Mumbai Roads, Autorickshaws, and Zen

I enjoy driving. Much as the city has tried taking the joy out of any kind of driving, i still am in love with driving. How? I don’t quite understand myself. So, I can’t explain. What prompted this post? This, I can explain.

See. This morning I dropped the car for servicing. It has suffered some body damage recently, but due to some problems with the RTO, I was not in a position to claim insurance, and hence the delay. That RTO problem will require a separate post. Anyway, since no car and break time implies that I shall travel and little more around the city, and shall have to take the auto rickshaw. This post follows as a zen like experiential memoir. You SoBo snooties, don’t bother with this post. You have too much money to worry about the problems of the commoners. Yes, we can eat cake if we have run out of bread. Kthxbye.

If you have ever felt any doubts about the exact shape, contour, smoothness, friction, etc of Mumbai roads, you should take an auto rickshaw.

The backseat of an auto is Buddha’s shrine. Or the antithesis of it. There is no need to say Om loudly, and feel its vibration, hence. Every inch of your body feels every possible vibration every possible measurable unit of time. Sometimes, your teeth chatter long after you have taken the customary pissing break in the middle of the movie (assuming you took an auto to get to the theatre). The silence inside an auto reminds one of Kiron Kher im Devdas. Shotti. If you needed something to focus on, you could use the auto’s meter. These days, it moves at a pace that reminds you of stationarity in motion. And then there is the fluidity with which an auto navigates this congested traffic. Great way of learning how to deal with life. Rules don’t exactly matter. If you are smart, you can scare the big guys. You can brake to slow down. Or not to let the other guy slow down. There is no harm in taking the longer route. Because the ever changing customer’s loss is the stationary in time rickshaw driver’s gain.  The customer is the king that rewards the prajaa. And once you have been in there for a bit, the Mumbai auto rickshaw has the capacity to drown out everything else from your life.

Yet the thing that teaches me the most is the Mumbai road. Life will not be fair. Yet it can be called so. Its ok to get it 50% right. Because the optimist believes in a glass that is half full. It also tells you that – Traveler, there are no roads. Roads are made by Walking. That the journey is sometimes more important the destination. Every day a large sea of humanity searches for the road less travelled. And a few succeed.  You will encounter a road bump or a pothole when you least expect to. That these constant up and down movements that seem to break your back are a blessing in disguise. Because what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Or stranger. That you can stop a cavalcade with the power of an outstretched hand. We don’t need roads that resemble hema malini ke gaal. We have hema malini herself in the city. So the road shall resemble not her gaal,  but her wholesome self. Smooth? Are the state operators. Those who plan skywalks that need to be demolished soon afterwards.

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