February 05, 2007

Easy on the salt

Driving on the right, but "wrong", side of the road again after some years, I'm amazed that I don't mess up and drift over to the left. Not while starting, not even once, even though I had worried I might. Just like I haven't had much of a problem with jet-lag on this trip. What explains the body's and mind's ability to adjust so quickly to a dramatic shifts like these in your terms of reference?

Driving on the right, I speed up Route 3 to meet Route 93/128. Not long afterwards, the highway dips under a mesh-railing overpass, Mishawum Road in the town of Woburn. Why would I mention something as mundane as an overpass? Because this one certainly stands out. It is plastered with American flags, easily two dozen large Stars & Stripes. Nothing else: no explanation, no other overpasses or bridges similarly festooned. When I am driving the other way a few hours later, the sun, low in the sky, streams through the blue and red, gives Mishawum Road a gossamer, almost ethereal, air.

On the smaller roads, I see large yellow signs that say "Children". Not "Children at Play", nor "Caution: Children". Just "Children". Then there's one that says "Deaf Child". Another that says "Blind Child". And just as I'm mulling over the kind of town that would put up signs like those, I see this one: "Reduced Salt". And these variations thereof: "Reduced Salt Area" and "Reduced Salt Reservoir Ahead."

Ah, the inscrutable pleasures of driving in the USofA.

Some of my driving is during the first half of today's Super Bowl XXIVIIAK47 (Roman numerals compulsory when referring to the Super Bowl) between the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears. So the roads are utterly empty, mile after freezing mile (empty except for me). In these parts, they are devastated that their beloved Patriots -- winners of three Super Bowls in the last 5 years or so -- are not playing. But that doesn't mean any fewer people watch the game. More or everybody does so, just as they did for versions I through XXXILMIG29 in years gone by.

I do watch parts of the second half, though "doze through parts of the second half" would be just as accurate a description as anything else. There's a curious phenomenon with Super Bowls that I believe somebody needs to write a PhD thesis about. The game almost never lives up to the weeks of hype. Invariably, one team rises to the occasion and pulverizes the other. As in this version. Nothing the Bears try works, they lose the ball several times in the driving rain of Miami, and the final score -- 29-17 I think -- is not even close to being a reflection of Colt dominance. It is therefore such a dull game that -- yes -- I doze off more than once.

When I wake, I give up on the game and go get myself some icecream. Tastes Great! Reduced Salt!


Anonymous said...

Driving is perhaps easier because of the placement of the driver's seat and using it as a reference to the kerb. Have you tried riding a bicycle?

BeeDee said...

i'm curious. what DOES the 'reduced salt' refer to? i'm assuming they put salt on the roads to prevent black ice...is that what it's about?!

Slogan Murugan said...

Reminded me of Steinbeck's "Travels with Charley". He has a lot ot say about signboards.

Anonymous said...

Exiting one way roads also leaves scope for confusion. Atleast, it did in my case.

Anonymous said...

You in Woburn? The place of the famous "Woburn Case". I had read extensively about it, it's also called the "Jan Schlichtmann case", if you are aware of it. In case you are not, It's one of the most interesting legal battles in the history of US Litigation.