September 9, 2010 @ 12:02 pm
The only pleasant phase of my long sluggish drive to office is a brief stretch of Cubbon Park. Ideally, vehicles shouldn’t be allowed through this park. On my part, I am guilty of using this stretch because it saves me time whenever I am running late. I know I shouldn’t be using this route. There is enough pollution already in this once-beautiful park.
For those of you not familiar with the topography of Bangalore, Cubbon Park is a green hub right in the middle of the city. A sprawling park spotted with numerous trees. In the mornings, there are enough vehicles passing through this park to impart a smoke-screen on the greenery. One such morning I enter Cubbon Park and line-up quietly behind a trail of cars. We are all waiting for the traffic signal at the far end to mercifully spit us all out from a lovely park into the concrete jungle lying adjacent to it.
Suddenly, a car slides right next to mine. I notice from the corner of my eye that someone is signalling towards me. I turn my head to the right and find the car’s driver asking me to roll down my windows. With the tinted mask gone from my sight, I notice the white gleaming car parked periliously close to my car. The driver is a young chap, with a beard – a goatee rather, and has sunglasses perched on his head rather than on his nose. He munches on an already half-eaten apple and blurts, “How is the car?”
“Sorry?” I try to understand what he just munched.
“The car. Car. How is the car?” he repeats, in a tone that tells you he has miles to go before he can have a nap.
I realize he is asking me about my car. For some reason I look at my dashboard, as though that is where the answer lies. I then look back at him and say, “Yeah, the car is good. No problems so far.” I nod my head a couple of times in affirmation to what I just said.
He munches on his apple a bit, says a “hmmm”. I look out of my window to figure out the make of his car. But he had parked the car so close to mine, it was impossible for me to know the car model.
“What car is yours?” I ask.
“Wow, that’s cool. How’s the car?” and I suddenly start believing that asking a stranger about his car is perfectly acceptable.
“No leg space” he says in a dejected tone. “I should have bought your car,” he continues in a regretful tone.
“But you’ve got a great brand. It’s an European car after all. My car is one of those cheap Korean brands, not much of a reputation there,” I try and cheer him up. I was feeling bad for the boy now since he seemed quite depressed of having bought a ‘wrong’ car. For me, though, his car was just as good as any other car. In fact even better owing to its German roots.
“What use is this brand when there is so little leg space,” he laments with a remorseful look on his face. Then he shakes his head, drops off the core of the apple somewhere between the front seats and raises the window through which we were conversing.
No bye, no thank you, nothing. The conversation ends just as abruptly as it had started. A vendor comes by selling mobile chargers for cars. The signal had turned green, the dormant cars had switched on their engines and everyone’s right feet was on the accelerator raring to get to wherever they had to go.
The Volkswagen Polo slides away hurriedly ahead of me, and one of the most dejected guys I have ever seen is steering that car. I roll up my windows, drive past the glitzy UB City mall. The security staff there is getting ready, some of them cycling in with their lunch boxes in tow. No half-eaten apples in there, I suppose. No dejection on having a life without too many choices, perhaps. What gives? What makes one person depressed about a thing such as a car? And what makes one person strive to get to work in a cycle?
As these thoughts swirl around my head and fade away into the radio’s constant noise, I pat my car’s dashboard and congratulate myself for having bought this car. I don’t know much about cars, but if someone who owns a Volkswagen wanted my car, I have perhaps done it right.