But people sometimes behave like I love being called an imbecile or something. "Come on, now! How hard can that be? Driving is the easiest thing on the planet."
That's as good as yelling at a dyslexic kid about the difference between bar and bra. (He's probably too young for both in any case!)
Besides, if you have an internal GPS as warped as Moses in the desert, there's absolutely no incentive in overcoming this handicap of being a wuss behind the wheel. With a stroke of luck, if you've figured how to change gears while you foxtrot on the accelerator and clutch, you've probably forgotten where you wanted to get to in the first place.
To add to the mix, if your direction sense sucks, the last person you want clarifications from is someone from Mumbai city. My people are cool and all, but if there's one thing that I just don't understand, it's the fact that when it comes to directions, they can NEVER get themselves to saying "I don't know."
In fact, I think when Christopher Columbus was asking people to guide him to India, it probably was that lone Mumbaikar on his boat who jumped to the occasion and grabbed the role of playing navigator. ("Let's go straight," I believe were his last words.)
But I don't blame that guy alone. Clearly he's been raised in a city where official signposts beam at you with the profound confidence of a broken compass. Imagine my horror when I spot a bottle-green signboard in Khar West that reads Go Straight for Mantralay with no distance indicators. That's as good as telling me, keep going straight and you'll reach Bangalore... well, eventually.
Let's see, so here I am with all the permutations and combinations of reaching WhereTheFuckAmI land.
I promise to meet this friend for rehearsals on a Wednesday afternoon. "It's the second bungalow on Chapel Road, Bandra West. 2:00 pm. Don't be late!" she warns, knowingly.
I hop into a rickshaw and mumble the necessary keywords to get me to my destination, and continue to multitask with a sandwich, the cellphone and a book in tow.
We maze through millions of cars, buses, 2-wheelers, 3-wheelers, and dodge over the little hindrances in our obstacle race including THE divider, a bicyclist (who are they anyway?) and a cow's oblivious tail.
Through this chaos, I sit there beaming, cause it's 1:45pm, and for the first time in a very long time, I'm going to be there, On Time. Phew!
We reach Hill Road and I'm mean't to direct the driver behind the Indian 3-seater from there.
"Bhaiyya Chapel Road likha hai." He looks like he's going to call my bluff, and presumes I'm not from the city. He's lived in Khar-Danda all his life apparently and is convinced that I've got the address all wrong.
He defies me into asking someone on the street.
"Chapel Road?" "Chap-pill Road" I scream from the other side of the street, when a soft-drink stall owner points straight ahead towards a forked path.
A couple rights, lefts, u-turns, lefts, straights and zig-zags around the corner, someone suggests that I'm not even in the right part of the city. "It's probably in Malad," a passerby assures, again pointing straight ahead, towards Mantralay. Grah!
I look at the rickshaw guy through the rear-view mirror and charade my way by saying:
"Arre bhaiya, wahaan par sab bungley hai. Address mein Bungla #2 likha hai"
He parks the rick on the side and asks me to show him the address with the air of a veteran detective. Something dawns on him, and he looks mightily pissed with me. Grumbling through the traffic he takes me via a by-lane and points at a dilapidated signboard with 'Chapel Road' in clear letters.
"Kya Madam. Kaayko shtyle maarta hai? Chappal Gali bolneka na, seedha seedha," he says, waving his slipper in his hand.
I wasn't quite sure if he was still in the mood for playing charades there.
And I didn't wait long enough to find out.
Photo Credit: CNN