Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Inviting Trouble?

I’ve owned a 2-wheeler for 10 years now. Can’t believe it! I still have it and it still works! The first thing that I bought after I got the bike was a helmet. I can’t really remember going anywhere on the vehicle sans my helmet.

I’ve always tried to figure out why someone would resist wearing one. My own friends try to resist it to the extent possible. I’ve been the butt of endless jokes about how my helmet is so big while my bike is so small. (It’s not about the bike, people! It’s about the head!)

On the “IT Super Highway” in Madras, I’ve seen so many young people, proudly displaying their identity tags, weaving in and out of traffic, without a helmet. I thought that was appalling until I moved to Hyderabad. Almost nobody wears a helmet in Hyderabad. Worse still, rear view mirrors are optional add-ons to 2-wheelers! The bike comes with one rear view mirror, but if you don’t want it, the dealer will charge you less for the bike. I wonder if it works the same way for other bike parts. Like the brakes for instance?

I saw something morning that has left me extremely troubled. I grew up right here in India. I know for a fact that a 2 wheeler is a family vehicle. "Buland Bharat ki buland tasveer, hamara Bajaj”! But what I saw this morning was most unusual. A family of 4 was traveling on a scooter. The wife sat at the back. The husband was riding. The two children were standing in the space in front. None of them was wearing a helmet. (Was I actually expecting them to?) The older child, about 3, was holding the 6 month old baby and standing. The baby was leaning over the handle bar and trying to wiggle out from the brother’s arms. All this on Bellary Road, which is the NH7! What were they thinking? My thoughts went to hundreds of thousands of couples who crave babies and, for reasons unknown to us can never have them. And here, in front of me, I had a couple that had, not one, but two, children and yet, one that couldn’t have been more careless.

My friends tell me about Indian couples in the US who allow their children to ride in the front seat of their cars. Why? Because the child “doesn’t like” to sit in the car seat at the back! I can’t remember exactly when I was permitted to sit in the front seat of my parents’ car. It was clearly after I was 13 or older. It was all right if my dad or mom seemed like a chauffeur, but that was the way it had to be. My doctor friends in Hyderabad would never let their 3 year old ride in the front seat. My friend would always sit in the back with the little one if she refused to sit by herself.

Is it true that we don’t realize the value of something as long as we have it? Are we bound to realize this only when we suffer a loss? As always, yet another fac(e)t of life that will most likely remain outside the realm of my understanding.

Friday, June 16, 2006


I've been traveling a lot lately... or so I seem to feel. A trip to Pune on work... an unexpected trip to Mumbai because I missed my flight in Pune. A drive down the much talked about Pune - Mumbai Expressway. A Spanish exam within 3 days of getting back. A trip to Delhi and Gurgaon and then to Kanpur to attend the wedding of my alter ego... spending a day in Delhi, just totally in awe of the place... this is so not the city I left behind 5 years ago. Wide roads, lush greenery, and a never-before experience of pubbing with friends until midnight.

All of this gave me the hangover of a lifetime. I didn't expect a short 4 day trip to give me such a high, bit it did. And now I'm back at work. I'm not too happy about it. Now my mind's traveling. As always, a thousand or more thoughts cross my mind every minute, some happy thoughts, some not so happy thoughts.

All of a sudden I'm wondering about what lies ahead. I've become apprehensive about the future, something I wasn't before. I've always been pretty sure of myself... but now suddenly I worry about tomorrow... I worry about the what ifs.

My body is back in Bangalore, but my mind is wandering. I hope it will return sometime soon.