Thursday, April 24, 2014

Indelible inking

If you are from Salem/Erode/Tirupur/Coimbatore or nearby towns from these places and earning a living in Bangalore, chances are very high of having traveled in Kurla Express - and then spending 2-3 hours in station after beating traffic.Yesterday was no different. Having arrived at 10 PM, various PA and screen displays kept pushing the arrival time and just before midnight, announcements stopped altogether leaving us travelers lurching in the dark. Talked about an hour with a friend and then was unexpectedly joined with college mate with whom I used to commute in train.

Train eventually arrived 40 minutes into April 24th morning - famous day for cricketing religion, birthday coinciding with writer friend of mine and three other in my FB list. Travel further spoiled by no water in coaches, frequent unscheduled stops and body deciding to fall sick.

Arriving at Tirupur to lot more humidity and heat than Bangalore, I was greeted with large crowd queuing inside a school, policemen guiding and controlling movement of vehicles, various parties lined up outside the school to help with voter slips (incase the slips didn't arrive at their homes) (along with last minute canvassing).

I freshened up, had Mom's delicious Parantha and masala tea (I never have managed to make it taste so good). Was given detail info like exact queue to stand, signature & inking process  and which numbered row to press the button - you see, it is first time my name's been issued in voters list.

My father too repeated those instructions and also let me know that cell phones aren't allowed inside school premises. He dropped me outside the school and indicated the line to stand behind. I entered, went past bunch of policemen and policewomen and stood behind 40+ men. Separate queue for women. Total three polling booths - for different wards. I looked up my voter-id and voter-slip, could verify the numbers mentioned and that written on wall beside the entrance to polling booth.

Picture used from this link
Like the other school I saw in the morning, there was provision to get the voter slips incase one didn't get it. Some were outside the school and one inside. Sizable crowd there too. Police personnel frequently helped in indicating which queue to join and preventing people to linger around.

Some people still carried mobile with them, were told to switch off. We were standing in the shade of large Neem trees with gentle breeze around. But that also meant some were sprayed with crow blessings. A pot of water covered with a plate and plastic cup placed on top of it quenched our thirst. People mostly were middle/old aged, some come along with their kids and only a few handful like me in 20s :P Bit congested to have three polling booths, so not much arrangement to seat the elderly (they sat in veranda as best as they could and accommodated by others).

The queue was slow moving and I spent time reading the list of candidates and party symbols (read it in Tamil, no less :P). The list was divided into national parties and local-parties/individual candidates, plus NOTA (none-of-the-above option). One name featured thrice with different initials and few others were similar. Other details like locality names under the ward, voting help, etc were displayed too.

Once inside the room, I noticed a bit more of the voting process. There was a guy with laptop, net connection and some gadgets (presumably recording the events), a place for polling officer, an assistant officer who collects final slip before one goes to electronic machine, bunch of poll workers noting down number and name read aloud by conducting officer and another to get signature/finger-print and ink the finger. Frequent assistance was especially given when aged people with difficulty in eye sight went to the machine.

So yeah, I have voted too :) Then walked back home (about 1.5 km) with Sun raising the heat and my sickness.

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