Consider the typical traffic scenario on a “normal” day: A swirl to the left and a turn towards right, cutting lanes at the wink of your eye with regular “predictable” screeching halts, the Indian motorists (number of wheels and size of the vehicles do not matter!) have perfected the art & science of driving and riding. They have the knack of crisscrossing the lanes and by-lanes, with occasional slip ups of course! It is easy to predict a politician’s jump from one party to another, but it is well nigh impossible to predict the motorists’ intended path!
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The two wheelers are like the sweet kheer (payasam) that is taken at the end of full meals: they find space even if the road is jam packed! However, there is still room (err…house!) for four-legged mammals with and without “horns” (unmindful of the urgency of the motorists!) that jostle with the motorists and pedestrians alike for the remaining space.
The ubiquitous cycles and rickshaws, which were part of the city landscape (at least portrait?) a few decades ago, are dwindling in numbers and will soon be confined to the museums! Discovery channel should make a special feature about these dodos!
Blaring the horns (louder than a vuvuzela!!) in the “No Horn” zone are the “past time” of those motorists who consider that only their “time” flies “past” faster than others! Every change from red to green signal (of course, the colour does not matter to most of them!) will be followed by a road race (rage?) that will put even the F1 legends like Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna into shame!
A recent innovation is the zooming and vrooming of two wheelers in the footpath, “originally” meant for pedestrians; invented by the Delhiites, of late the Bangaloreans have taken the invention with a missionary zeal (as it was left unpatented!!!) leaving the hapless pedestrians with no option except to learn to fly!
Do you think the four wheelers are left behind in this discussion? They give a “spirit”ed challenge to their two wheeler counterparts, literally! The four wheelers, which come in various hues and sizes, will not even leave the platform dwellers to “sleep in peace”; if permitted, they will even conduct memorial service to their victims so that their souls can “rest in peace”! They are never short of “spirits” even if a State is declared “dry”!
The pedestrians, the two-legged creatures that dominated the road for a long time, are not to be underestimated! In spite of being without any heavy armour in their kitty, most of them are like Biblical Moses. Do you know how? Just by waving their hands towards the approaching vehicles, they make them to stop! Even if the civic agencies are “generous” enough to construct skywalks and underpasses, it will remain a ghost town as the pedestrians give them cold shoulder!
Do you think at least the road conditions will keep the motorists happy? Potholes and humps compete with each other in the narrow roads; some potholes are so deep that you can reach the other side of the earth! With potholes so deep, will humps be left behind? Some humps need a pole vault to cross it! Like the advertisements “buy one, get one”, for every ride, you get backache free! The two-wheeler riders will proclaim: Every small step (jump) into the pothole/hump is a great leap to a hospital!
The bumpy roads have another advantage too: it reduces the costly medical bills for pregnant women who are on the verge of delivery; of course with some help from autorickshaws. It is only for the ever romantic , a ride along the city roads is like swaying to the tunes of Bollywood music!
If you think only medians are meant for dividing the road, please reconsider it! In many places it is replaced by a place of worship; it might be reminding us that we require God’s blessing in keeping us safe during our travails err…travels.
There are surprises galore: A 2-way will turn into a 1-way overnight, some 1-ways will be closed without any advance warning, some roads will be widened by cutting down trees and pulling down buildings (thanks to the civic agencies!), but still “snails” move faster than a traffic “snarl” !
Cometh the rain, traffic will go haywire with trees and lampposts “uprooted” from its “appointed” place with many swimming pools thrown around for a splash of Ganga Snan (a dip in this Ganga Jal may cause many water-borne diseases)!
With the aftermath of every rain, the civic agencies will find it easier to stitch/darn the road than to relay it! If an agency shows “mercy” by relaying a road (beware: the joy will be short lived!), within a few days some other agency will dig the road for laying pipelines, etc. All the civic agencies have an official motto: Digging (graves?) is our birthright!
This “perfect” coordination among the civic agencies may never be “matched” by similar agencies in any other part of the world! While in other countries, civic agencies provide “solutions to the problems”; in India, the agencies create “problems to the solutions”!
The “poor” traffic policemen, in addition to the never-ending traffic, are always kept on their toes as arguments and counterarguments of motorists are the order of the day, with foul mouths and fisticuffs coming to the fore at the wink of an eye, with pollution as a bonus!
Hope you enjoyed the bumpy ride… err… reading!!!!