10th September 2014 – Kozhikode, India
Some people just need a reason to stop life. Maybe a special day, maybe a dark way, whatever is fair. In India, when someone calls a hartal, everything stops.And I find myself moving around in circles. Or wait, is this a square?
It can be a little frustrating at times to travel through India, because things never go exactly as planned. I should have planned my whole bike trip a week ago, but the stranding episode in Kashmir prevented that. And then, I should have started riding to Kochi, 2 days ago, but the bike needed servicing and it could not be done in one day.
All said and done, I was to pick up my motorbike from the service centre today. I called in around noon, if I could pick it up. Nobody answered. I tried a different number. Nobody answered. I finally called the cell phone of one of the employees there, only to be told that the shop was closed today on account of a hartal.
A hartal is a political equipment that is unique to India. A leftover from the British colonisation days, when the strike action was used effectively to deter the colonialists from running their business, it has now become a totally useless political tool. Almost all parties in India wait for some reasons to put up a hartal. And when it happens, everything in the locality stops, and there is a total shutdown of offices and shops. Today’s reason for the shutdown near the service centre, was that some political activist stabbed another one. The one who got stabbed, got a hartal in his name.
I’m tired of this nonsense by now, so just decided to head to the Mananchira square again, where I stared at the statue in the middle and calmed myself. We both had some thing in common. We were unable to move at the moment.