Somewhere in the sovereign republic of Mandya

SUNAAD RAGHURAM recovers in the nick of time to write: Having logged more miles on the Mysore-Bangalore highway in recent times than I can manage to remember, I inevitably drove past Mandya the other day.

The blinkered vision while at the wheel, and the ensuing boredom, intermittently driven away by ‘Raaaadio 91 Efffem’, never allowed me to really take in the sights and sounds of life around, beyond the immediate ten feet of asphalt in front.

But on my way back from the City which the world thinks is the panacea for all IT-related problems, the signal turned red on the main road in Mandya, as I negotiated my way through mindlessly strolling pedestrians, dogs, pigs and cows, not to speak of a variety of vehicles whose drivers seemed to think they ancestrally owned that stretch of road since the days when the foundation stone was laid for the dam across the Cauvery in Kannambadi!

Amidst the general chaos, I noticed a man riding a two-wheeler without a helmet. “Does he not have any respect for the helmet rule,” I muttered to myself. Then I noticed another. And another. And yet another.

It didn’t take long for me to conclude that two-wheeler riders in the entire “city” were going about life without a helmet on their heads.

As you can recollect, the helmet rule came into force in the four metropolitan cities of Bangalore, Mysore, Mangalore and Hubli-Dharwad recently after much debate and discussion on the role of the metal fitment on the head in saving the skull in the event of an accident.

But by the looks of it, either the H.D. Kumaraswamy government is sure that the skull of the average ‘Mandyan’ has a reinforced cranium or the Mandyan himself thinks his brain has an extra set of neurons that scoffs at and pooh-poohs any time tested law at any given point of time.

There is surely something about the psyche of the average man on the streets of Mandya which makes him show scant regard for the rule of law. Be it not wearing a helmet or holding up the highway for hours on end for the most inane of reasons. A type of insouciance that is irritating, a kind of attitude that speaks so many things about the debased mental make-up of the citizenry in general.

It is so glaringly absurd and tragic too, that the law enforcers are turning the other way when a whole army of two wheeler riders move about town and criss-cross a dangerous highway without a helmet on their heads.

My mind goes back to the time when a childhood friend of mine did a year long stint as a civil engineer in Mandya. Tongue firmly in cheek, he once told me that he was rudely waved down by a policeman on the main road for having made the cardinal mistake of taking just one man on the pillion!

Mandya that is in India… tujhe salaam!

ps: I read somewhere that India will host a Formula Racing event some time in 2009. To paraphrase QSQTpie Juhi Chawla, ‘Kya country hai!’