People of TVM jokingly refer to two things as ‘Helicopters’. One is mosquito and the other is auto-rickshaw.
Mosquitoes have been TVM’s woe for a number of years. I cannot remember a time when we did not worry about mosquitoes. But the mosquitoes themselves were quite organised – they never struck before dusk, and they retired when darkness had fallen. In short, the time between 6.30PM and 7.30PM was allotted to them to march around sucking human blood, droning their rotors like Helicopters in the offensive, and humans sought safety between the concrete walls of their houses, windows and doors barred against the invaders. As per the unspoken agreement between Men and Mosquitoes, any one within the vicinity of the Mosquitoes during the wartime is their property to treat as they wish, and when windows and doors opened at 7.30PM, not a single Helicopter would trouble Man. If ever a young’un made the mistake of crossing the Line of Control after hours, they were shot down by a Mosquito repellant or coil. As days passed by, the Mosquitoes started evolving at a pace that would have put Charles Darwin to utter chagrin. At every visit to TVM, I began noticing that they were growing larger in size, their syringe held more stronger stuff than before, and most importantly, they were invading during cease-fire time. Nowhere else in this Universe do Mosquitoes attack mankind at 10 o’clock in the morning! And yet, such a thing is seen in TVM today. And today they truly look like Helicopters, as opposed to the tiny, almost-invisible ones of the past.
The second ‘Helicopter’, namely auto rickshaws, and their pilots – drivers – of TVM have also evolved, though in a much pleasanter way. Auto drivers of the past had always been difficult beings to reckon with, some were pleasing, some were difficult, some refused to take you for a ride (I mean a real ride), and some showered profanity on their customers for paying only the exact meter fare and so on. This visit, I have been pleased to note that all the four or five times I hired an auto, the drivers have been polite, even referring to me as “Madam”, which is quite new to TVM, and quite content with the fare that they received. Perhaps, in this case, the change is not for them alone. I have changed too – for in the intervening years, I have encountered the incomparable Bangalore Autowallah! And once that Encounter has taken place, TVM autowallahs seem nothing in comparison.