A lifelong disregard for rules and regulations doesn’t really make me the right person to comment on traffic woes in Delhi.(There! I have said it before those of you who know me personally raise eyebrows at my hypocrisy. So don’t judge me.). I was and will be driver-less for almost a week.While I ranted about this to the Beloved – in -London this morning, you know about how people break rules,don’t stick to lanes and queues,get nastily macho if they see a woman driving on the roads etc. I got no sympathy. Rather,the Beloved caustically reminded me of our visit to the Louvre museum in Paris sometime back and my supposed transgression. I guess he is still shocked that instead of waiting my turn in the agonizingly long ladies queue for the loo, I had nonchalantly walked into the gents loo to do my business. While the Beloved had turned brilliant shades of red and green, an admiring man ( rather cute too) had given a thumbs up sign to my loud justification of “Necessity is the mother of invention”.
Traffic in Delhi is pathetic. No one pays heed to it.Including the traffic cops, who have otherwise mastered the art of urban camouflage.That is ,they stay concealed in strategic locations ( behind bushes, signage ,ice cream carts, paan shops etc) only to pounce on poor unsuspecting rule breakers like me.They are not unduly perturbed about traffic jams and snarls. That, they , believe lives up to , if not enhances , India’s image globally of the land of naked fakirs , snake charmers.Usually, a crisp 100 rupee note tends to soften their righteous anger. They are extremely chivalrous by the way. Most female drivers are let off after the cops’ ears have been soothed by sweet pleadings and pouts. I have perfected the art of a tremulous, apologetic smile with the right amount of a little mist in the eyes, which normally never fails to save.I remember once I was wearing a mascara which didn’t quite suit me.As my eyes watered heart- breakingly, the traffic cop rushed to offer me a hanky .
The junta employs various modes of transport for communicating. From BMWs & Audis to cycle rickshaws to horse driven tongas and even bare backed buffalo rides.The sight is truly inspiring and motivating because class divisions fade. There are no haves and have nots ( Hail Marx) .Everyone is united in their relentless and common goal of creating traffic chaos.
I employ many strategies to out maneuver the junta on the roads. When I start to drive, the music I play is very important. I normally opt for ”Wipe Out”
.This gives me an adrenalin boost and the name of the song reflects the state of my mind and my actions on the road.
I step hard on the accelerator. Har, Har Mahadev! Bole so nihaal! I feel the need for speed !
I whiz deftly past cars, buses, motorcycles, cycles, tonga wallahs , the spirit of Aryton Senna ( loved the man by the way) burning in me. Much to the chagrin of the drivers who are predominantly male.Its as if I have diluted their testosterone levels because I dare to drive rather than limit my movements to my desired and traditional role of swaying coyly to the river with an earthen pot balanced on my hips. Some of these rabidly macho drivers try to block me or employ really pathetic moves to un-nerve me. Hah, the music on my deck changes.
“Behold, imbeciles! May you have lice in your nether regions”, I hiss and rush headlong into a battle without honor or humanity.
It takes me about 40 minutes to commute from home to my office. In this short span, I am honked at say ,maybe 40 times? But thanks to the mildly hallucinogenic effect ( I dream of mushrooms sauteed in butter and drizzled with cheese) that a Quaker’s oats breakfast ( UGH) has on me, I remain a blithe spirit ( Percy Bysshe Shelley would be proud of me, I tells ya). I blush, smile at the honkers and thank them for being my fan. Really, all that honking just to get my attention. Sweet, just sweet.
Well, I reach office to find my boss arriving in his chauffeur driven Mercedes.The office peon is already standing there in a nauseatingly humble stance.Folded hands, slightly bent at the waist and his arse sticking out resultantly. No such luxury of anatomically skewered peon for me though.
I walk up to my office. Battle music plays in my head yet again.
. I start planning maneuvers to de-stabilise the boss. And get reminded thus of this :
“Life always gives us
exactly the teacher we need
at every moment.
This includes every mosquito,
every red light,
every traffic jam,
every obnoxious supervisor (or employee),
every illness, every loss,
every moment of joy or depression,
every piece of garbage,
Every moment is the guru.” ( Charlotte Joko Beck)