I also opine on:

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


On one of the hottest days in Mumbai, I happened to travel by taxi to work. Since he had to stop the vehicle about half a km away from the building (road block or some such), the driver asked if I could walk from there.

Of course, I said confidently and started walking. After passing a couple of similar glass-and-concrete buildings, I was confused to see a long stretch of under construction properties. I was about to ask for directions, when I noticed my building behind this property. I took a right. Reaching a fork, I took a right again, and then another right.

I reached the exact same spot I was in about 45 minutes back. Furthermore, tantalisingly ahead, the name of my office gleamed merrily. I was 100% sure it wasn’t there when I had started on this merry-go-round around some random office complex.

If you are assuming that I am one of those bimbo girls who cannot understand directions well, who stares blankly at maps, who goes glassy eyed once she is out of the bus, who is mortally scared of driving, who throws up her hands helplessly while travelling and leans very heavily on her partner to lead her to light, you are absolutely right. To my credit, I have well-developed radars and intuitions every girl is blessed with – they just go haywire the moment I step out of my house.

Now, this was never a problem in Chennai, the land of the buses. With an amazing public transport like that, I could easily reach any destination I wanted. But with Mumbai and my affinity to its trains, I started getting lost way too frequently to be comfortable.

So, I did what any girl would do - I went shopping, and got a phone with google maps.

The maps opened up a whole new lucid world to me – despite my hazy glasses and vague outlook towards directions ("Take right.. uhh.. left...uhh.. (touch shoulder to determine direction)... right only anna"), I could actually talk coherently to auto-wallahs, and could reach places on time. I could confidently rattle names of places in cities I had never visited before. Life was simple and smooth again, until I realised that the maps, like humans, were not dependable. Take the following sample cases:

1.       Case 1 - Zeroing in: Travelling in an auto in Pune, I was diligently following his progress through the maps, when I realised that we had crossed the destination. I asked him to stop (despite his protests that it was further down), and start walking around trying to figure out where I had to go.  I was either crossing the spot or moving away from it. About half an hour later, I finally thought about zooming in the maps, found that it was indeed further down, and located the company  – about 45 minutes late.

2.       Case 2 - No Man’s Land: My heart belongs to Chennai buses ( and I am sure I have drilled that information down my readers' throats way too many times already) . So despite all the travel concessions available, I decided to take a bus to Ambattur Industrial Estate. I reached the place within 15 minutes, opened my maps and searched for SIDCO industrial estate – straight ahead apparently. So, I start walking.

20 minutes later, I realised that the sun was right above my head, I was near collapse, and in the middle of nowhere. I was beginning to slightly panic, since the spot was still about 1 km away. The Lord, working in his usual Aalavandaan (smug ruling) ways, thankfully sent an auto-wallah, who after ominous sentences ("You have left Ambattur long back. Girls like you should not be in such roads ma”) dropped me back. I got lost again after that, but that would make this post way too long. 

3.      Case 3 - Multiple lanes: I was supposed to go to the 1st main road in Ambattur (different day, same location – this industrial estate defeated my energy and soul – so much so that I vowed to never go back without a guide and multiple moral boosting personnel). So, on came my maps, and I started giving directions for the 1st main road – we went through mud roads, grass & shrubs and railways crossings to reach a road barely wide to let a man through. After about three more similar results, I gave up and came back.

I realised then that the Lord, with his divine abilities, created all of us with a purpose. Some of us have to start a revolution and bring about a change. Some have to be corrupt for the good to shine through. Some are great architects forming a city, and some have to destroy it. It takes people their whole lifetime to find the purpose of their lives and their role in the universe. About a week back, I finally found mine.

My purpose is to meander aimlessly – to perennially search for my destination and finally give up and ask for directions.


Ashwin said...

*touch shoulder to determine direction, right anna* hahaha! such hilarity although in a sorry plight! that zooming case must have made you felt like a wretch la?! damn!

reading this i get reminded of the funny story of the nomad who was excited about knowing True North by looking up at the pole star only to find an ocean after he took a right :-)

Nithya Sriram said...

ha ha ha.. i can totally totally relate to you.. although instead of touching shoulder, i sometimes pretend eating or writing.
I have always been mocked. I do remember an incident when i took sriram first time to kalpakkam after our wedding. i forgot the route[i had been living all my 24 yrs there] and i asked to JUST follow that bus.we drove for abt 5 kms inside a village and came the same way out just because the bus went and there was a stop over.

Kunal Chandra said...

You sure got yourself into some dangerous situations. It's probably like men's bane of never being able to remember dates.
I thought you were pretty good with routes when I met you in Mumbai.
Jokes part - i think you should be very cautious on streets in this part of the world.
I only found out last night from my brother that the maps on smart phones are worth something ni India - until now I didn't think this to be the case and so never used smart phone here.
it is not such a bad purpose after-all to meander aimlessly in this world. Those with aims aren;t getting much further either. So rejoice in the bliss.

Nice post

Archana said...

Ashwin: :D:D
Nithya: Hahaha!! I do the same - "follow the traffic"! Sriram would have been very amused I am sure!
Kunal: You are right, I should be more careful - especially the places I have been to in the past few days. But limitations apart, the google maps is seriously a boon for Indians!