Tension at the wheels

I am on my routine drive from home at Koramangala to my office at Jayanagar and the time is 9’o clock in the morning. I strap the seat belt around and blend into rush hour traffic. I notice that quite a few vehicles jump lanes, accelerate and whiz past me sighting the green signal ahead. Since I lack the gumption, I don’t join the race and stay clear and stick to my lane.

Everybody seems to be in a tearing hurry and appear to be running behind the schedule regardless of  the reporting time or the destination. Right along the drive, hundreds of vehicles pour into the traffic pool from lanes and bylanes (like rivulets and streams joining the sea) and add to the density and chaos. It takes me 40 minutes to commute a distance of 8 km. I manage to glance at a few fellow drivers along the way. They look edgy, tense and stressed out. Some of them are swearing under breath perhaps using the choicest expletives.

Some of them tightly gripping the steering wheel as though it is about to disintegrate. Some of them impatiently drubbing the steering wheel. The younger ones are enjoying the music and humming along and seem to be taking the traffic chaos in their stride. The older ones wearing a  bored/cynical look and with a ‘Bangalore traffic woes are beyond fixing’ expression.

The cops posted at signals look weary, over worked and angry. Everyday 900 to 1,000 new vehicles are registered in Bangalore besides migration of vehicles from other states and towns. There is  no matching increase in road space or in mass rapid transport system capacity. Parking has taken away good amount of driving space as well. Lane discipline is woefully lacking and self regulation is poor. The concern for fellow travellers is totally absent.

The arterial roads are out of bound for cyclists and pedestrians. I am transported back in time. Forty years ago I was a high school kid and on weekends we used to happily cycle from Basavangudi to Cubbon Park, Commercial Street, M G Road, Ulsoor lake, Banaswadi, Yeshwantpur and Hebbal. It was great fun going around those days. Our progeny have missed the driving pleasures and seem to be contented with virtual driving!

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