The infamous metropolitan traffic. My workplace is 5 kms away from where I stay and I consider myself lucky if I cover that distance in an hour.
One day, when I was running late for a meeting (goes without saying that I was stuck in a cab during a logjam), I realized that I have better things to fret about than traffic jams – like the just-ended sale on the dress I wanted or the popped-out-of-nowhere pimple.
That’s when it dawned on me that traffic is not so bad, after all. Don’t think so? Allow me to explain how traffic helps us have a better life:
Have you seen two random auto drivers strike up a conversation during a road block? I have seen guys in my carpooled cab discover common interests through music playing on the radio and plan on attending a concert together. I have had exclusive access to cooking , beauty tips and sale details by overhearing phone conversations on buses. Traffic jams help you connect, spend time and make friends with people.
2. Exploring the city
When my auto-driver senses an impending congestion ahead, he takes a sharp turn into one of those narrow lanes whose existence I wasn’t aware of. Tucked away in those narrow lanes are unexplored quaint art shops and boutiques that don’t charge a bomb. Touring the city is all the more relevant with “Murphy’s law of shared cabs” – Irrespective of when you board the cab, you will be the last one to get dropped.
Only during times of distress does humanity shine. Like the person who let my car sneak into the main road’s long queue through a side lane. There was a traffic policeman who held the shivering hands of an old lady and helped her cross the road. There was a an old man selling peanut biscuits at a signal to fund his grand-daughter’s education. There was a businessman who stepped out of his air-conditioned Audi and volunteered to clear a deadlocked congestion. Traffic lets you witness such moments of humanity.
4. Developing patience
In this fast-paced world of 2-minute noodles, traffic forces you to cultivate and develop the virtue of patience. This is primarily because, well….you don’t have a choice.
5. Quality me-time
The time spent in travel gives me the much-needed alone time when I can read my favourite book, listen to music or introspect on my life. Bus drivers in my city use this time to stay updated with the world by reading newspapers.
6. Helping stay fit
How does traffic help fitness? When you decide to cover the final 2km stretch to office by walking for 30 minutes instead of waiting for an hour.
7. Maintaining relationships
I spend my travel time in replying to messages, emails and greeting friends on their birthdays/anniversaries(or their children’s birthdays). Traffic gives you ample time in your busy work life to catch up with friends and relatives.
8. Increasing sense of alertness
If you are a pedestrian on the side-walk, you develop the art of being on high-alert sub-consciously. Because you have to dutifully jump out of a motorist’s path and avoid bumping into a fellow mobile phone-engrossed pedestrian, like a real-life subway surfer.
9. Increasing co-ordination
Traffic requires you to inherently co-ordinate with all the other people on the road by a wave of the hand or the flicker of an eye – asking them to pass or understanding the time they need to cross.
When everything else fails, you invoke the Almighty to help you reach office on time. Or to Bless you with just one flying bat mobile. Or to endow you with superpowers that let your car pass through objects. The obnoxious traffic. Sigh!