Friday, 29 April 2011

The Worrisome Twosome

In the past years of driving from the day I got my license, I inevitably have gotten stuck behind a car that simply refuses to move and neither allows you to go beyond its speed. It is as irritating as the bit of turd that keeps hanging to your bowels while you attempt to shake it off. While patience and tact will get you around both the obstacles, there is definitely a pattern for the traffic kind and a curse on you the day you are in hurry.
My patience in these situations has led to some classification of situations.
The Taxi Twosome: This is the ubiquitous Premier Padmini that came out first on the production line but with a registration that probably belonged to the last of the product. This one will have a passenger seated next to the driver and travelling at a speed just above stalling. I strongly suspect that the vehicle is in neutral gear and moves solely on the pull exerted by the vehicles overtaking it. The passenger is no passenger but a friend of the driver and with the duo having started from Colaba on a mission to help another taxi in distress at Mira Road. No amount of honking, yelling, or cursing will break through the barrier of deafness and blindness that surrounds these friends in front. By the time you are about to succeed in your nth attempt to pass this black and yellow hog, you have reached your destination in a mood most foul and dreading a really bad day.
There is another variation of the taxi twosome though this time in the back seat and definitely at a level beyond just friends. This is the caper of man and woman in tangled lip locks on the low and broad back seat of the model of taxi mentioned above. The length of journey is the same but with definite instructions to the driver to make time last as long as possible and make it a pleasurable experience. Though many wouldn’t mind sticking behind this one for some sheer voyeurism and a few laughs at the antics of this duo, one would also have to wrestle other vehicles jostling to get your enviable position. You may notice that cars around this taxi quite coincidentally also move at the same speed. Pain and Pleasure go hand in hand for this one.
The Talkative Twosome: This will be a private vehicle with the owner at the wheel and a passenger on the side who could be either friend or foe (wife). Here is a case of someone who cannot conduct two tasks mutually. The driver in this case is the talker and the passenger the listener. The driver cannot drive and talk at the same time. If he is talking, he has to look at the passenger so that he is clear to whom he is talking to and maybe ensuring his words fall on the right ears. This means that he momentarily stops driving everytime the mouth opens thereby slowing down his car and increasing the chances of a collision due to lack of attention on the road. The accompanying passenger meanwhile has no choice but to look at the road ahead and compensate for the driver’s duty to look out for lurking dangers.
This one needs great tact to move ahead. The perpetrator car will always move to the side you intend to overtake and block your advances. So while passing this one make sure to lure this car to one side and overtake it from the other, of course at your own risk.
The Sloth Biker Couple: This is of course man and woman on a motorised cycle, neither married nor in a relationship. I say this because, the married rider will be moving his wife to her destination in the shortest possible time, and the one in a relationship will be travelling to no destination but moving at a speed directly proportional to the tightness of the rear hug bestowed by his pillion rider upon him.
The sloth Biker Couple will be riding just at the right edge of the lane giving you the impression that you can move ahead but in reality ensuring you a really tight squeeze between the bike and the car in the next lane. This is an extremely frustrating experience as you can see a clear road ahead with a green light signalling you but for this edge rider in front of you. The rider is someone who thinks he is on the verge of a relationship with the woman on the pillion and probably has got her sitting in the rear for the first time. This is something he wants to cherish and boast his friends. He wants the hand that clutches his shoulder for safety to remain as long as possible; so longer the ride, longer the enjoyment.
The only way you can get past this obstacle is to change lanes or wait till the next red light where you can inch past him and then zoom ahead the moment the light turns green.
These are some of the perils of driving on the roads of Mumbai. There can be quite a shocker in disguise at times. On a particular occasion, I had the misfortune of being stuck behind a taxi with the usual pattern but lacking a twosome. The person on the backseat appeared like a huge woman covered in black cloth who for some reason kept swaying her head and at times toppling to one side. In what would have qualified to be a wonder or freak of nature in the 1800’s, maybe even today, the woman sprouted a male head and in a twitch of a second had separated into two bodies.
Enjoy your city ride folks.

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