Chennai is like any other Indian metropolis. Only more familiar to me. Thats because, I can read whats written on the walls. Those posters and graffiti scream for attention and my mind hoovers up, before you could say hoover up !
My eyes rest on the road and sees whats abuzz. The strife for more, the constant stretching of limits, an existential reality that is so typical of all big cities. And Chennai is no exception.
We drive on & I see the St.Thomas Mount Shrine, atop the hillock. I vividly recall my times there. Beautiful, serene and pristine place, the ‘mount’, soothed frayed nerves in a tough time, many years ago.
As we drive on i spot a BMW showroom ! Ah. I think. I smile to myself. The object behind many a prayer, i think !! Self chiding auto-starts. ‘Devious Mind’ !
Forcefully wanting to switch attention, i close my eyes. The ears come alive. ‘Suryan FM’, the local FM Radio station, is on. Perhaps the drivers favourite. ‘Blade No:1’ is the program that is on, with a gent who calls himself ‘Blade Shankar speaking non-stop, as though stopping would get activate a nuke or something !
For now, this program has listeners call in and narrate a PJ ( PJ stood for Poor Joke. I don’t know what it stands for in the modern times). And this gent himself has a few PJs up his sleeve.
‘An Elephant walks on the road and come to a signal. But he doesn’t cross the road. Why?’, asks someone. My eyes are happy to remain shut. Half in disbelief, half in mild-amusement. ‘Because it is a Zebra crossing’, someone else says ! A Siamese twin combo of ‘sigh and a smile’ escape escape my pursed lips.
Interspersed with such prolific thinking, are ads for various products. One such is for ‘aruna kayiru’ ( RTT: a black string tied around a toddler’s http://www.buyambienmed.com (usually) waist. I think i had one tied around my waist when i used to crawl. As a kid, that is. So they say).
This ad goes ‘buy 1000 metres of ‘aruna kayiru’ get 5 metres free’. I wonder, why on earth would anybody buy 1000 metres of that string ? But thats the ad.
My eyes remain closed.
In a short while, there is a movie song that is being played. A male voice croons :
Your friend (me)
try handling me !!
I shake my head in disbelief. lyricist are working real hard, i think ! And almost as if on cue, the young driver says, ‘ nice song saar’ ! My head still shaking, i tell the driver ‘I have been away for long’. Not in the least sounding as though my presence here would have caused the songs & lyrics themselves to be any different. But my ‘bearing quotient’ would have been !!
The car stops. My eyes open to see.
We are at a toll gate. There is a signboard for a ‘reserved road’ which says, ‘Govt Vehicles and extra wide vehicles only’ ! I wonder why would they want to make that distinction !! Govt vehicles with their occupants automatically are extra wide. Aren’t they ?
My eyes involuntarily close. My ears become alive again. Suryan FM has a contest going now. This ‘Blade Shankar’ chap asks for an equivalent tamil word for ‘Election’ and provides viewers with numbers to call in with answers.
I wonder, since when ‘election’ or its tamil equivalent hit such nadirs that they become subjects for arbid quizzes on a show titled ‘Blade No : 1’. The chest thumping on ‘we are the largest democracy’ must have rubbed somebody right. Or wrong. somewhere.
I shudder to think of the possibility of some bloke calling in with a wrong word.
Thankfully we reach our destination. And i don’t know, what happened. I hope people got it right. Hope springs eternal. They say.
In Chennai too.