I have the perfect answer. To the question, “When do you feel your most liberated self?”, I have the perfect answer. It’s got to be behind the wheels. But not just a car. Even when I am riding on the two wheeler, there is a fleeting moment of nirvana that repeats itself in a loop making sure my spirits are high. And take it from me, you can accomplish a whole lot of things during this moment.
Like solving a problem. Any problem. It could be at work, it could be in life, it could be at home, they present their own clear pictures on the road. The canvas is hazy and confusing when you try really hard to think about it but when you are traveling at 50 kmph(minimum), magic happens right in front of you. You fetch the right pieces from that jigsaw puzzle and it works during the first attempt. There is a friend who you hurt this afternoon that you realized just now. There are those lines of code that were giving you hell but you just figured out why or an alternate way to accomplish them. And that’s also the time you thought of this blog.
The instant is uninhibited. I know this because I find myself singing during the drive. Not loud, but to myself. I am not sure if there is a term called car singer or bike singer like a bathroom singer. Now my friends will vouch for the fact that I am a very very bad singer. It is so bad that it can be used as a weapon of mass destruction. The last time I sang was during a Karaoke night at a club here in Madras but that was because there were around 50 people singing along and of course, there was also a girl. But lets not get there. I’d go off on a tangent. (Like J here, been reading David Foster Wallace a lot these days)
The most obvious memory is from the drive on US 64. Late night, going west from the Outerbanks, and handling a V6, it couldn’t have been better. A two lane highway, with cars rarely passing(surprisingly on the night of July 4th, 2008), it was quite the dream. My mind throwing up a myriad of thoughts aided by a 100 mile long playlist, I was happy not looking at the speedometer. There was that huge problem at work that I had escaped from only because it was a long weekend. There was that movie that I was earnestly impressed with. There was that girl who looked damn cute on B’s Facebook friends list(had to go hunt her down asap). And about half hour later, the warp speed gave off, I entered the earth’s atmosphere and exclaimed, for the lack of thoughtfulness to conjure up a word to express myself, “BK!”. And BK, in his forever composed self, sitting behind me goes, “I noticed. You’ve been doing almost 90 on a 70 for the past half hour and I’ve been busy looking for flashing lights on all four sides”.
It was a miracle I was not pulled over that night. The last thing I wanted to do was burn a huge hole in my already tiny pocket. Maybe because it was North Carolina and not Virginia, where we were driving around for the better part of the day. But in the US, it’s funny. Over here in India, it stops being funny and starts being scary. There was a momentary lapse and I sank into my usual code/music/whatever phase again and 10 minutes passed. I found myself in the middle of peak hour 10 AM traffic on Mount Road. I remember wading through the signal at Valluvar Kotam last. Phew! Whatever happened in between. It was as if someone had mixed roofies in my drink and I conveniently didn’t remember a thing(Yes, I recently saw The Hangover and thought it to be infinitely brilliant. You should watch it).
So that’s that. Driving gives me a comfortable high. It doesn’t matter if it’s the I-40 or the Mount Road or the RTO road behind Lokhandwala. It just turns out to be amazingly rewarding by the end of it. So if I am not feeling great, don’t look for me. I am probably on the streets. An empty road and a full tank could be my greatest gift.