Monday, February 13, 2006

Having taken Friday off, I was going on this ride this weekend. As I went by upon the Bombay highway near Khandala, I saw the road sloping downwards and swiveling away to the right without warning. It is a matter of complete amazement to me as to how drivers and riders actually pass by it and manage to stay alive, given that they go along the preceding straight at 80 and upwards, and thus hardly have time to notice the curve.

Of course, they that do crash may be considered fortunate, for, if you manage to clear the first curve at 80, there's no way you'll get past the next one that lies just 20m ahead unless you're at under 30 with your foot hard upon the brake, which curve is comprising of a road contorting itself into a grotesque reflex angle, making you wonder about the purpose of such a road, one so unnavigable. This second curve, unlike the first and like the subsequent ones, doesn't offer you the cushion of a wall to crash into – you miss the road, you fly off the cliff.

But then, such are the roads that surmount the ghats, that lace through the hills, as I found through the weekend that these curves inaugurated. It was just that I was new to driving on this sort of terrain. On these, or for that matter on any hills, your most important assets are your brake and your horn. You can forget your accelerator at home.

**

Death is a familiar passer by upon the Bombay Pune highway. Two motorcycles lying lacerated upon the ground in small puddles of glass shreds – giving no hints about the fate of their riders, one lorry 10km ahead, rammed into the wall of the tunnel causing a mile long clot in the traffic behind, another lorry lying overturned further ahead, with an enormous smear of red upon the tar around it, 3m of the all too frail and inadequate stretch that was the railing gone missing, having been driven through, making all too obvious the fate of the car which'd have sliced through it and taken a leap down the rock face.

Amid the mile long congealing of the vehicles, a police van flits by noisily, an ambulance rushes in with its shrill alarm. Slowly the crowding gawkers disperse, one particular motorcyclist weaves away amid the 4 wheelers to the front of the traffic jam, the jam dissolves, we all instinctively move into gear 4 and begin to accelerate, firmly convinced that it always happens to someone else.

Monday, February 06, 2006

1026.7.

That was the reading on the distance indicator on steed(known henceforth as The Muse) as on yesterday night, a circumstance that was the cause of much rejoicing and tribal dance performances(for reasons mentioned here). My one spot of bother was that the moment couldnt be captured for posterity - I wish I had a cam, ra. However, there were pleasures that more than compensated.

The 1026.7 was brought up in a memorable manner too – the last few kilometers being covered at 71kmph on the bypass/Bangalore highway/whatever you call it. Whatever it is that you decide to call it, it’ll still be a rather unassuming name for as grand, as expansive a stretch of road.

I’m trying hard to keep myself from tumbling into poetic/melodramatic mode, but what can you say about a stretch on which you don’t need to go below 60? Where you can keep off the clutch, brake and gear, and just be. Just exist, just go on, in almost zen-ic equanimity wherever The Muse takes you. In a pothole-less, interference-less, traffic-less state where the mind is without fear, and that sort of thing. A video game ambience, with bridges, hills, rivers, flyovers and the occasional overtake-able lorry/auto thrown in for effect, amid the blemishless streak of black that sprints away, demanding aloud that you go ahead and call it infinite.

What civilization is visible is at times quite reminiscent of Hobbiton, with extents of rocky mounds rearing up on either side of the road, and illuminated multi-storeyed apartments and residences perched in a staggered formation upon the ledges of the mounds, like on the steps of a staircase.

At the end of the highway, you see the road go on due south-east. The small matter of a 1200km longer.

Drool. Salivate. Slurp.

**

What invariably follows a jolly ride/high/pleasurable experience is a thud-down-to-earth. So it was with The Muse and I too. Turning off the bypass onto the homeward road, we proceeded to bounce about on the potholes and stones at 70kmph.

We continued thus until we were met by another bike rider, who, unable to decide whether he should cross the road or not, concluded that parking his vehicle in the path of a 70kmph bike would enable him to reach the decision he was hitherto unable to arrive at.

A nanosecond-long prayer, a scrape, a bent number plate and lots of visions later, considerable sobering resulted. Home was reached at a more modest 39.99 kmph, a figure evocative of them old days.

**

This ride was preceded by some profound discussions upon the beautiful game, with special reference to the batsmanship of one particular player.

You are advised to desist from killing yourself if you did not understand the reference in the previous sentence.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Stung by persistent critiques of the alleged artlessness of his game – the man Afridi decides to show ‘em.

He proceeds to execute an impromptu choreographic performance, the spikes upon his feet simultaneously etching a breathtaking pattern upon the ground. Yes, with a brand new medium – a cricket pitch as canvas - he brings together in one glorious performance two disparate forms of art - conjuring an exquisite piece of modern art upon the ground beneath his feet even as he waltzed away in a flowing, flowering, aah smooth dance - extemporaneously, forget not, creating art that in its dynamism expressed absolutely his personality.

His belief of his genius is cemented by the fact that his genius wasn’t being recognized in his lifetime – the peasants who catch him on camera decide not only to exile him for three games (see also - this, this) but decide also to obliterate his art by rolling the pitch - woe, never will generations to come believe that such art existed.

Oh, he pleaded, he explained, why, he wept that it was ground-breaking work, and they replied that that was why he was being ejected. Tis, ah, a cruel world. They verily are blown to dust who attempt to leave their footprints upon the sands of time.