Sunday, 29 August 2010

Zen Buddhism and the art of patience

You may have heard of the 100 km traffic jam in Beijing where traffic moved at 1 km a day - that's right a day; not an hour. This post is a learned treatise on handling exactly such a situation.

There's no point cursing or wailing. It won't get you any further than 1 km a day. No point abandoning your automobile to come and get it another time - whenever you get it you still can only do 1km a day. You have to turn to India for advice; for Indians love to spend half their waking lives absolutely stationary on the road.

The first thing you need to do is to climb your car over the divider (yes, that's possible) and drive at 100 kmph on the opposite side of the road. Since you can absolutely rely on 5000 other people doing the same, you will progress 1 km and then come to a screeching halt. You can also  confidently rely on the fact that people stuck in the opposite direction would have also done the same and therefore the street now has the proper order of two armies facing each other on both sides of the road. The natural order of things has been restored.

Having done this, you can now start a musical extravaganza by honking to your heart's content. Since everybody has fitted his vehicle with musical horns, the resultant cacophony has some solid claim to be labeled a philharmonic orchestra. The logic of such a comparison is that there is no discernible difference in terms of output, but we shall let that pass.

Having satisfied your musical sensibilities, you can now amuse yourself by trying to outdo the laws of physics. Some long forgotten physicist defined mass and such other concepts long ago. It is said that  only one object can occupy a given unit of space at one point in time. That physical law, that is valid throughout the entire universe, has been unable to exercise its influence on India. On the road; more than one vehicle can occupy a given spot at the same time. Indians have achieved this feat in their unyielding quest to perfect the tightest traffic jam in the world.

After satisfying your aural sensibilities and having altered the laws of physics, you can now turn to matters gastronomical. It is widely known that Indians in general, and the feminine species of that nation in particular, are , to put it kindly, dimensioned rather generously. This has been achieved by rigorous adherence to the philosophy that not even a nanometer of space should be left empty, either on the road or in the gastro-intestinal system. In order to ensure this, there is a veritable treasure trove of edible material in every vehicle that does little to nutrition but everything to the generous dimensions alluded to earlier.  They say love thy neighbour : so the same neighbouring car , whose occupants' maternal antecedents were commented upon adversely, just a while ago, are invited to partake in this national contribution to appropriate girth.  Such  activity can positively occupy the sensibilities for a fair length of time.

Having exhausted aural, neural and oral capabilities, we can turn to giving some rest to all the faculties. This is easier to achieve as the ample posterior that goes with generous dimensions has a pillowing effect that induces somnolence. Accompanying snores that rend the air has a rather calming effect. General peace prevails.

Having adequately recharged one's capabilities, we can now turn to , ahem, certain biological functions. It has  been adequately proved that the presence of fresh air and an automobile tyre,  in close proximity, rather enhances the experience. This matter, having satisfactorily attended to, we can now turn to the task of navigating the 1km ration in the day. Having achieved that miracle, we can start all over again. 

Blessed are the Indian roads and their illustrious occupants. Amen.


sandhya sriram said...

me first

sandhya sriram said...

even though the post is about the zen art of patience, carrying a 100% indian gene, i could obviously not restrain myself and so first started with putting my name first in your comment box.

now i can think about what to comment on the blog, patiently :-)

first of all, i could not imagine how someone could travel @ 1 Km/hour for 100 Kms. phew.. my god!! when i was in mumbai day before yesterday, I was so frustrated with the jams (you can guess them). but i now feel, i was actually lucky, i reached my destination atleast whatever be the time.

certain things i have never understood on Indian roads

when the signal releases, people immediately honk. i sometimes feel whether whoever taught them driving taught them that the first step to pressing the accelerator to drive starts from the hand.

why should someone go in the opposite direction when the signal is on. isnt it logical that when the signal opens, people are gonna come on the other side as well. or we believe that we are some superman trained drivers who could fly over the incoming vehicles.

the other thing is that even someone driving a taterred maruti 800, you cannot handle the fact that on an empty road, any car can overtake if you arent going too fast and there can be a woman behind the wheels. it is just there in the indian gene that a woman is always expected to follow even if she is on another car, completely unconnected to you and is just driving end of the day.

having said this, i drive every day. there are dents at different places. twice it required a service engineer and foregoing of no claim bonus on insurance to set it right. but it runs on the roads and takes me to office. i guess thats what matters.

