The last couple of days I opened my eyes a little more wider so as to take in a wider picture of this menace of potholed roads and the maddenning traffic problems of Kochi. With no efforts by the local governing bodies in sight, I was making a mental note of the roads that were the worst hit as I was driving around in the city. My exploits are limited to the southern end of the city. May be someone staying and commuting elsewhere in the city would like to give his account of the situation on ground.
The road that hits me hard - more than me my car and bike - on a daily basis is the one that leads us out to Thevara Jn. from Panampilly Nagar south end. This is where now-a-days I am learning the tricks they probably might teach only in a course for aspiring tight rope walkers. Only here, my medium is the network of pocket roads that provides me an easy route clear of the railway tracks to my workplace next to Thevara.
Over the past one week, thanks to the late - Latheef of the season(monsoons), this road has become a treacherous combination of loose gravel, a collection of pools of muddy water (enviable only by boys the age of my son) and dotted with patches of black which remind you about the road that once existed around. While during the day, it is possible to estimate the likely centre of the potholes (their diameter usually changes from morning to evening) so that I can navigate my vehicle somewhat smartly so as to clear their merciless depths; nights and rainy days requires my guardian angel sitting as my pillion or navigator to guide me into the right moment to flick the handle left or right so as to deftly manouvre with the minimum chance of a fall into the demonic series of pits the road has been reduced to. In this perilous drive, if a smart cookie comes opposite, in an equally smart fancy car or bike, then I' damned. It then becomes a fight for survival. I - provided I'm thinking clearly and of course, thanks to my guardian angel - instinctively move my vehicle to a vantage position so that most portion of the road that is safe is on my side to be used as I might feel. If not, I stand to get bullied to the edge of the road by the smarter cookie where I find myself to be the odd one out among uniformed students, men and women on foot who invariably give me that typical Mallu-brand contorted Angry-Young-Man look as if I'm a marinated seer fish in the ready-use tray of 'Sea Grill' ready to be fried and eaten up.
I soon reset my memory out of the busy mental recalculation of the hefty power bill I had been handed out promptly in the morning by my 'Home Minister' and some how crawl clear of the smar cookies on to what is left of the road, to continue my journey to my workplace to earn my daily bread. A stretch of road that should normally take not more than four to five minutes to travel eats up 15 precious minutes of the morning and just as I had thought I had broken free, there I am standing either behind or in front of the Red Monsters of Kochi's streets. In Delhi they were dubbed as the 'Red-lined Killers' for the top score they achieved year after year in killing innocent passengers and two wheeler drivers on the roads of Delhi. I struggle to keep my cool as the Killer bully honks away to glory as if he is carrying a hundred wounded soldiers to the city's best hospitals, with the only mission to save their lives. It seems the Red Monster has purchased the Title Deeds for the roads himself when he stops right at the centre of the road to pick up and drop passangers. I wish I had some of the amazing gadgetry of Power Rangers that my son frequently talks about to make the Killer Bully and his Red Monster vanish from the face of the earth. The long line crawls ahead and I manage to re-position myself out of sight and earshot of the Red Monster. By the time I'm at my work bench, I'm tired, exhausted and disgusted. On many days I end up cursing the day I decided to agree to come back and work in Kochi.
I thank my stars for the technology hasn't come yet when they could make our vehicles speak, or my car or bike would have screamed abuses at me for taking them out on such filthy, unkempt 'roads'. It may not be too long before my mechanic would become a family friend for the rest of my life as a token of a not so good a memory to cherish of Kochi. Wah! True Communism - no better way to bring ordinary men closer to each other!! Long Live Red Salute!! Laloo Yadav would have been a better bet, though he might decide to take away my car at gun point for his grand son's first day at school!