Can You Read (between the lines)?

I drive myself to office. Correction, I ‘ride’ a scooty or if I have to believe someone whom I don’t wanna name right now, I should call it a ‘scooter’ cos I’m a guy. Sshh! I know, ‘Gender Equality’ is the need of the hour. (But wait a second. Isn’t neutrality a notch above equality and we all should rather make the ‘gender neutrality’ a buzz word instead? All right, back to the first point). So I ‘scooterify’ (Gender neutrality in action, you see) to office five days a week. By the way, if you are wondering why I was so particular with the bike jargon, let me tell you something that I learnt recently. Gurgaon people are surprisingly so adept at vocabulary (no, not ‘that’ vocabulary in this context) that they always differentiate between ‘driving’ a car and ‘riding’ a bike. Invariably, ‘gaadi’ means a 4 wheeler (& apparently only a car; the mini trucks with 4 wheels are conveniently forgotten) and never supposed to mean a bike.

Anyway, my first point here is that no one actually seems to care for the bikers in this place. So much that it is an accepted notion to consider it dangerous to drive a bike in here. So much, that it took 5 years for me to depose all the ‘free’ scary advice people gave me (“comeon dude! Buy a car. Don’t drive a bike here. It’s dangerous”) and finally try a 2 wheeler. Back in my hometown, I used to detest wearing a helmet so much that I was rather happy paying off a fine just incase I got caught (oh yea, my driving skills are great too and I had some trust on fellow traffic) than wear the ‘head suitcase’ of a thing called helmet. Not that I disregard the safety aspect but I was a youngster back then and more worried about my hairstyle getting messed up or the inability to show off my goggles if I wore a helmet. Anyway, it took just a couple of days of driving here on a bike and boy, what did I find? (1) Helmets are important. Total acceptance. No questions anymore. I have two helmets now, ISI stamped! (2) ‘Free’ advice can actually be true at times! (I felt sorry I questioned the integrity of my advisor initially. I feel so guilty now, I’ll buy him a coffee tomorrow).

Since I’ve got started on the topic of helmets, let me ask you something. Ever thought what it must feel like to transform into a boiled egg (not pokemon stuff. Come on, I’m serious!)? For all those who complain about the hot summer sun, please drive a bike with a helmet on in the hot summer for ten minutes and you’ll know how it feels once you reach the parking. If my helmet is the outer hard white shell, my head definitely feels like the boiled egg! The only difference is that helmets are black and eggs are white! At this juncture, let us spare a moment of silence for all of those (including myself) who had to put on the pillion rider helmet handed over by the bike taxi guy. I tell you (and if you are going to do this for the first time, consider yourself warned), never ever ever ever (like how the famous Goswami puts it on TV) put that helmet on with your nostrils open. And mind you again, once your head is inside the ‘stuffy cave’ make sure you open up the glass pane (most such helmets are so used up they wouldn’t have it) before you resume breathing. I don’t wanna put it in words what would happen if you don’t follow the above rules because I know; the nation definitely doesn’t wanna know about the overwhelming ‘nostralgia’ I experienced the first time I missed the rules. Well, yea lets just blame it on the harmful chemicals in the polluted air reacting with the insides of the helmet.

But the big picture problem for someone like me who (still) has some hair on the head (I’m on my way to baldness & I’m still single and I’m worried now; thanks to the helmet usage & pollution & hardwater. So many competing causes, stress feels left out in the race), the biggest challenge is to manage my hair after it is out of the oven. No wonder people look at me in the lift like I’m trying a new hairstyle (& a bad one) everyday. To add on to my embarassment, the lift has mirrored walls and the only direction I can look now (in order to avoid my own steamy-sweaty face with anti decorative hair or the stares of others) is the floor of the lift.

Luckily for me, the lifts in my office building are designed to handle this exact kinda stress and divert your focus to non material things, like music. There is this amazing flute music that plays inside the lift; carnatic/hindustani or just ‘flusion’, can’t really tell. It definitely sets the momentum and slows down time (more than one would need in the workday morning, honestly). The amazing tune (I’m sure someone must have carefully selected the pitch, the intonation, the decibel level and the loop frequency) ease my nerves so much that I wish the building was like a hundred floors (with my office on the top floor) and that there was a bed inside the lift. Not a day passes without me wondering who the lift DJ must be. Cant they play something more ‘non-fluty’ in the morning like Bryan Adams’ – ‘Here I am, this is me. There’s no where else on earth that I’d rather be’? I mean, the flute is fantastic and I’m a big fan, but lets just give Bryan a chance and reserve the flute music for the time when I’m getting back to office after a laid back post lunch walk? (I know you are thinking that I dragged this far too much than just plugging my own headphones instead. But remember, I can’t plug my ear vents. The boiled egg needs time and all possible vents to readjust the thermal profile)

I know many who drive cars and see bikers as ‘enemies with half the number of wheels and brains’ (or may be I’m just exaggerating. What’s the point of using a two wheeler if one is not allowed to cut zig zag through the cars while they wait up at the red light? Joke is on you, don’t be angry!). But hey, I’ve driven a scooter which was (1) yet to be transferred on my name; (2) no pollution check done and (3) an expired insurance, for 6 months. Not one traffic police cared enough to catch me and fine me (This is probably the only reason why I personally think Gurgaon is better than my hometown Hyderabad!). Isn’t that proof enought that no one cares for bikers? Well, I guess, I just have to appreciate the police man’s humanitarian (‘scooteritarian’ is more apt perhaps) attitude in being kind on the ‘aam admi bike wala’ (in order to catch the bigger fish ‘gaadi wala’. Gaadiwalas, don’t plan revenge on me with the traffic police now, I’ve got all the paper work fixed before writing this post!).

You probably need to get back to work right now (and I’m sure my ranting has bored you enought to make your work seem more interesting). Let me ask you a final bottom line question:

Putting aside our differences with regards to how many number of wheels we ‘drive’ or ‘ride’: Don’t you think the car/bike manufacturers would save millions if they got rid of the turn indicators & side mirrors for all the vehicles that are targeted for NCR customers? They won’t use them anyway when they drive, so what’s the point? (and I would be the victim of such a transition. I can’t actually drive without the side mirrors or without switching on proper indicators when I take a turn. Can you? Do you?. by the way, switching on indicators 2.5 seconds before you take a turn doesn’t count.)

Think about it and if you are able to read between the lines, then there must be atleast one valid question in my endless ranting that would hit you ‘boldly’ and the answers to it might just make driving more safer (convenience, can come next) for every one.

For now, I’m just gonna have to sign off cos I have a brilliant idea to apply a patent for:
“The ‘Advanced – Air Conditioned – Anti Microbial – Auto Lock – Anti Baldness – PM 2.5 – No added Flusion Music – Self Venting & Draining Helmet” (Sorry, that must have sounded like another shampoo ad. Sorry again for not coming up with a fancy acronym with the capital letters of each word. Fancy acronyms get funding these days). I’m sure technology will make it real for me some day (I’ll rather write a letter to Elon Musk if there are no takers) and I’m also dreaming on releasing the next version with the added tag ‘Self Fragrant’ and the next one with the tag of ‘Advanced Vitamin D formula’ (sounds like shampoo ad again. We all lack Vitamin D anyways, so it might just be my USP).

Don’t kill me. Ciao!

{Disclaimer: Needless to say, this post is not intended to hurt/defame/mock the feelings/sentiments of any place/class/person/industry (yada yada, everything else). All the views cited are purely personal and are just an attempt to evoke humour.}

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[ Photo credits: Brianna Santellan on Unsplash ]

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