the contrast of life


A few days back I was in Coimbatore for a friend’s marriage. We had to pick another friend of ours from the airport and get to the marriage hall in a cab. Once he arrived, we got into the cab and minutes later were speeding across the heart of the city on what would be a 60 minute journey.

The audio system in the car was blazing like anything you could imagine. It was playing yakkai thiri (the Tamil version of Fanah). The adrenaline was rushing, pumping to the rhythmic beats emanating from the speakers. The volume was close to maximum. The windows were up. I could feel my hands clapping and my physique leaping to the heavy beats that the song is famous for.

Yakkai thiri was beating heavy at the back of my head. Adrenaline was rushing. Friends around you, an amazing song beating down on your head, and traveling to a friend’s marriage in a car. That was joy to core. That moment would easily picture in my ‘top 10 moments with friends’ list should I choose to write one a few years later.

Yakkai thiri was still beating heavy at the back of my head. Adrenaline was still rushing. The car stopped at a traffic signal. My head slightly turned to the right, as it does whenever the car stops at a signal, for a view through the pulled up grayish window into the adjacent vehicle, standing in the long traffic at the signal. Almost instinctively, I half pulled down the window to get a better peep. And I saw..

Someone lying on what looked like a movable stretcher, the head raised slightly. A bottle was hanging to the person’s right and blood was being trickled in through his arm. A seemingly old lady was sitting next to him. Her eyes were fixed on the person lying on the stretcher, and never moved away an inch for all the minute or so that the ambulance stood at the signal. Her face showed no anguish or fear, no anger or sadness. It was just blank. An uncomplicated emotion – a look of helplessness. The lights on the head of the ambulance were rotating, but the traffic was too heavy to move any faster.

The traffic moved and I meekly pulled up the window.

Yakkai thiri was still beating heavy at the back of my head. But there was no more adrenaline left to rush.


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