I am not a very keen follower of politics. I do try and keep track of things when elections happen but not much beyond that. But I do know how elaborate a process it is back home and how poll fever grips the entire country.
Being a newcomer to South Africa, the lack of hoopla surrounding Wednesday’s general elections is one of the several things to have struck me in this beautiful country. The newspapers and TV channels are full of it and lampposts have pictures of political leaders but compared to India, things are really quiet.
After five days in Cape Town and one in Durban, I have not seen rallies halting traffic and not heard public speeches pledging everything from cheap rice to uninterrupted supply of water or electricity. Nor have I noticed any aggressive campaigning of the kind you can’t avoid in India. Again unlike back home, elections here will be over in a day.
Not that people here are disinterested in politics. In my hotel in Cape Town, the staff watched election-related programmes on TV instead of IPL. They do partake in their own political debates but unlike in India, I never got the feeling that public life was affected in any way by electoral activities.
Despite my indifference towards politics, I do enjoy the excitement in India during the polls, especially when the results start coming out and the number game begins. What I don’t like is the way it disrupts our daily activities. The absence of such disruption here has been a pleasant surprise in that sense.