Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cynical about cynicism

The buses to Cole's Park, Bangalore were pretty frequent. According to the BMTC website anyway. G10 from Corporation to my destination. So decided, I headed out to the bus stand near my place and caught the next bus heading towards Corporation. I hadn't been to that part of Bangalore in a long time, if ever. And finding the place I was to be was unexpectedly easy. Though I had no clear idea what to expect when I arrived there. All I knew was that there was some sort of exhibition being held there. And that I was invited to come and have a look around.

The hall was modest and the welcome enthusiastic. When I mentioned the fact that I was invited here to the guy sitting in reception, his smile widened dramatically. After viguorously shaking my hand and exclaiming "excellent" several times, he bade me to enter. The hall was abuzz with the sound of excited discussion. A neat arrangement of tables in four rows of three greeted me. On each table was laid out a project to improve the community we lived in. From trash recycling to teaching run-away children. From saving cuddly puppies from the cruel hands of the BBMP enforcers to a fuzzy concept of eco-management that atleast in my belief was a cruel joke played on the eager visitors. From the completely inane to the very surprising, all found representation here.

Speeches were given. Flyers handed out. Ideas were presented and enthusiastically applauded. I had the vague and uneasy feeling of being trapped in an echo chamber. Any idea, however vague or pointless was hailed as the idea that would save humanity. I wish that was an exaggeration. Amid the din, there were two ideas that caught my imagination. One was about getting the attention of kids that had slipped through the cracks and one was about a mobile science lab with simple easy-to-show setups. Maybe it was my bias towards primary education that was at work here. But I honestly believe that those ideas were worth pursuing. Though one thing was very obvious during the whole thing. The least impressive ideas had the most impressive displays. The team that had come up with the fuzzy eco-management idea even had t-shirts printed out with the logo of the project. Yes they had a logo.

At the end of two hours, I had given my e-mail address to a bunch of people with the desperate hope that they would lose that piece of paper. During which I found myself standing in a queue for water next to a huge pile of used plastic glasses while a project about reducing plastic use stood not two metres away, one fellow handing reams and reams of flyers while his neighbour proudly displayed her poster showing easy steps to save our forests. I left amid a gaggle of excited people animatedly discussing the environmental benefits of using bicycles as they got into their cars. But atleast they were talking about it. Atleast their hearts were in the right place. Temporarily.