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Roads in Chennai
|by Glory Sasikala Franklin|
I buckled up my all-weather sandals and flicked open my all too bright pink umbrella and stepped out. My day had begun and I was geared up for the wet weather and my 15 minute walk to my office.
Once I entered Akshaya Colony, it would be okay, I knew. But no amount of gearing up prepared me for the slushy, muddy pathway that came in between. Someone had had the bright idea of dumping cartloads of mud to even out the path. And now with the heavy rains, it all turned to the muddiest, slushiest slush one ever saw. It all slipped off the slopes of the path and formed huge puddles with intermittent small patches of dry land.
One soon developed a knack for skirting these puddles and making it to the dry patches one by one, standing by for the cars to pass by with drivers, whose expressions clearly said, "Well, I can't help it, can I?"
Then 'splash!' they would go into the puddles displacing the water and then the dry hilltops disappeared completely.
On such precarious occasions, when going forward became impossible, I took the roundabout route via the road.
I am not sure whether the roads in Chennai or the muddy pathways are the worse. With the pathway, there always remains a hope and possibility that some day there will be a road. But where there is already a semblance of a road, the blissful, contended Indian heart will point to the little bits of tar amidst the innumerous puddles and say happily, "But there is already a road here!"
"They've downloaded mud on the road to Spartan School!" said Annie at the office, "And its all turned to slush. You can't imagine how it is!"
"Oh yeah? Couldn't I just? Trust me, I know exactly what you're talking about."
"Sir, I want one hour permission to go to the bank."
"Why sure, Glory. Go ahead."
"Priya Kalyanamadapam," I told the share auto driver and slid into the seat next to the quiet-looking lady, innocently unaware of the rollercoaster ride I was letting myself in for.
Things went smoothly for a very, very short while and we traveled silently. And then a hand from behind tapped the quiet lady on the shoulder and a nasal tone asked, "Where have you been?"
"I had some personal business."
"What personal business?"
"What about the insurance?"
"What about that?" The nasal tone persisted.
"I went to pay it."
Okay, so now all of us knew why and where she had gone.
"They're holding the mid term at school. They said they wouldn't."
"How can they say that? Mid term is a must."
"I don't know why Nitesh's class teacher is angry with me. All I was doing was advising her. And now she's so wild. And she's taking it out on Nitesh."
"Will you explain it out to her when you go to school next? I dint mean any harm. All I was doing'blah, blah, blah!"
It went on and on'and by now we were all bouncing and moving side to side.
"Bye, I have to get down here," said the quiet lady.
"Don't forget to tell the teacher. You can tell her Nitesh's mother said. You can take my name. I don't mind."
"Yes, yes, I will." The now harried looking lady got out.
And then to my utter horror, nasal tone slid next to me and gave the interested look over.
By then we had the reached the obstacle course. The road sloped, went steeply into a huge puddle and then a series of small puddles and big puddles before reaching a sheer length of slush and then some more puddles and slopes'
"This is where my lunch comes out," announced the auto driver cheerfully.
"Thank you very much," I thought grimly, holding on to my seat. "That's all we needed to know."
"Why hasn't anything been done?" demanded nasal tone, "You people take too much for granted."
"I think there are plans," said the auto driver.
"Yes, but why hasn't it been implemented. Just look at all the promises they made during the elections. And now they've all disappeared!'
"The bill has to be passed,"
"And till then we must suffer while they go about in their AC cars. Liars, the whole lot of them!"
By now she had slid right up to me and was literally breathing down my neck. Her eyes bored into mine, seeking support.
I put on my most bland expression and turned firmly to look out - at the slush, the slopes, the shops ' oh, anything but those eyes.
"I have to get down," she finally announced and the auto driver stopped at a small patch of firmer looking mud.
"Oh you poor man, you have to get up each time someone gets out. How tiresome for you! Where have you been?"
This last was addressed to a poor innocent standing on another isle of firmer mud.
Somehow, even the rock and roll seemed more bearable after that.
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