My hands gripped the steering wheel of my car firmly, I would never go beyond forty, and it sounds funny. The congestion and clutter on the roads scare me off. To commute to my office located not more than 10km from my house, on any given day I have to allow a punishable forty-five minutes to reach there undisturbed and unfretted. The reasons for the delay are many and most of the time the fact – the traffic snarls don’t upset the public primarily, but they impact me. I get inwardly fazed.
As soon as I carefully, nervously roll my car onto the road, on any given day, at any given time I have to motor along with nearly a dozen or more different variety of vehicles racing as if participating in a high-speed contest. The only thing missing here is a proper track and no finishing point. Everyone seems to be in an eternal hurry, making me wonder why Indians are spectacularly known for bad punctuality.
A few feet ahead of me I notice a cyclist puffing a fag and peddling as if he is blindfolded – loose and disoriented. The road itself was slippery with previous day’s rain. Littered with flakes of dung now slushy and smelly and spread with assorted sizes of stones, mud, dry husk, grass. One wrong swerve I’m sure to knock the young one on scooter approaching, haphazardly, across with his girlfriend in tow wrapping him, putting on display their budding romance.
Abruptly, out of thin air, a middle aged couple weave their bike a little cautiously sandwiching three kids in between. The ‘five some’ package on the bikes scurrying on the road, is as common as large and infectious cesspools lining them.
As I slowly press the throttle, I look around to notice womenfolk cleaning, sweeping and dusting their respective houses, backyards, frontages, driveways and later whatever trash collected tossed out, inconsiderately and irresponsibly on the public space left alongside the roadway. As I pass through the way daily, I find myself ambushed by small heaps of kitchen-leftovers wrapped in cheap plastic bags, and the pile in turn lined by uprooted shrubs, refuse, twigs, debris and slush all putrefying slowly. The whole stink waiting until some agency would attempt to clean it up, or fortunately, some politician would select to go along that way, and concerned authorities would wake up suddenly to ensure that the patch of the road cleaned and sanitized quickly.
I’m less fortunate today that the road looked more ominous than it should be; my rear view mirror now appears crowded. I could see a big rickety tractor hitched precariously to a trailer narrowly attempting to overtake and the driver absorbed in full blasting bawdy songs. Out speeding the trailer, suddenly, a huge crane with its massive long protruding boom equipment dangling its huge basket jammed in so dangerously close the tractor. Pushed almost to the edge it was my turn to panic noticing both the drivers, nonchalantly, absorbed in their worlds of chatting with their respective cell-phones and let go as if both the behemoths are on autopilot.
Flanked by these oddly sized vehicles cautiously avoiding that they don’t move to a scraping distance I somehow wriggle out from this vehicular high-handedness; after awhile I let myself enter the less threatening heavy vehicle free zone in the city. Oddly, lanes and routes inside the city announce their threats, in an altogether freaky adverse tone for a wavering jockey like me. Peoples on bikes pour in from all directions from various by-lanes positioning themselves carelessly, rashly with speed and spite. The danger sweeping across the lanes assumes an unnerving degree when I notice that many of the speeders are busy fondling their smart phones; not only endangering their safety but also making the ride on the roads a painful experience and test of patience for timid souls like me.
Forty-five minutes later, at the end of the steeplechase covering barely 10km; slumped tiredly I find myself physically drained, mentally disturbed, plans left undrafted, initiative stymied. Whatever stamina that I’m left with doesn’t energize me to initiate my regular assignment – to read and to write. One more day unpleasantly started and time is melting out irreversibly fast and fleeting. My computer monitor silently blinking left untouched – the page as blank as my mind rendered inert because of the road I have taken!