The Trouble with Flirting while Driving an Auto

Let’s face it, women are quite stupid, really – still bowled over by adulation, kind words and poetry.

A very wise man once told me, “Consultants are people, who look at your watch and tell you the time.” As it turned out, he was quoting his father – very much like a consultant.

Given my complete and utter inability to woo women from my neighbourhood, I have spent a considerable amount of my adult life in long distance relationships – impressing insufferable women who had no idea of what they were walking into, until one fine morning when they woke up and discovered (to their dismay) that they were in a relationship with me. As such, my relationships have entailed a lot of travel – mostly sandwiched between terribly irascible, fat men and women in slow, rickety buses.

Our steel-structures professor, who was otherwise, a phenomenal professor, had this remarkably annoying habit of cracking the most inappropriate jokes at the most inopportune of moments. As students who were struggling to stay afloat in the program, we would be forced to laugh with him. On one such instance, while teaching us about wind forces, he had compared the state government run buses to mere tin boxes on wheels, susceptible to being blown away in a storm. “Those buses. They can fly off any day. With all those passengers inside. Ha-ha.” (There was not much he held against the state government, he was rather poor at cracking jokes.)

Matters came to a head one day when, while discussing the ability of shell structures to withstand forces in space, he inadvertently mistook Juhi Chawla (a prominent actor, understandably, among the heartthrobs of his generation) for the late Indian astronaut Kalpana Chawla. “Understanding shells and plates is critical. You don’t want to end up like Juhi Chawla,” he paused, his voice trailing away dramatically. I merely nodded, not wanting to enable him any further. Clearly he was not taking the astronaut’s tragic death and his heartthrob’s flailing acting career too well.

I suppose the old saying goes: communist until you get rich, feminist until you get married and atheist until the state buses totter on the edge of humanity’s landfills and sewage – while hurtling on roads that otherwise wouldn’t be wide enough to accommodate my grandmother on her wheelchair. (God rest her soul, she was very fat.)

I was under the delusion that the worst was over – until the night I stepped into the auto rickshaw with my former flat mate and colleague in Chennai.

Anyone who’s lived in Calcutta will testify to how perilous a ride in an unhinged and clattering three wheeler, (that gives the mighty BMW a run for its money,) can be. More so, the unshakeable poise of the auto driver, who has the ability to make you feel like an absolute tool for having ever questioned his dubious decision making skills on the road. “Look, if you don’t like my driving, you can get off right now,” one of them had threatened, while still tearing across the bridge over the Ganges. “I would if I could,” I countered, “but it would probably end up looking like a suicide.”

Of course, one of them almost succeeded in his attempt to murder me, when he crashed into the divider in the middle of the day, in the middle of the city fabled for its tehzeeb (the ability to politely ask someone to go fuck himself): Lucknow. Apparently, he had fallen asleep at the wheel, in broad daylight, while driving. We ended up with minor bruises and the windshield in my lap, much to the amusement of the bystanders.

So that evening, we stepped outside the shopping arcade – the bottles of cheap Indian whiskey and beer tinkling away merrily in our bags. We noticed the tiny yellow auto stationary by the side of the road, glistening in the wafting rain and the dreamy lights of the Sangeetha. (A prolific chain of restaurants where authentic South Indian cuisine is delivered like on an assembly line, and before you can blink – your sumptuous meal is over, the waiter is impatiently waving the bill in your face and someone is already grabbing you by the arms and ushering you out of the restaurant.) We noticed an enormous, porcine man sitting ominously on the driver’s seat – his eyes trained on his tiny smartphone. For a long time, there were no words exchanged – as the large man typed away, letter by letter, into his tiny device. Mustering my wits around me, I leaned and peered over his shoulder, into his device. “We really need to get going,” I politely reminded him, careful not to irk the gentleman. He made a massive effort to turn around, rocking the entire vehicle in the process. He sized us up for a while before muttering slowly, “What’s the spelling of language?” “I am sorry, what?” I asked, exchanging glances with my former colleague. “Language,” he grumbled, pointing at his smartphone.

The next few moments would go on to teach us an important life lesson. Here was a man, with a blatant disregard for his professional career, engrossed in courting a proper Latina from Brazil – singlehandedly manoeuvring a flimsy vehicle over potholes, angry pedestrians and dark alleys, using all but a fake profile on Facebook, a smart phone and spell check. And then there were the two of us, holding onto the railing for dear life, playing failed consultants to his flourishing love life – shamelessly dropping in a word or two about sex. (One of us, occasionally lingers on the bleak shores of Tinder, waiting hopelessly for a like or two to pop up on the horizon, while I am languishing miles away from my coquetry – limited to the whims and fancies of technology.) Not once did he break conversation with his woman – not even when the rapidly charging eighteen wheel trailer missed us by inches.

Puts our lives into rather harsh perspective, I suppose.

Given my limited imagination when it comes to romance, I am mighty glad that my darling girlfriend has settled for the plain vanilla middle class boy with a mostly honest perception of life and a very poor taste in clothes. I am terrible at multitasking – I can’t even watch Avengers for a second without my girlfriend rubbing in how I forgot what she wore on our first date. However, push comes to shove, I can probably compose a verse or two and sweep her right off her feet. Let’s face it, women are quite stupid, really – still bowled over by adulation and poetry.

P.C: Pixabay, licensed for reuse.


One Comment Add yours

  1. Reblogged this on HarsH ReaLiTy and commented:
    I almost thought I wrote this. Thanks for the smile. -OM
    Note: Comments disabled here. Please visit their blog.

    Liked by 1 person

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