Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Red light, red light, what do you say?

This morning the traffic signals outed. What usually ensues in these instances is utter chaos, with cars traveling in four directions gridlocked in a perverse jigsaw. But today a traffic policeman stood in the middle, cajoling and guiding and halting cars with a look and a brief flourish of his hands. Drivers obeyed - except BEST bus drivers, who would edge god off a road if he rode a scooter - and stayed behind the white line. It would have been different had the signals worked. Rickshaw drivers would have hesitantly edged forward, looking left and right before breaking across in a blast of noise and exhaust, and they would be trailed by other drivers who would be emboldened by this, and also the fact that there were no cops around. Then drivers in other lanes would be miffed by this disregard for red, yellow and green, and would set off in similar fashion after a reconnaissance mission to look for hidden traffic policemen. It would be a cheery affair, for all were bound by an understanding that they really shouldn't be doing this, but hey, it's only a signal.

Sometimes, and only sometimes, when this happens, I stay still while the cars beside me rush past the red light, and I grin at the rear view mirror at the driver behind honking furiously, urging me to follow everybody else. The more he honks, the bigger the smile. I love it, I really do, because here, in this country, you can irritate a lot of people by obeying rules. Heh.

4 comments:

Jabberwock said...

Ha ha. Here's a link to a bit of road research I did along these lines once:

http://jaiarjun.blogspot.com/2005/05/road-research.html

Charu said...

and this in Bombay which has easily one of the better organised traffic in the country - imagine Delhi. or Hyderabad.
"in this country, you can irritate a lot of people by obeying rules" :) totally.

Jaggernaut said...

Umm, a traffic cop cajoling traffic is a once-in-a-green-moon miracle in itself. May be you should've collected photographic evidence :)

Being an avid traffic-enthusiast who derives unimaginably cheap thrill from taking numerous pangas with those autovala pests, I can vouch for the fact that when signals aren't working, and there're no "mama"s around, it all flows breathtakingly smoothly. Its an absolute pleasure to watch super-rich execs in their snazzy Accord's forget all boundaries and stoop down to a hilariously deplorable cat-fight with the do-kaudi-ka-autovala :D And yet, the traffic flows, through an abstract, almost surreal understanding between all drivers caught in the maddening "jigsaw".

Add a Mama-in-the-works though, and bang. The autos lose it, the BEST buses do a mad-elephant dance, the puny old hatchbacks just sit back helplessly and watch.

phucker said...

Interesting....
1) Yes, Bombay has the best-behaved traffic in all India....well with the possible exception of Chandigarh, where traffic policement actually do their job, and the car's registration certificate is a smart card.

2) Has anybody ever stopped to wonder why the traffic in India is so bad? I mean I know many just love to put it down to Indian culture, but that's a load of BS.

In the more civilized traffic places you have the following:
Only 2/3 types of traffic - Cars, Buses and Trucks. Motorcycles are for show, three-wheelers don't exist, and bicycles are for kids and health-freaks.

In India everything from one-leg to 18-wheel all share the same space of pot-holed tar.

Second, when you make a car which is basically 2 motorcycles put together, people will drive like they're still on a bike.

Third - Automatic Transmission and Ari-Conditioning. I've made this point many times, but here's another opportunity for repetition. In 47 degrees heat, if the !$@#!er in front of you let's go of his clutch too fast when the light turns green, you will honk. If you had air-conditioning, and he had automatic transmission, this would be less likely....