Monday, June 15, 2009

Traffic Signal pe

So I went to Vashi. Vashi is at a 30-minute brisk walk from Sanpada – that’s where I stay. It is also at a 10-minute auto-rickshaw ride from my place. Since I'm not keenly interested in challenging Kenneth Mungara when he possibly tries to defend his Mumbai Marathon title next January, I usually take the auto-rickshaw route to Vashi. Ok. I ALWAYS take an auto-rickshaw to Vashi.

The last time I went, the rickshaw driver was in a tearing hurry to get to Vashi for God-knows-why. That was when the second most powerful entity on Mumbai's roads - The Traffic Signal stepped into the game. A small switch in it’s pre-programmed circuitry, a green light turned red and all traffic in our lane ground to a halt. The Mumbai based road-farer wouldn't of course dare to ask what the most powerful entity on roads is. For the benefit of those residents of Planet Earth deprived of the Mumbaikar experience, H.E. Emperor PoTHoLe rules Mumbai's roads by day and night.

120 seconds at a traffic signal is what it takes to bear witness to the fact that Mumbai is indeed the land of opportunities. A rag-clad girl holding a rag-less baby asking for alms, a teenager trying to sell yellow flannel napkins, an urchin who would ‘wipe’ your automobile windshield and then ask compensation for the ‘work’ just done, a clap-happy transvestite who would clap or abuse his way to earnings – its all in a day’s business.

The teenager who urgently walked towards our auto-rickshaw had more sought-after wares to sell. He held a palm full of strings, each of which was strung with a lemon and two green chillies. The lemon-chillies talisman is widely believed in India to ward off the ‘evil eye’. The evil eye – that draconian, invisible entity that strikes fear in peoples’ hearts, high and low alike. I have seen more than one rich and mighty individual build a palatial house to the most aesthetic of designs and then hang a not-so-very-aesthetic huge black doll on the outside, to ward off the evil eye, the ‘drishti’ or the ‘nazar’. So here came our lemon-chillies guy; our ‘Schumacher-till-I-get-a-red-signal’ auto-rickshaw driver took one look at him and then inspected the lemon-chillies charm that was already tied to his rickshaw handle. The once-green lemon had now dried up and the chillies were crumpling. Too weak to repel an evil eye, he decided.

He bought two fresh talismans, each costing Rs.10. One, he tied to the rickshaw handle in place of the older that he yanked off and threw onto the street. The other, he asked the lemon-chillies charm ‘vendor’ to tie to the rear bumper of the rickshaw. The teenager returned in a few seconds - ‘Ho gaya saab’. Two 10 Re. notes exchanged hands and the vendor rushed off to the next vehicle, in his endeavor to make the world an evil eye-free place, of course for a small fee.

A few more seconds left for the signal to turn green, vehicles that had turned off their engines to ‘Save fuel, Save India’ were revving up again. The rickshaw driver suddenly got out of the vehicle as if he had just remembered something and rushed to the rear. He came back with a grin. He had gone to check if the vendor had actually tied the charm. He had.

I couldn’t suppress a smile. In the business of faith, trust is a rare commodity. The traffic light turned green and our auto-rickshaw sped on, ‘luckier’, more confident.


rj said...

gud post after a loooong time.
keep bugging.. i mean Blogging :P

umesh said...

"In the business of faith, trust is a rare commodity."...awesome line.....havent read a better sign-off line.....keep bugging :)

The Magnanimous said...

good post buddy...whenever i read your blog an infinite "wait for jack's blog" loop keeps running in my mind :)...keep blogging...

vaibhav said...

Marvelous piece of writing.
i felt as if i was reading some novel or professional work.

Vaibhav Naik.

ranjana said...

Intelligent blend of analogy with a condition, ‘Schumacher-till-I-get-a-red-signal’ ... and i agree with SKB, waiting for your next blog :)... keep blogging buddy...

jij said...

Nice piece of work. :)
If you would have written this blog in 2006 then we could have approched Madhur for his next movie.
Thats why I keep on saying write next blog fatafat.
Hope to see your blog very very soon.

star divine said...

Interesting = Attention arresting read..good job!

rajesh said...

Good one dude!!!
Pictorious description of traffic signal site....
Keep on writin...

Jakes said...

@ RJ
Thanks dude. Will try to keep bugging :)

UB, high time u started blogging.

@ Swady
Thanx mate. Hopefully the wait won't be as long next time :D

Wow! I'm flattered :)

Thanks. Looking out for the day when you'd have your poetry blog :)

Thanks dudette. Will try to be on time for the movie guys next time;)

@Star divine, Rajesh
Thank U (taking a bow!)

Ruchi said...

gr888 post .. after a long time ... n as umesh said .. last line was really awesome ... keep posting ..

Rachi said...

too good Jack..sorry for commenting so late but just loved it..Keep blogging..