September 21, 2007

Blue glass

Many years ago in Pondicherry, I got into a bus at the bus station. At the exit was plenty of loose rubble -- stones and gravel. The bus drove right over it, and as I watched from my window, one stone flow out from under our tyre and smashed the windshield of a rickshaw standing nearby.

A flying rock like that: something I've always been afraid of, whenever I see rubble like that lying around.

The other night, I'm standing on the side of the road with a three-year-old, waiting to cross. Heavy nonstop traffic, not one of the various vehicles is willing to slow down to let us through. So we wait. The road surface has very recently been, well, developed. Redone. And the real reason I know that is not that it looks or feels any better. No, I know because the side of the road, where we stand, is littered with loose rubble: gravel and cricket-ball sized stones, the usual detritus after resurfacing. I remember Pondy.

As we wait, one car worms out of the stream of traffic and races along the edge of the road, trying to overtake as many other cars as he can manage. He bears down on us, horn blaring. As he brushes past, his wheel goes over one of those ball-sized stones, and it shoots out at us. Grazes my ankle, goes in between three-year-old's legs and lands beyond.

My fear, come to life. Fortunately without hurting us.

The car is gone.

Got a call from an old friend, we used to be real close ... well, she came to visit, didn't call. Dropped in on the way home to Andheri, laden with groceries, don't know how she struggles on and off rush-hour trains. Out of the blue, she began ruminating on the rise of the country. "I tell you," she said, "things are changing so fast. You know, near where I live, there are a whole lot of blue glass-fronted buildings. India's really becoming developed."

So you know, I've been thinking of development.


Kartik said...

Am I staying up too late, or is there an all-too-obvious connection between the first part of this post and the second? :-)

Anonymous said...

I never thought rubble was deadly. In Delhi, we have blueline buses.

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

... used to be real close / said he couldn't go on the American way ...

Was that the conclusion you were pointing at?


Sheila said...

People who aspire to live in glass houses, shouldn't drive cars on streets of rubble?