Impatience leads the way

Impatience leads the way


Impatience leads the way

I run towards the auto. The driver is missing. I spot him across the road grabbing a hot lunch. Enjoying his meal he gestures me to wait. Now I wonder if it is easy to drive an auto. Unfortunately, my driving abilities are restricted to a scooter and car.

With no other auto or bus on that hot afternoon, I am resigned for a long wait. I imagine myself on the driver’s seat, zipping along towards my appointment with the driver and his unfinished lunch in hot pursuit.

If the auto did not overturn or veer off the road before that, I would be nabbed by an alert cop. Imagine the newspaper headline — ‘Housewife caught stealing auto!’ My family would have to either disown me  or slink around disguised, waving off nosy reporters with a brusque, “No comments.”

My neighbours will probably start double checking their locked vehicles and bar the gate securely at night.

Movies show the hero or heroine taking off in parked bikes and cars belonging to unsuspecting public, breaking speed barriers and crashing into vegetable carts with the police car wailing behind them.

Motor boats spewing fine spray in the air heave in the turbulent sea chasing other motor boats, and I don’t recall seeing the hero taking permission or doubting his sailing skills for a second; the hero at the controls of a ‘borrowed’ helicopter, soaring to unimaginable heights with fuel indicators dipping ominously to the left.

Did you say they had a purpose — saving a life or lives? Of course, in the end, you see these heroes winning medals or regaining consciousness on a hospital bed surrounded by fresh flowers. Obviously, my doctor’s appointment would not justify ‘auto-jacking’.

One winter morning in Jaipur, a strange incident took place. We lived in the suburbs. The buses took ages to fill and the drivers kept the engines idling. They sat at the small tea stalls nearby, waiting for a decent number of passengers before they climbed in to take the buses to their destination. Watching your breath rise like smoke in the winter air and practising free-style tap dancing being ways to pass time.

There was this poor migrant labourer waiting to take the bus. He wished to reach the city centre soon to grab a job. Irritated by the delay, he hopped on to the driver’s seat and began driving (it later came to light that back home, he had occasionally driven a tractor). He didn’t mind that there were no other passengers on the bus. We don’t know if he hummed a song or cursed under his breath on his drive.

All that the local paper reported the next day was that his joyride came to a halt after a sleepy policeman watched an empty bus race along without stopping at a scheduled stop. He was dragged off to the local police station to cool his heels. The report concluded with a cryptic ‘Police investigating other angles’.

I pitied the young man and hoped he was let off with only a warning. I too have waited impatiently for these buses on January mornings to reach the Jaipur Literature Festival, toying alternately with thoughts of bus jacking to sticking a knife behind the driver to pry him loose from his seat outside the tea stall. 

Had I succeeded, may be the fest organisers would have bailed me from jail and sent a limousine to pick me up, flattered that I could risk so much to attend their fest. My family would have cringed at the headlines next day — ‘Impatient woman hijacks bus to attend Lit Fest’. And maybe I could have exchanged notes with the labourer while the police examined ‘other angles’.