Long hours spent covering short distances

“Long hours spent covering short distances” is by far the most befitting description of what it’s like to be stuck in the quagmire of bumper to bumper traffic along the serpentine roads of the city. Aside from the pedestrians who can, and will always squeeze in, right before/against your car/vehicle to get across the street or spring out of nowhere, literally nowhere to cross the road, at the same moment that you should be driving (at a rather high speed, I might add) through it.

Welcome to Bombay. The city of Dreams and the city that Day Dreams.

After that seemingly irate rant on the traffic of the city, what follows is anything but a chit from a complaint box. I promise.
What it is, is something I recently experienced, an awakening of sorts (if I may) to a world I’ve seen very little of before. I’ve travelled  a fair bit by the local train as well, but not as much as I prefer to travel by road. Which I have over the past week.

Photo Credits : Mid Day
Photo Credits : Mid Day

Flashback to Tuesday October 28, 2014 – Having worked at Diwali and through Diwali week, I decided to take a 4 day break and really just chill. What happened, did give me the chills. (Literally. The car’s air conditioning was super strong. But that’s besides the point) A distance that would take no longer than 30 minutes at the very max, had taken us approximately an hour and half. While most of us would wonder why such a big deal is being made out of a mundane traffic jam – which is the reality of a large population’s everyday life. The reason is simple, when you’re stuck in a traffic jam, you have very little else to do – movement wise.

Like the few hundreds who were troubled by the queue of metal warriors, I was gazing aimlessly out of the window until an anonymous chotu caught my eye and attention. He was serving tea at a small tea joint, when one of his “cush-tomrsss” asked him to join him for tea. Chotu sat beside him fondly cradling a warm cup of cutting chai in his little palms. Their conversation looked almost poetic from where I was sitting, a certain liveliness in expression came upon them both, as though two philosophers discussion the origins of the universe and human thought, itself. I had to invite the din of the surrounding into my little bubble of peace, to hear a conversation that looked so interesting, I was willing to forgo of the AC in the car, and invite in, heat, dust, smoke and abuses. Which I did. http://i2.wp.com/timewellness.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/gossip.jpg?resize=362%2C241

Rolling down my window, I heard them for the first time. And the conversation was disappointing to say the least. Not philosophical or intelligible as I hoped it would be. It was in fact the kind of mindless gossip that we detest society for. Both man and child leering away at women who passed by. One lech sowing the seed of his tainted thoughts into the soil of this little boy’s imagination. Could it be that this Chotu would grow up to have a narrow mind?

But there is a God, and he works in mysterious ways. Just as chotu was being shown how to “do it right” one of the ladies who didn’t take the leering silently, went up to the “gentleman” and slapped him across his face. She not only shamed him in front of a boy who needed to know the consequences of this inappropriateness being taught to him, but also before a street full of people who were in no rush to move. Life as it were for a moment stood still. Amidst the noise and outcry over his actions I overheard someone say “long hours spent covering short distances in our minds and society.”

Nothing has ever made more sense to me before this one statement, and I can’t help but wonder, had I not ventured out that day, would I have moved on with life knowing that something was missing, but never knowing what? It is for such inexplicably complex, bizarre and powerful reasons that I yearn to travel every day for the rest of my life. Not to witness the corruption of society and the breakdown of human thought, but to revisit a place in my mind and erase the lines that confine it. To wake up to a world where nothing and no one will go down without a fight, to a world where mountains crumble and the ocean is the sky. Travel I believe has a way of impacting you like nothing else can, it teaches you to go within yourself only when you are outside of your comfort zone.

It inspires you in a way you never knew was possible. Until now I’m not exactly sure what I gained from that experience, but I know that on some level or another it has changed me. I feel altered, changed, remoulded somehow, and for the first time, in a long time, it feels good.

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