Tuesday, October 10, 2006

what is it about us indians and road sense? many people label our behaviour as 'road rage' but i don't think that this term describes it completely.

i mean, picture this - you're driving along on a single lane road with a single lane also for oncoming traffic with no road-divider separating the two streams of traffic, but obviosuly.

you suddenly pull up since the vehicles ahead have stopped moving. and you notice vehicles lined up ahead as far as eye can see. now you fret and fume and curse the antecedents of whoever has caused the pile-up and throw in the weather, the politicians, the traffic police and the local municipality for good measure.

and then while you are waiting for the vehicles ahead of you to start moving you notice that some intrepid cowboy has decided to drive his auto-rickshaw/car/taxi/tempo/van/whatever in the next lane which was traditionally meant for only oncoming traffic! but then who's following the niceties here?

and suddenly, like the rats following the pied piper, a long line of vehicles zip along behind the leader in crime, with this firm belief that the afore-mentioned leader would have miraculously found some secret path ahead which would lead them all out of this jam into instant 'traffic nirvana'! within no time you have two serpentine columns of traffic facing each other on both sides of the road, resembling batallions lined up and facing each other for some unholy war!

this is approximately when some members of this frustrated, frazzled fraternity believe that the incessant blowing of their horns would clear the way ahead through sheer decibel power. there is obviously no such unfolding of events, much to their dismay!

what never ceases to amaze me is not the creation of such log-jams, but the fact that, eventually, they manage to unravel themselves. i wonder how that happens because none of the characters in this story budge from their seats to contribute to the unravelling.

and the amazing thing is that most of the people who created the problem in the first place or worsened it were hoping to save time but extricating themselves from the jam. but they only end up spending much more time in the entire process!

i have also noticed this irrational urge (even the author admits falling prey to this urge) among usually-sane drivers suddenly displaying blood-lust whenever some pedestrian (read jay-walker) is stepping off the curb to cross the street before your vehicle reaches him/her. the driver suddenly leans on the horn and accelerates lustily and feels some perverse satisfaction when the pedestrian starts and retreats to the safety of the footpath while the vehicle roars ahead only to stop behind a vehicle or at the stop-light just a few feet ahead!

i am sure you would have many similar examples to narrate!

why do well-educated, peace-loving, rational individuals resort to such self-defeating, irrational, almost violent actions like this?

if you were excepting some answers or theories to this phenomenon at the end of this piece, then i must disappoint you. i have none... but maybe you do?


stupendous said...

just like the philippines eh, guru?

Aradhana Ray Vermani said...

Ha ha ha! Very insightful... My experience, now that I drive on the streets of Mumbai more regularly - One who drives slower than you is an illiterate driver and god knows how he / she got his / her license... the one faster than you is a crazy one who doesn't deserve getting a license anyway! But then i fal in the third category of drivers who ought to get their licenses as a birth right, regardless of how adeptly they drive! The point is - 'I' am a flawless driver 'others' are approaching 'brake-down'!!!

Mandaar Sukhtankar said...

Ah the wonderful world of driving in India! I agree with all you say Guru but in a certain vein feel that if it were not like this -life would not be even half as much fun. Its Ok for me to say all this while I sit at the computer and type this but I used to be a swearing maniac on the road.
If it helps - Now I remain in the jam and don't cross over to the wrong side of the road! I have decided to make the difference. Bangalore is a mad house for driving and ever since we moved to Marathahalli it takes me an hour to cover 11 km to get to work!! When I started commuting - I used to be on tenterhooks - calling up my workplace to let them know which part of the jam I was in and how long I thought it would take for me to reach. Now - I don't bother - I switch off the engine ( help the environ also!) lean my seat back and take a power power nap - anything between 3-5 minutes at every signal and there are 15 signals on the way. Its great! believe me - I even smile at others whom I see stuck in a similar fashion -and sometimes even get a reluctannt smile back!