Tuesday, October 31, 2006

It Happens Only in India: Part II

Ever heard of high voltage transformers being desecrated by public transport vehicles? Neither had I! At least not untill I witnessed such a spectacle.

It happened yesterday. I had a test at 9 in the morning, so I was at my wits end, desperately trying to preserve every last bit of my carefully crafted calm and placid facade. I tried not to look at the watch every five seconds, and I tried even harder not to grimmace when the driver of that fatal bus decided to take a detour from the regular route. The bus entered a narrow street somewhere in the middle of the highway. There were tiny houses lining either side of the claustrophobic lane that appeared to take a sharp bend at the drop of a hat. To make matters worse, there were parked vehicles lining the street. Nevertheless, the driver (probably thinking it was the Grand Prix circuit of Monte Carlo) manouvered almost effortlessly past each swerve and bend. There were fifteen minutes left, I was sure I would make it on time, at least till we reached a level crossing and had to wait for a goods train to trudge along.

I noticed that the bus was in a precarious position. To the right there were other vehicles and pedestrians and to the left was the wretched high voltage transformer. The bus was at an angle, its rear end alarmingly close to the transformer. Seconds later there was an enormous thud that confirmed my worst nightmare. The bus had collided with the insulation rod of the transformer. (Almost instantly my mind conjured up stories of how thousands of people die of electrocution in India.) The flimsy rod swayed to and fro, the passengers stared in horror and several passers by just stared ! In his futile attempts to extricate the bus, the driver reversed, only to hit the damn rod again. People had started muttering about how they were already late for work and how the dangerous the whole thing was.

To make matters worse, there was an accumulation of traffic at the junction. A few other bus drivers stopped to give the bus driver some kind of advice. Our driver was standing outside, fidgeting bemusedly with his hair, while I nearly haemorraged with despair. Some of my classmates who were on the same bus, decided they had enough. We took an autorickshaw, a form of public transport more vile than the bus. The driver proclaimed (like Marie Antoinette) that he wouldn't go for anything less than double the cost. We grudgingly obliged and reached college a good five minutes before the test.

So tell me children does the story have a moral?
Sure does! Always get your priorities straight. Choose life over punctuality, its the fashionable thing to do.

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