An Unusual Tryst With Trivandrum City’s Underpass
Mahesh gets close to the city’s underbelly ... things you thought didn’t exist. Unless one is tied down to a city lamppost and made to watch, no one would pay attention to these nuances in closeness he says.
On Nov 19, 2014


Though most of us have made this holy city our permanent place of dwelling, barely have we given a closer look. In our rush, scant attention is given to the subtleties we see daily like small potholes on the roads, the small water body formed out of the recent showers or even the small bush beneath the electric post and the micro ecosystem exist around that. We usually speed away trying to meet busy schedules. Similarly, surprising social behaviours exist in our city barely noticed by any.

I happened to come across both these simultaneously on a rainy evening; city’s micro ecosystem and a weird social behaviour by our ‘city’zens. Unless one is tied down to a city lamppost and made to watch, no one would pay attention to these nuances in closeness.

I had to pick up a friend from Bakery Junction and then proceed together to Pettah. We took off on my bike from Bakery and entered the city’s lone underpass. The road, featured with an underpass, four lined uninterrupted traffic and demarcated medians till Chakkai, is a delight for motorists of the city. We took to the road in all glee and when we were about to enter the underpass, the clouds above us busted. The downpours were heavy but we sped fast and entered the concrete canopy of the underpass.

We continued to ride for another 20-30 metres and were about to approach the exit when we found that the situation was getting worse. It was raining heavily and proceeding further might get both of us completely drenched. So we decided to slow down and brought the bike to a halt, few metres before the incline started.

By the time several bikers like us had already formed a line on both the sides of the road. It was interesting to see city bikers, in a unique self-imposed harmony, standing close to the underpass’ concrete wall forming a well-disciplined line, another unusual scene in our city landscape.

Several minutes passed. The rain took no recess. Spurts of water started approaching us from the top. Sitting on the bike, I pushed it further downwards. The water spurts have now transformed into tiny rivulets. I took few more steps down but of no use. Irked, I put the bike stand, stepped on the short parapet and stood close to the wall.

A few futile moments later I felt something creeping up over my shoulders. I brushed it aside and whatever it was flew away. It was a large cockroach! Instantly I felt similar slithering movements all over my head, ears and back. I jumped aside and I was shocked to see a bunch of these creatures having quite a fascination for my body. My friend also joined me in my efforts of wriggling and shaking off the itchy pests and soon we were successful in getting rid of them. 
On close observation I found numerous small holes on the wall which provided a safe haven for the roaches. Though all the itchy-pitchy were squirmed off, the retreated bugs had left a volley of stink, the worst stench in my life, all over me. The smell was a million times worse than the usual cockroach pong which we are used to at our house holds. I was bath fresh and smeared with cologne and body lotion when I left home. But there I stood as one of the most unpleasant persons on earth. I could feel the sharp stink of roaches splendidly emanating from my body.

There were no signs of the rain letting up. Suddenly I heard a loud scream from the farthest side. Two frivolous youth were screaming at the top of their voice. I heard similar howls from other bikers as well. The echoes remained for a while inside the concrete canopy and before it went off another set of bikers would come from the other side yowling. I saw four-wheelers also unnecessarily honking just for the resonance. It was a realisation for me that the underpass has been enjoyed by many as the city’s lone underground sonorous experience, where people have been screaming or honking ever since it was built about a decade ago.

By this time the rain had thinned down to a drizzle. My friend got on the back and as we were soon passing by AasaanSquare. I tried to initiate a conversation with my pillion. But as I could neither hear any reply nor feel the pillion rider’s warmth on my back. So I lifted my helmet’s visor, turned back and searched. He was sitting at the farthest possible point of the pillion seat avoiding any possible contact with me, with his head turned away.

Never ever did I imagine a cockroach stink could split two intimate friends!

M L Mahesh

Started his career in marketing IT products. Dropped IT and ventured into real estate, property development and leasing. Currently a freelance writer and travel correspondent.
Has trekked the Himalayas, participated in Poorn Kumbh Mela-2013. Plans to retreat to rural India and lead life with the impoverished and rural people of India.

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