First it was the rain.

Come to think of it, there is almost always a root cause that sets the whole Murphy’s Law mechanism in motion.

I booked a cab as usual. The last time I had booked one, we had reached fifteen minutes early. You know Ola, they always have a car two minutes away from my place. Always. But not this time. The rain, as I said. And the cabs began to vanish right before my eyes, from the app. Finally, I find one fourteen minutes away. Fourteen minutes. We’ll be late by a couple of minutes, but that’s okay, I thought.

After ten minutes, I can still see the cab driver ten minutes away on the app. I call him up. “Rain, Madam!” he says. “Traffic! Rain! I’m coming.”

My son is becoming restless. He will be late for his football coaching. We watch the car progress inch by inch through the highway (through the tracking option in the app). Finally he is here. Ten minutes for the coaching to start. “We’re going to be very late,” I said to my son. I have an inkling that we’re going to be very very late. He wriggled his hands and made a complaining face.

The distance to the destination – eight-ish kilometres – can be covered in fifteen minutes, on a clear and sunny day with no chance of meatballs. Apart from a fair amount of traffic, there is a railway gate and a handful of traffic signals on the way. On normal days, one of these will delay us by five minutes. One of these, mind you. You now know which way the story is headed.

The rain is quite intense as we get into the car. We begin to crawl forward. There are vehicles everywhere. One wonders whether they all fell from the sky with the rain. The first traffic signal is red. Of course.

The railway gate is closed. Naturally.

When the gate is opened, there is the usual mad rush to beat everyone to the other side. One decent truck driver has placed himself diagonally across the gate. He came from the perpendicular road and had to make a 90 degree to enter the railway gate, but got stuck at 45. With cars on all sides, a BMTC bus’s nose almost touching his butt, a scooter scampering through the gaps, there is no way he can. No one can move unless this guy evaporates into thin air.

My son and I watch this deadlock in exasperation. The coaching must have begun now. He has tears in his eyes. He hates being late. He looks at me as if I am to blame.

The truck driver and the car facing him engage in a dance. We’re right behind this car. The car dude finally gives in and reverses. He takes himself to one side, out of the way. Did I tell you we were stranded right on top of the railway tracks, between the two gates, all this time? A train or an engine that decided to take an evening stroll through the tracks would have really added colour to the scene.

There is a gap where the car was. The truck inches forward, and other vehicles squeeze in. Everyone ignores the car which had given way. He is stuck by the side and would not be able to move until the madness is over.

Finally all is well and the truck makes its turn, the car dude swears never to drive again on a rainy day (among other things), and we continue on our paths.

The rain gets heavier and the road is flooded. We reach the next traffic junction. I see green light from a distance. When we approach, it turns to red. The countdown begins at 120. We stare at it in disbelief. “Sometimes, everything that can go wrong, will,” I said wisely to my son. He did not seem very impressed or comforted.

The longest two minutes passed. I expected a traffic light malfunction or something else that would delay us another ten minutes. Wonder why that didn’t happen.

We crawl (wade?) in the rain and reach twenty minutes past the time. By then we both have attained a Zen level of calm. My son is just relieved that we made it before the coaching is over.

As I pay the driver and get out, I look up at the sky. It promises another episode one hour later, when it is time to return home.