Newbie driver’s rodhanam
First of all , sorry for the manglish, but I really couldn’t find a word in English which adequately describes what I want to express. It’s a mixture of angst and anger and exasperation and frustration and a lot of other emotions you will understand along the way.
Our roads were built, keeping the populations fun loving nature in mind. Like we want to be on a roller coaster all the time. How boring to keep driving on a straight road; Lets spice it up! Our roads twist and turn and bend and do acrobatics at amazing angles. And in most places, the road is directly adjacent to someone’s compound wall on one side and overlooking a cliff on the other side. You get to choose-get plastered and peeled off a pee covered wall, or try impromptu bungee jumping without a rope.. Wooohhhooooo yippppppeee.. What fun right !
Combine this fun with having zero footpaths . even if some space appears miraculously by the side of the road, it is densely covered with shrubs, making it impossible to see if you are stepping on the ground or on a snake. There are few places with enough side paths, but don’t you know, this road was taken from my khandaani property by the government, so I have every right to walk on the road. That’s why vehicles have breaks right. Crawl At 20 kmph behind pedestrians. Now imagine said pedestrian having enough ethyl alcohol pickling his mushy brain, he definitely has to do the nagin dance in the middle of the road. If you escape seeing his nether yeye while he flings off one piece of garment after another – good on ya !
You remember as kids when we played in rain water puddles and floated paper boats right . That’s what our government wants us to do . Have fun! There are enough puddles on the road, come float your paper boats. Or for the more suave gen x, you can put your bath ducks in them, they will swim across . Or maybe since we are a developing economy and not everyone can afford a bath tub, we are providing an immersive experience for all. There are puddles and gutters and potholes on the road deep enough and wide enough to bathe an elephant in. Okay maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but next thing we know, we will have pelicans fishing in knee deep water in the middle of the road !
And for the roads which have been repaired – its like your favorite quilt. Remember the patchwork quilt your aunt made you, different shapes and sizes, different colors, all sewn together in a beautiful tapestry .? Some bits are black, some are grey, some are flat, some jut out an inch, some are smooth, some are pebbly, some are square, some are rectangular and some are just shapes which have not been named yet. The last sentence is not about the quilt-that’s the road. Everytime someone complains about the jacuzzi on the road, we fill up the patch. Smoothness of the road be damned.
Now, another concept we hate is light. One great mallu poet actually said that-velicham dukhamanunni…! So we refuse to have streetlamps. And this is a state where most everyone gets in and shuts the door and switches off lights by 9 pm. So we are travelling along winding narrow roads, with drunkards on and off, Potholes on and off, pathwork on and off, and pitch black darkness. Don’t you dare say its romantic, its effing scary is what it is. Can’t blame just the government. One village close to ours had 20 solar powered streetlamps installed, and some efficient person stole every last one of the solar panels. Way to go dude !
To this potpourri of troubles, add state transport buses which swish and zoom across the roads, with not one iota of care for rules or safety- I am the almighty aanavandi and you bow to me. Add lungi clad motorcycle achayans who try making curvy rangoli patterns on the road with their royal enfields. Add autorickshaws and their crazy drivers, whose unions will gobble you up if you are demented enough to pick a fight with them. Add the need for speed, the lack of time, the complete disregard for rules-written/unwritten. Add aunties who start crossing the road , and midway decide to not cross the remaining. Add processions-political, religious, personal-wedding, funeral. And just as an extra layer of goodwill, add kerala rains, which feels like zeus’s fury. It pours like a heartbroken toddlers tears and you cant see one blessed inch in front of your nose. And just as an extra cherry on top, add an old old man, in the pouring rain, at an acute bend in the road, with a black umbrella, standing on the road and peeing into the bushes, and you see him just before your car makes him meet his maker a day earlier. Squealing brakes, burning tyres, loud honks all around, my heart rate sitting at 200+, expletives I didn’t know earlier doing the silent cha cha in my mind!
Like i said-fun!