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Aliens from Outer States

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By Ratna Manucha

I am one of those vanishing breeds of people called locals. Those to the manor born. Genteel, honest, ethical and polite to a fault. We worked hard during the week and looked forward to the weekends when the roads would be relatively empty, and we could visit friends or do a bit of shopping on the side. Meeting the local shopkeepers had its own charm. We would spend maybe a hundred rupees but gain so much more by way of warmth, love and neighbourhood gossip.

Life was idyllic. Till my little town became the capital of a new state and then descended the hordes. And the narrow roads made for small vehicles and tongas that belonged to a different era began to be widened. But how do you widen a road that is lined with trees on both sides? Simple. You cut the trees. Duh.

But there’s more to come. You see, this little town leads up to a hill station called Mussoorie on one axis and the other axis leads up to a pilgrimage route or Char Dham as the route is popularly called. Needless to say, all these roads are now bursting at the seams and people are dying in accidents which are happening on a daily basis. Now, instead of curtailing the visits to these places, someone in his infinite wisdom decided to make new roads and highways to accommodate visitors… the more the merrier. Come one, come all!

Except, instead of merriment there is total chaos. Each year the crowds coming into my town swell. These aliens from outer states come in obscenely big cars, they drive nasty, trying to edge us locals in our sensible little cars off the road, showing the finger on occasions and mouthing expletives, throwing rubbish out of their windows, drinking on unlit highways, and then crashing their cars into unsuspecting locals.

Weekends are another ball game altogether. The main road going up to Mussoorie is clogged. So, who cares? Not the aliens, (who are happy to spend four to five hours stranded on the roads in serpentine queues) but the thing to note is, the locals living in that area, whether on the main road or arterial roads are in virtual house arrest.

‘It’s a Sunday. The roads will be empty so let’s go and visit Sanjiv and Bindiya,’ I remarked to Boss Man. What was I thinking? Was I living in the 1980s? Clearly the heat had got to me and my brain was not where it used to be.

We had barely driven a few yards when we encountered the aliens from outer states, all heading towards you know where.

‘It’s a Sunday’, remarked Boss Man. ‘These days Sundays are not the Sundays of old. You should have known better.’

I should have. The new norms for the weekend state that all locals should safely stay indoors while these aliens from outer states wreak havoc on our roads.

Weekends don’t belong to us anymore. If one is sensible, one plans all work, meetings and shopping on a weekday. That’s the sensible thing to do.

And on weekends wait it out in the safe confines of our homes because the weekends belong to the aliens from outer space.

‘A little bit of aliens in my life

A little bit of rashness by the side

A little bit of crudeness is not what I need

A little bit of litter’s what I see,

A little bit of honking in the sun,

A little bit of music all night long

‘Cause I can’t run and I can’t hide

My town is surrounded

And I’m stuck inside.’

Just the other day a news item reported that these aliens from outer states are returning to their homes from the hill stations due to the warm weather. Yes, high time they realised their air conditioned rooms at home would be cooler and more comfortable. Stay at home, fellas!

Now all one has to do is to wait till more trees are cut for broader roads and the elevated corridor from Delhi to Dehradun is completed.

My poor town is ravaged yet again.

Who cares?

And the Gods are happy in their heavenly abode as more and more people shove and push their way into the sanctum sanctorums to wash away their sins and earn brownie points.

All is well.

Meanwhile, another Saturday has rolled around again and it’s time for us locals to scuttle back into our cubby holes and wait for the weekend to be over and for the aliens from outer states to return from where they came.

(Ratna Manucha is an academician, storyteller, poet, columnist and author of fact, fiction and textbooks for children and young adults. She lives, dreams and writes in Dehradun, her happy place)