April 28, 2010 1 Comment
I am struck in a terrible Delhi traffic jam right now. In the sweltering heat, inside an auto – where unlike an AC car, there is no barrier between me and the dust, heat and the typical traffic jam noises – just two primarily – horn and the engine. But within these 2 parameters there is as much variety on offer as it in Sachin’s shots.
There are 2 rows of vehicles that have formed – typical of a jam. I am on the right side as we have to take a U turn. On my left is a Santro with two kids who, unaware and unflusterred by the jam are enjoying themselves with some game. Blarring horns don’t affect them, neither does the slow moving traffic. They are not in a hurry to reach somewhere. As I am looking at them, trying to make out what is the game they are involved in, I catch their attention. They make faces at me. May be they don’t like my frustrated face. Just then their line moves forward – perfect opportunity to mock me with their tongues out and the thumbs up. Meanwhile I curse my luck for being in the wrong line.
Behind them is a contrasting picture. A mercedes moves up and stands elegantly besides my auto. I can see some big honcho sitting through the shaded window – a copy of the economic times in his hands. This surprises me a bit. Newspapers lose their importance after morning. In Mumbai, ETs are ubiquitous when you take a morning train to Churchgate station (the financial nerve center) but in the evening? Only time you see that happening is during placement season, when someone has an interview the next day . But then Who knows this guy is also headed for some interview!! He looks calm but is frequently turning his newspaper pages and glancing above it into the non-moving traffic. The contrast between the playfullness of the Santro and the seriousness of the mercedes amazes me.
Tired from waiting and to save his oil, the auto driver turns his engine off. Unlike Mumbai, Delhi Autowalahs dont go on a meter which keeps running while stationary too. But by some corollary to some Murphy’s Law, the line starts moving as soon as the engine sputters down. It is the most beautiful site I guess – watching the vehicle ahead inching away in a traffic Jam. It seems like it has opened up all the way. I pass the Santro and almost mock the children back. But anyways, they are absorbed in their little game. All hopes dash, when I see the car ahead stop again.
This time it is a big white ambassador by my side. An unused Red Light on top – may be he has realised that its of no use in a jam like this. Antennas coming out of everywhere. The outside looks powerful but the sad point is that I cannot see inside – the windows are dark black – perhaps just like their lives. What is the neta inside doing right now? We only see them on TV, giving speeches, press conferences, on dharnas, abusing some one or the other. But what exactly do they do normally – for example just now stranded in a traffic jam?
My line has moved further ahead. There is a cut in the divider and the auto successfully manages to take the much desired U turn. Whenever there is a traffic jam, the other side of the road(if there is a divider) – one for the on coming traffic is free of traffic and vehicles zoom past you. The person stuck in it often wonders why is he not on the other, empty side where he can move freely at a high speed. But then, it is not the direction. Is it?