The Third Place – Out on the Road

In the book ‘Pour your heart into it’, the author & Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz outlines that they wanted their coffee shop Starbucks to be The Third Place for all their customers. That is a place where the customers could go to apart from home & office & have a good time. It was (& probably continues to be) a very novel idea. Considering that they are planning to come down to India some time soon, I was thinking may be Starbucks will have to tweak that novel idea a bit on their entry here and call it the Fourth Place instead. Because we in India (& definitely in Bangalore) end up spending a lot of time out on the road apart from the time that we spend at home & at work. That way, the Third Place for us would largely be out on the Road.

This Third Place leaves different people with different feelings. Most of them are grumbling, cursing, cribbing about the entire stay on the road. Most times of course there are solid reasons for something like that. Like for instance, the guy in the car in front of you would shake off the ash from his cigarette & it will all come flying at your face. Or when you are riding full speed & he is driving in full speed, he decides to drop off the cigarette butt which again decides to say hello to you on its way down. Or let’s take the good old habit of us Indians called spitting. Tell me if this hasn’t happened to you. You know it is coming when the auto driver right next to you starts making loud guttural sounds & the next minute multi colored phlegm is lying right next to your feet. And if you thought crow shit falling on your shirt was bad. Then worse is when someone who has motion sickness decides to download it all off through the BMTC bus window. If you haven’t seen it happening, you sure have seen the marks on the bus which for some reasons never gets cleaned off.

If these things aren’t the cause of all the stress & strain we go through at this Third Place, then a guy on a bike honking away like nobody’s business surely will. I remember reading sometime somewhere – Drive with your head not with your horn. That obviously is something that the horn loving guy hasn’t read. It gets on your nerves further when there is absolutely no way the vehicle in the front can give way. But will he understand that? Of course not. He will still honk. Honking sometimes also comes across as threatening especially when it comes from a BMTC bus behind you. As the count down above the signal touches 10..9..8.. the bus driver wants to move. Who wants to wait for those few extra seconds after all? Further of course the regulars like crossing the yellow line, jumping the red signal, overtaking from the left and not following lane discipline completes the list.

But yes, some people have accepted their life on the road for how it is & have begun to look at things positively. A good example would be of a leading software person from Bangalore who carries around 7 newspapers in his car while he is on his way to the office situated at Electronics City. Husband & wife sort out the household matters while traveling. Sales guys return their clients calls while waiting at the traffic signal. And friends riding their 100 CC bikes fool around the way they would at a coffee shop.

The time that is spent at this Third Place has set off a mini industry of sorts. One can buy magazine/newspapers, soft toys, key chains, goggles, ear buds, tissue papers & so on at the traffic signal. And of course the beggars have all moved from outside the temples to the traffic signals.

So somewhere amidst all this, comes the news of the Metro Rail work starting off on MG Road. For a city that has seen no other way of public transport other than the road, this development is a step forward. Ever since the Delhi Metro was made operational people have only had positive things to speak about it. The cleanliness, the speed, the comfort etc was written about and of course it had an impact on the roads as well, as some of the vehicular load has came off it.

Hopefully after all the tree cutting, shops relocating & the tighter roads that we are going to have till the Metro Rail is constructed & is up & running, those who have hated the road & continue to crib can then grin & rejoice, for then (going by the Delhi Metro standards) our Third Place would have got slightly (or much?) better.

The Third Place is one that will always continue to exist. Like how we look forward to something new & some improvement at the First Place (home) & the Second Place (office), the introduction of Metro Rail for the city is an exciting new development.

Looking forward to welcome you as part of our Third Place, Metro Rail. See you soon!

6 Comments so far

  1. Deepa Mohan (unregistered) on April 18th, 2007 @ 3:00 am

    Excellent descriptions…and Janaki Murali has quoted your post in her D H column today (17th April).

  2. Chitra (unregistered) on April 18th, 2007 @ 6:58 am

    Nicely written, Lokesh! WTG on the DH mention! :)

  3. Naren (unregistered) on April 18th, 2007 @ 11:41 am

    Good post Lokesh. There is no punch and sarcasm unlike ur previous posts. But, the entire content seems to be like screenplay of the Movie “Traffic Signal” So, madhur Bandarkar may sue for this blog and blogger. So, lokesh look our for it. LOL!!!

    But Roads and traffic hav improved a lot. Thanks to Kumaranna.

  4. Raghu (unregistered) on April 18th, 2007 @ 1:06 pm

    Excellent post. BTw, whats the origin of the phrase “Third Class” ?

  5. Lokesh (unregistered) on April 18th, 2007 @ 1:30 pm

    Thanks Deepa. Yes I managed to get the article where the quote is there. thanks for the info.

    Thanks Chitra. Appreciate what you have said.

    Naren, yes no punch or sarcasm. My mood was not for it. Last time it just came. Yes, Bangalore roads are much better. A lot of things are happening. But I feel there needs to be a fair amount of participation & involvement of the general public as well in making it better. I was just wondering the other day why we dont have private players in the local transport area. Will that not help in terms of more public transport, better & comfortable intra city rides & cut down the number of cars & bikes on the roads.

    Raghu, not sure if I have used Third class anywhere in my post. I have used Third Place. This was used in the book ‘Pour your heart into it’.

  6. Raghu (unregistered) on April 18th, 2007 @ 8:29 pm

    Nowhere in your post. Not sure how this originated; Just that Third place here is Third-Class too.

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