Beating the traffic jam | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 08, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:22 AM, February 08, 2017


Beating the traffic jam

It's not easy, unless you are at liberty to set up office in the same building or locality as that of your residence. That is, however, only possible if you are the boss of a private enterprise, and that again of a moderate-sized clean paperwork business, no spill or smoke or extensive public transactions allowed. That is exactly how it was in the early days until industrialisation took over and communication improved (?). Whiling away the hours in a traffic jam, we can indeed debate whether mechanisation has given us more comfort versus chaos, rapidity as opposed to delay. Helpful hint: a pedestrian is never in a jam.

Despite the apparent advantages, residential-cum-occupation premises are often not a preferred option for most, mainly because not all of them can have their own businesses and many establishments have giant operations employing hundreds to thousands residing far from work. But, more pertinently, a huge majority wants to work away from home, meet new people away from home, have meals away from . . . you get the point. Helpful hint: be aware of strangers.

Women entrepreneurs, because of their gifted superiority to multitask, would perhaps prefer such a homely arrangement but since it involves having to welcome all and sundry (mostly men, ugh) to one's abode, the option has remained largely unutilised. Brazenly, the vainglorious version of the male species would have boasted to his friends, “I visited Madam in her house”. Excuse me, that's her office too! Helpful hint: never establish a business house along a perennial jam.

Till such time we stop considering cars as a status symbol, till schools come within walking distance of homes, till we have more adequate roads, till we have additional modern public transport, till we learn to drive sensibly, till the pavements are left to pedestrians, and till every building has dedicated parking, there will indeed be many rising of our moon, and we will be stuck in all sorts of vehicles counting the stars after dark. Helpful hint: practice before preaching.

Stuck on a road, your statuette status within a vehicle will eventually lead you to boredom, but 'when' will depend to a great extent on who you are giving company. A busload of passengers should be fun, particularly if some of them can engage in a vociferous argument over the recent threat to North Korea's Kim Jong Un's long standing as the most eccentric national leader. The more meaningless the logic, the greater the entertainment. Helpful hint: there are idiots on both sides of the political divide.

On the other hand, if you are made to sit in a car only with the person with whom you have had a nasty disagreement, you could be better off sweating in hell. On the rosy side, if your companion is someone you crave, better still if the vibes are mutual, then you may not want the journey to end, and the city fathers could be reassured of your vote. Of course, the car has to be air-conditioned and the driver deaf. Helpful hint: never speak to a driver when he is driving.

Some of us love to study people on the road. It is a captivating involvement, watching fellow humans from afar. Their posture, hand movement, the occasional changing location of their fingers, the jerk of the head, cursing under their breath as they pass someone etc. may all be amusing to the onlooker. It may profit you to know that others do watch you too; worse still, watch you two. Helpful hint: never pick your nose in public.

You can sit back and witness a silent movie unfolding, starring a street vendor and a buyer. Some people ask the price to pass time, and the disgusted seller knows it. Some passers-by, if you are lucky to catch them, will slow down at a peanuts basket, pick up one, and carry on walking, giving the impression they were just tasting the merchandise. By that measure, from Farmgate to Bangla Motor, they should be collecting quite a tummy full. Helpful hint: never make eye contact with the cheena-badamwala.

Encouraged by such risk-free turnover, you may wish to get off the car and take a walk forward towards your destination. Always choose busy areas because that's where the peanuts are. Bus passengers for obvious reasons may be reluctant to disembark, but an understanding with the helper may facilitate re-embarkation at a suitable point up the route. The little finger signal always helps, needed or otherwise. Helpful hint: always do it before starting your journey.

Yet another positive element is that choc-a-block road condition allows you the best time to think, if you stop fretting, that is. You should stop worrying about the delay because you cannot help it. Start thinking by humming a tune, even if in silence. Take courage from no one noticing and start singing. In a non-AC bus, a window seat is ideal. After a couple of traffic lights, you can start composing songs. You will discover the writer in you, poet for sure. Jot down the lines on your phone's memo pad, and save them to give you pleasure at the next gridlock. In fact, mobile telephones are a lifesaver. Helpful hint: always charge the battery before starting your journey.

The writer is a practising Architect at BashaBari Ltd., a Commonwealth Scholar and a Fellow, a Baden-Powell Fellow Scout Leader, and a Major Donor Rotarian. 

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