Jamming sessions!

It is in the process of thinking up a suitably humorous ‘intro’ for this piece  — the kind of opening words that you can remember and guffaw uncontrollably even while, say, having dinner with your boss, who, however, might misconstrue that to be a response to his unzipped fly and hence hold on to your promotion ——  two things struck my mind: One, I am incapable of coming up with such sterling humour. Two, people are, at any rate, hardly in a mood to enjoy such humour.

And it is all because of the traffic chaos on the city roads. If you don’t believe me, try telling a joke on any busy road at peak hour. I am certain that nobody will laugh in response. Instead, you will be honked out from the street with vengeance.

It wasn’t like this before. I remember the days when traffic was quiet and organised, and I could even read books in my vehicle on way to office. Today that is not possible. And this is because my driver has quit and I have to come on my own. The problem, as you can see it, is simple: I have to find a new driver.

No, the point is everything that can get bad has gone worse on the roads. Take for instance the autorickshaws. Not long ago our grouse was that the autos didn’t have any lane-discipline and generally moved about as if they were powered by engines working on the Brownian theory of random movement, which should state that the speed of any auto is determined by the fate of the person that it runs into. But suddenly we have to grapple with share-autos that doubtless work on the Brownian theory of even more random movement, which exactly is no theory but just a random happening beyond the continuum of physics and traffic laws.

It is not uncommon to see a share-auto carrying on a single trip two busloads of people with the driver himself travelling on the footboard. The driver’s physical control of the vehicle is hardly any different from if he were just remote-controlling it.

Theoretically, share-autos have three or four wheels. In practice, they don’t require any as share-auto drivers rev up such speeds that make wheels and tyres irrelevant to the equation.

Share-autos, however, seem normal when you compare them with vestibule-buses, which seem to have been built by someone who wanted to make an anaconda seem in comparison like a tapeworm. The MTC perhaps employs vestibule-buses in its fleet as part of its fuel-saving programme. Actually, vestibule-buses may require no petrol or diesel to take you from one locality to another.

Let me explain: Vestibule-buses —— pay close attention here as I may be letting you into a State secret —— are built in such a manner that if their front is in, say, Nungambakkam, the rear is in Porur. So any prospective traveller between these locations has to just hop into the bus and make it to his chosen spot. The vehicle itself need not move though an illusion may be created as if it is. It may not exactly surprise me if you tell me that there is just one vestibule-bus in the entire MTC fleet and it is what is seen all over the city simultaneously.

The various IT companies and engineering colleges may do well with a few of the never-ending vestibule-buses. Okay, the city’s residents will do well if the IT companies and engineering colleges acquired a few vestibule-buses. For, there may be streets in the city without the mandatory pillayar kovil. But I bet there’s isn’t even one which does not have an IT company or engineering college bus, like the waiting ark of the mythological Noah, parked in random carelessness. But here the Ark is the one causing the flood, if you get my drift.

It is fair to assume that if engineering colleges and IT companies go bust it will be the bus-manufacturing firms that would be the worst hit —— even more than the education and computer sectors. Think it other way, Parveen Travels has the best infrastructure to get into the IT sector.

I am not ready to crib about the vehicles that ply the employees of call centres, except perhaps say that drivers here are under instructions that if by any chance they slow down their vehicles the Indo-US nuclear deal may come unstuck. In which case, outsourcing from the US will also stop, eventually putting them all involved the business (including the drivers) on the streets, which is anyway full of IT company buses.

Just as I am about to finish this piece with a suitably humorous ‘ending’   — the kind of words that you can remember and guffaw uncontrollably even while, say, travelling in a vestibule-bus or a share-auto —— two things strike my mind: One, I am incapable of coming up with such sterling humour. Two, people are, at any rate, hardly in a mood to enjoy such humour.

And it is all because of the traffic chaos on the city roads, thanks to the vestibule-autos. Or is it share-buses?