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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

Highway terrorism, no joke!

Khushwant Singh, Hindustan Times   November 01, 2012
First Published: 13:39 IST(1/11/2012) | Last Updated: 19:34 IST(4/11/2012)

“Oye! What’s wrong with you Common Singh?” I asked, surprised to see the commoner at my house for the second time in a fortnight.

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“Sirji, everything is ‘ulta pulta’,” he replied in a tone which sounded one of worry.

“Why, what happened?” I asked and kept my fingers crossed hoping that he didn't come with a ‘sifarish’.

“I am feeling very bad about Bhatti ji's death,” he said in a sullen tone, which surprised me with
the fact that Jaspal Bhatti's satire had percolated down to him.

"Same here, Common Singh,” I replied and explained him how shocked I was to hear the news of his death.

Perhaps the guys in the heaven were really bored that the administrators there decided to pick up Yash Chopra and Jaspal Bhatti for their own entertainment.

As I said this I could not hold back a smirk since I was reminded of one of Bhatti's jokes in his TV show Ulta Pulta.

In this particular episode, he is seen sending sugarcane to the girl he is wooing, as fruit. Influenced by this joke, I had played the same prank in college. By the way, the lady who received this memorable gift, if you are reading this, may I request you not to utter a word? I promise to compensate with some tangerines from my farm this year.

However, having confessed to this act, which was totally inspired by Bhatti's joke, I must admit of not being a great follower of his jokes. I always thought I could crack better ones.

And for Yash Chopra, my position on romance is already established with the sugarcane episode. How not-Dilwale-Dulhaniya I am.

“Sirji, berry good observation about Yamraj being bored,” said Common Singh reminding me of his presence.

“And what better place to pick up folks than the Punjab highways where no safety or traffic rules are followed. I wonder how many more people these killer roads will consume,” he asked, his voice full of pain as if he had recently lost a dear one to a road accident.

“Good question Common Singh, because another vibrant voice was muffled by a Punjab highway. Amrita Chaudhary, a journalist with the Indian Express, died recently after the taxi in which she was travelling collided with a car near Ludhiana. She loved you Common Singh and would call up sometimes to check on you.

“Very ‘afsos’, sirji.”

“Common Singh, I am told you have bought a new scooter. Watch out when you are out on these highways. These highways are terrorist havens. Koi thaley dey dao.”

“Terrorist havens, sirji? Eh kidaan?”

“A terrorist is a person who terrorises people. And the bus drivers of transport companies such as Orbit, Kartar, Libra, etc do nothing but terrorise people with their driving.”

‘Paasey ho’, the pressure horn, the overtaking…. I am told the Punjab government feels that imposing fine and punishment for traffic offences can have a negative impact on votes. ‘Marda hai, mar len diyo is the easy way out than to slap challans. The impotence of the government can be judged that despite a court order, it hasn’t been able to take off the pressure horns from trucks and buses.

“Very horny they are sirji.”

“Indeed,” I said, laughing at Common Singh’s remark.

“So, sirji what is the illaj of these people,” asked Common Singh in all innocence.

Will the Punjab government come clear on how it wants to control this menace of highway terrorism? Not controlling this ‘ulta pulta’ traffic amounts to giving Yamraj a free run.

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