The gun smokes; I take off
Sprinting away ahead of a crowd
I push myself; leave some behind
Overtake a runner; rejoice silently
Watch some stumble yet stay on my path
And as I come around the final bend
And as the finish line becomes clearer
The ribbon becomes a floating mirage.

(Beep)

I’ve been a sportsperson for a good part of my life. So I have a good sense of winning and losing. And trying hard as hell to get to the finish line no matter how hard it is; because, that’s that counts a helluva lot.

But what happens when you’re running hard to get to the finish line, and there’s an idiot on the other side of the line who’s just pushing it further down?

That feeling, I think, is pure frustration. Seeing what you want JUST out of reach and not being able to do jack about it. It’s when you wanna say f***. It’s when you don’t just complain that the damn finish line is being tampered with – it’s being prepared to take the pole vaulter’s pole and using it to hurl someone over a high wall. And then throw some shot puts at him. Take that… you son-of-a-somebody.

Mumbai, the city I’ve lived in for most of my adult life, is a city of a lot of things – dreams, fame, jobs, despair, experiences, and of course, people. And it is filled with I would refer to as frustrated souls.

On a random survey of people walking about in the city (I haven’t really done it, but I’m willing to bet you quite a bit that it will work), you will find that a person is frustrated – maybe not as frustrated as hurling the shot put at someone, but scary enough to make you believe that he can – about at least one of the following:

  1. Crowded transit systems – trains and buses pushed beyond their capacity and not enough cabs and autos to go around create cranky Mumbaikars.
  2. Poor infrastructure – roads in potholes all over the city, narrow bylanes clogging the expressways, distantly located residential districts and improper city planning create cranky Mumbaikars spending more time on the roads than they ought to.
  3. High cost of living – from 10 bucks for a simple batter-fried potato to 2 bucks extra for a liter of petrol, the city is more expensive that it needs to be.

Cranky Mumbaikars + extra time on crappy roads + threat of bankruptcy = recipe for frustration.

As Newton rightly put it, the opposite reaction of all this frustration is a lot of edgy people.

People who slap renowned politicians in public if only to end up in jail. I know he isn’t from Mumbai but I just HAD to put that one in here!!!

People who yell at you in the train if your rather bulky laptop bag (which you’re trying quite hard to balance at an odd angle after somehow managing to propel yourself into the train) so much as touches their new Bajjit. True story.

People who rudely shove you out of their path as they run to catch their coveted bus; and follow the same strategy INSIDE the bus as well. I holler at some of those idiots with words I don’t think they’d imagined could emerge from an otherwise educated individual.

People who hurl abuses at you if your plate brushes past them in the overly crowded lunchroom (a 100 sq. ft. room housing all of 5 tables and supposed to suffice for almost 250 employees). What he didn’t know then was that a whole cup of Dal was going to land on his shoes shortly.

Personal angst aside, I end this post with this thought: What is at the very core of why we feel frustrated – is it that we aren’t good enough? Or is it that others are better than us? Is it that we don’t enjoy what we do all the time? Or is it that we’d rather be doing something else at that point in time?

Should I feel glad that I care enough about something to feel frustrated at not being able to get there? Or should I feel angry that there is so much to be frustrated about in my life?

I wonder; is it nature’s subtle way of telling us that we’re meant to be doing something totally else – a nudge in another direction? Or is it a test to shake off the not-so-serious contenders from the worthy ones? Should I push on and run towards that ribbon; or take my eyes off the ribbon and go on to

– Written by Guest Writer, Uma Aiyer, as a run-up to this blog’s 3rd blogoversary.

When I first picked this emotion, there was one very distinct topic that I associated with it – my everyday train travel. So this post started off as a train travelogue cursing the crowds and ended up writing itself into something a lot deeper than I had intended it to be. I edited the sentences and sliced some stuff around – but I’ve kept it as close to the voice in my head as I could.