Well, this isn’t the first time I’m writing to mope about the traffic in Chennai, so this may come a little in your face if you own or drive a two-wheeler (including a bicycle), a car, an autorickshaw (tuk-tuk), a taxi, a bus, or even if you’re practically just walking! So, the other day, I was driving to my Spanish class, about 8-9 kilometers from where I live and after ten minutes of dodging (yes, dodging) the autos and bikers (who apparently think they are Valentino Rossi) who proudly drive on the wrong side of the road, because 1. Fuel expenses are too damn high, and as a result of which, 2. They can’t ‘go all the way around the road just to do a u-turn’.
Well, I have visited a few countries abroad, and as for any Indian what remarked me was the volume of traffic and how the people handled it. I loved their well laid-out roads and infrastructure. I simply loved how warm the people are and how clean they keep their surroundings. However, the best part I liked was- on the broad freeway (which is practically almost every other road!), if you missed a turn, you had to go all the way back by taking the next exit and it really messes you up. This keeps you on your toes, gets you a good topographical layout in your head and most of all, inculcates discipline to your very core!
Coming back to India and having spurred into a frenzy to do your best to reform your country, I set to further my discipline. I really tried to drill down to what the core of the problem was, why the laws aren’t working, and what the hell is practically happening! In a signal, you’d expect to see some order or decorum, but no! A recent weird experience occurred while I was driving to class. In the car in front of me, there was this couple who seemed to be fighting. If you’re asking me why I peeked into somebody else’s car, I didn’t have a choice. Number one, the Tamilnadu government has banned the usage of sun control films on vehicles, for security reasons and number two, they were right in front of me! And, it was way better than watching some disgusting dude spit his share of glorious red paan on the road! Well, the lady (I’m not kidding) was actually hitting the man who was driving. At first, I ignored it to be some lovey-dovey patching up. But a minute or so later (still stagnating in the signal), the hitting, well.. intensified. At this exact moment, the signal turned green and all the vehicles in front of the car had started moving, all but this guy in front of me, who was holding up the whole parade behind him. It was a considerably short signal and considering it’s India, we were free to honk our car’s engine out. And the guy, without even a tinge of remorse for holding up almost an entire road of vehicles, hurled silent abuses (I could make out he was swearing at me, but gladly didn’t understand or hear what he said!) and still continued with his charade. It was awful to note that people can be extremely selfish this way and still expect to be treated like the most honourable citizens of the country.
And finally, with a little tactful driving skills, I did manage to overtake him safely without incurring his wrath (imagine what would happen to my karmic debt if I kept incurring everyone’s fury!) or his attention and finally landed at the next signal, where an auto could have almost scratched a brand new Cooper S with its broken headlight. Thank God for giving Indians at least good reflexes! The public bus parked behind me was precariously close to my precious’ rare bumper and he honked hard, and oh boy, could I hear it decibels way above the music that I could no longer peacefully listen to. He was honking to make me move, but I wouldn’t because the traffic light still blushed a bright red! It was like saying, ‘Damn you, woman! There’s no one on the road from the other side. Just get going till the going lasts’. I’m guessing he has no idea of the contingency involved. ‘What if a vehicle comes by?’ It could lead to a serious accident on a very busy road. Why would he care anyway? He’s a huge bus, he can be rash, he can overspeed, he can bulldoze, he can have his way, every frockin’ time.
I’m not saying all the road users are lawless or bad, however, there’s a good majority of them who are extremely poor, with little to no clue of the existing laws in place. It’s more a matter of convenience and adjustment. The only good thing is, common sense still prevails. People scatter to the sides when they hear the wailing of an ambulance siren. So, indeed good sense prevails until a bunch of nincompoops use the ambulance as a pilot vehicle and follow it in hot pursuit, thereby successfully weaving their way through the vehicular jam. I’m not sure how to address these issues; it should be something self-driven. If I’m able to drive my point to at least one of you, then I would consider having done my fair bit to the society. If at least a few of us are patient enough to distinguish among the colours on the traffic light post and ensure there’s some order on our part, then I’m sure someday, we’ll all stop being colour-blind!
Picture courtesy: Google