Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Second semester started last Monday. So we've had 8 days of classes since then. I've made it to college in time for the first period on 2 of those 8 days - no doubt, a cause for celebration. What makes it even more special is that that enviable tally could so easily have been 3 instead of 2.

So, sometime last week I got into an auto with the noble intention of reaching college on time. Just a normal auto - the usual uncomfortable seats, the excess fare message painted in miniscule letters conforming completely with the Bengaluru Auto Drivers Association's (BADA) standard for abysmal spelling, the customary cd dangling from the rear view mirror, and the mandatory picture of Shankar Nag on the windshield. As you can see, nothing out of the ordinary.

We started off pretty smoothly. The official mascot of the BADA is a bidi in khakis smoking a bidi. So, what happened next didn't exactly shock the pants off of me. The driver pulled out a bidi within 10 seconds of starting the auto, an early indication that he was a pastmaster of the art of auto driving. It was around then that it suddenly struck me that he was the kind of guy I'd put my money on to win a Godzilla look-alike contest, if and when the people concerned decide to hold one as a last ditch effort to revive the old radioactive lizard's flagging popularity.

Within a few minutes, Godzilla was discarding the first bidi and lighting a second. Then a third. And a fourth. They just kept on coming. It was, I suppose, his way of subtly conveying to me that he had served more than one term on the executive board of the BADA. Somehow, I wasn't very impressed.

As he kept puffing away, I was enveloped in a cloud of smoke. Now, I'm usually passive. I'm not a smoker. I don't enjoy being a passive smoker. I was trying to get that message across to him, but it's awfully hard to open one's mouth when there's smoke all around. Obviously, I had to exercise my ventriloquistic talents. So, I sat there with my mouth tightly shut, delivering a sermon on the health hazards posed by smoking, namely headaches, a reduced libido and impotence (and according to some unconfirmed reports, lung cancer). But I guess I'm not an accomplished enough ventriloquist. Or maybe Godzilla was just a stubborn bum. Whatever the case (I'm inclined to believe it was the latter), my lecture didn't have much of an effect on him.

To my great relief (and that of his family, well-wishers, and the BADA), he soon ran out of bidis. The smoke cleared quickly enough. It was then that I noticed that we were moving along like a sloth suffering from arthritis. That's a little slower than Maurice Greene when he's dead. I estimated that I would reach my destination seven times quicker if Godzilla just hefted me onto his shoulders and hopped the distance on one leg. I also noticed that the meter was running as fast as it would have if we were travelling as fast as Maurice Greene (not dead, obviously). He had rigged it pretty well, a sure-fire sign of an auto-driver truly worth his salt.

Every few minutes, he stuck his head out through the side of the auto and gently cautioned less competent drivers against driving too fast, slipping in a few exotic sounding obscenities (the rights to which are held jointly by the BADA and the IITs) whenever he felt the need. By this time, even my optimum levels of optimism didn't allow me to cling onto a last shred of hope that I may be able to attend the first period.

But of course, there was one more thing that Godzilla had to show me to convince me that he was a consummate practitioner of his sacred profession. Apparently, he had forgotten. But it did come, and it came when we were less than a kilometre from college. I had, by then, started to wonder if I had overestimated his prowess. So, when it did come, it took me completely by surprise. His speakers were unbelievably loud. But then, Excuse Me is a perennial favourite of mine. I hummed along happily. Godzilla must have heard me, because he started honking his horn in tune with the song. And very soon, he was humming along too. So we hummed together all the way to college.

(Obviously, this is part fact, part fiction. Most of it is true, but grossly exaggerated, as is the case with most of my writing)


Blogger Jang!! said...


I am back in Class 3.

6:07 AM, December 21, 2005  
Blogger abhas1 said...

nice work! keep humming that tune!

7:22 AM, December 27, 2005  
Blogger Re of Light said...

Nope.. That's pretty real alright...

11:05 AM, December 28, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


1:24 AM, December 30, 2005  

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