I had to take a rick to work from Kalanagar this morning. It was already around 9:30 or so when I reached the autostand opposite the ONGC building. I was quite certain that none of the autorickshaws would be ready to take on Marol at that time. One of the rickshaw fellows, though, agreed. I hopped in with the joy I reserve for Christmas parties. Rickshaw? Marol? 9:30 a.m.? Monday? ‘Tis the season to be jolly! Yay!
Now, my usual experience of traveling in Bombay around this time is hardly ever pleasurable. One is lodged permanently in a strip of choked concrete and mortar with brittle pebbly air scraping your nasal duct. One reminiscences of having a fish bone lodged in the gullet for over an hour. If one is vegetarian, one suffers without appropriate analogy in mind.
But increasingly, the traffic situation in Bombay is not just horrific. It’s unpredictable. Today, the rickshaw zipped and turned and went up the highway and zoomed down the flyover happily. Cars were neatly moving in, umm...what’s the word for that now, oh yes…lanes. Chakala was open and not wheezing and gasping with buses and trucks. And to top it all, the meter of the rickshaw ticked to a regular, honest beat.
Finally, with a clean turn, I arrived at the gate of the office, paid the rickshaw fellow, whistled and stepped out. Today, I tilted my chin up to face a day when nothing would make me feel bad.
Sometimes this city is so difficult and tough to take – like a shrieking, howling, furious baby. But just when you steel yourself to pick it up and get on with your day, it nuzzles at your neck and falls asleep. And then, getting through traffic is like running a finger on a smooth, plump cheek.