The eyes of others…

And once again I sit staring at the ‘Add New Post’ page wondering what to write. The page technically has not fully loaded. So for all you know what am writing now might just vanish. … . Well, it just loaded and the text is still there. In the next tab I opened my blog and that has gone for a toss. WordPress is having a bad day in office looks like. Unfortunately this seems to be an everyday thing. I don’t know whom to blame, the internet connection or WP. Other sites load just fine. So might be just a WP issue. But then, with the much better connection at work, WP is seamless. So I guess it’s a combination of the two. Just doesn’t work too well unless you have blazing multi MB speeds. (The next tab is still loading.)

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I don’t have anything to write. This is a random post just to fill things up. Am counting on what I see as an ability to start with nothing and come up with something by the end of it in some 20-30 minutes and not cause too much boredom. And I’ll try not to do a recap of life. Except some vignettes maybe. (The tab is still loading. A blog I visit on blogspot opened up within the second. I even did a define:vignette and confirmed that it is the right word in this context.)

A few days back I had to drive my parents into the city – all the way into the KG Road, Majestic area – through morning peak hour traffic. It was a cloudy, gloomy day, and as with all cloudy gloomy days the traffic had the extra edge in frayed tempers, after having to deal with more cars everywhere. Near my place there is the new Outer Ring Road which stretches signal-free all the way from near PESIT to Kanteerava Studios, which is a whopping 10 Kms of signal-less 6-lane goodness. Trouble is, to get from one side to the other, you need to follow the service road parallel to the Ring road, turn into the tunnel under the Ring road and then get to the service road on the other side, and this is where the trouble happens. There’s never enough space for four-wheelers to turn at right angles without disrupting traffic on the opposite lane. During peak hours, combine this with the usual lack of discipline and “You’ll get an inch from me over my dead body” mode of driving and it is absolute madness. So we ended up in the madness and waited and waited for the gridlocked traffic to move. Once I was almost into the tunnel to get across, after a long wait, a Tempo-traveler came all the way from the left and wanted to get in – the equivalent of jumping the queue. I blocked him. Unfortunately, a scooter was on my right who wanted to go straight and he couldn’t because I had blocked him. Now I couldn’t move because he was too close to me to be able to turn safely. And he couldn’t go back because an auto was right up his arse. The traffic in the opposite direction was now blocked by the auto and the scooter and the person expected to clear this gridlock was – Me. I wriggled, and wriggled and got the scooter to wriggle. Dad started an angry signaling match with the TT driver as both had AC on and windows up. After a brief struggle I made it through and looked at all the two-wheelers standing and waiting for me to pass as I went by. They looked back at me as I passed through – eyes burning with anger and hatred. The stress accumulated over a period of time negotiating the unruly traffic, waiting for a vent to burst through in the form of rage. I returned the look and made angry gestures as I went by. Dad was screaming it out about the TT driver’s behavior. I wondered what the cost of even scraping another two-wheeler could’ve been, especially with an angry parent on the side. I stopped when I could, had a drink of water, and went my way. Surprisingly the traffic in the rest of the city was mild.

There is a small chapter in Kazuo Ishiguro’s ‘Never let me go’ where a bunch of students in school – whom you realize aren’t normal in some way, but you aren’t yet aware why – accost a woman who visits the school often, but stays aloof of the students. They have this theory that this woman, who is referred to as Madame, is actually afraid of them and they want to prove this theory. So one day, when Madame visits, a group of them turn up on her suddenly and then excuse themselves after registering her reaction:

..she just froze and waited for us to pass by. She didn’t shriek or even let out a gasp. But we were all so keenly tuned in to picking up her response, and that’s probably why it had such an effect on us. As she came to a halt, I glanced quickly at her face – as did the others, I’m sure. And I can still see it now, the shudder she seemed to be suppressing, the real dread that one of us would accidentally brush against her. And though we just kept on walking, we all felt it; it was like we’d walked from the sun right into chilly shade. Ruth had been right; Madame was afraid of us. But she was afraid of us in the same way someone might be afraid of spiders. We hadn’t been ready for that. It had never occurred to us to wonder how we would feel, being seen like that, being the spiders.

…that there are people out there, like Madame, who don’t hate you or wish you any harm, but who nevertheless shudder at the very thought of you – of how you were brought into this world and why – and who dread the idea of your hand brushing against theirs. The first time you glimpse yourself through the eyes of a person like that, it’s a cold moment. It’s like walking past a mirror you’ve walked past every day of your life, and suddenly it shows you something else, something troubling and strange.

Seeing silent hatred and rage towards you in the eyes of others is a strange feeling and leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. You read about riots, people killing each other, but those are always read in the comfort and safety of your home and are thus strictly SEP(Somebody Else’s Problem). My hands trembled as I picked up the bottle of water and took a few sips to calm myself down.

The next tab didn’t load eventually and I did a reload. Within a second it’s up. And I have close to 1200 words out of nothing (without making any presumptuous claims on quality). Hopefully this will get uploaded and you’ll be reading this sentence.

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4 thoughts on “The eyes of others…

  1. good narration of traffic issues… I had so many quarrels with d car owners. putting myself in their position and the thought of driving a car in such conditions is scary… it is d state of road conditions and traffic violations

    1. Reading it again, that’s like the whole thing of Racism, social alienation etc that he could be talking about. Wonder how I missed it! Saw it in a review on Goodreads and found that’s one way to look at it. I guess we don’t have so much of a literary tradition that deals with it, and even though we indulge in it in many subtle and not-so-subtle ways almost everyday, there is barely any mainstream literature as with Western writers on those topics. But then, even if there are, would probably be regional.

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