It happens only in India

We must thank our traffic chief for his very clear, very commuter-friendly, making-the-best-use-of-what-is-available-to-us approach though this clarity took a nosedive when the only parking he could offer for the whole area was below his office window! Anyway, being very nice folk, we Bengalurians will take his advice on the chin and roll on regardless. Not a problem.

But I appeal to him and his 2,500 foot-soldiers to deal more effectively with a different sort of problem. The need of the hour is for our police folk to make it impossible for us to mysteriously lose all our niceness when we operate any set of wheels. Everyone one of us Bengalurians suddenly acquires what I can only call criminal foolishness of the worst type. We all talk blithely on the cellphone, honk ceaselessly and deafeningly, exhibit road rage with clockwork precision and overtake merrily from the left, right and everywhere in between, just avoiding crushing pedestrians to a quick and untimely death … that we aren’t more successful in this deadly mission is only because human feet are more nimble than vehicular wheels! Not to forget our asinine impatience at traffic signals…

Break the rules

Having been born in Bengaluru I’m no less crass than my fellow citizens … in fact, I swear in three languages with easy ferocity (albeit behind the safety of locked car doors and rolled up windows) and gaily break traffic regulations without qualm of conscience or consideration! Just to make my point, let me tell you what I got away with a couple of evenings ago.

Since I needed to locate a particular bookshop rather quickly on Residency Road, I chose to drive very slowly along the left and of course, got in the way of hundreds of bikes, cars and buses that were rushing past me … peak hour is not the best time of day to crawl along. When I realised I’d missed the shop, without turning a hair or an eye, I proceeded to double park right in front of the Andhra restaurant where you and I enjoy finger-licking biryani, once again squarely in the way of those who wished to turn left! And then, every auto driver and miscellaneous person crowded around gleefully telling me that the bookshop was way back near the big car showroom that comes just after the Brigade Road traffic signal and that the only way to reach it was to get to MG Road, up it for a bit and then back down Brigade Road onto Residency Road all over again.

“Hah” said I to myself, “not me!” Changing gear in a jiff and still without turning ye ole head, I started reversing all the way back for well nigh half a kilometre through the heaviest traffic you could ever imagine. By this time it was dark and so I also had to contend with headlights blinding me and risking being run over even more, since oncoming drivers could not see me clearly either! True, my heart was thumping in tune with the wretched sounds emanating from Radio Indigo not only because I was in everyone’s path once again and inviting an instant funeral, but also because I expected a traffic cop to materialise at any moment, haul me away to the nearest ‘thana’, and teach me some much-needed lessons, along with meting out some much-deserved punishment. However some minutes later, to mine and every other road user’s great relief, I reached my bookshop unscathed … shamelessly achieved without catching an official eye for the said much-deserved penalty!

This behaviour in any other country would have cost me my licence for at least a year with a hefty fine to boot!

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