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Welcome to our city traffic
By Tajamul Hussain
(One hand on horn,

One hand greeting,

One ear on cell-phone,

One ear listening to loud music,

Foot on accelerator, Eyes on female pedestrians,

Conversation with someone in next car-"Welcome to our city!!!")

Driving on our potholed narrow roads (along with tongas, horse driven carts, cycles, bikers, mopeds, three-wheelers, cars, SUVs, trucks, buses, cows, dogs etc)is more a cerebral reflex than an orderly plan. Being freestyle… always let someone out, always make space for someone to change lane, the vehicle in front has right-of-way etc…. it's your job to warn of your presence. ‘In-front' means that the vehicle to one side is just a few inches closer to some nominal distant point than yours is, but that means you’ve to let him in if he wants to go in front of you. Rules-of-the-road yet to hit-the-road, thanks to ‘universal understanding’ (the visceral knowledge) that keeps things moving.

Who doesn’t hate queues? If we could, we’d keep the number of English alphabets down to 25, take out that stupid questionable alphabet and quash it forever as a fitting way to protest against queues! Imagine you’re driving to somewhere in a queue, someone comes from one side and blasts your way through. He’s an F1 driver; no one can go any faster! He’s a Macho driver, a Flasher! You got to consider VIPs rights for him. As he believes he owns a laser gun, he can zap you out of existence.

On a typical (Srinagar) city road everyone is found fretting and fuming. Teeny-bopper behind the wheel is hot and warm blooded. He’s antsy….. he honks, once….maybe twice…..and then honks, honks and honks….right till it goes up the value chain. He’d rather honk when he’s walking. For he hasn’t blared horn in the last one minute and hasn’t heard a honk in 30 seconds now he should press the gizmo. Being Cat-Caller he’ll necessarily beep at every dame he sees on the side of the road. Anyone that cuts him off and then proceeds to slow down makes him feel like hitting that vehicle from the back.

As some motorist cuts in front of you suddenly without signaling, you spew lava. In the morning nagging wife left you flowing-with-adrenaline. It’s your turn to get mad at all the other drivers and take it out on them. In an aggressive environment, around you and cocky motorists driving recklessly next to you, you simply go berserk and crane your neck out…… Late at night, the Floor picker becomes kind of speed demon. He doesn’t look at the road, but instead look at the floor trying to pick something up. While zooming off he’d have eyes focused on the road not the people and things in it.

Teenager drivers with baggy pants, hip hop and their MTV, racing upwards of ninety kms/hour weave through traffic all the while high-fiving their friends and listening to new albums, these kids are dangerous and rack up a hefty death toll every year. They can be seen with windows down so that everyone can hear their totally bitching Alpine speaker’s subwoofer-induced earthquake sounding like it’s going to vibrate the car apart. Nope. Stop. Girls don’t like it. Guys think, you’re obnoxious and your parents stopped loving you. Your sound system costs more than your car?

Motorcyclist, the grizzled dude with leather jackets on big bike or less-grizzled, younger guy on smaller bikes that certainly makes you jealous when he weaves in and out of gridlocked traffic, revs his engine unnecessarily, is irritating everyone within earshot, or block traffic by fanning out into tandem eagle formation. Bikes are quite common. There is no bike lane, so bikes tend to drive where a lane would be if it was painted on the road (if the road had asphalt). They never wear helmet. Like motorcycles, you won’t be surprised to find two people on a bike, but 3 are less common.

For truck/tipper driver that drives around in enormous vehicle, makes everything from passing to making good time tougher on all other drivers with normal-sized vehicles. Every other driver is all idiots. He’d rubberneck, slow down too much when traffic cops are already giving a challan to someone else, get into accidents, get in your way, slow down at green lights and speed up to red ones, cause traffic, and generally make your life a never-ending-hellish-blur of pavement, steel and sky. Fast moving VIP cavalcade and the security guards wave you with lathis/AK47s to be shooed on to the sides of the road. Don’t be alarmed. Just wait for the caravan to pass, and then slam the accelerator on.

Slow pokes, the downright-idiotic-drivers-at-glacial-speed, drive so because they don't know where they’re going. As if afraid of getting caught for hitting someone, simply rather they can’t put all their attention on the road. Imagine you’re in a hurry to reach office, they’re simply annoying. Slow driver would keep you behind him driving at his speed. Grandma and grandpa, as if sitting on a stack of encyclopedias so they can see over the steering wheel and not recognizing the irony in the fact that they’ve very little time left in life and should be driving faster to make up for it and not slower complete-stops (suddenly) with a 10 second shut down period at every stop sign and drive guzzlers with huge turn radius. Since gravity has taken its toll on their bone structure they’re often not tall enough to actually see over the steering wheel. Not only will they be going below the speed limit, but they’ll erratically change lanes without regard for human existence. Driving around old people is like trying to snuggle with a bear.

Drivers (mostly trendy ladies) who think their sunglasses make them important – You’re not a Terminator. You’re not in The Matrix. You’re not a secret service agent. You’re not Blade. You’re just another driver among many who hates it when sun slaps them in the retinas. So when someone oncoming cruises past you and shines the equivalent of a 100,000-candlepower lighthouse directly into your retinas, he's definitely being more than a little annoying — he's compromising your ability to drive safely. Wouldn't that suck? Night driving on our roads is an exhilarating experience with the mental makeup of Genghis Khan. Whys and wherefores; may leave it for some future write-ups.


News Updated at : Friday, July 13, 2012
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