A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving. -Lao Tzu
In case you haven’t seen my tweets or Facebook updates, I’m currently in India. My visa was finally approved, and I excitedly embarked on my first trip eastward. It’s business that brings me here, but I’ll have a few days to explore after my work is done.
Everything has been going well in Bangalore until our training was called off today because of some unrest in the city. It turns out that a strike called a bandh was imposed by the ruling party in the Indian state where Bangalore is located.
Bandh (Hindi: बंद), originally a Hindi word meaning ‘closed’, is a form of protest used by political activists in some countries like India and Nepal. During a Bandh, a political party or a community declares a general strike.
Often Bandh means that the community or political party declaring a Bandh expect the general public to stay in their homes and strike work. The main affected are shopkeepers who are expected to keep their shops closed and the public transport operators of buses and cabs are supposed to stay off the road and not carry any passengers. There have been instances of large metro cities coming to a standstill.
Bandhs are powerful means for civil disobedience. Because of the huge impact that a Bandh has on the local community, it is much feared as a tool of protest. From Wikipedia.
Sitting in my hotel room today, I’m trying to get a sense of what’s going on outside in the city. I don’t want to walk into a bad siutation, but I also don’t want to spend anymore time stuck at my hotel than necessary.
According to the Deccan Chronicle (K’taka ‘bandh’ turns violent), today in Bangalore “[b]uses were burnt, stones were pelted and shops were attacked across Karnataka to enforce a shutdown called by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Saturday to protest Governor H.R. Bhardwaj’s sanction for Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa’s prosecution on corruption charges.” The strike was called from 6 am to 6 pm today, which ended about 30 minutes ago.
What I saw earlier today en route to the office was virtually empty streets and a tire being burned on the road. You can see it in the picture above along with some smoke, if you look really closely. I’ve also heard some reports on twitter that the violence was minimal and is long since over. My local hosts assure me that this kind of reaction is rare in Bangalore.
So as I type this post, I’ve been watching the Chief Minister’s live press conference and wondering what it means for tonight and tomorrow?
I was hoping to exploring the city this afternoon and to take a day trip to nearby Mysore tomorrow, but the bandh has brought with it a lazy afternoon of work and writing. Plan B for sure.
Maybe the return of honking horns on the streets means a return to business as usual…