TIGHT SECURITY: Central Industrial Security Force personnel were deployed on Kempe Gowda Road in Bangalore ahead of the bandh on Monday. — Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy
Lucky us. Today we are having a state-wide bandh, or strike, to protest the national government’s decision in a water rights dispute our state (Karnataka) is having with the next door one (Tamil-Nadu). Everybody is worried that the protests will become violent; they often do. I think this is the 3rd or 4th one we’ve had since Tom and I got here in August. This bandh is really serious. The argument over water has been going on forever. Every time a decision goes against a state, there is a bandh, protests, violence. One time, no food or other provisions could get into town for 3 weeks. People are worried. We live so far from the action, I don’t expect anything bad out our way. The main road to town is closed or diverted. Schools, business, government offices are all closed. Extra police are at the ready just in case.
I walked to the far gate of our gated housing area today. There are two iron gated checkpoints for cars and pedestrians. One set is right as you turn in from Airport Road. About a block farther in, there is another set of iron gates with a little arm-gate, like you have in a parking lot, that opens automatically for cars with the open device. Both sets of iron gates are usually open; today they were shut fast. A guard used a key to let people in and out. I really wanted to go outside and see what was going on. The guards didn’t want me to go out. “You stay inside Madam. Be careful Madam.” I promised I was just going to the outer gate, so the guy let me out. Then, as I was approaching the second set of gates, I saw Felix and another man coming inside on Felix’s two-wheeler. Felix runs the SAP guest house. We’ve stayed there lots of times and I know him very well. He said “Don’t go out there. It isn’t safe.” Felix does not soft pedal anything!
Here’s Felix cooking during a birthday party we attended recently. He is wearing one of the Holiday hats the Reese-Hassing family gives you at Christmas and New Year.
It is so quiet here today. Usually there are lots of workers gardening, cleaning, running errands; delivery vans, friends coming to visit, the flower sellers, the dhobi wallah (ironing man); people going to work and coming home, laughing and calling to one another. Today, it is silent. I suppose lots of kids are at the pool, they must be someplace cuz there are no cricket games in the streets as is usual. I am going crazy! When I first got here, all the commotion bothered me, now it’s too quiet. It’s the strike, nobody is moving. We’re just hunkering down and waiting. There aren’t even planes–well, a few, but the sky is silent too. Scary.