Saturday, May 03, 2008


A popular Hindi movie song, which sounded vaguely similar to a popular English number of two decades earlier, crackled out of the car radio. Radios, rather.

For each of the several dozen cars waiting for the lights to turn green contained within itself this ingenious device of modern entertainment and was tuned into the only broadcasting channel available in the city. Recreation in the stressful lives of today is essential. And those who happened to be part of that indistinguishable mass of automobiles were going to get it in generous proportions, whether or not they desired it.

Finally, for what seemed like the loss of billions of rupees, the lights turned green. The world, engulfed in a sometimes screaming, sometimes groaning tirade of melancholy horns, struggled towards its many destinations, swerving, braking and speeding in sudden bursts in the quest for an elusive fissure in the loosely assembled walls of metal that would carry it to the end of its journey faster than the rest of itself. It was as if a mysterious, human, hand bade it to carry its selves thus; a hand so influential as to remain invisible and the carrying out of its orders seem involuntary.

A few meters on, the world encountered an unexpected roadblock. An old man, his faltering sight failing to notice the switching over of the lights and unaware of the approaching mayhem, was stranded halfway from the safety of the foot lanes in either direction. The deafening screech of collective brakes brought the world to a standstill, a hair’s breadth away from the man. The old man looked up, bewildered, but obstinate.

“I…I only have to cross this road…” he stammered, the frantic honking drowning out the rest of his words.

The world watched, enraged and uncomprehending, as the man, shaking his head as memories of the quieter and drowsier world of a bygone era came back to him, completed his journey to the other side at an excruciatingly slow pace.

The world resumed its furious pace.

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