Saturday, September 12, 2009

stereotypes on the streets of Pune

(being an unpolished draft from a visit back home several months ago)

There is a reason Pune roads are never going to get better no matter how many flyovers you build, no matter how many streets you convert to one-way traps, no matter how many regulations you prescribe on termite-eaten papers of law, no matter how much you try to subvert the laws of physics with the power of unenforced law. That reason, dear hapless smoke-ingesting, Brownian reader is the rich and variegated set of stereotypes of riders and commuters unleashed on the streets of Pune. This helpless spectator presents a few.
The Light Brigade: Even if Tennyson's poem loses its impact because people no longer cared about the Crimean war, it would survive thanks to finding another image in the real world –- this is the critical mass revving up near a traffic signal awaiting the change from red to green desperately like the incontinent in search of a ceramic throne. Even before the chromatic switch, a deluge of multimodal impatience sweeps the intersection and intersecting streets. It's the chariot race from Ben Hur duplicated across space and time.

Neo wannabes in the Metropolitan Matrix: You're familiar with the commuters who behave as if they had received an internal memo saying they were Neo Anderson and that they were the One. Assuming all surrounding traffic to represent the Matrix, these people waltz across crowded intersections (causing even graver deadlocks), shimmy through cracks between cars, along invisible tracks connecting the front wheel of a scooter to the rear wheel of a motorcycle making a game of snakes and ladders look like an exercise in drawing perfectly straight lines.

1 comment:

Vivek Gupta said...

Ha ha!! Came here after a while, and glad to find that you are exercising your faculties of wit as trenchantly as ever.

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