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Bangalore traffic jam

Bangalore traffic jam

A Poem by Terpsichore

7pm, the day cools, the evening
hots up as shadows play hopscotch
on scorched asphalt.

No peeling rubber, just bumper to 
bumper madness and sputtering engines,
and the flash of Lord Ganesh
bobbing from rearview mirrors,
in the seething current of 21st century India,
one more swirling pinpoint
in a stationary river of stagnated transportation.

Part crushed rock, part yellow brick road,
dotted with kerbside Hindu temples
bearing the eager hopes of a billion people,
still believing in a four-armed god
with the head of an elephant,
good fortune to new ventures,
and the prosperity brought by machines.

No skill required here, no driving licence
as the slow wheels roll. 
Only luck, and the priests ritual blessing,
lighting coconuts, circling vehicles,
in the encroaching hazy dusk,
chanting, flowers, sacred flames,
the ritualized smashing of burning husks.
Crushed lemons, kerbside chai boys, 
green-banana sellers,
all seen through the cracked 
and grimy windshield,
bounced about through potholes
on worn out, patched up tyres.

High beam creatures of the night
that jump from Bangalores' shadows,
then vanish when you look.
The flank of a bony cow,
a mound of carted hay,
the crow-pecked corpse of a dog.
Scarf-bedecked teenage ghosts
on weaving motor-cycles,
kept safe by Vishnu and the
invincibility of youth.
Older, but not wiser men,
with worn and grubby chaddars 
draped over thin shoulders,
chewing high-octane masala tobacco
and scratching bedbug bites
to the screechy soundtrack 
of Bollywood love songs,
on tinny speakers competing
with the banshee scream of engines;

Bangalore traffic jam,
keeping the dead awake,
same as it ever was 
and ever will be.

© 2015 Terpsichore

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I was in Calcutta decades ago... your profound description (if recent) shows the depths and that little has changed.
Well done!!

Posted 7 Years Ago

I've travelled by tuk tuk through Bangalore (last century) and i can vouch for the authenticity of this. Brilliant writing that brings it totally to life.
Weel done,

Posted 7 Years Ago

Before I went to India, I asked a friend what it was like. She struggled to respond and finally said, "I can only say it's sensory overload." Then I went to India and indeed felt overwhelmed. You have captured the complexity of just one intersection (of about 5 roads) I saw in India. There were rickshaws, tractor trailers, elephants, camels, cars, buses, pedestrians all converging together without traffic cop or stop light and "every man for himself." Somehow, things got untangled enough to move from one side to another. No horns, no yelling, just commonplace, "here we go." Congrats on capturing that.

Posted 7 Years Ago

Jack went to India as a ghost of his former! What a journey this was! This had just the right amount of visionary to accept truth as pictured words..awesome read!

Posted 7 Years Ago

THIS one was spot on... and brought life into my eyes.

Posted 7 Years Ago

This is truly superb. Each line brings brilliantly to life a scene that is picture perfect in the mind's eye of the reader.

Always enjoy, (and admire,) your writing.


Posted 8 Years Ago

A thoroughly entertaining, colourfully evocative tribute to a unique world. The panoramic descriptions are like an unpaintable picture championed by words, bringing to life the dissonant beauty of an electric mass of existence and humanity. The reality is not lost in the romance, but is in fact co-mingled with the latter like two colours which, mixed together, create another all its own. How beautiful the dust and noise become when seen in this way; how magical the combination of ancient and modern culture, clashing and scratching against one another like steel and wood and plastic and ivory...
This is a great piece of writing, transporting the reader to another world, exotic and manic...yet perpetual and somehow logically incomprehensible. Real life seen with reason, and above all, with real understanding and knowledge.
"Keeping the dead awake" - a wonderful epithet.

Posted 8 Years Ago

Consumate descriptive skill and damned fine writing. Brings it all up to the front of the readers eye. Excellent.

Posted 8 Years Ago

reminds me of a combination of two different places...NY where i was born, and Trinidad where my parents lived for a few's like combining the traffic jams together...and i surely remember those hot asphalt sidewalks in NY and playing hopscotch because there was little else to do with the concrete landscape.

thanks for the memories.

Posted 8 Years Ago

The old meets the new and formes a kalidscope of sorts...Hindu temples and motorcycles...Lord Vishnu overseeing the traffic...

Terrific poem.

Posted 8 Years Ago

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12 Reviews
Added on August 6, 2015
Last Updated on September 17, 2015



London, United Kingdom

Nothing much to tell really. I work in the city, boring, but lucrative enough to enable me to spend most weekends away from the place. I enjoy writing, reading equally as much. Like retro style cloth.. more..


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