Every morning when I come to work, I look at my watch anxiously. I have a fetish for time. I cannot reach work later than nine. In my small town it can take barely seven to eight minutes to reach office from my home. But then began those traffic snarls.
Initially we were told it was the trucks that were culpable for such an offense, why only in the town even the Shillong Guwahati highway. Then, the trucks were banned entry up to a certain time, and things looked up.
The Shillong Guwahati road has become more free, we can breathe more of the fresh air, and the fear of missing the train or the flight has been considerably mitigated. Now, once again the traffic again is causing problems.
The other day, it took me one hour to reach my work place. My wife says she prefers to trudge to the school she works in, and on the way dropping my daughter to school. I can't think of this, I am too used to the luxury of the car, and then wait patiently for an hour!
Why this chaos, I ask my affable Driver.
You see sir, he replies, they are doing something on the way, in Don Bosco Square, making a culvert and this causes all the problem. Moreover it is school time!
And how long will this continue I ask, with trepidation.
At least a month my Driver replies with a slow smile, as if relishing in this distressed situation.
I wince. One month! I exclaim. They could have waited till the winter season, when there is no school or college.
My Driver maintains a stoic silence, refusing to be drawn into a debate.
I curse, then reach office. I am beyond my appointed time for work. In fact it is past nine thirty. Sullenly I go to my room, the students have arrived, more sullenly I switch the lights on in the classroom, and then go to my room. Something ought to be done about this, I tell my colleagues loudly. No one says anything.
Work and traffic are not related for most I think. Today, the situation is somewhat better. It took just twenty minutes. I remember of the time when traffic in my home town Shillong was a slumber. One could cross the roads almost blindfolded. In the morning students used to walk casually to go to school. Seated in a car was a luxury. Now the din, the chaos, signs of progress.
High rise buildings on both sides of the road, pavements cluttered, crossing the road is a mesmeric exercise. The police man whistles frantically, helps a child to cross the road. I keep my fingers crossed. Measure progress and change. Mutter to my Driver, that they should do something about a Greater Shillong, to ease the traffic. He does not respond. I go to my room and scowl fiercely at my papers.