A ruptured tympanum prevented me from partaking of the rest of C's excitement on the phone. So without further ado, the Old Mutter and I headed off in the dead of night, to where all the action was.
Cauvery Circle: the site of the first ever instant underpass in India.
Yes, really. They're using Malaysian technology to assemble pre-cast blocks together quickly to create an underpass overnight.
The construction site was like a village fair. Nobody had seen anything like this before. The genteel crowds of Malleswaram and Sadashivnagar were peering cautiously over the debris, as bulldozers gouged out the underpass under their very eyes. It was actually happening.
"Cool huh?" I screamed across the void at C, whose entire extended family had turned up to watch the construction.
"Super cool boss!" the extended family shouted back in chorus, and ran away screaming, as a bulldozer suddenly came to life and chased them down the road.
"Ha ha", the Old Mutter and I laughed from our side. Our mirth was short lived, as we suddenly found ourself knee-deep in mud from a truck that had decided to unload where we stood.
"Hoon mathe"(then what), said a surly policeman watching the entire scene with the glazed look of one that has eaten mudde-saaru for dinner. "Theppakke maneyal bidkond Mukta nodak badlu, il band tarle madidre innen aguthe.Yaae HOG-ri aakade. Idhen nim thathan swoththaa?" (Serves you right for coming here and mucking around instead of watching Oprah. Aay GO that side I say. This is your grandfather's ancestral property or what.)
Suitably apologetic, we extricated ourselves and retreated to a corner. I rang C on his cell to find out if he was ok. "Yes!!!", he hollered into my surviving ear. The bulldozer had apparently lost interest in his family, after they had all clambered onto a large rain tree. It waved its claw creepily at them and went off in another direction, he said. The view from the tree was great, but cousin #12 needed to pee, he said.
I was okay too, I said. The Old Mutter was a little miffed about her mithai pink and fluorescent green polyester duppatta getting muddied, but would survive, I said.
Both of us stopped in mid paragraph however, when we noticed something very strange indeed.
The underpass seemed to be in the wrong place! Wasn't it supposed to cut across the main road, instead of plunging in and out of the side road??!!
"Oh No!!" we both screamed, scaring an accountant's family off a Tabebuia. "Stop this madness instantly!" we shouted, waving frantically at the man in charge: a hirsute, pot-bellied gent, clad rather fetchingly in a tattered blue lungi.
"I shall do no such thing", said the lungiman calmly.
"But the underpass is supposed to Pass Under the intersection, remember?" we gasped.
"There are water pipes are under the intersection. Your father will move them or what?"
"Bu...but how will it work then?" we blubbered.
"Wait a minute for five minute", he said, and pulled out a crumpled envelope from a region I'd rather not remember. "In this master plan document", he explained, "you will see how this underpass system will work." On the back of the crumpled envelope, next to a hastily scribbled mobile number and a grocery list, was indeed the master plan.
To avoid the waterpipes on the main road, the underpass would start and end on the side road.
Traffic from the side road towards the main road would now flow under the underpass, but re-emerge on the side road, crossing the intersection above ground.
"But how on earth is that going to help?" we asked.
"Ah", said Lungiman. And drew a little squiggle on the master plan.
All the traffic from the main road would be made to swerve into the side road, take a U-Turn above the underpass and swerve back into the main road.
The lungiman said he arrived at this gem of a design (surpassing even that of the Richmond Circle flyover), after reading a Tinkle comic containing a story of Mullah Nasruddin. In the story, the wise Mullah went searching for his lost ring under a streetlamp where the light was brighter, even though he had lost it elsewhere.
BMP, we love you. No, really.
Epilogue: A day after this post was written, the ornery bulldozer ploughed into a water pipe that the BWSSB (Bangalore Water and Sewage Supply Board) claimed no knowledge of. The burst water pipe is going to be converted into a musical dancing fountain which will spray "Car car yel nodu car" at the gridlocked traffic in the U-turn. The bulldozer, suspended from duties after trying to eve-tease the crane-lift, is currently undergoing anger management and repression therapy at NIMHANS (National Institute for Mad Hatters, Axe-murderers, Non-cooperative-bulldozers and Stuff).
The BMP commissioner says sorry and has urged the genteel crowds of Malleswaram and Sadashivnagar to kindly adjust and oblige.