Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Traveling has it's own way of entertaining people...It soothes, it excites, it enthralls..but it's also got this annoying other side to it...something that I've had the misfortune to experience. The college I study in is situated about 25 kms (I've never bothered to find out if it's a correct estimate) from Chennai and hence the hour-long journeys up and down everyday of my life during weekdays (am I so grateful I don't have to do it on Saturdays).
I always look at it as a journey consisting of 2 parts..one from my place to the city limits and second from there to the godforsaken, mundane, follow-the-rules-else-get-your-ass-kicked and totally uncool place called college !!!!

Porur...Typical Chennai !!!!

The first part is inside city so traffic is compulsary. There's just one traffic signal on my way and people waiting under the hot morning sun for public transport, the fully loaded share autos busy honking their way through the traffic , college-goers and office employees waiting for their buses, shopkeepers busy sweeping the little spaces in front of shops(only to dump all the dirt onto neighbour's space or on some unfortunate passer-by), street vendors busy putting up their shops to settle down for yet another day with hopes that the almighty showers upon thema bunch of gullible customers are some of the absolutely common sights of a morning in Chennai. There a few other stomach-churning ones best left undescribed, simply keeping in mind the good health of the reader. I spend most of time staring outside the window...looking at a thousand lives do different things that drive their lives, stuff that earns them a livelihood, jobs that keep them going..different people, different lifestyles, different ways of thinking, different customs, languages and religions....and all of us together under the big bright morning Sun for just one bat of an eyelid..and poof !!! everything is changed..the lights turn green, vehicles start moving, different places to go and be...and no time at all !!! Simply amazing !!!

Chennai's infamous National Highway !!!!!
There is one though, that I never fail to see..a wind energy-capturing plant..an amazing creation of human ingenuity. A cornucopia of buses carrying students and employees and lorries and trucks is never an uncommon sight for a college student sitting inside a boring bus...waiting to be on the other side of the road.
This part is sometimes quite dangerous as accidents happen quite frequently. Speaking of accidents, this is one of those incidents I vividly remember from my first year.....
It was yet another dull Thursday morning as we all had our heads buried in books, trying to make the best out of the few hours available before model exams. I was seated right behind the driver trying to figure out the absolutely alien circuit diagrams and equations splashed across my book, when I was momentarily distracted by the sudden drizzle. It was quite uncommon for that happen on a day during summer. I shared a quick word about it to my friend and returned to my book when the bus suddenly swerved sideways to the platform on the road. everything happened in a flash..The driver lost control of the steering wheel and fell down, with his legs pressed hard on the brakes. A friend of mine sitting right next to me fell down and I was next to follow suit. I will never forget this moment for years to come... It was something out of the ordinary..An adrenaline rush like never before seized my body and I was shocked beyond reality. My thoughts were blurred and all I could think of was absolutely nothing. My heart beat a million times faster and I was paralysed with fear and shock. By now, I can only guess, the bus had it's two wheels on the platform, when the driver's efforts to stop the bus finally clicked. The two of us were on the floor and guys scurried out of the bus. Nobody else had fallen and helped out both of us. I was shaking, very much in the literal sense, and so was my friend. People all around us were talking of things that made absolutely no sense to me. I couldn't hear a word of what all that talk and then I knew something was wrong. I had hurt my right knee as I fell down from the foot board the previous day(I tried to alight from a moving bus..a stunt that I never dared to try from then on). Blood was trickling down from it and I struggled to stay calm. Some of my seniors gave me water and I heard words that meant something like..Everything is gonna be okay... We all finally got down, when it was still drizzling( and I was still shivering ). There was broken glass lying all over the place. There was another bus that had crashed into ours. That was because the driver couldn't control it as ours braked suddenly. The poor guy was hurt and people were helping him out. Our driver had suffered minor injuries and was otherwise okay...though I shudder to think of his mental condition after a mishap such as that. There was another of my busmates who was bruised. I had this quaint feelin when i looked at my surroundings..Everythin perfectly all right except fr the accident. I had seen this place sittin peacefully in my bus as we it zooms past everyday..But things were different today..Strange yet familiar. We were helped into another bus n reached coll a tad too late.
Well the second part of the journey is entirely different. Gone are the houses and vendors and people waiting on roadsides. Its time to set your eyes on an entire array of heavy vehicles. Off city limits there is one school, a Madrasa, a dental hospital and college (Oh boy...am I surprised I remember junk like this !!!). Otherwise the road is dotted with a number of industries and factories, adding to the atmosphere a considerable amount of pollutants every damn minute.

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