After a long time, I went to attend a concert in the centre of town. Shankar Mahadevan, Sivamani, Zakir Hussain, and Selvaganesh were playing/singing, and it would be interesting, I thought. I did, also get some nice images…
But I reckoned without the truly terrible traffic jam, that held us up all the way from the Johnson Market signal, to Richmond Road, at which point we got off the auto and just started walking towards Museum Road where the concert was being held, at the St Joseph Boys' School grounds.
The wisdom of holding such a popular event in the middle of the city, in a public space that was accessed by a narrow road, and a narrower gate and lane, was immediately suspect. Crowds were milling around the gate, and we were literally pushed inside when the mass of people moved into the place...it was very claustrophobic and had all the makings of a stampede, which, luckily, it did not become.
It's been a week since the terrible events at Mumbai, so what sort of securtiy do you think would have been in place? The answer: Non-existent. Everyone just pushed inside, willy-nilly (there was no space for the crowds outside on that narrow road, with the traffic jampacked all the way).... even our passes were not checked. It was a kind of free-for-all.
When such popular concerts are held, I think they must be held away from the city centre, in venues where the crowd entry can be regulated, and even more important, there are exits in case of any emergency. Today, the crowd mismanagement had the potential for disaster...we were just fortunate. I could have taken in bombs as large as crates; there was no way the security personnel could check.
How miserably lackadaisical we are about security; we never think that the worst might happen to us.
Oh well...the concert was lively... here are the musicians on the stage. You will see the press photos where the photographers have special passes to go up close...well, here's the Mango Public (Aam Janta)'s view from the outer fringe...
Here's a young man who came all the way from Tumkur (he said he has a band of his own), taking a photograph...
And on the way back, we saw this deity being taken in procession:
The concert ended, I thought, far too soon…the whole crush of people streamed out again, causing blocks in the traffic once again….
A lot more thought should go into the selection of a venue for such events, and access and exit routes, as well as security issues, should be addressed much better than it was today.