Tuesday, August 28, 2007

That Human Touch

Circa 2004

Tucked in between clammy bodies, bony knees, knobby elbows and a profusion of body odours, I attempt to stay erect and concentrate on the book in my hand, as the train lurches from station to station. Somebody's wrist connects with my ear while straining for the overhead rack. A fierce scowl to the wrist's owner doesn't elicit more than a sheepish look. Muttering dark imprecations, I return to the book, reading the same paragraph three times before focus returns. 'Side pliss', the portly lady with the basket of chikoos rasps through broken, paan-stained teeth. I'm tempted to stand my ground, but seeing her plump elbows aimed like missiles at my ribcage, I capitulate, and lean back into the tall lady with jasmines in her fuzzy hair, while the chikoo lady oozes past. The former delivers a swift elbow jab into my back for the sudden, unwelcome pressure while the latter impales me with the same bulbous elbow I was trying to avoid. For a brief moment, there are four elbows connected to my body, and it's a matter of time before there are a few more, as I squirm and displace some of the other bodies in that ring of humanity...


Circa 2007

I step out my building and amble over to the car park. The remote control unlocks the door while I'm a few feet away. Despite the summer heat, the car's cool inside, as I'd managed to park under the solitary tree overlooking the parking bay. I toss my bag on the passenger seat while simultaneously turning on the ignition. The AC leaps into action. I plug my iPod into the car dock, and Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy' rolls into the cool, quiet space. I head out over the Bridge. A sedan slips into the small gap between my car and the one ahead. My foot automatically leans on the brake; my mind's far away. After the signal, I indicate and ease into the lane on the right. Thhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gife route's comfortably familiar, and providentially, against traffic. Regular glances in the rear and side-view mirrors ensure that I'm not veering too close to another vehicle and vice versa. At the signal, I notice the car in front of mine has a cracked bumper. The blue one on the left needs a paint job. I notice my agency's ad pasted upside down on the taxi up ahead. I make a mental note to inform someone at work. 15 minutes later, I pull into the sandlot opposite my office building. A curious thought occurs to me: it's possible to travel on a busy road every single day and yet not see a single human being. There's a twinge of unease when it strikes me that I can recall cars I've passed but not who was at the wheel.

The Dubai Metro will be up and running next year. Maybe I'll buy a season ticket for old times' sake.

9 comments:

e said...

Suggest you shift to Karama!

e said...

...or Satwa

Leela A said...

e: What makes you think I don't live in one of those places already? :)

e said...

A Leetle birdie told me / The one on the lone parking-tree / A cheep-cheep canary / That turns Pink on Sep 3!

Leela A said...

e: Tut tut. There are more lone parking trees than you know of.

Hyde said...

Its kinda sad when all you have for company is a car 10 metres ahead and another 10 metres behind. Those were the times when I missed traffic in India. :-)

e said...

...but not that many birds Lee, especially not leetle ones.

Leela A said...

e: Sigh. You're right about that.

Leela A said...

Hyde: Missed traffic in India? LOL!