When a jam puts you in a pickle

Friday - - Leisure -

One of my ear­li­est mem­o­ries is a warn­ing from a great-grand­mother who ad­vised a group of us cousins vis­it­ing her at her vil­lage thus: “Be care­ful when you cross the road. Some­times ve­hi­cles come from both di­rec­tions at the same time.” Those were the days! Or per­haps they weren’t, and we are merely pro­ject­ing cur­rent frus­tra­tions on to a per­ceived past that never ex­isted ex­cept in the minds of great-grand­moth­ers.

Any­way, I write this while be­ing stuck in a traf­fic jam (too many ve­hi­cles chas­ing too few roads, as one writer de­fined it), my sec­ond of the week, and in two dif­fer­ent cities. This is not be­cause the traf­fic was or­gan­ised on the other five days in-be­tween, but sim­ply be­cause I de­cided not to step out.

The traf­fic jam in my city is dif­fer­ent in tex­ture from the one up north, but ap­par­ently the lat­ter type is the one all traf­fic jams in the coun­try aspire to. At home, it is usu­ally the state of the roads or the odd truck that has given up the ghost and is now ly­ing east-west on a north-south road that holds up the traf­fic. Ve­hi­cles move, but slowly, and if you give your­self an ex­tra three hours to make it to your ap­point­ment you are likely to be only one hour late. Up north in a taxi, I was catch­ing up on some light read­ing at a traf­fic sig­nal stop and when I put my book away with a sigh (the author hav­ing clev­erly tricked me into think­ing the wrong man was the mur­derer), I was star­tled to dis­cover we hadn’t moved an inch. To add to the fun, we seemed to be an is­land with ve­hi­cles from every­where – six, I counted – all fac­ing us.

Just as I was hav­ing night­mares about spend­ing the rest of my fast-fad­ing life in the back seat of a taxi, a bright young man got out from one of the other stuck ve­hi­cles and guided the traf­fic back into san­ity.

A trip that should have taken half an hour took an ex­tra four hours, but at least I didn’t get to re­gret man­u­fac­tur­ers not con­struct­ing a toi­let in the back seats of their taxis.

Two things to re­mem­ber when you are caught in a traf­fic jam: In 2010, a 100km-long traf­fic jam lasted 12 days. It was caused by heavy trucks car­ry­ing con­struc­tion sup­plies for road­works de­signed to ease con­ges­tion. So com­fort­ing.

Mean­while, we have started mov­ing, and I am so ex­cited I have for­got­ten what the sec­ond thing to re­mem­ber is.

Suresh Menon is a writer based in In­dia. In his youth he set out to change the world but later de­cided to leave it as it is.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.