Security….. whats that?

. Saturday, February 10, 2007
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I attended the University of Madras’ Sesquicentennial Year Commemoration lecture.

The security was impressive. When I saw police men in large numbers outside the university I had no clue which VVIP is going to come there. I was stopped by the security outside the university’s entrance. In spite of showing my ID card, he did not allow me in because I could not tell him exactly why I was there. It did not make me angry. Obviously, it was my fault. In fact, I was thrilled that I am going to attend such an important function. After a few of my classmates reached the place, we managed to convince him that we will pose no threat to the visiting VVIPs.

After gaining entry into the campus, we realized that we will not be allowed to enter the Senate hall, without an invitation. And, we did not have any invitation. We were asked to wait. Again. Meanwhile, I found a place under a tree. There were too many uniformed men and women. Curiously, none seemed to worry why we were standing there.

After some time, thanks to the a few class-mates’ enthusiasm, I found myself waiting to register outside the hall. After a few questions, I wrote my name down on the piece of paper provided to me wondering whether I need to sign. There was no time to ask such questions. I was stopped (again), at the entrance to the hall by two men. These guys looked just like those you find in movies. All that they lacked were a pair of sunglasses. It was a little dark there and that’s probably why they did not wear them. One of them searched me and checked my bag. Well, I did not expect that. When he felt something in one of the compartments of my bag, he got interested. He started taking out all the contents. I am no terrorist. There were just pens. Old pens, that is - all those that I found difficult to part with for the past six months and kept them well-protected in my bag. It was time to get embarrassed. He took out all those bits of paper – bills, photo covers, etc., that were in my bag. Then he found a calculator. The one I had been using for over 7 years now. (Now, you know…. I can’t let go of things I love). After checking whether it is some kind of a remote control by ……. Well, pressing some buttons randomly and finding out if anything blows up. There was no explosion. He proceeded to the main section of my bag. It had my water bottle in it. He checked the base of the bottle. That reminded me of some report I saw on BBC recently about the gadgets, the 21st century terrorists use. Did he think I could be a terrorist??????? Well, when that question formed in my mind, I could feel myself smiling.

Anyways, I was happy that they were doing all they could to keep the place safe.

After all that, I entered the hall. It was impressive. Not magnificent or spell binding, but impressive. I found a seat in the middle of the hall. I was able to check out the building properly from there. I had plenty of time to do that as we arrived 30 minutes before the VVIPs. At the beginning, I pitied for my lack of artistic intelligence to appreciate the art works there. After a few minutes though, I managed to find places where renovation was either incomplete or was so badly affected that efforts to renovate was not successful. I realized that the hall was no where close to perfection. The hall looked pretty small. Smaller than what I expected.

There was a mild music playing at the background as people settled down. It was nice. My attempts to identify the instrument used to create that music reminded me of my ignorance about music.

The PM arrived 10 minutes late. People in the hall became silent as soon as he sat down. But no one had any control over the noise from the beach road traffic. Now I realized that the hall was not the best place to listen to speeches. The echo in the hall made it very difficult for me to comprehend the PM’s accent. The silence in the hall also revealed the University’s mark - the screeching noise from one of the electric fans. Again, the echo prevented me from zeroing in on the source.

After the lecture, the PM was ready to be brainstormed. He took only a few questions. One interesting question was from a middle aged man who asked his question in a language that many like me assumed it to be Italian. He asked the PM about Italy recognizing India as a major tourist destination. The PM was generous and answered in his fluent English - or so that’s what I believe.

I did not find any security personnel at the entrance/exit. Fortunately, I did not have to go through that again.

What did I learn from this?

The Senate hall is not all that impressive!

What security check means!!!

Above all, before you go for some seminar/conference/function etc., find out what it is all about!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


ramaathreya said...

ha ha.. nce description of your pathetic experience.. and what makes me more happy is that in that same senate hall meeting, i gained access in a matter of seconds.. almost with no checking ha ha ha.. everybody instinctively sees me as a nice, trust worthy person i guess :-) :-)