Thursday, May 24, 2012

Celebrate harthal...the new political festival of Kerala

Yesterday our government hiked the petrol prices by Rs.8.50, which is a steep increase. Increase in the fuel price is vital to manage the spiraling fuel prices and the declining rupee, and at the same time it dents the common man's pocket. As expected, we (again not the public, but some political leaders) retaliated with a harthal. What is a harthal?, it is a form of strike where all the establishments are closed from 6.a.m to 6.p.m. Sometimes there can be processions by political parties, blockages of roads and stone pelting. Harthal comes without much notice period, hence be prepared for one, any time. The reason for a harthal could be anything ranging from Obama's foreign policy to some one beating up a private bus conductor for misbehavior (because he is part of the union). Who can call for a harthal?. Anyone can call for a harthal, and depending on their clout (rapport with the underworld, which is linked to politics) it gets implemented (definitely not on the merit of the cause).

We, the Keralite have mastered the art of celebrating harthals. It is a day when nothing is available outside the home. It is a day when there is nothing to do. I just love it. Sometimes it ends up in very creative pursuits like painting, writing, better communication among family members, cleaning the room etc ..for us. For some, it is a golden opportunity for drinking from morning till evening. I do not know how true it is...there is rumor going rounds which says 'Kerala government makes record income during harthals from the liquor sales, as it is controlled by the Government'.

Here are some more ideas to really make the harthal really enjoyable.....

1) Go for cycling in the city. You will really enjoy it because, during harthals, the roads will be empty.
2) Cook a new dish
3) Sleep well
4) Go for a long walk
5) Jog
6) Make a blog post
7) Watch a good malayalam movie
8) Read about Kerala (the places to visit next)
9) Rework on your schedule
10) Yoga and meditation

The possibilities are many. As the wise say, everything is in the mind. Either you can love it, or you can hate it. I see harthal as a god sent opportunity to slow down a bit. I am eagerly looking forward to the next harthal. I see them as the political festival of Kerala.

Note:  Another chronic form of protesting is the Bandh. During the bandh day, no private vehicles are allowed on the road. On a bandh day, one can really get struck, especially if you are at no man's land like  an airport. Bandh happens very rarely these days, where as one can expect a harthal at least once a month. 

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