I wasn't crawling. Nor was I running. Nor was I walking. Even if I were running or walking, I would not have taken 5 hours to travel 10 miles. Since I was driving a car, there wasn't much I could on this Tuesday. The GPS showed a mere 10 miles to home when I was caught in the gridlock that turned out to be a nightmare on M4 Eastbound for commuters like me. Despite the constant accelerating and braking, none of us were going anywhere. The inactivity provided me with ample time to reflect on traffic.
For a person who migrated from Bengaluru, the gridlock is not an uncommon sight. We are part of such inconveniences on a daily basis. Our blood pressure mounts to an alarming height and, as a result, we constantly learn new invectives. Believe it or not. There is no gridlock in Bengaluru if you have sat like me in the car on M4 on that fateful day. The vehicles in Bengaluru moves in spite of the gridlock. It may not move at your desired pace and aggression, but it does move. I could see people getting out of the car for stretching their legs. The hours of waiting can do that to people. Getting out of the car in the middle of the road for stretching your aching body is a common sight in India. But can you imagine this happening in the civilized West? There were more sights to follow. A driver made it to the shoulder, parked his car and lit a cigarette. Obviously, he wanted to calm his nerves. Another one was jumping the fence into the trees, of course to attend the call of the nature.
An overturned cement mixer caused the gridlock. By any standards, it took an awful lot of time to get it cleared. I reached back home around midnight. How could this happen in a civilized world? Aren't these things to cleared up as soon as possible? There was also a planned maintenance on M4 and hence lane closures in the section where the accident happened. On a normal day, you could expect delays. That day was not normal. The particular section of road was closed, and all the traffic was diverted to another road. Unfortunately, there was already maintenance work on the diverted route where there were many lane mergers and closures. Reading is an interesting city. You can neither get in nor get out gracefully. There aren't any wide roads leading into or out of the city. When will they have better roads to get out of this city?
In a gridlock, there isn't much to do. You wait. The authorities have to clear up the mess. Until, then listen to the radio if it doesn't eat your head. In India, there are street hawkers peddling their wares in our face. Their tireless calls for mercies will drive us mad and also make us feel guilty. But they also serve a good connection to the outside world when we are sitting on the man-made island of comfort and loneliness. Over here, there are only tailgates to stare.