Update for week ended 11 November 2011
Driving along the 6 laned highway, which had clear lane indicators and signages was quite a refreshing change for me in Mumbai which is otherwise known to have roads that are wide and narrow at the same time and with no specific lane indicators. Traffic Signs, if any, are obscured behind large illegal hoardings greeting some fat, burly politician for a birthday, or just for a visit. If not that, the traffic signs are hidden behind lamp posts that almost suddenly erupted from no-where to block its view; almost as though it was intentionally put there, so that an errant driver or rider could be caught just after it “breaking the law”, by an ever ready cop. But let me not digress. Let me get back to this almost surreal stretch of road, which made me take notice of the smooth road, white lane markings, the visible traffic sign that warned me not to overspeed. And I am not trying to be pompous here, but over 2 decades of driving in Indian metropolises has taught me to be a cautious and safe driver, especially when I know that there are road devils lurking all around. Like on this road. The road that would otherwise at least gain some respect from drivers (like me) was being given the exactly opposite treatment by the road monsters and devils that I encountered. The famous and now infamous autorickshaw drivers of Mumbai. Till not long ago, this breed of public transport-men, were considered the most honest as far as the fare collection was concerned. But ever since their profusion in the suburbs (what a redundant statement, don’t you think? Given that they only ply in the suburbs), they have been overcharging, getting choosy about their passengers and travel destination and even being offensive with commuters.. This breed behaved like the little black smoke box that I once used in my physics class to study the Brownian Movement – the absolute random movement of particles.. These vehicles that resembled black mini elephants from the backside were zigzagging across the road like the Smoke Particles in the Smoke Box of a Physics Laboratory. They also virtually collided with each other as I almost saw feet jutting out and kicking the other vehicle away – or was one foot power being used to push forward the other one who was saving on his fuel, I could not fathom. But they were in front, by the side, behind me, threatening my white German car, which just cowered under the attack from the three-legged demons (or three wheeled), almost like a scene out of a Hindu Epic where the Devas (Gods) are attacked by the Asuras (demons) and they pray to the Omnipresent Lord (incidentally I share a name with him), or the Destroyer or the Creator to get them out of these attacks. Maybe my current choice of books is making me see these day dreams or rather day mares (since these were daytime “nightmares”), and I should quickly wrap up the story about a Young Prince from a state by the Sarayu ….. (must remember to quickly read it up this weekend).
On Days like those that passed by (and quite a few have since I last wrote on this blog), what would have seemed like a well laid road, with good signages and all; was there for the D Street Boyz to travel on. And Travel they did, but with no warning or even an inkling, they were attacked by demons of various forms and sizes from multiple directions. And don’t get me wrong, by attack, it was not as though the demons were after the poor D Boyz. It was just that the demons chose to use the time tested Brownian Movement principle to zip along D Street. So some demons sounded as tragic as what a certain William wrote (Greek Tragedy), while others could not be banked upon (Indian Banks being downgraded), or some demons who terrorized the Monkey God and his car factory; there were enough demons to choose from who just randomly got into the D Boyz ways and hurtled them from one side of the Street to the other. So although the SENSEX is currently at 17192 – which looks better than where we left it last (October 14), it did swing quite a bit….. during the month that passed.
Talking of feet that jut out of the auto rickshaws, what sometimes gets me off guard is that, these are not mere stretching of legs of a tired auto rickshaw driver after a long day, but may actually be a signal to the vehicles behind that the rickshaw is turning in the direction that the foot is out – so left out means a left turn and right foot out is a right turn. But this is not as confusing as the trip I once took on an auto rickshaw in a southern city where the notorious drivers are known to fleece people who don’t speak the local language. The driver pretended to not know the directions to my destination and kept asking me whether I had to turn right or left a junction or crossing, but the most hilarious part was when at one such crossing, I told him to turn right. He turned back and pointed both his hands in the opposite directions and asked “This right or that right, saar?”
Wishing you all a very happy weekend and if you encounter the black mini elephants on the roads, do share any small vignettes about them with me. I would love to hear your stories too..