Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Monsters Inc

Growing up under the tutelage of a person who used to think that a 110 km daily drive to work was a walk in the park is bound to have its ill-effects on one’s persona. My dad used to drive a lot and I guess I got bitten by the driving bug when I used to sit in his lap and pretend to drive or while watching car-centric movies like the Herbie series or the Italian job.

Old granny tales on the subject of driving always tell to be alert of those truck drivers. They are made out to be the brutes of the Indian roads with an attitude that the devil would be proud of. The reputation of being perennially being in a state of stupor and always being on the lookout for lesser-endowed vehicles to bully off the road is the stuff that legends are made of. So when I did learn to drive, I was always careful to avoid these on-road t-rexes who have the capability to chew you up and spit you out by the side of the road with the ease of a rottweiler snacking on his new bone. To my surprise, I never found these unsavory vehicles around as my driving was restricted to within the city and 5 years went by. And then I acquired a vehicle and locations outside of a 100 km radius became quite within striking range. With the wife in tow, I planned excursions to such places typically over the weekend so that I don’t feel the pinch of the drive.

To my complete dismay, one of the greatest legends ever turned out to be a hoax, the dampest of squibs that you can ever dream of. THAT truck which was supposed to behave in the most radical of manners while on the road turned out to be the best behaved and most docile citizen of the roads. By that truck I mean almost every truck on the road was typical in its behavior. Sticking to a lane, driving at a consistent speed, driving in a straight line (ergo I can infer that the person at the steering wheel was seeing the road as well as I was), putting up the right hand signals when required, letting me overtake them, and aiding the overtaking process by actually helping me to overtake safely.

This strange observation then struck me with the observation that the monster of the roads is a shape shifter that has since morphed into another form and to my utter dismay, I found that it was my species that is the current monster on the road. The 4 wheeler driven by the yuppie, the father with his family on board, the college kid with his friends in tow, the out of town businessman who took the car instead of the bus, the holiday makers who escape from the from city over the weekends. Powerful vehicles that have the same nature as the gun in Russian roulette, capable of hurting the person wielding it when least expected.

These cars zip along the highways, jousting for space, trying to get ahead at all costs and without much concern about good driving practices. I spotted one such car (a hired one) who was barely a few inches from my rear bumper and honking trying to get me to move out of his though he could see that I myself had a truck in front but unlike him (he was almost in my car), I had 5 meters of space between. “What a colossal waste of real estate!” had to be the only thought in his head as he tried his best to shove me out of the way in his bid to get ahead. I let him pass but the sneaky devil that I am, I took up position behind him and paid him back in kind. I think I managed to get some sense into at least one person as he then let off trying to get past the vehicle in front and did drive like a sane person for 15 minutes, after which he pulled over at a restaurant. That left me and the same truck and to my utter surprise all it took was a simple flashing of the head lights and the truck driver let me sail past him.

Small things do make a big difference.
(end rave and rant)

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