Its old news now, but I hope you remember Barack Obama’s remarks about religious intolerance in India towards the end of his historic visit to the county. The next time he makes one of those visits, I request the CIA or whoever decides the president’s itinerary to let him drive through the busy streets of the country a free man instead of shutting down all of Delhi and the neighboring states in the name of security. Don’t worry, just give him a lungi and a baniyan, he’ll look like one among us and no one is going to spare him a second glance, except to say – you look just like Obama. The streets of India will give him true insight into the tolerance level of the common Indian man. With the added bonus that he will let the entire world know of his novel “It happens only in India” experience, provided he doesn’t return home a nervous wreck.
Nowhere else in the world would a 6 metre wide road accommodate vehicles in 4 tracks. I hear that Rowling got her inspiration for the magical ministry cars that could squeeze through regular muggle traffic from India. It would seem that all our cars, buses, bikes and autos, especially the autos, have been sprinkled with fairy dust. Which explains how all the kids in a locality and their school bags can be crammed into the tiny space in an autorickshaw that is actually meant for just 3 people. If it weren’t for magic, how would the helmetless threesomes (armed with pipes, TVs, full length mirrors, furniture, hens, eggs and other livestock) that zoom past you on bikes make it home undamaged? Our local James Bonds rival the Hollywood version as they hang off each other on crowded buses during rush hour traffic and disprove several law of physics in doing so.
And we aren’t talking about vehicles alone; our roads that are narrower than Sunny Leone’s waist allow room for parking, processions, parades and pigs. Don’t you feel blessed when your way home is blocked by a funeral procession wherein the garlanded dead body is seated on a high chair and his friends dance around him? Is there any other country in the world that allows you to park right in the middle of a busy gali and ask around for directions? Add to it road side vendors who sell you everything from coconuts to remedies for “mail” and “femail” problems and open drains that are almost as stagnant as the traffic, and we have a concoction that could make any man go crazy.
But does any of this bother us? No, no at all. I mean, yes, people do honk all the time, and swear at everyone who dares to cross their path, but it is just to while away time rather than out of anger. Infact, we are so happy about our setup that we have deviced several games for our entertainment. Like “guess the turn”, where player 1 puts on a right signal at a turning, and player 2 (the driver behind him) has to guess whether player 1 will go left (high probability), straight or take a right turn. Or after hour games like “Who am I?”, in which the player, at great risk to his well being, has to guess whether an oncoming light beam is that of a bike or a truck with only one light on. Other forms of entertainment include taking dives into flooded potholes of varying depths, flying off the seat as you encounter unmarked bumps on the road etc.
Pedestrians have a share in the thrill as well. The thrill of not knowing whether you’ll return home alive. Our nation has such high regard for the right of the way that people make it a point to park their vehicles bang on pedestrian crossing simply because they feel pedestrians should be allowed to cross anywhere. Inorder to cross a road, you need to:
i) wave at the oncoming traffic,
ii) say a prayer
iii) close your eyes
iv) and walk.
While we treat everyone equally, cows, buffaloes, goats and the occasional elephant (if you are in Kerala) enjoy a higher degree of the right of the way than humans. They are allowed to take their time as they cross roads or even take a leak or nap right in the middle of the street, be it a dirty village road or NH 47. The only intolerance I’ve seen is displayed by street dogs who believe the road is their birthright alone and chase bikers and cabs away to enforce this right.
So, to conclude, I would say we are a very tolerant race and we enjoy rights no one else does. Our laws give us the license to drive any way and any where we please and take a life or two in the process. On another note, just make sure you are insured!
And talking about everything our streets have to offer, have you tried the fried rice they make on the road side? Vegetables, chicken and rice are tossed high into the air and right back into large woks over high flame, squirt of all kinds of sauces, sprinkling of salt, pepper and unidentified powders, and you are presented with a hot, sour and spicy meal that you can savor along with all the sights and sounds that the place has to offer. I have for you a simpler (and probably healthier) version of this fried rice that is just as tasty.
Its old news now, but I hope you remember Barack Obama’s remarks about religious intolerance in India towards the end of his historic visit to the county. The next time he makes one of those visits, I request the CIA or whoever decides the president’s itinerary to let him drive through the busy st
- Heat oil in a large work. Saute shallots till soft. Add garlic and saute till fragrant.
- Add chicken pieces and half a teaspoon of salt. Saute over high heat till chicken turns white all over.
- Add carrots, followed by cabbage and continue sauteing over high heat for a couple of minutes.
- Add cooked rice (breaking lumps if any) and mix well.
- Beat together eggs along with a dash of salt and pepper with a fork. Make a well in the centre of the wok and pour the egg into this well. Wait for half a minute, and stir the egg softly to scramble it. Stir the rice into the egg.
- Add soy sauce and oyster sauce and mix together.
- Adjust seasoning, garnish with spring onions and enjoy hot.
- ~ Use cooked rice that has been cooled overnight. If you don’t have enough time, then cook the rice and spread it out on plates and cool under a fan. You must use rice that has been cooled well, else it will stick and overcook.
- ~ I like to scramble the eggs a little and then mix in the rice into the remaining as yet unset eggs so the rice gets coated with the egg.
- ~You can substitute the vegetables with those of your choice.