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On the Road


C o r n y    I m p r e s s i o n s     o f     t h e     D a i l y     D r i v e


I promise I’ll keep this article to the barest of impressions, on the experiences I have been having in my rides across the south Delhi streets, more specifically, in the daily drive to and fro my workplace. Well it is too important for me to recollect the thoughts, but first, it is my vanity that makes me state it unabashedly and secondly, you will be surprised if you find nothing substantial in it. There is not! Yet the gross distance becomes measurable as I lead across several kilometres of my life that offers insights into daily lives. A sequential narrative will make it uncluttered, or at least it will make me appear systematic, and in a kind of human tendency for whatever I am, how I show my mask to others is also of importance though I don’t give a damn. 


On the Road (Kapil Arambam)


It is ridiculous. Ever there are some people around us, for instance, who exaggerate the importance of the exterior expressions, those superficial things of our tedious life. These are also the same breed of people who consider art should be of purity, expressing that our dirtiness should be kept in the closet inside our home. That this is genuine will be quite apposite as saying we care so much about what others see in us. That the star, the moon, the fragrant lilies should be the inspiration for our creation is their another contention but we know the world around us is too much of a mess, too much of a filth. Well, that’s another story.    

We always get to live in the villages across Delhi and these places are mostly congested with heat and stones and cold stares, however comparatively better these places are than home. When I come out in the morning, the vegetable corner in Kilokri village, where I put up, is usually deserted, and it lies as an antithesis to what it would become in the late afternoon and evening. When the day gets older, the rows of parked handcarts will open their plastic covers at the rhythm of a Demi Moore doing a striptease, showcasing the best seasonal assets and the place will become a beehive that we would hardly find a space to breath. Another thing that is inevitable around the corner, no matter what time of the day or night is in passing the garbage dump. Within a radius of around 10 feet, it is one hell of a place with its bring-death-to-life smell. We can do away all those craps about capital punishment, and turn this place into an incarceration point — the most hardened criminals will repent their offences if they are tied to a pole near this dumping site and made to stand for a few hours. That’s the morning hours, anyway, still early but too late to escape the onslaught of the Delhi sun that yells might is right. The star has something so similar with the power players, like the Assam Rifles back in my hometown.

On the Road (Kapil Arambam)
An image from an email thread
But the smell is fleeting, like bubbles, it disappears after the 10-feet boundary and I’m on to the service lane on the Ring Road immediately. Unlike the small vegetable corner, the hustle and bustle of this road is one of its kinds with heavy traffic all day, all night with the typical smell of the city. A little further down the road, there is one of my favourite shops near the Ashram junction, flanked by the tall NAFED building: the English Wine and Beer Shop. Funny it is but every liquor shop has this name 'English Wine and Beer Shop', written in Enhlish and Devanagri, around the National Capital Region (that comprises Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon, Faridabad, Ghaziabad and a couple of towns under constuction). Usually I would save the time checking in there for weekends — it is only a mental satisfaction and all, when passing through the shop when I’m on my way to work. Off and on, during weekdays, I would visit the shop but only when I’m returning from work. (Yeah, I must confess I’m not devoid of all the things called decency, because I do seldom go to office with a small peg or two, provided I have something left from the previous night.)

From there it takes me to one of the busiest junctions — Ashram, a meeting point for the roads that lead to all the cardinal points of the city. Then I usually take the posh lanes on New Friends Colony (NFC) for two reasons: they get me rid of three bloody traffic red lights; and the elegant homes of all style and substance that flank the route make my daydreaming as charming as their appearances, you know, it will be great if I can own just a bungalow if not one of those mansions with a gate as high as my dreams. Well, well, well. I got to concentrate on the road, or else Sujan Mohinder Hospital is just a stone’s throw away. The drive on this one-kilometre stretch with the rows of trees is also bracing; and this kind of boulevard is a privilege that one can get only in upper-class residential colonies in Delhi. (The Jawaharlal Nehru University, our favourite hanging-out place, is literally cool in this regard!)  

On the Road (Kapil Arambam)
Ever since I landed in this city five years ago, the community centre in NFC has always been another favourite hanging-out place, but of late, I hardly go there if not for just passing by everyday. Then I’m abruptly on the highway again. To be precise, my workplace is located ten kilometres away from Ashram on a highway road as straight as an arrow. With the pleasant roundabout, though, the distance is slight changed. I will not bore you to death with my verbosity; I’m well, and I’m winding off very soon. From the highway entry corner to my office, the landscape is barren and a comparison with the greeneries inside NFC make the landscape of this route too lifeless. In fact, the air around Sarita Vihar, another couple of kilometres from NFC, is always humid in its nakedness; its natural drapery is stripped down by a railway track, an elevated metro track and a police station on the right side and a few buildings, including the Apollo Hospital, on the left.

I hope I have kept my promise by doing away from making a novella out of this rant and keeping myself to the point. And I would just like to add that I usually take the straight highway road when coming back. It is surprising I can daydream, a favourite hobby of mine, even in the night also; and I should admit I daydream a lot. The everydayness is too taxing at times, so I find some nuances of living in doing different things. And so I rant. If given the chance to change, it’s not a car or an aeroplane that I would love to travel in this route and on which I have been blabbering all along, but I would, if I get that chance, to turn this world upside down even if I get no chance to travel. No rhyme or reason but we have to earn for livelihood. Freedom and justice sounds too good and only as illusionary as finding the youngest helloi*. In the end, it’s less about changing, and more about adapting to the changes and ironically, it simply does not make sense just to drive along the direction of the wind. It’s either reaching the workplace on time or getting back home quick for a nice rest. This is the priority, others are secondary. 
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THE END.
For The Undated Diary, Kapil Arambam, 1999–2011 
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*Helloi A helloi is a Manipuri faery known for her beauty... there are seven helloi sisters and the youngest beauty is the most ‘bazookably’ attractive
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