It has been just about two weeks since I daily started passing through Chennai’s Rajiv Gandhi Salai, aka IT Corridor on my way to work. But if you in Chennai, you’d rather choose to call this road by its old name, Old Mahabalipuram Road, or the shorter and modern sounding – OMR. Now, if you are marketing person you’d be worried to see your brand having such diverse monikers but in Chennai we just love it. In some ways it is like a much adored kid in the family whose maternal grandpa insists calling him Lalan Prasad, paternal grandma insisted he be called Ganesh Narayan, and the parents decided to call him Mantu at home while naming him Himanshu at school. Things get only a little more complicated when the kid grows up and introduces himself as, “Hi, I am Himanshu – call me Him”. Now why you’d call him as Him is to be understood only after sneaking undercover of the semantic logic, whereby Him in Sanskrit means ice and represents strength. And lastly, what’s in a name – I have had friends named Mrityunjay, but where called Mrityu by the entire gang![Mrityunjay = One who is victorious over death. Mrityu = Death].
Back to OMR. As I started daily going towards the hallowed world of Chennai’s IT city, I had experiences that gave me rainbow feelings. The MRTS train has a station at Thiruvanmiyur which is bang opposite one of the IT parks [Loud question : What has ‘IT’ got to do with ‘park’?]. Call it recession of whatever, but lot of people do seem to be thinking that using trains is after all, not such a bad idea. At least the number of people getting out of the station did indicate so. Sadly, the MRTS train does not go far along on the OMR.
As you move forward, the traffic slows down considerably, especially near a very fashionable building having sharp edges. Besides general traffic disorder, a contributory factor seems to be craning necks of male drivers – that sharp looking building is a fashion school for real and the crowd probably is quite fashionable. In other words, it is not the sharpness, but the curves that make that traffic jam. But I miss out probably because I am yet to master that the steal-a-look drive which my friend MR swore he’d mastered.
Now, if you are a lane conscious driver ( in India that is a choice in most parts, rather than an enforced standard), you’d get considerably perturbed to see cars overtaking your vehicle from the left side and then almost stalling in after coming in front of you. The same could happen from the right side as well. Don’t get perturbed. Take it easy and enjoy. It looks like a video game. Weird, isn’t it? If you are driving in the 2nd of the three lanes, you would even get the pleasure of being overtaken from left as well as right, at the exact same time!!!!
Xanadu? I never said this area is Xanadu. But just picture this – a reasonably well intentioned and intelligent person, aka me, getting ready for work, perfume, deo and so on. And after putting that Stetson after-shave (that came in as gift) to good use, getting into the car and driving towards IT Corridor with high thoughts of some world beater of an idea, which I hope to develop in the course of my few kms drive along the IT Corridor. I cross the junction that is the starting point of OMR aka Rajiv Gandhi Salai aka IT Corridor thinking about the idea that would soon world beater when the car AC system gives a weird stink. Small matter that a garbage truck, loosely covered by a sheet- I mean a fairly dirty looking open bed truck loaded with town’s garbage and covered with a flimsy sheet overtakes you from left and then miraculously fits in the exact space between your car and the vehicle ahead of you just as we all hit a traffic jam!! But then, how do you possibly nurture the new mind-blowing business model, or develop that recession proof niche service which the VCs would fall over one another to finance when the ghastly looking bespoke truck stands right in front of you. I mean it surely should be possible. But, a lesser mortal like mine just buries the idea that very point and starts looking at the possibility of a creeping lane change. Mad honking pushes some bikers out of the way and I succeed in changing the lane while the traffic is still static (only the packing factor changes). I mean you know it if you have done it. And no, unlike some slimy parts of the world, cows are not seen on this road. Only buffaloes, that too only twice in last two weeks. And truckloads of chickens being transported in cages to be processed. Where can you better see such direct examples of farm-to-fork business model?!!!!
A few kilometers down you are made cognizant to the existence of the imposing toll plaza via large boards. So you either Rs 17 one way, or buy a smartcard which can be loaded with 50 or 100 trips. Being that genetically incorrigible technology loving man, I buy the smartcard and load it with 50 trips. Also, I did not want to be robbed daily, once a month sounded a better option. Next time I approach the toll-gate, no cash business, I wave the magical smartcard to the toll-gate attendant who takes it near a sensor and the gate opens, I move on. This, I felt was wow. This was IT corridor. A few days down, my sense of wow multiplied manifold when I noticed that every-time the display shows the remaining number of trips as 49. Being that mild opportunist, I decide not to point out the problem to the attendant. Actually, every time I see that number 49 with my side-glance, I suppress my wow feeling, just give a bored look to the attendant and moved on. But inside I felt this was a real wow. Smugly I thought to myself that there was a problem with an update query in their data-base. I decided not to think too hard about how they could do better error handling, or maybe one of the companies around here can give them a ‘solution’. I also tried too hard not to think whether this happened to others as well? I also decided not to ask the question to my colleagues in case they feel jealous of me and complain!!! But ten days down in one of the ‘bored look’ moments, I had to rub my eyes, because somewhere the data square-off had happened and the system was showing the remaining number of trips as 40. I mean how cruel to a well-intentioned, reasonably intelligent and good-looking man like me!!!
Every evening as I reach home, I defrag my mind of all these experiences. Defrag is a technology term. In plain English, I mean I just purge of all useless thoughts from my mind. Like work. Next morning is another reboot with another attempt at developing another crazy business idea, as I take the Rajiv Gandhi Salai, a.k.a OMR, which I have gradually started to like.