Eenie, Meenie, Miney and Mo ended up in the same hostel during their masters program in Bremerhaven. They come from different family backgrounds, different castes and even different religions, but this did not stop them from becoming friends. For the coming two weeks of Easter holidays, they decided to pack their bags and visit different places in Europe.
Their first stop was Cologne. They visited a lot of places including the famous Cologne Cathedral. Meenie enlightened the rest of the group, “it is the largest Gothic Church in the entire Northern Europe, the tallest twin-spired church in the world and is aptly one of the most visited landmarks in Germany.” They all took a lot of pictures. It indeed is a place to visit, claimed Mo; the rest nodded in agreement. Meenie, was feeling proud in his heart because it was his idea to visit the place. For the rest of the time for their stay in Cologne, they visited a near by city Bonn, were they visited the “Haus der Geschichte” a historical museum that depicts Germany’s post World War II history. All four of them were amazed at the way Germany, which was nearly annihilated during the war and had more than 75% of its buildings including age old monuments destroyed by bombings, rebuilt everything in just a few decades.
Later they took an Inter City Express to reach Frankfurt. While sitting in the train, Miney looked at the screen displaying pieces of information like the route, the time to destination and the train speed etc. He pointed out that the train was running at 305kmph and every body was impressed. It was their first time in such a train. In less than an hour they reached Frankfurt.
They stayed in Frankfurt for a couple of days, visited a lot of places including the Frankfurt Cathedral, officially Imperial Cathedral of Saint Bartholomew, the largest religious building in the city and a former collegiate church. Afterwards, they took a flight from the Frankfurt airport which is operated by a company called as Fraport, to Paris, their final destination. They stayed in Paris for two days; Mo suggested that they should take a walk from Louvre Museum to Arc De Triomphe. He had heard from people that it is a spectacular experience. And indeed it turned out to be so. Later in the evening they visited the world famous Eiffel Tower. The ambience and the light shows were just outstanding.
All four of them, completely mesmerized by the locations and the infrastructure returned via flight the next day.
Fast forward four years to the Easter of 2020.
Eenie, Meenie, Miney and Mo, although still friends, had moved to different cities because of their work. This time it was Corona. So, instead of visiting different places, they decided to meet up at Meenie’s place. They brought the booze, cooked a lot of snacks. A lot, why? Eenie has a weird rule, he never drinks at home, although he is more than happy to drink in a bar or in a party; so he is going to hog on the snacks. After the initial chit chat, the conversation became about Coronavirus and India.
“Current Indian government is incapable of handling Covid-19”, claimed Miney sipping his cold beer. It looks like India will get rid of Corona by banging the plates and singing “go corona go” he added. “That was a nice one”, Meenie interrupted, I mean, I don’t know what the priorities of the current government are. But I definitely know they are all messed up. Leave Corona aside, the government has no clue what it is doing in any of the departments. The government wasted thousands of crores in building a statue of Unity. Now they are going to waste several thousands in redeveloping central vista. When the very same money could be used to build hospitals in the country, the government is wasting money in these useless projects. Beautification of central vista; common man, there has to be a limit to stupidity. The government is spending thousands of crores for bullet train. I mean who is going to travel in a bullet train? Who is going to afford the fare? Ambani and Adani? Is the country’s common man paying taxes for them? The worst thing is that the government has literally started selling the national assets like airports to these crony capitalists. And no body seems to be doing anything about it. He took a breather and shook his head in disgust.
Breaking the silence, Mo started. And as if this is not all, the government is more interested in building a Ram Mandir than anything else. Yogi believes changing names of the streets and towns will change the country. How silly is that? The BJP wins only because of Hindu-Muslim polarization. If people start looking beyond the caste and religion, BJP would still be stuck with just two lok sabha seats.
There was a brief moment of silence, every one was staring at Eenie, as it if was his turn to say something. “Don’t you have anything to say or add?” asked Miney.
Eenie had been carefully listening to them. He finished chewing his last bite, kept the plate away, and looked up at the faces of all three.
He said, “I don’t have anything to say, but I do have a lot of questions for you guys.”
