Monday, December 20, 2010

Driving me crazy - II

Couldn’t quite help it. I resisted the urge. Turned my thoughts away as my fingers tingled. But try as I might, I just could not resist putting up my thoughts on the perils of driving in Mumbai. And I know I might sound like the eternal cribber, given that, and I guess I must be lucky to not know this first hand, Mumbai traffic on any day is much better organized than maybe the rest of India! But, cribbing and complaining are second nature to women and so, here goes – driving me crazy – Part II. Part I is right here.

Try driving in a marketplace on a Sunday afternoon. Well, I did. Out of an innate laziness towards walking into the market, although I still claim I drove because the shopping list I had was humongous. Regardless of that, one hot, hungry Sunday afternoon, I set off into a marketplace, windows rolled up, sunglasses on my eyes, music in my ear, et al. I believed that people generally run errands on Saturday and take Sunday easy. So I assumed I’d be able to park, well at least park, if not park easily. As it turned out, the whole road was a parking lot. The road was filled with damsels in distress! Indeed parking lights were supplanted by the distress signal! People would just swoop into the roads and, well, STOP. At one such sample, I let out a louuuuuuuuuud honk, only to be met by nothing in response. Irritated, I wanted to move into an alleyway which I guessed would be less congested, only to find the entrance to the alley shut off by, yes, another parked car!

Distressed, annoyed, frustrated and with an aching ankle, (imagine driving for 15 minutes in first gear!), I cursed the traffic police under my breath. I complained to myself, lamenting why they were always absent on Sundays. Or any day when you wanted them most. I almost converted to Keynesianism, having sufficiently understood that the upwardly mobile Indian (read Mumbai) population, most definitely needed strict policing, to be held in check. If only there was one cop somewhere, maybe, just maybe things would be calmer. I could perhaps drive on the road, listening to my music, rather than wishing my horn would play a tune I liked! Maybe, I’d have to honk more at oblivious people, rather than at cars parked on the road, in a manner that looked as if the whole place had been hit by a hurricane. Maybe, I might have been able to finish my work and go on home, and stop my poor tummy from growling in anger!

The frustration gave way to a new determination. I decided that when in Rome, I will do as Romans do. Much as I hated it, I decided to park in the middle of everywhere myself and proceed to the shops to get my work done. To hell with road etiquette. To hell with my motto of ‘drive like you would want others in front of you to drive’. And I parked in front of the shop where I had to pick up the most number of things. I felt a weird sense of guilt, but I marched on regardless. I picked up the olives, the pasta, the sauces, the everything, thinking happily about the prospect of some food soon. I bought myself a bar of chocolate to keep my tummy at bay till that time and went on picking things off the aisles. Presently, I finished shopping.

A very large bag in tow, I finally stepped out, to find a large chalk mark at the place where I’d parked, with a message there asking me to come to the nearest police station and pick up my car!

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