Friday, February 13, 2009

Life lessons on the road

At the signal, I could see a really adorable Sardar child in the bus. He was looking at my car. So, I turned down my window and thrust my hand out to wave. In doing so, I accidentally hit the cyclist coming from behind the car. (It’s amazing how quickly those blokes can zigzag in the midst of crazy traffic. Of course, today I faced the kind of traffic one would wish for by rubbing a vintage lamp. It was that smooth. So I can’t quite understand why that cyclist had to change lanes, slithering from here to there, like a tapeworm.)

He stumbled a bit and snapped, “Itne zor se indicator kyun deta hai?” Indicator? If that’s how one indicates, one wonders just what exactly one is indicating.

In keeping with the spirit of the thing, though, I replied, “Zor se diya, tab bhi aapko nahin dikha!”

He grumbled something and went on his way.

The child who was watching all this, smiled. He was so cute! But this time, instead of waving or anything, I started the wipers and then squished a little water on the windscreen. He looked so happy! He actually started jumping in his seat and pointing at my car squealing with joy! But the lady who was accompanying him didn’t seem to be too interested. All of a sudden, she took a purple bow – the kind you tape up on presents- and put it on his little turban. Oh God! I really wish I could have darted into the bus and squeezed his cheeks! He was such a tight, little lemon.

And then the stupid tempo behind me started honking. They are really annoying – these tempos. Half the time, on Asalpha, they swerve as if they will tumble on one side or the other. But they don’t and go crating along irritatingly. Not to mention the stupid messages painted on them that mean god knows what! I saw one that had ‘Baawarchi Mania’ painted in hot pink. Sheesh!

Close to Mankhurd, though, the road narrowed because of some naaka-bandhi. So, all the cars had to squeeze into a single lane and crawl ahead. To my right, I saw a police jeep. Great! Now, the way police jeeps move is that they will blindly cut across lanes, other cars be damned. And they do that with such alacrity and purpose, that you wouldn’t want to be in their way. I was trying my best to move to the left to allow it to pass by a great margin. Slowly, the jeep overtook me and a little ahead – it did the unimaginable. It flicked on the indicator.

I have never known that to happen. I think a lot of other drivers were stumped too. There was a moment when things just seemed to move in slow motion. As if everyone were dazzled by this flood of white-light, or in this case, tiny flickers on orange.

Then just as I was applauding the police for its etiquette, I saw the unfolding of the eternal question – “What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?” The force being the jeep, the object being a big, burly BEST. The bus rammed ahead to stop the police jeep in its tracks. The jeep honked, the bus didn’t move. The driver looked out and politely asked the bus driver to let it pass. The bus driver looked out and snapped at him for changing lanes. He also, imperiously demanded that he should pass first.

This was the police! I mean, I never thought a BEST could show such audacity to the police! I didn’t think anyone could! The driver of the police jeep shrugged and got back in. The bus started. And in a split second after, when the gap between the two vehicles increased a bit, an auto almost squeezed through it and whizzed past.

So, here’s the answer to that eternal question – a resistible force and a movable object will slip through and go ‘Nyaah na na nyaah nyaah!’


Karthik Sivaramakrishnan said...

Your encounters with the mumbaikars are always hilarious! Nice comeback with bicyclist :)

It is very sad that we don't respect the emergency services in our country.

Enchanted said...

traffic system in India is so screwed up. I think the DMV need to educate every vehicle owner with lessons on road etiquettes and humanity too. When I was in mumbai and was stuck in such a traffic, I saw an ambulance trying to find its way through. And these idiot two wheeler walas and rickshaw walas were trying to cut in. They will never realize unless someone of their own is in the ambulance.

Ramit said...

Nyaah na na nyaah nyaah!

Oh you're so cute!