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A ride around the city

A ride around the city

On Monday, the 23rd of Jan 2017, the Jallikattu protest went horribly wrong. As information trickled about acrimonious scenes at the Marina and about roadblocks on OMR, I decided to leave my workplace (this one in Mylapore) for home at 15:45 hours. I live about 9 km away opposite the Forum Mall. 

I decided to drive down via Eldams Road, but when I was at a striking distance from SIET College a slew of MTC buses blocked the path. No driver, no passenger, no nothing.  With that route shut, I detoured via Poes Road to reach Cathedral Road, went past Gemini Flyover and as I stepped into NH Road, a sea of humanity welcomed me. 

When the GPS took over...

The place was blocked, a few vehicles were randomly allowed. I told the lone cop that I needed to go straight and turn left. He was unimpressed and suggested I take the arterial Mount Road. I resigned myself to the fate of an Aam aadmi and did as directed.  Thereafter it was the GPS in my mobile.  

Sometime soon I crossed Anderson Road, and the GPS directed me on to a path that would take me to Sterling Road. Here I was stranded but was privy to a remarkable display of road sense by our citizens.  Even as young boys coordinated the traffic, men in Audi, BMW, Mercedes drove on the right lane (which is the wrong lane). The boys had to signal them with their hands to say, "Keep left, keep left," like class-teachers in school.  What a shame! 

Wonderful opportunity...

As I turned left at the end of Sterling Road, the car had to stop. There was just no movement.  During those epic moments I made interesting conversations with fellow travellers. I spoke to a 12th standard girl who had left school at 2:30 pm  and at 4:30 pm was still in her car. She complained of the delay. I told her it was a wonderful opportunity to plan writing an essay on traffic. She must have felt she hadn’t left school after all!

At the next big halt I chatted with a class 10 boy who wants to do CA. He asked me whether I knew anything about the course.  As I stared blankly he gave me gyan about how the course was the second toughest course in the country! I nodded my head!  You cannot blame him for not knowing that I was a CA. 

And then the traffic slowly began to move. 

“So what, don’t go that side.”

Soon I lost my way and instead of turning up at 100 feet road, I ended up somewhere in Choolaimedu. The mobile battery died and the wonderful GPS became non functional.  Unsure of myself I asked a cop on how to reach Forum Mall. He told me in chaste Tamil that there was heavy stone pelting and there was no way I could reach the spot. I told him there’s a police station 50 feet away from the Mall. He sort of asked,  “So what,” and said, “Don't go that side.” I said but I live opposite that place. He recommended I go to T Nagar, Park my car and sleep inside it. 

Many calls inundated me. Someone asked if a bomb had been hurled at a petrol bunk in Vadapalani.  Someone said, heavy stone pelting was taking place 500 feet away. 

My fuel tank was full and the problem of being stranded on the road was not there. As I lay there and these calls came I was reminded of riots in cities of which I had read. With the news of the place where I lived looking bad, I wondered as to what should I do. And then told myself, “this is my city. I have lived here for the best part of my life. This city can do me no harm. And then drove down, after a couple of noises by drunken men near my place.  And reached home at 19:45 hours - a good four hours on Chennai Ula!

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