Friday, May 20, 2005

Metraaas, Nalla Metraaas!

Awesome city, folks! Any city that can come up with the phrase, "Cycle gap-la auto otaranga," must ROCK! Naturally enough, it deserves my deepest appreciation and most sincere admiration.
For those uninitiated, this phrase in our local slang a.k.a. Madras Bashai, contains the stupendous philosophy of 'opportunism'. In its crudest form. Of course to understand it, you have to understand the modus operandi and psyche of that unique species: Chennai's autodrivers.
Their ability to navigate at speeds faster than light on utterly congested roads and take you to your destination nearly unscathed, is legend in these parts. By the way, I'm not including hyper tension, or racing pulse rate or high blood pressure, not even the dislocation of most ball and socket joints.
Part of their skill, as the translation of our key phrase indicates, is their ability to enter and zip through space ideally sufficient only for a cycle.
Why am I writing about it now? Because, I have not only had the opportunity to ponder about opportunism of individuals recently, but also the occasion to travel in an auto that did just that. In that divine language, "Cycle gap-la autokarar poondhutaru ba."
It was about 11 p.m. and I was taking an auto home. On Mount Road, close to the Spencer's Signal, there are barriers placed in the middle of the road to slow down speeding vehicles at night. Following the irrefutable logic that there can be no barriers for a Chennai autorickshaw, my vehicle swerved to the right to overtake a bus, edging into the nanospace that existed between the bus and the wrought iron barrier.
Even my obvious Chennai nativity and upbringing could not prevent my heart from stopping for about ten seconds during that harrowing near-miss.
Notably, my autorickshaw driver was completely unperturbed, zen-like eyelids unblinking, he continued to drive recklessly until he got me home, with minimal damage.
Now, THAT that takes a hell lot of guts for a normal human being. But of course, auto drivers don't fall under that category. At least in Namma Metraaas, they do not.



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