Thursday, November 4

In Driving Seat!

My credentials as a backseat driver are rather suspect, to say the least. Hence it is not easy for me to put to paper experiences of a driving kind, but a Zen moment this Tue morning, amidst Cyber City rush hour traffic, did cause me a pause - hence this. (To make a full confession, one must add that it helped that this was also a week when Delhi formalized its intent to - finally - bid adieu to its dreaded Blue Line bus fleet.)

Now for the last few years, my chosen set of wheels has been a truck (actually two, both poor man's SUVs to boot). Naturally, if for no other reason, this has put paid to any ambitions of one-red-light-to-the-next Formula 1 speed thrills that most Delhiites consider their bounden duty to practice. In fact, enough of them (any number exceeding zero is too many, in my book) take the killer-instinct facet of their nature too literally for anyone of sane counsel to desist from indulging in pyrotechnics behind the wheel - unless desiring publicity as the day's victim is some horror tale of road rage. In such trigger-happy times, one is therefore left with not much choice but give the next horn-prone pup right of way, and enjoy the wafts of dhakchik-dhakchik music they leave in their wake. (Back in College, it was a source of much wonder for me as to how so much noise pollution was managed, till someone clarified that specialized - and naturally expensive - equipment was duly installed to create the jhankaar beat!) A show must be made, after all. And it must go on.

Cut to 2007. With a good chunk of my motoring in Gurgaon, with roads that rivalled Laloo's Bihar for non-existence, one learnt new lessons in forbearance. The strip availbale to drive was narrow, the traffic unending, and the desire to be first in office all consuming. With such evolved mindset in the fellow driver, there was little to do but enjoy oodles of me-time stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. (This of course rendered the no-handphone law quite redundant - they may be little distraction in a sea of red that a million feet on the brake pedal and no street lights produce!) Yet, to go back to the question of road rage, two competing species were found in abundance - the Call Center cabbie, overworked, underpaid and an embodiment of a what-me-wait credo; and the local agriculture-culture afficionado, sometimes on a tractor, often on an LCV, for whom a 4 lane road meant 2 opposing lanes on either side of the median. Ouch.

In such a setting of bad-road-worse-traffic, and caught amidst a Darwinian struggle for survival between might-is-right tractor and no-waiting-no-stopping Qualis; it would be rank dishonesty to claim that my patience levels, though infinite, were never tested! Faced with an assault of the senses, it would be a body much worse conductor of heat and or electricity than most folks of my acquaintance, including me, that would not occasionally boil over. And so, unfortunately, we succumbed. Thankfully we survived too. Yet, my lasting memory of any such skirmish was no sense of victory in getting the better of it, but clenched teeth, muttered breath, foul mood, and more.

The tale this Tuesday, though, is not of victory. Though running a wee bit late to work, and just the final turn in to the office building, my focus was tested by two gentlemen who, though not out of nowhere, decided to forsake the median they were perched on, and jump right in the my straight line path. The traffic having just cleared up, my newbie enthusiasm for an automatic was finding expression, when one had to resort to testing that other novelle feature - the ABS. The steed responded well enough, bringing me up well short of the duo - who were any case a study in indifference. Perhaps it was appreciation of the advancement in automobile technology (we do love instant responses, don't we!) or satisfaction at my holding my own against the vagaries of time (my split second reaction), but the three of us (yes, thats me included) each broke into a smile. To make matters more profound, and at my gesture bidding them to pass (one has to do a Cyber City cross-country to fully appreciate this) they responded by waving me on instead.

And so where there may have been righteous indignation or early morning vocal chord exercise (on either side), but certainly all round frustration, we had smiles, thank you! (Looking back, one is thankful too for the pre-brake speed that precluded any of my following traffic getting too close for comfort!) A good start to the day, we say. Or, in effulgent Diwali spirt, hope for more :)


Anonymous said...

Paisa vasool -- especially gratifying to see you have learnt to brake at long last! There is still hope for the world LOL

Chalate raho!


Anonymous said...

As stated by Su Shri, Tracy Chapman (why in world did I ever assume her to be a man … Chap + Man put together with the singing; err! not my fault da!) “You got a fast car, and I want a ticket to anywhere, blah blah and we can get somewhere” … and that's what I think Buddy! cos the rides on which you take us are way too thrilling.
“Dhakchik – Dhakchik” to the sport of “Road rage(ing)”… all of it so much a part of our daily routine.

Believe you me I have tried “Meditative Music”, “Sufi Odes”, “Ragas” moreover some quaint lectures, while en route to work, yet the moment the afore mentioned species gets sighted the harmony of my vehicle is impeded …so what, if we can’t change, we still thoroughly enjoy viewing our self from a wise man’s lens; so just keep it on and ignited Fella!

Learner said...