While in the US, it was a treat to be on the road. Almost everybody observed traffic signals. Their economy may be growing at 2-4% but the traffic signals work. In true American style the minimum gap between vehicles in the USA, would seem like the distance between Sun and Saturn for the average Mumbai motorist.
Although I was there in American soil for only a few weeks, I can hold court like a well entrenched native with impunity, especially if the topic was a comparative narrative on the difference between driving in Mumbai and driving over there.
So, this friend from the USA, sat next to me as I drove, on roads that sported less than normal traffic on that particular day. Within five minutes of her first ride on Indian roads, I saw her hands shiver. In the seventh minute beads of sweat began to appear. In the eight minute, from the corner of my eye, I saw her hold on to the inside of the door handle. In eight and a half, her face was buried in her palms.
It was obvious it was about the road. For my hands were firmly on the wheel and I hadn’t spoken a word, other than professional conversation. My mind was racing at a faster speed than the motorbike that held an aunty, uncle and two kids that hung out of the bike rather precariously, and were looking into the window.
Obviously a ‘phoren’ woman, face buried in her hands with a chap that sported furtive looks can be fertile feeding ground even for the dull variety. All four of them were peering into the car, waiting for action.
In a brief while, it was but obvious, that every eye atop any moving object on Western Express Highway was trained on our car. Not wanting to run the risk of being featured on some news starved news channel with a silly ‘breaking news’, I pulled over. And hesitatingly asked my friend if everything was ok?!?
‘The cars are coming too close here’. She said. In some sense, I was relieved that she didn’t get to see the aunty+Uncle + one kid + another kid precariously http://premier-pharmacy.com/product-category/arthritis/ hanging, all peering into the car. I was certain she wouldn’t have seen a circus act of that order!
We struck a deal. I would keep the car to the extreme left, that would come close to eliminate the possibility of a Ferrari hopeful overtaking on the left. Where she was sitting. After all of this, she offered “I’ll keep my eyes closed”. An offer, that was readily and graciously accepted.
After some agnonising moments, we discovered the root cause. A broken down truck, laden with steel rods. Sprouting a few twigs amidst all the steel. The twigs, any average Indian motorist would know, is a sign that warns other motorists of a broken down vehicle!
She went from ‘awe’ to ‘open-mouthed awe’ to ‘insanely open mouthed awe’ to ‘shaking heads in disbelief insanely open mouthed awe’.
Where in the world did we think of tying up a twig and a clutch of leaves onto a vehicle that had a breakdown ! Whatever happened to ‘hazard lights’ and the ‘hazard triangle’ to warn other motorist. Questions fired in quick succession.
I replied calmly. It was simple. Common sensical. Isnt it. I wouldn’t expect twigs to sprout from a lorry loaded with steel rods. That is abnormal. An obvious implication that something is amiss here and therefore the vehicle is stationary.
So, the minute your car breaks down, you don’t run you battery down with hazard lights and such else. You just reach for the nearest twig or a clutch of leaves and append it to some part of your car that is visible to others.
Which left her in a state of mild sedation, occasionally mumbling about Indian innovation and such else. I presume its going to take her a while to recover.
Until then, ofcourse, if you are travelling to India, a vehicle sprouting twigs is not a symbolic protest about global warming or something. This is a different kind of a breakdown. Ok ?
This one was spotted in Daman. Right inside the fort. At first, it looked like an Extra Terrestrial vehicle, with tentacles and such else. And a red siren on its head, a striking yellow made it look the part completely. Then the eye rested on ISO 9001 certified.
Now, the ETs wouldnt go for something like an ISO certification. Or so i thought. I always thought of them to work out of strange tentacles and purple coloured brains. So.
And then the other sticker : Daman Municipal Corporation. Hmm. A vehicle to sweep the streets free of dust.
A couple of months ago, a similar vehicle in Bangalore. But that was pristine white, with strange pipes and seeming tentacles all over.
Some swank equipment these. They sure must have been tested. And tried. And perhaps used too. And the some municipal corporations budget must have been swept clean !
I wonder to what end. Especially…
When a swank Toyota’s driver lowers the powered window and spits his much chewed gutka, right in the middle of a highway.
When much http://healthsavy.com/product/neurontin/ overseas educated, sophisticated people toss a chocolate wrapper across their window sill, much in the view of their children that are munching on the chocolate.
When the poor man without water or drainage in home, washes his utensils in the middle of the road. And when the drainage pipes of an educated community gets clogged, with sanitary pads, old shoes and diapers.
So, lets buy more such machines. And i can think of these additional uses too to gain additional revenue.
a. Lets parade them on Republic day parades.
b. Show them to visiting dignitaries.
c. Lend to hindi movies ( esp the Sci-Fi ones)
d. let children take joy rides
e. Charge premium at rich weddings and station them as a status symbol
And perhaps out of these options make some money and spread some awareness, on cleanliness. And sensitivity to the other man. Sharing the road. The apartment. The city. And its drainage pipes.
With respect and sensitivity to the other, the world would be a much better place. Now, thats whats called a sweeping statement.
There are some covers that stay. Many others are coming off. And yet others are coming on.
The rains usually bring in fantastic innovations from Mumbaikars. As we rankle the informativeness quotient ( if one such exists ) of our brains and cover up our bikes. Our cars and such else. Of course, there are many types of covers.
Thick leather ones. Thin transparent plastic ones. Run down ones etc. The idea is to keep the rain from doing damage to the bike.
And in summer time, there are other less common covers. Like this one. Seemed to be made of a fur like material. But one cant care about the fur.
Its about the looks that this fur will furnish. From ‘gaaawd’ to ‘yeaaaah’ ! And there are those that take care special care of these covers. Designing them meticulously and wearing them neatly.
For instance, this taxi.
And of course, this goes beyond pure functionality of protection. That would lead us to people and their dispositions. But we will not go there today.
But of course, people are wearing this funny green masks these days.
Swine Flu cover. Scenes of passengers in a air-conditioned car wearing such masks with their drivers not wearing any, shows more than what the mask can cover.
Messages and jokes on swine flu hit your phone with an alarming regularity, that beats the virus itself.
One such states, ‘ You wish some people kept their masks on even after the virus is gone’.And almost as a rejoinder came a comment from a colleague. In jest, i presume.
Speaking to another who was talking about a mask, ‘ You don’t need a mask. You already have one on’ !
This swine flu business is beyond me. I’d much rather admire the cover on the taxi meter. Whatsay ?