Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Voting in Punjab

For all my US peeps - don't forget to register to vote. It's an important election year in the states and even if you hate all the candidates on the list it's important you go out and pick the one who you think will do the least damage to our country. It's your right to not caste your vote for the candidates you know you don't want in the White House so don't miss your opportunity.

Now, some insight into what life is like during voting season in Punjab. :D

Early on the newspapers starting trying to keep down the incidents that they assumed would happen. That only leads me to believe that in previous elections things got nasty. I also heard stories but I hadn't seen anything crazy so I just kept quiet and listened. However, one news article got my attention. They raised the security threat level here and police were out on the prowl watching people even more closely. I got a little concerned because that made it seem like some of these stories I was hearing could be right.

As the elections grew closer (they were held yesterday on Jan 30) things got more tense and the streets became crowded. Unbearably crowded. We have the misfortune of living one street away from a politician and we've had to find alternate routes home because there was so much traffic in and around his house you literally could not drive a motorcycle through the street! The whole road was taken up by parked cars and motorcycles and I haven't seen a rickshaw come through here in over a week.

Our neighborhood wasn't the only one like this. When hubby and I went out (which we limited how often we went out due to safety concerns and the disdain for this much traffic) it wasn't much better. We routinely have to go through some major traffic zones on a regular day but all this political traffic only made the streets much more difficult to navigate. Hubby has been driving us through what I've decided to call "the ghetto" to avoid the main roads because you almost can't get down them in our area of the city. I've learned quite a few new paths from our house to some of our favorite places during this political season to say the least. I also now know where an abundance of pigs are being raised and I'm even more confident that I will never eat pork in India.

Anyway, let me get back to the topic. Daily we hear school aged children yelling and wailing in the streets and I don't understand all of what they are saying but I know this never happened until the election process got into full swing. So I'm fairly sure they are yelling about something in politics and it's really kind of cute though at the same time loud and annoying. Frequently we heard loud speakers being driven through the neighborhood blasting about the campaign and I chose not to listen to those. I'm not anti-politics, I'm just anti-loud speaker.

I saw significantly less weddings going on. Normally I see at least 2 weddings on every trip out (3-4 times a week) and these last two weeks I went out several times without seeing a single wedding. There were news reports of families moving their weddings because of the liquor ban in Punjab. That's right, no licenses were being granted to serve or sell alcohol so the families took their weddings elsewhere. It seems that in a state that advocates pretty aggressively against alcoholism it would be shameful to hold a wedding with no alcohol. (That's of course if you believe the news reports because in reality pretty much everyone knows many Punjabis like to drink.)

Politicians were also upset about the liquor ban and there were still promises made to give out alcohol and such. One politician was even giving away cars and money if you brought enough voters to his house to vote for him. Made me wish I knew more people here. :D

On election day the streets were fairly quiet in the morning. I was surprised because it was literally the quietest day I've experienced living here. No one was going out and very few people were working either. The news kept calling Punjab a "State of War" and then saying how peaceful voting had been.


  1. it's in every state that they suspend sale of alcohol during election, in order to keep fights to a minumum, or politician to get their way or something. These election enforced dry days come on top of the other enforced dry days in application in each state, the nation wide dry days are Republic day, Independance day and Gandhi's Birthday, but there are some more days depending where you live as well, Mumbai has a whole lot of them because the State of Maharastra has tightened their policy on alcohol consumption, even raised the legal age to drink to apparently 25, which is stupid and no one checks anyway.

  2. Yeah, they do. I read an article talking about how all these weddings where the families were threatening to move them to a neighboring state during those days. It's just sad they thought like that and acted like they didn't know about the alcohol ban in advance. And even more sad they thought they couldn't have a good wedding without it. I think some people need to be reminded the wedding is about the couple and not the guests.