You return to Bombay, after more than a month outside and hope that life is a wee bit simpler. In the city in specific and country in general. After all, the term developing nation ought to mean development. Actually, it only gets worse. I now have a term that defines the attempt to move from point A to point B: its called the sequential jam phenomenon. And I suggest you factor this into your calculations.
The highway leading to the domestic airport at Santacruz was jammed. Note that I was going in south to north (rush hour is normally in the other direction) at 8.30 am to catch a flight. I was tuned into 92.5 FM, the radio station I am usually tuned into while on the road. To my horror I discovered the hosts Jaggu & Taraana had switched subjects from the morning newspapers to discussing the same traffic jam. Obviously, the situation was worse, particularly on the other side of the road. Several callers were coming online to vent their feelings on the state of Bombay's roads.
One who made it through the switchboard was relentless. He rightly described the term highway for the Western Express Highway as a joke. He said no one cared for anyone and we were on the verge of anarchy. And then spewed venom against the city's civic authorities. I was praying I could be plugged in too. But then decided the challenge of maintaining one's emotional balance while trying to dodge traffic and predict my fate at the airline check-in counter was too much.
The radio hosts called it a discussion on the Western Pothole Highway or some such thing. They even created the appropriate abbreviation. Everyone laughed. With less than half an hour to go the flight to lift off, I wasn't finding it funny. I did dash off an SMS from mobile. In four lines, I explained the dire predicament I was in. I don't know whether they read it out because singer Himesh Reshamayya (I think) came on and began crooning amidst pounding beats.
After ten agonising minutes in the last 50 metres unto the traffic signal turning off into the airport, I reached the airport. There were 20 minutes to go. The counter was still open and I was miraculously checked in. Then came the traffic jam at the security check. Two lines stretching into infinity. Women could go into a third line. And then the airline attendant began calling out for passengers on my flight, late as it was. Along with two others, I was whisked into the third line for women. Most other passengers glared at us. I looked purposefully at my watch.
I was sitting inside a good five minutes before scheduled departure. Pulled out the newspapers and began catching up on the day's news. All ready to take off. Too soon. We were in the last of the traffic jams for the morning. The doors closed some 15 minutes after scheduled takeoff time. We crawled towards the runway for another 15 minutes. And took off a good 40 minutes behind time. I now propose to master the art of meditation in sequential traffic jams, of all sorts. Either that or levitation.