09 March 2011

One More Big Day

So, as far as I can tell, the Telenganu people have decided that the best way to show they deserve independent statehood from the rest of Andra Pradesh is to hold rallies and strikes every now and then. They get a bunch of students together, they make shopkeepers close down, they get the police all riled up, they cause traffic jams. But they're very nice about announcing these actions several days ahead of time so you can run out to get groceries before the bandh (strike) and plan your day around avoiding the traffic jam areas. It was exciting and felt so revolutionary when we first got here. Now it's more ho-hum, making arrangements for our housekeeper to take an auto to work because the bus isn't running through her neighborhood, but otherwise business as usual for me. There are always some unfortunate protesters who have run-ins with the police, but it's always foggy as to who was in the wrong in those situations.

For a couple of weeks rumors have been floating around about a Million Telenganu March, inspired by the protests in Egypt. Tomorrow is supposed to be the big day and it's supposed to be the final protest before the statehood decision is made (I think). I don't think they have a million people, but what they apparently don't have is permission to hold a march or rally. The police seem to think they need permission. The protesters seem to think that they don't if they promise to remain peaceful. And student exams are tomorrow so a parents' group has pressured the march organizers to hold the rally in the afternoon, after exams are finished.

I'm curious to see what happens. Either it will fizzle out and be just another day on the protest lines here, or it will be a day of massive protester vs. police clashes and we'll make CNN as the latest regional hot spot.

To all parents and other concerned readers who panic at the phrase "Egypt-inspired": We live no where near the march site and we are staying home all day watching events unfold online. (And hoping the electricity doesn't go out while we run our air conditioner, because afternoon temps are already reaching 100 degrees and it's barely the start of the hot season.)

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