Ring Road Rendezvous
There are some things that you got to do once in a while. And when you do it, you have a feel-good sensation. That’s exactly how I felt after taking a ride on a bus along the inner Ring Road of Delhi. I had been longing to take such a trip for quite sometime, so it was some kind of indulging in double delight from doing an unnormal thing and making a wish come true.
Have to admit but it was out of sheer frustration and irritation—nothing related with the outing though—that I had boarded the blueline bus. I would rather skip this part and
I WOULD RATHER CARE NOT TO FIND THE MEANING IN THE ABSURDITIES OF THIS JOURNEY: THE ONE I WAS IN, OR GENERALLY IN OUR EXISTENCE AS A WHOLE. WE ARE SEEMINGLY LOOKING FOR REASON IN EACH FACETS OF LIFE AS IF WE ARE SO LOGICAL. WE ARE ONLY SENSIBLE WHEN COMPARING TO OTHER ANIMALS. PERIOD.
I took the bus from Maharani Bagh, one of the main link points in South Delhi. I was still confused and angry while trying to concentrate... As the bus moved towards the north of the city, I slowly emerged myself in my world. One of the ways I learnt about living in the present is to take pleasure of things I do with all my senses—in those situation, what count were the view of the roadside scenes, listening attentively to the sounds of revving engines and the medley crowd plus sensing the breeze as it surprised my skin. In another sense, it was going through with everything that I come across with my sensory perception. It did help. I felt somehow relaxed; maybe this was the reason I was so sleepy when we reached near the Civil Lines and university area. Or maybe the two light pegs of Royal Stag that I had taken an hour earlier were starting to take action.
I regained full consciousness when the bus started moving tardily like a sick bull carrying an unwanted cart on its back. It was Sunday and the traffic was excitingly less but the wide roads in Azadpur—with whirling flyovers and landscaped areas which were not there when I passed the way three years ago—proved insufficient for the travelling herd in cars, buses and bikes. Do people have so many errands to run on a holiday? Well, I was on a pleasure trip! It may sound arrogant but seriously, Delhi would be a nicer place if the death bells of traffic jams could be tolled. I wish I have a gong if the sound would mean its end. We came across another such jam later; otherwise the tour was so pleasant.
The road till Shalimar Bagh was recognisable if not too unfamiliar. Three years ago, I used to travel there three times a week to give guitar lessons. Time surely flies—those days I was still in post graduation, had to earn my pocket money and now I still travel in congested roads on public transport to earn a living. Of course, life is much more than working hard and partying harder. There are so much more obligations, especially social and familial responsibilities, that would at least help define life with a clearer perspective.
Then as the terrain became more unusual, the landscape lost its sheen. While natural light gave room for the impending dark hours, dull dots of orange light garbed the peripheries that extended to a wide angle. There were also huge blocks of building near Wazipur Depot, which were brightly lit in a typical Delhi-style. You know here, there are always two ghettos that flanked a posh area (except in some parts of central zone) as if highlighting the grandeur by their impoverishment.
When I embarked from Maharani Bagh, I had intended to get off at Punjabi Bagh—which I know was on this route—but changed my mind and I kept on sitting, enjoying the ride. I took out my suede shirt to face the onslaught of the rushing airs. The winter has also arrived quite unexpectedly. How could you believe the atmosphere ever turn so chilly following the ass-smacking summers in the city? Some sort of annual ritual it is! However it is still tolerable, it will only get worse in mid-December but thankfully, it does not last long. I wish the summer, another maddening feature of the city along with the traffic jam, was also short.
As we moved towards Dhaula Kuan, the bus conductor smiled at me, and came towards me asking where I was going to. I replied asking him where the bus was going to. It just struck me that the bus provides a Ring-Road service and would continue in the same direction. But he told me the bus would, but in the opposite way i.e., it will take a u-turn from Dhaula Kuan and make a round trip. So I got down and stretching my leg, I walked up to Moti Bagh which was at a distance of nearly one kilometre.
I ate a plate of golguppa and took a fag before I boarded another bus. Unlike the elongated distance from Shalimar Bagh to Dhaula Kuan, the view was familiar when I got the bus from Moti Bagh. I did not get a seat and did not pay for the ride this time. I was not paying for not not (sic) getting a seat but the area, where the conductor was seated, was too crammed full. And when the crowd dispersed, I simply ignored him though he was yelling whoever was without a ticket must get it immediately. I can conclude that I travelled 40km—the length of Ring Road according to Wikipedia—with 10 bucks. If you have 30 bucks, you can enjoy to the fullest, in a sense you would travel legally and can have a fag break on the way too!
Let your mind start a journey through a strange new world. Leave all thoughts of the world you knew before. Let your soul take you where you long to be... Close your eyes let your spirit start to soar, and you'll live as you've never lived before.
__________________________________________________ Erich Fromm