Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The joys of driving slow

Yesterday, I attended a talk on urban governance. The speaker,Enrique Peñalosa (a former mayor of Bogota, Columbia) argued for bigger footpaths, more public transport, and fewer cars. It was a nice talk but as many nice talks go, it was pretty Utopian. However, what caught my attention was the pictures in his presentation. Those pictures reminded me of a draft in my dashboard that I thought of writing but didn't write beyond the title.

The title 'the joys of driving slow' came to me as a very pleasant feel, when I was at home in Lucknow this diwali. I was driving my good old LML scooter, with which I've been rated as a rash driver by most of my friends. Some who don't say so have actually not seen me driving. So when I was driving, I realized that I was going slow in the leftmost lane while everyone was flying by in a jiffy. Well... that was not the joyous part as speed really thrills but then I started exploring the things which I could never see due to the 'rash' driving.

For the first time I realized that even roads have a life of their own and that too, a beautiful one. There were many new shops and tea-stalls on the side with laid-back people around, some kids in the parking lot, some cute stray dog trying to steal a meal, some rag-picking kids who would have found some curio and were enjoying looking at that in a huddle, a couple from some rural area who were amused by the city, and some eagles perching on a roof. None of these sights may seem very unusual, important, or beautiful... yet, everything was so usual and simple that that made it beautiful and perhaps, photo-worthy.

However, the experience went deeper and longer than that drive. It was a lot like life - to reach one goal after another, we go fast. So rash and fast that we miss those small joys of life, which are neither unusual nor important and yet, so usual and simple that that makes the life beautiful. From then on, I often drive slow, be it a bike or the life... I am learning to cherish the joys of driving slow!!

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