The road almost travelled – A satire on conditions of roads in Nagaland


The first Chief Minister of Nagaland, Mr P. Shilu Ao could not complete his full term owing to internal party bickering and he had to step down in 1966 paving way for Mr T.N. Angami to take over. As Mr.Shilu was leaving for Mokokchung, it is said that the party ((NNO) he had resigned from gifted him with a brand new car. We have not confirmed what the intent of those who gifted him the car was, but we can safely assume that they tanked up the car, gave him the keys and requested him to drive as far away as possible from Kohima! We are unable to confirm whether some brilliant mechanic had done away with the reverse gear at the instigation of the new ruling dispensation, but we do know for a fact that Mr. Shilu never returned to Kohima, or at least to the CMO! His car must have travelled far, but his political journey did not cover much distance.

Our interest, however, is not in his political journey but in his vehicular movement. We weren't there at that time, but going by the road conditions prevailing today, we can imagine very well how it must have been then. Or rather, dread to imagine it! Former Prime Minister of India Mr. Vajpayee who, after travelling by road from Dimapur to Kohima, commented the next day at a press conference at Raj Bhawan Kohima: "I am told this is your best road. And if this is your best, I am afraid to imagine what your other roads would be like" or something to that effect!

We are most fortunate that the Border Roads Organisation is taking very good care of our roads. They not only black-top our highways, but in their infinite wisdom, design potholes to appear every few metres for our safety. I say our safety because knowing us motorists in these parts of the country, the BRO ensures that we do not accelerate to accidents. The BRO knows us only too well! If, in the West, the more decrepit the vehicle the more maniacal the driver, in these parts of the world, it is more likely that the more posh the vehicle the more diabolical the driver! However, whether in the West or the East this fact applies: If a motorist overtakes you, he is a maniac; and if the motorist in front of you is slow, he is an idiot! And yes, while driving on our highways, it will do you good to remember that Left is Right, and Right is Wrong! At the same time, like the Chinese proverbs have it, never let anyone run before your car lest he gets tired; also never let him run after your car lest he gets exhausted! The BRO has so thoughtfully designed our highways in such a way that we can but go at a dizzying speed of 20 km per hour.

Our roads are good attractions for tourism too. Sightseeing is possible only when one drives slowly. Our thickly-vegetated mountainsides would be no attraction if tourists do not stop and watch. But to save time, they can appreciate the natural beauty that the Almighty has endowed us while driving at a snail's pace! If the BRO were to give us replicas of the European Autobahn, our taxi drivers would be zipping up and down at Daytona speeds and the tourists would be clinging to their seats for their dear lives least concerned about the greenery all around. The Tourism department must appreciate and recognize the contributions of the BRO towards ensuring tourists get to see our natural beauty! The BRO is doing great for our tourism!

The national highways we see in other parts of the country are boring: smooth as silk and monotonous! If Lalu is to be believed, he would have made the roads in Bihar as smooth as Hema Malini's skin! But then, Lalu is yet to make his samosas in Nagaland. However, such good roads are very dangerous: The monotony of the drives tend to make the drivers sleepy and we all know that sleeping drivers are not the favourites of passengers because though some drivers die peacefully in their sleep, his passengers usually shout, curse and scream at him as the vehicle they are travelling in plunges down the ravines! No Sir, nothing of this sort will happen since the BRO has cleverly ensured that drivers remain alert and awake all the time commandeering the vehicles from one pothole to another and then on to several others till they reach their destination!

The BRO also ensures local enterprises thrive: garage owners and the mechanics employed in the garages never seem to run out of work since vehicle owners have to change the bushings and shockers almost every alternate day. One must appreciate the BRO for ensuring that our local youths remain gainfully employed in these garages. After all, not every Tom, Dick and Harry can be employed in the Government Sector – not all can be appointed through the back-door!

Also, we must not blame the BRO for the landslides and sinking areas where our roads have almost travelled down the streams – nowhere in the world have we heard of roads travelling, but here, the roads do travel down the slopes! Before chastising the BRO for these journeys of the roads, we must reprimand the rains and the waters that falls down and flows down – why do they fall down and not up?! It is most disheartening that in the absence of proper drainage by the side of the roads, the waters here have not been tutored adequately to learn how to flow in a disciplined and orderly manner so as not to cause landslides and sinking roads. We are yet to comprehend why our water is so disobedient as to flow down the gradients rather than obey the BRO engineers. It is time that the Government, civil society and enlightened people take this matter on a war footing, that is, if their footing does not slip in the mud and muck that adorns our roads!

Our soil is not stable and we are paying the price for it. Though in reality the British are to be blamed for this -could not the British engineers find any other alternative route than to take the present one from Dimapur to Mao Gate? Shame on the British engineers! Just imagine, almost a hundred and fifty years back! Their roads today? Almost un-motorable. Blimey! Them Tommies are unreliable! Could not they align their horse-paths on stable grounds? Roads passing through loose soil! Oh Lord, trust the blighters to do this to us – just like the American missionaries did to us sowing the seeds of Christianity on loose, sinking soil!

Sinking Roads and Christianity? Yes, American missionaries scattered the seeds of Christ on loose soil just as the British engineers steered the paths over loose terrain that, once rain falls for a day or two, the sprouting faith in Christ gets washed down the ravines just as our roads do. Be it Yoga or Heraka, our Deacons fear the faith of the faithful is not strong enough to withstand the onslaught!

So, what do we do to ensure that our Christian vehicles traverse smoothly along the BRO's roads to Pearly Gate? Gain St. Peter's favour by issuing nonsensical condemnations of Yoga, or Heraka!

Get your condemnations published in the local media because seats are limited. Going through the local print media, it would appear that the last thing heard of St. Peter was that he has been using social media, tweeting, "First Published, First Served!"

(by Sebastian Zumvu)

The views reflected in this piece are that of the author and need not necessarily be that of TNT-The Northeast Today