Just a few years ago, we did a Euro trip. Miney was literally unable to control his enthusiasm when he saw the Inter City Express running at 305kmph. We are neither Adanis nor Ambanis, we paid just 36 euros per person for the ticket from Cologne to Franfurt. Why is it that the very same thing looks wow in Germany but is just a waste of tax payers money in India?
We flew from Frankfurt airport that is operated by Fraport, no one has an issue with that. Every one seems to be happy about it. But when a private company wins a bid to operate six airports in India, you have issues, you call it government selling national assets to the private entities. As a matter of fact, you now have a problem with Adani Group operating airports but you had absolutely no issues when the UPA1 government in 2006 transferred the stakes in the operation of Delhi International Airport from Airport Authority of India (AAI) to Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), a consortium lead by GMR (64% ownership), Fraport (a foreign company with 10% ownership) and AAI (26% ownership). Why is it that the private companies taking ownership of public properties in Germany is a good thing but the very same concept means government selling assets to private players in India?
On our trip, Mo gave a detailed description of the grand churches we visited. Every god dam city we visited had a cathedral as a major tourist attraction. Why is building a grand cathedral in Germany secular but building a Mandir in India communal? Why can’t a Mandir be of national importance in India when a church can be a national landmark in Germany?
Mo wanted to interrupt, but Eenie cut him right them – I am not done yet, let me finish first. It was you, who heard people claiming that it is an out of the world experience when you walk from Louvre Museum to Arc De Triomphe; yes I agree, it indeed is. But how do you feel when you walk from Rashtrapati Bhavan in Delhi to India Gate? That experience is no where close to the one in Paris and if some one claims it is so, he or she has either not visited both the places or is comatose. And for your information, both the places have the exact the same architecture. Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker while designing Central Vista in Delhi took inspiration from the Washington’s Capitol Complex and Paris’ Champs Elysees. If the architecture is the same why is the experience so different? Why are the buildings in Central Vista so haphazardly built? Why should the government pay extra one thousand crores for renting office buildings for the officials from central ministry? Why does it look so nice to click pictures near Eiffel Tower but is deemed wastage of tax payers money when Indian government sanctions world’s tallest statue as a means to spice up the tourism in India?
And if you think India is poor and hence can’t do the same things that European countries did, let me remind you of the historical Museum we visited in Bonn “Haus der Geschichte“. Germany started rebuilding its more than 70% of its buildings soon after the war, even when they were poor. The country was beyond bankrupt and partitioned in two, East Germany and West Germany with occupational forces taking control. They were facing unprecedented issues like hunger, poverty and humongous amount of debris created by the bombings. The only reason why we see an extraordinary infrastructure here now is simply because they built it then, they started building even when the odds were against them. How many monuments, buildings of national prestige, iconic architectures etc. have India built in last seventy years? I am talking on the lines of Lotus Temple designed by Iranian-American architect Fariborz Sahba in 1986 or Akshardham by Vikram Lall in 2005 or Vidhana Soudha by BR Manickam in 1956. How many more? Or is that it? Where was the money going for all those years? Why does it look cool when European countries invest excessively in infrastructure and tourist attractions, but looks uncool when Indian government does the exact same thing?
If changing the names does not change anything than why did post war Germany burnt down each and every thing that reeked of Nazi regime? We lived in Bremen, how many names did you find that mentioned Adolf Hitler? Westbrücke was called Adolf-Hitler-Brücke before the name change, Rathausplatz was called Adolf-Hitler-Platz before the name change, so on and so forth. The list is extremely long, you know it. Why is it a good thing when Germans change street names that mentioned Adolf Hitler to something else but is not a good thing when Yogi changes names that mention Aurangzeb or Babur or something like that?
Eenie, concluded by saying, I would not have asked these questions to anyone who has not experienced the life here. But you guys have seen it all, lived it, liked it, enjoyed it, saw the trains, the grand churches, the private companies operating public properties and many other things. So why these double standards?
A long moment of awkward silence.
Oh, Eenie is a Sanghi; one Andh Bhakt spotted!!!! End of political discussion. They started playing PlayStation there after.
But Eenie wanted these answers. Eenie wanted to know why certain Indians want to defeat India no matter what. These questions bothered him for the entire year, until he met his new neighbor.
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