Chennai has turned out to be most difficult to travel in, especially for a non- Tamilian like me. The public transport system is not really bad. There are loads of buses, and quite frequent too. But sometimes the destinations are written only in the local language. And if you ask for bus routes, using as much sign language as you can manage, one gets a queer 'all buses go there' answer. The auto-rikshaw guys here have made quite a name for themselves for their knavish tendencies. As I was forewarned, I avoid taking an auto as far as possible. So, invariably I end up walking most of the time. But walking has its limits. So me and my friends from Delhi (we are all here for the summer) try to borrow a bicycle whenever possible. Our bicycle rides have been quite eventful.
Kanishk* was riding his bike late at night. It was past 1 am. He and his friends had just been to the Besant Nagar Beach. He had been dreading the ride back through the dark and desolate road from IMSc (where his friends were staying) to his hostel room in IIT-M.
He cursed his friends under his breath for getting him so late. He cursed Aditya* out loud.
But at least he had his bicycle. He had bought it for 400 bks, second hand. He could make it back to his room in 15 minutes or less, if he hurried. He pedalled hard, thinking about all the stupid Tamilians he had met during this short trip. Why the hell could they not speak Hindi? Its our National Language, after all...
(Kanishk by the way is highly racist and swears upon the superiorty of North Indians).
He cursed the Tamilians under his breath. He cursed the Madras auto drivers out loud.
Just a few minutes now, he thought. Swerving past a pothole, and cursing the Chennai roads and the municipal corporation, he caught sight of a pack of dogs eyeing him icily. Shivers ran up his spine. God they were right in the middle of this hell-hole. "Damn these madrasi dogs. I will just shoot past them" , he thought.
He pedalled harder. The dogs started to growl. (They smelled a racist coward) The growls grew louder and Kanishk's pedalling faster.
As soon as he crossed them and heaved a sigh of relief, the dogs charged as a whole, with frightfully loud barks. Kanishk panicked.
He cursed the madrasi bicycle for not being fast enough. The dogs were catching up. He started to scream. At the dogs. Hoping that it would frighten them away. It only made them wilder. He screamed harder. Looking over the shoulder all this while. Suddenly, he saw the dogs slowing down and dispersing. "Stupid cowardly madrasi dogs", he thought.
As he turned his head, he realized he was hurtling towards a Tata Sumo. It was too late. He crashed into it head on. His bike lay twisted and he lay battered on the bonnet. Before you get any ideas, I must assert here that the Sumo was stationary. There was no one in it. No one visible for miles, at that ungodly hour.
Kanishk took time to collect his thoughts and senses and assess injuries. He saw that the bike was a mess, and he could not ride it anymore. Nor could he carry it as he had injured his leg sometime during that spectacular fall. And he half expected some madrasi robber to jump out of the darkness. At that moment, he lost it all and started cursing everyone he knew. Out loud.
Someone apparently had heard him. There was movement in the shadows. Kanishk was scared. Has his worst nightmare come true? A madrasi stepped out. He took the scene in with a glance. He said something in Tamil, with only the word 'auto' discernible. Kanishk (already on alert, what with 'auto' being mentioned) thinks how can I ever find an auto in this hell-hole so late at night. Meanwhile, the madrasi was making wild gesticulations and pointing to his house.
Kanishk followed him, with some trepidation and some pain, and found that the madrasi owned an auto-rikshaw. The madrasi helped Kanishk put the bike in and dropped him to his hostel. Since Kanishk did not have change for the fare, the madrasi refused to take anything at all and left Kanishk mouthing no curses at all - for the first time that night.
Kanishk was last heard singing praises of all Tamilians and has developed a keen interest in learning their language. He paid the auto guy the next day.
* The names have been retained as original to reaffirm identity. ;)