Spiritual tests don’t come in the form of power, riches or dainty damsels (or sensitive men, in my case) they come in the guise of traffic jams, to test your limits of patience and endurance. There is a certain Karmic indebtedness between people caught in the same traffic jam, a spiritual connectedness that ordains that we spend time together in this unique urban open prison for a stipulated period of time. I use traffic jams to formulate theories like the above mentioned, make character studies and collect a week’s worth of laughter.
I was in a jam recently. I turned off the engine and looked around. A husband and wife on a two-wheeler were snarling at each other. The husband was shouting facing west and the lady (sitting sideways owing to sari) was yelling facing south. The duo looked like two inimical navagraha planets, not facing each other, yet relating. I thought it a great idea to have your fights in a traffic jam and pour all your woes into the existing confluence of confusion and tension and leave the traffic signal fresh and rejuvenated, instead of quarrelling in your home and spoiling its good chi.
Two vehicles ahead, a motorcyclist and a bus driver were locking horns. The driver stopped short of spitting on the motorcyclist from his tall seat. After ample ‘enquiries’ about each other’s families (mothers in particular), both passed verdicts on each other. The driver cursed that the motorcyclist’s head be caught under a bus on his way home while the latter, a little more creative in his sentence retorted, “Your testicles are going to swell and explode today.”
To my right was a school van, bursting with children’s chatter. The driver uselessly honked every few seconds. Then I realised the honking was not for the road but for the kids inside. Each time he honked the children ceased their noise briefly. I was mulling over buying a similar “shut up” horn to use on my family, when the driver honked all too loudly and irritatingly. I stuck my head out and yelled, “What the hell do you think you are doing?”
“Horn formation, Madam,” he proudly replied in English. You of course cannot be angry with anyone who comes up with an answer like that. Lightening my mood further was a lorry with multiple messages in its rear. “Smile OK please,” “Don’t kiss me,” etc. And amidst these messages was a mysterious black box that said “Main Valvu Boxu” in equally mysterious English.
To my left was a huge car with a lone chauffeur in no big hurry to go anywhere. He was picking his nose contentedly. I was desperate to know where he smeared his rich nose produce inside the Rs 25 lakh car. On the seat where his expensively dressed mistress sat? Or on the mat where the car owner’s kids might often drop a biscuit and pick it back to eat it? For a moment our eyes met and the chauffeur looked embarrassed. But as I pretended to turn away he
returned to his gold digging.
After few minutes of watching him, my facial orifices also began to itch. I wanted to pick something urgently. I couldn’t bear to pick my nose or teeth in public. My ears! But sadly like a mismatched adapter my little finger couldn’t penetrate my ears beyond a centimetre. My inner ears were begging to be prodded. On a sudden brainwave I removed the car key from the ignition and gently scratched my inner ears (eyes closed) with the key.
How can I describe that moment of satori to you? When I opened my eyes, the nose-picking driver was laughing at me. I smiled back sweetly. We had become kindred souls in a traffic jam.
Music Season - Dec 2011
6 years ago