It’s been a long day and I can’t wait to get home. As I come out of the office, the darkness engulfs me and I wonder if I worked through the evening and into the night. No, it can't be. My clock shows 5 pm. I look back, the world headquarters of McDonalds shines behind me. The windows are lit with warm yellow light inside. The big Christmas tree shines in the background. The ever famous arch is shining and standing out against the darkness of night. Everything looks so bright and shinny in the dark background of night!
I warp my jacket around me tighter and start walking towards my car. The winter is slowly creeping its way into the windy city of Chicago. My breathe forms a white fog in front of me. As a force of habit I suck in as much air inside my lungs and then let out my breath slowly making a denser fog appear. I smiled to myself. It remained me of a silly game we used to play as children. We pretended to be smoking, only this is much healthier and it did make my nose tip a bit warmer.
The walk back to car is long. The wind makes my eyes water and my nose turn numb with cold. At this every moment when I desperately need the warmth of my car, I forget where I parked it! I sort to the help of technology, clicked on my unlock button on the keys and my car purred quietly ...somewhere. I did it again. I saw faint light blinking between the two cars. So, that’s where you have been hiding...
As soon as I get into my car, I turned the heater to full. I switched on my favorite channel on radio and the loud music of Hanna Montana’s song “Party in the USA” suddenly wraps me into the world of its own. I start my car, adjust my rear view mirror and I am on my way to chase the lights all the way to home...
While driving on the interstate Highway – 290, I realized that it’s equal to driving on any F1 race track. The cars rush past me, only because they can't go over me. I curse when someone is slow on road because I am getting late. I curse when someone over takes me rashly because at that point I am not late! I drive at 70 miles/ hour at times because the one ahead of me is speeding. Sometimes I am forced to drive 75 miles/hour because someone behind me is touching the bumper of my car! At times I chase a car in front of me because I want a second look at that good looking person or someone chases me to show the anger because I was not speeding enough!
Yet when somewhere someone decides to go ahead and have an accident, the traffic becomes more docile. The traffic jams in USA is a great leveler. Unlike in India, where people want to cut lanes and create a jam of their own, here it doesn't depend whether you have a bigger car, or you are richer than everyone or whether you can maneuver your car like a pro. Everyone has to wait in their lane. Everyone seems to follow the bright red light ahead of them as if they are hypnotized by it. I forget what’s around me and my whole world revolves around that bright red light in front of me. When it moves, I move, when it stops… I stop too!
While waiting for that red light to move, I look up into the dark skies. I see small white dots are chasing each other. They are known as airplanes waiting to land. Their chase never ends as they go round and round chasing each. It looks like an animated screen of a game called Pac man. The bigger dot scrolls on the screen to eat the little dots. The airplanes look like big Pac man eating the small dots called stars. They won't stop until they eat all or someone somewhere presses a button to let the planes know that they need to end the chase and for heaven-sake land the airplane!
There is a point on my way to home, where five roads cross each other in different direction and on different layers. Three bridges built on top of the two roads on ground. I can see the red and yellow lights chasing each other till they move out of my vision. I really love this juncture in my journey to home. For a moment I forget that the bright lights are attached to cars and wonder, how can so many lights, going in so many different directions not forget their way! They just keep chasing the one ahead of them. It looks like bright lights are skidding on a smooth road at high speed and yet never bang into each other!
At that point sitting in my car, I wonder when it I loose the track of time. I have become a slave of my habit. The cars ahead and behind me don't matter. The same channel on radio, the same music one after the other, the same road to office and back each day, the same angry mob trying to take over my comfort zone, everything becomes a simple chase to reach somewhere. I forget the tree and bushes are displaying colors of summers or falls or in winters nothing at all. I forget all about a native Indian dream catcher dancing like a ballerina dancer attached to my rear view mirror. I forget to look at the beautiful moon rising in the sky to spread the light while Sun takes a nap!
Probably someday I'll wake up from this hypnotism...only to realize I have missed a decade...