First gear-second gear drill

CITYSCAPE There are lots you can do stuck in a traffic jam besides tearing your hair

I t is a good time to catch up on all those hobbies, all that music CDs you have missed out on, you can even throw in reading a book for good measure. A traffic snarl is a good place to think of all those things that aren't to be or couldn't be. Thinking has been thrust upon me and there I have to be stuck at the Palarivattom signal, actually make it Oberon Mall.

There I am, stuck, getting late for work by the second and I discover music. A couple of CDs, actually, that I had been meaning to listen to (for ages) and I listened to them. Lovely music…it was raining so what if I was stuck and an hour late (I was 10 minutes late 20 minutes back) to work. I got to enjoy my company and am now contemplating meditation but probably there's a law against meditating while driving. But I am not driving, but then that is a mere technicality. This is where I get to spend quality time with myself, only that I don't much fancy meditation because I am LATE and I am in a vile mood. I am flogging the ‘I was stuck at the Palarivattom signal' line at work so much that when I call the office to inform them ‘folks' there ask if I was ‘stuck at the Palarivattom signal'. Anyway I am in an unholy frame of mind and so meditation will do me no good at this point.

Chaos rules

Have you noticed when the traffic gets really chaotic, sometimes there is nobody to turn to, seriously. Somehow when the traffic begins to get clogged (not blocked clogged!) where are the cops? It is tempting to break a couple of traffic rules, if there was space that is. Probably the cops know it too.

Calling up long forgotten pals and their pals are options worth exploring…but then would making phone calls while stuck in a traffic block for an hour (ok! 15 minutes less) quantify as a violation? The vehicle is technically running though not running, if you get the picture. There's only one way to find out, but a tad too expensive because I just know those traffic violation receipts will materialise out of the heavy carbon monoxided air.

SO, I turn off the engine out of consideration for the environment and out of guilt. All those scary ‘Armageddon' or ‘End of Days' or Earth Day visuals about emissions and their impact on the environment induce the guilt. So on behalf of the hundred-odd idling engines I switch off. For all of three seconds and then what happens…two things. The God of the traffic signals (yes! the signal changes) intervenes and the driver behind disagrees with the whole environment ‘blah'. “Smart aleck. Thinks she will save on some fuel too! She will slow the traffic further! So here goes…honk!honk!”

Reading is another option. But the God of traffic signals wills otherwise. I get my book, frantically find the page and the sentence I was at, all the while checking if the signal has changed. Ah! Found the page and the line and as I begin…voila! The signal changes, I fling the book on the seat and it is back to the first gear-second gear-stop-first gear drill. Off goes reading. Talking about drills fitness comes to mind. Have you realised just negotiating between the clutch, the brake, the accelerator you are giving your knees and ankles good exercise or giving your orthopaedic an excellent excuse to recommend a knee replacement surgery.

One can always do make-up. But the problem is that if the surface of the road was level, applying mascara was worth a try. Don't fancy the gothic look. Of course, now the road is tarmac perfect. But remember how the craters flung you about your car, just a week back (a day before that unfortunate accident on the bypass)? Those were not potholes, those were craters. For the conspiracy theorists probably a meteor hit Palarivattom, a guided missile maybe?

Whose free left?

Oh and by the way if you are looking for escape routes in the form of free left turns…you got a laugh coming. The whole concept of a free left is alien to us, we know other kinds of ‘lefts' but no free left turns please.

As tired glazed eyes wander looking for something worthwhile to do, the FM radio beckons. Ah! the many forms of consolation a.k.a. comfort. Not to be, the RJ wants to know about the blocks in the city and there are at least three people calling from my block, somewhere ahead of where I am parked. They have been there for an hour now, such comfort. There is every kind of reality show, how about one for us who seem to be spending an awful lot of time at kilometres long traffic blocks at traffic signals? Maybe we ought to start a club if you won't give us airtime.

PS: The husband calls 3 hours later saying he is stuck on the bypass, outside Oberon Mall. But there is a happy ending…he could take a free left.


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