This blog is dedicated to Madras, Gemini flyover, sambaar, dosa…and all the blessed souls still haggling with the auto annas in Chennai.
There are times when it’s practically impossible to differentiate your one day from another. The same daily chore – wake up, freshen up, get dressed for work, work…get drained, come back home, eat, sleep. Then wake up again the next day, freshen up…and it goes on.
But what happens when on an otherwise regular dreary day, there’s something startling that you experience, and from there on you develop a fear…a fear of the unknown hand!
This was the summer of 2010…
…the summer when I, along with my other north Indian friends was trying to decode the art of living in the city of Madras. Every single day was a new experience. Every single encounter was matchless in its own strange way. And every single auto rickshaw-ride was like surrendering to death, each time.
Anyone who has been to Chennai even once and was privileged to enjoy the auto rickshaw ride would completely relate to this common notion – every auto anna is Rajnikanth in the makingand every auto rickshaw ride would give an experience of sitting in a flying open-air F-20 Tigershark, which not just offers adrenalin rush but also minor heart attacks and may be a short trip to the grave and back.
The story is about my friends, Sniggy and Bobby on the roads of Chennai, in the silent summer night.
Like every day, Sniggy and Bobby headed for dinner to some shady restaurant, straight from work. Once there, they hogged on bowls of sambaar, glasses of rasam and variety rice. By the time they finished, it was already late and that’s when they decided to hire an auto from outside the restaurant. They were now being driven back to their homes. Chennai like always was dead by this hour – with streets looking empty, dark and uncanny.
Both quiet, were staring outside at the stillness of the night, when suddenly Bobby felt a hand on his shoulder. Knowing it is Sniggy’s, he limply turned towards her and was stoned in horror! Sniggy had both her hands resting calmly on her lap.
Eyes wide with fright, shitting bricks, Bobby shrieked his lungs out, “WHOSE HAND IS THISSS…?” Screaming like maniacs, both Bobby and Sniggy leapt out of the speeding possessed auto…gunning for their lives. And that’s when they heard a baby cry…
A baby crying! In the auto rickshaw! In the middle of a dark-f***ing-silent night!!!
Seeing half their bodies flying outside, peeved auto anna yelled in his massacred English, “Saar – shhh…my baby…sleeping-aa…auto backside-aa!”
The moment froze. And so did the auto rickshaw. Sniggy still shaking and Bobby numb in disbelief.
With defunct legs and sprinting heartbeat, they decided to get down from the auto and walk back home, praying that the remaining handful night is saner and ordinary.
Even after four years, when observed, both Sniggy and Bobby unfailingly frisk the rear of the auto before placing their rear on its seat.