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Strange Creatures of the Road

By Anamika Mukherjee

Love it or hate it, there’s never a dull moment on Indian roads. Consider, for instance, the strange creatures sometimes sighted on the road:

The one-eyed jack: It’s a many-wheeler (sometimes as many as ten) with only one headlight, so that in the dark it looks like a two-wheeler. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of this fellow.

The asymmetrical beauty: This one usually has a significant part of its body bashed in. Injuries to the back and sides may appear spectacular enough, but when the front is missing and it’s still moving, it makes you wonder.

The powerless auto: This is an auto rickshaw without automotive power (either due to mechanical failure, or due to fuel demand-supply issues). It is usually powered by being temporarily attached to another vehicle, which may or may not be another auto. The attachment is often provided by means of a human limb extending from one vehicle to the other. Steering, as may be imagined, is a complicated affair. There’s very little control over speed.

The helmet-wearing two-wheeler: This is a two-wheeler with a helmet attached. In most cases, the helmet is attached somewhere near the handlebar, sometimes on the mirror. In a few instances, it dangles inelegantly from other parts of the vehicle. In no instance is the helmet seen upon the driver’s head. Research shows that the helmet is found to be most effective in protecting the vehicle from injury in case an accident occurs.

The dancing elephant: This refers to a jumbo vehicle (eight wheels or more) that moves in a path as straight as a Bangalore road. In addition to its apparently inebriated condition, it usually also suffers from severe pulmonary and cardio-vascular dysfunction, as evidenced by the gasping, panting sounds it makes while it struggles along the road. It is often heavily overweight and emits voluminous clouds of foul black exhaust.

Other variants of these rare creatures can also be spotted by a keen observer. For example:

  • The dancing auto
  • The powerless elephant
  • The asymmetrical one-eyed jack (this one’s been in some serious trouble)
Unfortunately, too few of these are on the endangered species list!

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Copyright 2008 Amit and Anamika Mukherjee. All rights reserved.