Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hypothetical Highpitched Highway Hecklers

Hypothetical Highpitched Highway Hecklers

- from the Times of India

Goan for the Jocular
by Cecil Pinto

Next Sunday a meeting has been called, at Campal
Grounds, for all people concerned about the proposed
Four Lane Highway from Kala Academy to Miramar Circle.
Government officials will meet representatives of all
groups and thrash out an understanding and a solution.
Here's a preview of the bedlam that's sure to ensue.
Goa Plus delegated me to have a peek into the future
and submit a Live Report.

Cecil: Good morning folks! Welcome to Campal Grounds.
There's a nice stage been set up with Government
officals all posing for the photographers. The large
crowd gathered here consists of motley groups of
fifteen to twenty individuals each. It's raining
heavily. We are all upto our knees in water as the
Campal Grounds have been declared Water Catchment
Areas in fulfilling the new Water Harvesting objective
of the Goa Government. From 18th June Road to the Don
Bosco School Road and now here in Campal. Soon the
whole City of Panjim is going to be made one great
Water Catchment Area as an example to the rest of the
country to harvest water. Ok! Let's mingle with the
crowd. I see a very lively group making balloon
sculptures, singing off-key songs, painting and what
not. Let's see what they're all about. Hello! Who do
you guys represent?

Bearded Guy: We are Environmental Activists. We object
to the cutting down of the seven Rain Trees. These
trees are part of our bio-diversity. Thanks to
indiscriminate cutting of these Rain Trees we now have
less rain.

Cecil: If there's no rain then how come we're standing
in knee deep water?
And these trees are imported from Brazil, or
somewhere. They are not even native to this country.
And what if seventy trees are planted nearby to
replace these seven trees? Is that acceptable to your

Bearded Guy: No! Totally unacceptable! We will
continue organising these colourful protests. Nice way
of meeting people and getting our photos in
the newspapers.

Cecil: Hello! Yes, you with the spectacles! What group
are you part of?

Spectacled Girl: We are Animal Activists. We oppose
the killing of stray dogs. And we will fight like wild
cats to save them.

Cecil: It's sure raining cats and dogs here. But this
meeting has been called regarding trees and highways.
Stray dogs is not an issue here.

Spectacled Girl: We know. But we've come to protest
anyway. Looks good on our resumes when we apply for
Grants and Funds from abroad. These overseas donors
are big into environmental issues.

Cecil: Ok! And what are you Heritage Activists doing

Kurta Guy: This has very much to do with heritage.
Some of these Rain Trees are three centuries old.

Cecil: These trees were planted just a few decades
back. The oldest is about fifty years. Why don't you
do your homework!

Kurta Guy: Everyone's jealous of us because they can't
organise Festivals on the scale that we do. Bah!

Cecil: And you Sir? What does your big group of pot
bellied men in dark glasses, all holding very visible
cellphones, represent?

Cellphone Man: We are Government Contractors. We think
there should be a Eight Lane Highway here, as well as
a bypass to Altinho and a bridge to Verem and a subway
to Mapusa. We love tenders.

Cecil: And this small group here looks very defeated?
Ma'am, what do you six people represent?

Sour Face: We are the people who own properties on the
side of the road. We are the original Miramarites. We
had signed an undertaking that we would allow our
fencing to be broken to make way for road widening and
now we have to stick to that agreement.

Cecil: But what are your views on the trees and the

Sour Face: Who cares? Last year we opposed the tree
cutting. This year we want the trees cut. Cut them
all. Reroute the highway through Tonca.
Whatever. As long as we retain our precious fenced
properties that are now worth ten times what we paid
for them. That's all we are bothered about.

Cecil: And this largest colourful gang over here? Nice
young college girls and boys. Bright, smart people.
Nobody above thirty in this group. These youngsters
are our future. Let's see what they have to say. Hello
dearie, what does this huge group represent?

Cute Smart Girl: We represent all the residents of
Miramar and Campal, and in fact the whole of Goa. We
want broader and better roads. We want a clean
environment. We don't want stray dogs. We want
whatever's best for the whole of Goa. We want progress
and development. And yes we want trees too.
Lots of trees. Cut seven trees. Cut all thirty six
trees if you must. But before that plant seven hundred
trees in this area to compensate. Let's move forward!

The humour column above appeared in Goa Plus, the
Friday Magazine section of The Times of India, on
18th July 2003.
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