Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Close encounters of the third kind

I have read in various espionage novels that a man with predictable routines are the ones that are the easiest marks. Considering the fact that my impact on the political, economical or the zoological scene is as minimal as anyways possible, i find no hardship in coming to a simple routine of my long trip to office.

When you live about 15 km from where you work-live, and you have been living there for couple of semi-decades, then you get so used to driving that your automatic sub-conscience takes over driving. You just observe life around you as it controls your legs at the pedals, your hands at the steering and generally steer clear of pits, speed bumpers, cows, goats, humans, spits and traffic lights.

The long winding road is full of human milestones, which i have come to notice while my alter-ego drives ( oh i do wear the seat belts :) ) the car. As days go by, we get used to seeing people in certain places, in certain ways that you start expecting them every day. They become part of the journey for you. When any of them are not there, suddenly there is a pang of emotion.

I meet a lady at about 15 minutes distance from home, on the pathway of a crowded junction. I have never even so much as paused my car when i see her, but both of us acknowledge the visibility of each other. Also, over the tidings of time, i think i know pretty much about her. She's married ( happily or otherwise is not knows ) as her sindur proclaims. Apparently she does not work for an IT company, or else there would be the "rope" that hangs from her neck to proclaim that she is a money earner from software.. We pass each other almost every day of the five days that i drive to work and we still don't even as much as acknowledge. But an absence is upsetting. It kinds of makes u a little uneasy... Are you late for work ? Or is she not well ? Or has she shifted her residence ? And so on until i jam my brakes at the signal that has turned red in front of your eyes.

Turn the curve of the road and there is an interesting spectacle. The next stretch of the road is lined by the imposing wall of a very prestigious college. And it is pretty much straight. Right in the middle of the stretch, on the siode of the road, a hero honda bike remains parked with the hero standing next to it. The heroine is various poses, some days standing next to the bike, some days sitting on the seat. They talk. shot by Cupid, every morning, i dont know how much time they spend talking about... about what, i wonder? Wi the the smile on my lips of been there, done that - i can think of thousnds of things - about future ( i mean the evening, and how soon can we reach there ) about very critical things in life ( the new hair style does not suit you ) or psychological advice session with the confident of a person who own the other.. Sigh - somethings, can never change

Farther down the road, couple of turns later, on a further turning, an old man exists. I see him sitting on the pavement, clad only in a dirty dhoti, reading the day's newspaper, not skimming it, not looking at the pictures, serious reading- and not just the movies or the sports section - the hardcore news section. As the car turns, it brings into my view, his truly humble adobe, a section of the pavement, covered by a tarpaulin, to possible ward sun and rain away, very neatly folded bedding and few personal belongings. I wonder who is , who he was. With his confident expression, he is definitely not a beggar or a mad-man. What in essence could have brought such a man to living in the pavments ? Or is it that he has found his nirvana with his simple life? With an air conditioned car and a concrete home to back me up, i still spend so much of time carefully building creases of worries on my forehead. He also reads about the same hike in fuel prices, he also finds out in as much surprise as me about the reservation bill - and yet, he has the ability to take it in as much easier gulps than me.

The non-stop rotating air inside the rubber tyres of my vehicle take me away from this visual question mark quite easily as the car lurches forward through well known avenues and side-lanes. The all familiar rush of school children to a near by school, the honks of incoming cars in a small a road, all that rush past me with a whiff of wind ( i wonder if this is the same whiff that i get when deadlines whizz past me in office :) )

Couple of minutes down the lane, a traffic signals endear life to me. That junction is also signified by an existance of a ladies college, but my eyes always move away from the beautiful samples of female existance. It zooms into one man, walking slowly. Dressed in common attire, most often a striped shirt, and a dark trouser, he walks slowly, a stick prodding the way in front of him. Smiling, mostly. Blind, completely. While my tyres squeel in protest of rushing traffic as the signal opens up, i always wonder where his destination would be. Stuck in a jam one day, i found out that he runs a small PCO booth in the corner. He probably has the "i" taken out of his life, but he braves it with a smile. I wonder if i would be even half as brave as him. Most of us would get into the rut of self sympathy - "Why me ?" I hope i am at least half as brave as him when life faces me with diabolical questions.

As the office draws nearer, there is one more set of people i meet on the road. Dressed fashinably, tupperware carrying, neckbands in place and id cards proudly proclaiming the software company, hands in pockets of trousers ( or in the sides of salwars ) that try to contain a bulging part of anatomy called a tummy, these are the sample of the majority of this city population. Sleepy eyes looking hopefully at the road for the company buses, they stand with dreams of a bigger houses, bigger cars, longer and farther vacations and with nightmares of deadlines, creaky architectures, flowing code and scarier appraisals.

I identify, i smile and i move on.

I wonder, one day, the continuity would break - my routes might change, or their routines might.

The old man might turn to ashes, the blind man taken into another location, the software-s move to another company, would my life still continue un-hitched?

Probably it would.

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