As The Man from Madras Musings ages (and rather gracefully, as he likes to think), he has difficulties with flashing headlights. A few years ago he would have taken them in his stride but not so any more. A blinding beam, followed by complete darkness and then a blinding beam again, stuns MMM. He then prefers to halt his vehicle when this happens and resumes only when he has regained his bearings.

All this has, however, had MMM do some research on what the headlights actually hope to convey when they are flashed at an oncoming vehicle. MMM learns that in the United Kingdom, rather characteristically, flashing of headlights means nothing more than conveying the information that there is a vehicle somewhere out there. MMM is no wordsmith, but there is something in the way this information is worded that gives you the impression that dimming and brightening the lights in that country is the worst of form. The US equivalent is quite typically encased in legalese and claims that flashing of the lights is permitted by some amendment or the other of that country’s constitution which document, as you may be aware, the Americans are rather inordinately proud of. This states that the flashing of headlights has varying messages to convey based on the State of that country you happen to be in.

Coming to our country and, in particular, our beloved city, the records are silent. And so it is left to prophet MMM to interpret our codes. And here they are:

1. Get out of the way, I am going ahead – this is the variety that flashes its headlights into your rear-view mirror. You, therefore, get it up close and right between the eyebrows. Having thus incapacitated you, your predator overtakes you and rushes ahead.

2. I got money, I got money! This variety uses those mammoth cars whose names rhyme with the word gaudy. The lights apparently are never switched off, or cannot be, and so they are forever glaring at you.

3. On Government duty – You can never miss them. They will keep flashing and also continuously hooting at you till you are blinded and deafened and come to a halt. They then charge ahead, carrying their precious personage from one meeting to another. The speed is only on the road. Very little actually happens in the meetings.

4. Out of the way, you titch! These are the large vehicles which are in the opposite lane, heading towards you. They need you to make way for them so that they can proceed unimpeded. And in case you don’t move, they can cause you and your vehicle grievous injury.

5. The compulsive flasher – This one has it and so will flash it. By that MMM means that there is no earthly reason for these vehicles to keep flickering their headlights but they will do it just because they have the facility to do so.

All these are just indicative types. If you can identify some people whom you recognised in the above archetypes, or if you can add some more to this list, the credit and responsibility are all yours.