Tuesday, February 06, 2007

~Chennai's favorite son's~

Welcome to Chennai. The city in which summer, winter, autumn and spring all invariably mean the same thing. Rains ofcourse being the only relief, invariably accompanied by floods; and most often a cricket match.

It’s in this city, that on one Tuesday afternoon, you find yourself running late for your scheduled luncheon meeting. Its 1:30 in the afternoon, and you need all the signals to be green for you to reach your destination on time. Deep down, you have a feeling that isn’t going to happen, but we very seldom actually agree with what we believe deep down. Don’t we ? Anyway, it doesn’t happen, two red signals and some cursory abusing of passerby’s later, you reach your destination.

A quick search for a parking spot outside the restaurant; it’s quite evident, “another restaurant which expects most of its patrons to use public transport”; 15 tables inside the restaraunt parking space for about 3 cars. (And that’s including the restaurant owner’s car) You turn around the bend; it’s your lucky day! A quiet spot, it even has some shade, and what’s more the watchman there seems to be dozing. A quick maneuver and your ready for your meeting; I guess by IST standards you’re pretty much early.

Just when you are about to get out of your car, out of the darkness (sorry out of daylight) he appears

“ Its him”, you think. Yes, I know, you thought he was dozing. So did I. Pointing his fingers at you, and then at various altitudes, he begins viciously

“ No parking, etha no parking”. “ Where do I park my car then?”, you ask. He replies, Enkeyo Park panno park paana saar, Inkey park panna, puddu Hyundai accent ley, Police kaar vaaro. Tyre ley Yovlo peraso lock podovo( with hands wide apart) ,

aprovo unda window ley

BEWARE ! BEWARE! sticker podho, aadha vokay na park pananga.” Ok, translating that isn’t really easy, anyway in short; according to the watchman, if you were to park your vehicle there, the big men would descend from their white Hyundai Accents, put a lock on your tyre and if that’s not bad enough also put a ridiculous ‘BEWARE’ sticker on your windscreen.

For whatever reason, you believe him. You reverse your car, it’s a painful process, and you are back to where you started. You are back to scanning again, hallaleujah! a car in the allocated parking seems to be shifting out, you seize the opportunity, a quick maneuver and your car has found a parking spot, a sigh of relief, a good lunch, a better meeting and a great day await you.

Not quite.

You get out of your car, lock your door. And then you hear a whistle, it’s him again; he decided to make the walk. He objects, apparently the car has not been parked to his satisfaction. He wants you to re-park it. And then the Da vinci in him comes out , konju left saar, Konju right saar, slighta reverse saar, konju pinnadi, you begin to wonder if so many directions went into the crafting of Shah Jahan’s Taj Mahal. After another good 5 minutes of aligning, adjusting and re-aligning, he is finally happy; you have managed to impress him. Right saar!, he gesticulates with one hand up and a content smile. You get out of the car, there is only one thing in your mind, to get to your luncheon meeting as quickly as possible, and come up with a plausible excuse to your client for making him wait.

Bang in front of you however, he’s back. Standing as forcibly erect as our very own Marina Light house building, with a crisp water tight salute, and a contained smile, well ok, you can see how he’s smiling.

He tells you, Saar, parking ticket – five rupees”. Why on earth, should you pay parking to eat in a privately run restaurant, you wonder. You ask him, he then says something to the extent of Saar, tea, coffee”. He has you confused now, is it for his coffee or is it for parking, you give up. You rummage for change, manage to get 5 bucks put it in his hand, and flee towards the restaurant.

You enter the restaurant in haste, scan it , you can’t seem to spot him. The door swings open, the two of you make eye contact, almost in unison the two of you say, “Sorry, got delayed; was stuck in a meeting”. Meeting with whom ?, it isn’t even important..

‘IST - Indian Stretchable time’, it is part of the Indian mindset, I hear someone say. But let’s assume, we did have wider roads, designated parking spots and dare I say it, less eager security guards, would IST still be as stretched? Maybe, I’m just getting a little too hypothetical.