Anonymous said...

me the jegand...bye the bye..overnightla antha traffica clear paniduthaamay chinese govt??!! news paathen..nejama?

Ramesh said...

@Sandhya - Yes, there's something that gets to men when they see a woman behind the wheel.

@Gils - The Chinese government might wish to believe that its omnipotent, but I doubt if its almighty powers extend to clearing a traffic jam. Of course, they have every power to declare the traffic jam as cleared and Xinhua shall duly report it so.

Anonymous said...

I've only visited India a couple of times and the traffic is something to 'see to believe'...Here's a question I have never asked to have explained ....
1. many cars and trucks have painted on them "honk please" ....does the constant honking actually work - is it a 'traffic language' that actually has a meaning for the experienced Indian motorist - or is it what I hear - just noise - I'm really curious ?????


ambulisamma said...

Riding the car on divider,most saudians and kuwaitians coming here does the same.Also they put both indicators and go straight.No less than indians.

Deepa said...

Hehehe... rolling on the floor!

On my 3 hrs journey on an 8 kms straight stretch, on my way back home every evening in Bangalore, I made sure I made a trip to the loo before starting. Because for men, "the world is their playground", but women have an agonizing time if they are stuck in a traffic jam, with no logistics support in the vicinity.

Ramesh said...

@Trevor - Honking is just a way of life ; there's no special meaning. Aggression, tension release, something for the hand to do, etc etc all rolled into one. Indians love noise .....

@ambulisamma - Yes, many traits are global, but Indians are unique is some of the more advanced refinements of lunacy on the road.

@Deepa - Its a man's world, milady !!!!

Preeti Shenoy said...

:) Read the link about the jam.Could never even imagine a thing like that.

I'd probably draw portraits of expressions of variuos people :) Would make a great picture.

'Dimensioned rather generously' seems to leap out the page and taunt me to say something but I shall not fall into the trap and i shall let it pass :)

There is a positive way of looking at every single thing ;-)

Satish said...

Nice post (which only an Indian would fully understand). A couple of years back I would have totally agreed with your views Ramesh especially about Bangalore. This time around when we came for a holiday, I was pleasently surprised to find most roads concreted and traffic flowing. It did take long to reach the destination but one did not stop for a long time like you did in the past. India's biggest asset and liability is its population and I guess the more the numbers the more the problems on the road. One thing you forgot to mention is profanity invoving multiple generations and especially verbose in a place like Delhi. As they say Mera Bharat Mahaan.

Vishal said...

Just to add, consider a motorist driving at a very good speed on a high pavement beside the road. There are many a times when a traffic jam is just a result of ego clash between people coming from opposite direction on a narrow road.

I wonder when will we have sanity in place in such situations. God bless Indian Roads and their occupants.

Ramesh said...

@Preeti - Oh - only an artist could have thought of "portraying" players. Great idea. Umm , real pity that no lady rose to the bait. Chuckle Chuckle !

@Satish - No doubt at all. Bangalore has hugely improved. Yes, missed the verbal gymnastics that Indians excel at.

@Vishal - Why do we display the worst side of us on the road as you rightly say. Can never know.

kiwibloke said...

The general rule of driving on the road - Anyone driving slower than you is an absolute idiot who has no idea as to how to use a freeway. Anyone driving faster than you is a maniac out to kill and maim people. Who said in India we don't have freeways? every one is free to drive any which way he/she wants

sandhya sriram said...

Boss (Meant for Satish)

Caught Ya here. you were here in bangalore and secretly disappeared without tellin people - hmm.... too bad. wait till i catch ye next time!

Ramesh said...

@Kiwi - Thats a beautiful observation. So true.

@Satish - You have to rise to the bait now.

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