Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A regular feature in Mumbai .....Ride or Dribble Riddle !!!

20.15hrs...work seems to be a drag.....the day has been extremely slow.....decided to wrap up & move out.
The skyline overcast, soft drawl of westerly winds lapping.....I quickly got behind the wheels of my car...Bholanath......the Accent GLS 1.5 CC mean machine...... the revving of the engine alongwith the screech of the tyres to move out of the parking bay, seemed to pump in the excitement & I found a soft whistle forming on my lips..... a hep looking girl getting into her Chevvy almost at the same time, smiling into the mirror......the evening looked promising ahead.

Out on the road, the car seemed to pick up the mood & got into the 4th gear in no time, easing into the returning traffic on the highway.....everyone seemed to be outrunning the other....as if a race shaping up, with the Lewis Hamiltons, the Schumachers, the McLarens, the Buttons, the Sennas....et all of the world, converging on the western Express Highway of Mumbai......vrooommmm.

Before I could realise, I was crossing the airport, with flights taking off in various directions..... as if a parallel race was forming in the sky as well. I turned on the radio to build in the mood.....91.1 FM greeted me to some old numbers from the golden era...a La Kishore number enthralling my spirits.

I looked up my watch & smiled to myself....today I shall reach home in time to cook something elaborate & also indulge in TV & music...wow....life is interesting indeed.
Had I imagined too soon???....As they say, expectations reduce joys!!!!!......
Ahead, on the road, however, as the next flyover started shaping up, the traffic started to slow down.....50 meters & the drive had become a crawl.....The road ahead as far as my eyes could strain, looked a sea of glaring backlights...like glowing embers.......a designers delight......Whooaa !!!
The revving engines around revved hard & pitch forthed for a while in hope of a flash run......but then started to slow down into a quiet murmur.....suddenly I find myself surrounded by vehicles on all sides.....vehicles of all kinds...... from classy Mercs to creaky Matadors, from spacious Audis to rickety Autos, from sleeky Hondas to sleazy Fiat Cabs......add to that the furiously fuming & violently shaking trucks.......all attempting to surge forward through a seemingly impossible opening. The chaos is worth an English thriller.

The bumper to bumper, shoulder to shoulder unending lines of vehicles, standstill on the highway could actually test the endurance & patience of the most evolved soul. Everyone is one the edge of the nerves......the left foot firmly on the clutch plate pushed to the floor waiting eternally for the release, while the right foot on the gas pedal, itching to press hard...when would this happen???.....each & every sinew of the calf muscle focussed on the push.......the intensity along with the uncertainity of the situation is like a 007 Bond movie. On the edge....moment to moment to moment.......
Meanwhile, the crawl continues at a pace, where even an old snail would win hands down......imagine tea stalls by the side (wish there were some) doing brisk business, serving piping hot brown liquid along with hard stuffed cookies...wow, what a thought!!!! While, I was dreaming of this, I actually saw some vendors selling peanuts wrapped in paper.....people actually have enough time to roll down the windows, try out the servings, pay cash & then smilingly roll up the windows again to start the journey.....phew!!!!
In fact, one can even do a power nap......just close eyes & rest the stiff back, the tired limbs, the sore throat......while the traffic waits to get a move on.....
I realised that in a situation like this, one could actually slip into meditation....a real deep one, while your car shuttles between a cruise to a stutter stop now & then. It teaches you patience as your adrenaline flows from rapids to an eternal pause.......Whooaaa......

On top of all this you also get a lady driver right in front of you, driving her sedan with elan.....with sudden bursts of starts & stops.....straight as a rod.....neither letting you overtake, nor allowing you the peace of mind.....completely unruffled by the situation, while you wish death would take over !!!!!

Millimeters crawl by, as minutes extend beyond hours & the journey continues.......the radio, which was so pleasing a while ago, sounds like torture & blare....all you feel like is to just leave the car where it is, get out & walk back home.......it would certainly be a faster mode of transport. By that time, I had already screamed at overtaking drivers & got mouthfuls back from the more enthusiastic ones.....my croaking throat sorely missing the point & overcoming all obstacles to raise the bar of the decibel.....fantastic by any yardstick.

By the time, the clock laboured to 22.35pm on my wrist, the mean machine had managed to wade through the maze of traffic & enter the gates of our building complex......it indeed was a complex drive......the speedometer could not cross the 20kmph mark at any stage of the drive......a normal twenty five minutes cruise had taken an inexplicable, enduring & nerve wracking two hours & twenty minutes....phew !!!!!! I could barely lift myself out of the enclosed cabin & smell fresh air......manage to find enough strength to stumble upto the lift & open the door of my flat, & crash onto the bed.....

The steamy affair behind the wheels had just ended.......& I see myself alive to look forward to another day......another ordeal.....another challenge of covering the length of the Western Express Highway.....
Mumbai is really a city of dreams.....

0 comments: