Sunday, August 29, 2010

Zen Buddhism and the art of patience

You may have heard of the 100 km traffic jam in Beijing where traffic moved at 1 km a day - that's right a day; not an hour. This post is a learned treatise on handling exactly such a situation.

There's no point cursing or wailing. It won't get you any further than 1 km a day. No point abandoning your automobile to come and get it another time - whenever you get it you still can only do 1km a day. You have to turn to India for advice; for Indians love to spend half their waking lives absolutely stationary on the road.

The first thing you need to do is to climb your car over the divider (yes, that's possible) and drive at 100 kmph on the opposite side of the road. Since you can absolutely rely on 5000 other people doing the same, you will progress 1 km and then come to a screeching halt. You can also  confidently rely on the fact that people stuck in the opposite direction would have also done the same and therefore the street now has the proper order of two armies facing each other on both sides of the road. The natural order of things has been restored.

Having done this, you can now start a musical extravaganza by honking to your heart's content. Since everybody has fitted his vehicle with musical horns, the resultant cacophony has some solid claim to be labeled a philharmonic orchestra. The logic of such a comparison is that there is no discernible difference in terms of output, but we shall let that pass.

Having satisfied your musical sensibilities, you can now amuse yourself by trying to outdo the laws of physics. Some long forgotten physicist defined mass and such other concepts long ago. It is said that  only one object can occupy a given unit of space at one point in time. That physical law, that is valid throughout the entire universe, has been unable to exercise its influence on India. On the road; more than one vehicle can occupy a given spot at the same time. Indians have achieved this feat in their unyielding quest to perfect the tightest traffic jam in the world.

After satisfying your aural sensibilities and having altered the laws of physics, you can now turn to matters gastronomical. It is widely known that Indians in general, and the feminine species of that nation in particular, are , to put it kindly, dimensioned rather generously. This has been achieved by rigorous adherence to the philosophy that not even a nanometer of space should be left empty, either on the road or in the gastro-intestinal system. In order to ensure this, there is a veritable treasure trove of edible material in every vehicle that does little to nutrition but everything to the generous dimensions alluded to earlier.  They say love thy neighbour : so the same neighbouring car , whose occupants' maternal antecedents were commented upon adversely, just a while ago, are invited to partake in this national contribution to appropriate girth.  Such  activity can positively occupy the sensibilities for a fair length of time.

Having exhausted aural, neural and oral capabilities, we can turn to giving some rest to all the faculties. This is easier to achieve as the ample posterior that goes with generous dimensions has a pillowing effect that induces somnolence. Accompanying snores that rend the air has a rather calming effect. General peace prevails.

Having adequately recharged one's capabilities, we can now turn to , ahem, certain biological functions. It has  been adequately proved that the presence of fresh air and an automobile tyre,  in close proximity, rather enhances the experience. This matter, having satisfactorily attended to, we can now turn to the task of navigating the 1km ration in the day. Having achieved that miracle, we can start all over again. 

Blessed are the Indian roads and their illustrious occupants. Amen.