diwali last week on account of the traffic having thinned to maybe some 50%, but the nights were terrible with pounding sound. Somewhere on my street someone lit a string of crackers at 3:00 AM Friday morning. Back of my house they played music until 3:00 on Thursday. A jeep arrived and the music stopped. But the streets were clear, proving that a good portion of today's Bangaloreans have moved in from other places. Driving around last week, it seemed that our city hasn't lost all its charm.

Work goes on at its own pace for the underground Metro, at the Cauvery Bhavan Road, Bangalore

The papers say the shopping was great this Diwali, but my eyes were on other news. A stray dog came on to the F1 track, which news came as-it-happened on the Straits Times feed via their iPhone app. Fans turned rowdy after a Metallica event was postponed at the moment when the performance should have begun, and the embarrassment trended at the the top on Twitter. I searched for Yeddiyurappa’s pulse in the papers but they were cool to him, and I thought, “it is okay, his matters are between him and his gods, and may God bless him.” In the meantime the papers confirmed that more ministers are being herded to the line that goes to jail. Their leader from Delhi—the valiant Advani—came to town, undeterred by a bomb in his path and the deeds of his best men in his “gateway to the south.”

A debate raged regarding a post by an Indian software engineer which appeared in the New York Times. It is a touching account on why he quit India a second time, and this time for good. It is a well-written piece and though it seems a justification for a decision that is personal, it has stoked vigorous debate and, with a follow-on post from the author, some drama as well. "While I wait," he says in the title to his second post, choosing to take seriously some Indian who has said he will hunt him down.

I am not done arranging my thoughts regarding this, reflecting on some good NRI friends, and some (most) other NRIs who tend to lump every Indian who has stayed behind with the India mess. "Why don’t you…" is a prefix with which an NRI who is a senior executive with a multinational customer asks me questions when we meet twice a year and sit for dinner after work. He is not too different from other NRIs I bump into—on the plane, in a conference, in a hotel somewhere, in India, abroad. Why don't I stop Indian corruption? Why don't I build roads and ports and buy more planes? Why can't I remove the beggars at the stoplights? Why can't I be tough like the Chinese in Indian policy making? How can I be so callous regarding Indian food shortages? And this raging inflation? Why can't I install a better Prime Minister? Chief Minister? Any minister?

Once, while some folks were opposing the hosting of the Miss World competition at the Windsor Manor Hotel in Bangalore, I was stranded with an NRI at the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. I was young then. Maybe I would have liked to see those women; I don't know. But the NRI had a question for me on the subject: “Why do you want to stop that show? Can’t you see how you are damaging the reputation of India?" I searched his face; the man was sincere. I still haven't an answer for him.

How much effort does it take a man, me included, to move his life from anywhere in the world to the United States? To Australia? To England? To Singapore? What does it take to live in India and take the blows? To accept the challenge to contribute here? Can I lecture an NRI? Should the NRI lecture me?

I apologize, dear reader. I have digressed from that nice post by that software engineer. Please go there. While there, please see how in the logo of India Ink the folks at the New York Times have solved the Kashmir problem with one blot of ink. Which a million guns couldn't do!


BBC: Why I came 'home' to India