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Marooned in your own country ... Aila to Amritsar

I caught snatches of the coverage of the cyclone Aila in Calcutta and Eastern India on Bengali news channels. On one side there is the terrible loss of life and property. On the other hand there are people who were out on work and stranded because there was no public transport. My mother and brother were two of those.

Thank God for the metro. That at least helped people to some extent. But buses? No! Taxis? No! Autos? No! The frantic faces of people of TV were really sad to see.

And from what i saw on TV today, it is the same in Punjab with many stranded thanks to the riots there.

And this happens everywhere in India. Whether its in the commercial capital, Mumbai, the ruling party's current darling, West Bengal, the Prime Minister's state, Punjab... any place that you can think of. The calamity could be natural like a cyclone or floods or man made like terrorist attacks, bomb blasts, riots or the current violence in Punjab over the Gurudwara in Vienna.

Innocent people get stuck. And there is absolutely no support from civic systems.

Coincidentally, my mother was stranded when she was twenty five years younger and there were the riots in Calcutta after Mrs Gandhi was killed. We were kids then and everyone was worried as there was no news of her till she returned home after walking miles from work.

Twenty five years later, the only difference is that we knew her whereabouts thanks to her cell phone. She still had to trudge back with no support from the system.

But the metro was there and she did get a lift from a good Samaritan in a cab ... so some things have changed in India. But is it enough?

Talking of mothers my mom in law was sinking in the famous Mumbai flood when once again an unknown Samaritan literally pulled her and got her home safely from her office.

Where is the government machinery when calamities strike us? Why are good samaritans our only hope when we pay taxes obediently? Why do people have to come out in their cars to help people during floods? Why do people have to collect biscuits for terrorist victims in hospitals?

And most importantly why is there no leader out there talking to the people and giving them hope and direction?

Or perhaps that happens only in Obama land and in movies like Independence day.

PS I also heard on news that an elderly lady died close to our place as a tree fell on her rickshaw during the cyclone. Imagine living through the trials and tribulations of life and then suddenly it's over before you realised it thanks to nature's whim. Or worse still, on a terrorist's whim.
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