Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Delhi Traffic

One of the joys of living in Delhi is the opportunity to drive in this sprawling metropolis, a rare experience, something which cannot be compared with any thing in India. Delhi is a great modern city , a medieval town and a contemporary village , all at the same time. The streets of the south delhi are as plush as it gets in India. Then we have the dariyaganj and shahdara, which if Bahadur Shah jafar appears today, would not be at much unease. And then you have places like harola in noida, Where the fresh country life can be literally smelled, courtesy the venerable cows and their redolent good work on streets. The surface to drive is also as diverse as it gets. From the plush ashok road to the trench infested noida roads, delhi has it all. Interestingly you are as likely to overrun a crest on road, as a trough. The NCR region lives up to its commitment to variety. But the real assets of a country are its people and not the physically tangible things. And it’s the inhabitants of the roads that make it exciting, and not the tarmac (or mud, more often than not). The traffic ecosystem here has several organismic equivalents. We have the flamboyant SUV’s and MUVs of the nouveau-riche, akin to sharks, zipping at the slightest pretext. We have several types of tuna and salmons in form of myriads of cars. Then we have two wheeler walahs like trouts. Last but not the least ,we have those DTC buses and trucks , steadily and regally plying like whales. Genial giants, with nothing to threaten save for size. However there is a caveat. The gentlest of creatures, behave bizarrely, when high on ‘mast’. However providence, with its utmost beatitude, has fittest warning mechanisms for the dimensionally challenged in all its artifacts. Much as the oceanic giants give shrill whistle like sounds when on mating call, The analogous apparatus , in the mechanical counterpart , is called pressure horn. The only difference being the driver being on a high, with a generous dose of hooch. So a sardine should better not be around when the big boys play. Of course if it cares to live. The street brawls are often as interesting . The people in this part of india, are at the extremity, when it comes to well natured conflict resolution. The ‘far end’ to be precise. I had one of the frightening experience, when I hit the rear of a car with my bike, at a red light. A man with a face, which seemed to be shaped by a hundred years of violence, and to which another hundred years of violence could do no (further) harm, growled at me like a wolf with its back arched and tail up. Luckily the light turned green, and the verbal salvo from people behind me, punctuated by generous smattering of references to female anatomy(another specialty), saved the day for me. The thumb rules of road side judgment are pretty clear. Rule no one, its always the larger vehicle , who is at fault. As a people, we Indians are so overcome with emotion, that the secondary things, such as the traffic rules just don’t matter. Rule no two, if one of the contestants, it a lady, she is right. Needless to say this rule, takes preponderance over the former. So, if you end up participating in a road side fight, take the right side, for in delhi, at least some one needs to be bashed up after a mishap, and being on the ‘crowd’s side’ is safe. More on this topic later.

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