Saturday, December 18, 2004

Death by CNG

The legend 'Je roule en gaz naturale' (I run on natural gas)is a common sight on buses in France. I now see it often here on the Delhi buses. Propelled by Clean Fuel. Or nearly the same thing. With slight variations. Proppelled / Propeled / Propelled etc...
Clean/kleen/clin/klin; feul... U get the picture.

Some however solve the problem by using the hindi version. So long as they are using CNG or clean fuel which helps to reduce pollutions, I dont mind. Occasionally someone gets it right but I always prefer the desi versions. They have me laughing away heartily. Whatever!

This wrong or rather innovative spelling of common english words are a common sight. And this was one of the first things I 'noticed' on my return from France, in May. How good it felt to read this hodge-podge english. One I remember in particular, when I went to an area filled with car repair shops. There were signs all over for 'Dainter and Painter'. Perfectly comprehensible to someone who knows hindi. It means one who repairs dents and does paint jobs. (A desi version of the americanisation of certain words...why write colour when color will do)?!!

Back to CNG - I get a cab to drop me home from the office on late nights (which has become a permanent fixture in my life).

One night, on my long ride back home with only my thoughts for company, the driver busy navigating through the crowded roads (even at that hour), I found the back seat falling on me everytime I shifted or leant forward. I turned around and found an enormous CNG cylinder filling the entire space just behind the seat. The driver confirmed that the car was indeed running on CNG from that cylinder.

Eeeeeps! And I was sitting with my back to it. Suddenly, I could hear all sorts of ticking and clicking noises coming from the till then silent cylinder.

I kept imagining it exploding. Images of me sitting with my hair and clothes burnt popped up. Don't be silly. It it were to explode, me, the car, the driver and the cars alongside on the road would be history. I wouldn't feel a thing. Instant Nirvana. Stop it. STOP. Get a grip on yourself girl. And so on, it went till I reached home, which it seemed would never come.

I somehow managed to sign the car slip and put in the closing meter and a very shaky signature and I dashed out with indecent haste. CNG, clean or not, is funny, from a distance only! Death by pollution (from non-CNG cars and buses) now seem an infinitely preferrable process.

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