Disclaimer – Before someone gets offended, I would like to clarify that this article is a complete fabrication of my mind. There are times when I am unable to control the crap my mind doles out and thus I use this medium to clear my head. I would like to believe that all I have written here is fiction, and hope that it never comes true. I don’t even know what triggered these thoughts in the first place.
I hate waking up early…even though my daily duties have forced me to abandon my beloved bed early in the morning, I still hate it. Today was one of those days when I had to wake up early, not to go to my office but to catch a 5:45 AM flight to Zombai; I had spent quite a bit of time and energy preparing for this trip so I got up reluctantly and started to make my last-minute preparations for the trip.
Traveling to Zombai these days is not as easy an affair as it was 15 years back. Things have changed dramatically (literally…there was a lot of drama). Before calling up the taxi to the airport, I made a final scan of all things in my travel bag:
- A 2-day visa to Zombai
- An address proof confirming that I have been living in Delhi for more than 10 years
- Few packets of Maggi which were made in Megarashtra (had to ask my sisters who live in Zombai to courier me some)
- A pair of shirts and 2 trousers both of which I had ordered from an online store in Zombai
- My English to local language handbook.
- Receipts of all of the above indicating that all items were indeed from Megarashtra, including the suitcase.
If the inventory above sounds confusing, you probably need some education. I dont want you to get into trouble when its your turn to visit Zombai.
Some 8 years back there were a few changes made to the constitution of India to include a few restrictions while traveling to Zombai and all cities of Megarashtra. These included:
- A visa is needed to travel to any part of Megarashtra.
- Only short-term visas (2-7 days) would be given to people from outside states to avoid them from settling down in the great state of Megarashtra
- No one from UP or Bihar would be allowed in Megarashtra unless they have a valid proof indicating that they have been living in another state for more than 10 years. (I am from UP, hence the certificate)
- All entrants into the state must address the local people in the local language. Not doing so may attract a series of slapping exercises, which would involve a local hand and the entrant’s cheeks.
- All items used while traveling to Megarashtra should be at least purchased in the state itself, if not manufactured there.
So as you can clearly see, I had to work pretty hard procuring things for my short trip to Zombai. Damn these business visits.
While traveling in the taxi to the airport the driver casually asked me where I was flying to. The concern on his face when I told him that I was traveling to Zombai was not too comforting. In fact, it reminded me of the time some 15 years back, when I was traveling to Australia amidst some cases of racial attacks on Indians. Not the best of the feelings anyways…
After getting to airport, one thing that I could clearly notice was the fact that all announcements for flights to any of the cities of Megarashtra were being made in their local language. Although I had a handbook with me, it was tough figuring out the gate to my flight and the boarding time. After struggling to find that piece of information and going through the security check in, I noticed some instructions in the local language, but I was in a hurry to board the flight and hence I ignored them.
The inside experience in the flight was a riddle in itself…all the instructions, the written ones and the ones being enacted by the air hostesses were in the local language only. I chose to sleep through most of it; I would have anyway not understood a thing.
There were a few more surprises for me as I moved out of the airport after landing in Zombai. Right outside the airport I saw a few people distributing sarees to all the ladies who were wearing western clothes. I asked someone casually why this was being done and they said that the flight instructions (the ones I chose to ignore) had clearly specified the kind of clothing that’s compulsory in Zombai…
Moving further ahead to the taxi stand I heard people discussing whether they should have been bold enough to protest the continuous ranting from one of the political parties about Sachin Tendulkar not being a true local. Sadly, even after more than 8 years of his retirement from cricket, people seem undecided on this topic. As I leant into the conversation hoping to provide a few inputs, I heard a roar from behind. Some people were moving towards me, in fact running towards me shouting something in the local language…I could only understand “UP…UP…” in all the commotion, but it was enough for me to start running the other way round…just a few steps ahead I hit an electricity pole hard and fell down…
As I got up rubbing my eyes, wondering whether these people were actually running after me, and also wondering if there was some special scanning system to identify people from UP, I realized that I was not on the street…I was in fact in my bed, dreaming…thank god.
Feeling a bit more relaxed and safe to be back in 2009, I turned on the television and started flipping through the news channels…as I continued, I immediately realized why I was dreaming the dream I had…it was still not funny though…not even a bit.