My feet were wading through water, the rain was pouring from above, bright lights were blinking into my eyes and with each opportunity I got, I weaved my way through the thick of a traffic jam, which was only increasing as the cars lined up one behind the other.
I was returning from work, taking the usual route back home. I had already by-passed the main signals, hoping to avoid the traffic, but here I was only to be faced by this unending line of cars and scooters. Should I take the narrow lane at the indent? - Well that will only be more claustrophobic I thought, let me see how far I can go. So here I was switching-off and once again switching-on the ignition. At times I would keep the bike on - the fuel is unnecessarily wasted with this constant on and off routine - but each I time I decided to do that, the traffic wouldn’t move for minutes together - so consequently we were wasting petrol either ways.
Waiting and waiting, slowly people pulled out their cell-phones, exchanged glances that spoke millions, honked at the person ahead, only to evoke a ‘what the hell can I do’ response and basically tried to pass their time, which seemed never to end.
- “Me ghari ushira pocheen (I’ll be back home late)” -“How many times do I heat and re-heat the food” called out his wife from the other end. (Everyone turned to look and smiled);
- “Yeah! Once again it’s the traffic, we have to do something about these roads man” (Probably it was a journalist speaking - I thought),
- “Honey I don’t think we can meet today, it will be another hour before I can get past this patch.” (A lover’s call of apology, I’m guessing)
So time passed with groans and yawns, with variant ring-tones interspersing this passive atmosphere bringing it alive for those few seconds.
Each time the vehicles before us moved catching up some speed, a surge of enthusiasm rushed through us and we moved ahead rearing the engine. But all at once it would slow down again. “You are going to Aundh right? - Take the by-lane, it’s faster,” said a kind rickshawwalla as I moved ahead in the jam. Looking at my expectant and apprehensive face, he continued, “Don’t worry, the traffic is moving smooth there. You will get home faster. We have been here for some 45 minutes now.” And whiz I went past the traffic, away from the thought of ‘just being stuck.’ An open road welcomed me and I was only to happy to take towards it. A policeman hurried me at the crossing and all of a sudden, I felt an irritation. I veered to one side and beckoned the policeman -“Do you how many people are just waiting there. What’s the deal?’ - “There is a VIP coming, ma’am,” he was trying to be nice and to pacify me. - “So what, let him see and be a part of this city’s mess,” I retorted and drove off.
Hunger growled in my tummy and water dripped from my clothes; a tired hand accelerated the scooter into the verandah. I was glad to be back home.
My dad’s moral to the story - The prices are rising and India is heading towards progress. But of what sort and use is the development, when the roads are bad and planning is even worse. All you get is a bunch of frustrated people - the productivity of this country is only at loss.