The Crawling Dread
Eyes sagging, half drowsing, and virtually devoid of life, the hungry, tired masses form a crowd in the desolate landscape, rotting under the scorching sun. Slowly, they move, inch by inch, hungry and irritated, blaring and wailing at each other.
That’s not a glimpse into a generic horror movie trope. That’s my morning commute. The sheer barrage of cars honking at each other, crawling through the highway is enough to make you want to pull triggers. And all the drivers are half dead, hoping against hope for the improbable extension of the Dubai Metro that could alleviate this traffic. We’re all drowsy, barely functioning people who are thinking “Trrraaains… Trrraaains…” like some kind of mindless… thoughtless… what is the word… vampire? Dash it, I’m going with vampire.
The Sharjah-Dubai morning commute is the most congested highway route in the world… of all time.. And if you try to bring in facts and figures to contradict that, I’ve got a special punch reserved for you.
Even if you want to avoid hyperbole, you can hardly dispute that this stretch of commute is basically horrible. I live around 50 kms away from my workplace. With clear roads, that should make my commute around 35 minutes or so. With the morning traffic, however, that gets stretched to more than 2 hours.
Two hours to cover 50 kms (31 miles) . That’s not good, but not too awful, right?
Right. What’s awful is how my two hours are split up. The first hour of my trip is used to cover the bottleneck of the first 15 kms, and the second hour is good for the remaining 35. So, I’m covering 15 kms in the first hour – That’s roughly 9 miles an hour on average. That’s not driving. That’s crawling. You hit the brakes roughly 90% of the ride.
Maybe I should look at the positive side, like the… err… or maybe… hmm… there has to be something – let me think – what is the the silver lining of this shitty cloud? Cloud? That reminds me – if we had clouds, that would at least have shielded us from the harsh, cruel sun in this desert region. Our temperatures play around the 45°C (110°F) during summer. I’m sure there are actual cases of people who just evaporated away waiting in this heat; the only reason it’s not in the news is that nobody’s brave enough to investigate in this weather.
But fine, if I stretch it to the limit, there IS one plus point here – This traffic is the great equalizer. Unless you’re in a police car, an ambulance or a firetruck, or you’re a cop driving an ambulance carrying a fireman, the traffic makes all the drivers more or less equal. It doesn’t matter if you’re driving a Rolls Royce, a Ferrari, a Bentley or a broken down Kia Sedona – you’re crawling at the same snail’s pace in this traffic. Have you ever heard a Ferrari’s engine race impotently behind heavy traffic? If you haven’t, just imagine a caged lion’s futile roars.
Time is arguably the most valuable commodity you have. Sure, you might be blessed in health, wealth, family, career, friends, and love. But none of that matters if you don’t have enough time to nourish/ enjoy it. Every second passes by with no chance for us to relive it. Unless you have a time machine, that is – and I think I demonstrated pretty well that we’re never ever really getting anywhere with that. (If you think my experiment was slipshod and inconclusive, I have another punch lined up for you.)
So, with time being such a valuable commodity, AND a non-replenishing resource at that… Clearly, only a brain-dead idiot would waste it on things he hates. For the last six months, I WAS that brain-dead idiot. I wasted 4-5 hours a day, every weekday in bumper-to-bumper traffic. That’s time I’m never getting back. That’s time I could have spent mastering a new language, writing a novel, learning an art-form, or – realistically – retweeting cat memes.
All that ends now. By which I mean ‘in a few week’s time’. I’ll bite the bullet of higher rent and move closer to work. It’s going to eat into my gadget budget, and I’m probably going to have to do without the latest smartphones or that trendy, accident-prone ‘hoverboard’, but that’s going to add 3-4 hours per day in my life. Even if I use that to watch some random, disgusting reality show, that time’s still better spent than just honking in traffic.
Before I move, though, there’s the little matter of actually finding a new place. It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation. The entire reason I’m considering moving is so I get more time. But I need time to actually go around looking at houses, and I don’t get time because I’m spending all my time on my wretched commute.
My commute is so hectic on the weekdays that I’m too tired for long drives on weekends. I had to cancel my house-hunting plans the last three weekends. Hopefully, the fourth time’s the charm. I have with me a list of houses listed on rent. This weekend, I plan to drive out early in the morning and start visiting them one-by-one, haggling with the agents, discussing terms, sizing up the place and checking for problems.
That sounds… exhausting. I could do that instead of sleeping in bed till noon, and watching random sitcoms the rest of the day while still in bed. I could do that… I’m sure.
UPDATE – What do you know… I managed to take a break and actually do the househunt. But that’s another story. Why not check out that story by clicking here?