I studied a bit about mechanical objects at a stage in my life. Automobiles were one of them. So whenever I see a different vehicle, I kind of observe it. I am not very good at identifying the nuances of the functional peculiarities but I do understand a bit of the things that even the blind can see, as they sometimes put up pretty rudely in Hindi!
I live in Baroda, a city that was struck by communal violence a few years back. And the area where I live is just a stone’s throw away from the ‘epicenter’. I didn’t know that I’d use the term for anything except the quakes. Whenever I return from a refreshing session of table tennis early morning or from a late night meeting with friends, I prefer to take the other route which comes through a place called ‘Pani Gate’. Now this is the spot that became friends with burning tires and shattered pieces of broken glass for quite some time. Even today, on that very monument sort of structure, somewhere amidst the spit marks of red beetle juice -the favorite graffiti of the tobacco addict- I see black patches reminding me of the color of destruction and inhuman atrocities.
Sometimes, during my ‘staring-at-the-walls’ moments, I think about the wall-less, but ‘bollywoodish’ child that must have grown up watching all this real life action. I think about the vehicles that he would have graduated to. He must have started with a cradle; obviously not the one with eye-catching toys made of PVC fighting for space over a multicolored iron bar but the cradle actually being a swing, tied between two bamboo sticks or between other things the poor can discover for amusing their children. By the way, if you don’t consider the cradle a vehicle, you would never find the chauffeur so nice to you in your entire lifetime!
I don’t think he would’ve had good times watching other vehicles. I mean, what would’ve he learnt from old bicycles with twisted paddles or from hand-driven Lorries or from overcrowded auto rickshaws running on ‘personally clinically treated’ fuel or from all sort of awkward vehicles carrying things that doesn’t interest him??
But like every bollywoodish kid, he must’ve been an action movie fan. He’d be loving those police vans which would come every once in a while, wake everyone up on the street with the screeching sound of their tires and red revolving light on the top and take all the bad men away in rusty shackles. I’m not really fond of violence, but somehow, it fascinates me. And so whenever I return from a refreshing session of table tennis or from a late night meting with friends, I feel very close to that kid. I feel like that curious kid every time I spot that ‘Riot-Control Vehicle’ at Pani Gate.
The only major difference between a police van and that Riot Control Vehicle is the color. It is colored silver. Quite a strange choice to fight the ‘black’, isn’t it?? I hope it always manages to calm down the saffron and the green as well. And I hope that it doesn’t favor one of them either.
Well, when that kid would’ve seen a grill all around the windows on that moving giant, he must’ve thought- why had the maker put small little holes on those grills? And like the way I learn things by observing, he would have found that gun barrels come out of them occasionally when all the good people he knows in the neighborhood and elsewhere, go crazy. And when the ‘silver’ strikes gold, a few of the crazy people go crazier and then finally die. The people behind the grills listen to something on their heavy, black colored telephones, utter a few bad words, pray to their respective Gods and then either fire a few bullets or drive away uttering some more bad words.
I liked watching special purpose vehicles in the kind of Hollywood movies I used to watch earlier. I wish that the purpose for the vehicle that I am talking about didn’t exist. But there’s something that I would like to mention. One of my good friends told me that thing when I said that there shouldn’t be weapons and wars on earth. He said, “Some of the things were here when man took this planet. They will always be.”
When I started noticing vehicles, I had a wish. A wish to own an SUV which would suffice my love for being adventurous at times. A few years later I realized that like all the fat people in the world, it drinks too much and runs millimeters. So, I changed my mind and started thinking about a vehicle that wouldn’t murder my mother earth much and would suffice that love. I haven’t found any that fascinated me the same way.
A few of them still catch my senses and give me something to think about during my ‘staring-at-the-wall’ moments. I still have a corner for the SUV’s. But now I drop my lower jaw only when I see something like the government’s RCV. The other route to my house has become a regular one. It keeps the curious kid inside me alive. Very alive.