Waiting to exhale…

Posted: September 9, 2010 in Pune, Pune Traffic Police, traffic rules
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This morning I was on my way to SIMC, Lavale, when at the intersection near the Bombay Engineering and Group (BEG) on Deccan College Road, I saw a young girl on a scooter with a look that really captured the mood of most people in the city. It was one of complete resignation, tiredness. This is what we have been reduced to.

Sometime earlier, in jest I told my wife that one of these days I was going to step out of the car with the crowbar I keep under the seat and smash the headlight of the car behind me if the driver honks. But there have been days I’ve actually felt like doing something drastic to the guy in the car behind mine! For example, I can’t understand why people honk in a traffic jam or a traffic intersection. When they honk do they expect that my car and I will like Mary Poppins and her damn umbrella, just rise in the air and fly over the traffic? Since I am not the violent type, all I do is swear at the guy from within the confines of my car, with the glass rolled up. My wife says she can’t see the point in swearing at someone who can’t hear a word! My reply is it makes me feel a lot better!!

But about a year ago I was at a railway crossing in the city waiting for the gates to go up. A car drove up behind mine and started honking. For a second I thought the gates had gone up, but it hadn’t. Then after a while the car honked again. This happened a few times after which I lost my cool. I stepped out, walked back the car and saw a lady inside, told her to roll down the window and gave her a mouthful. I then walked back to my car and waited for the gates to open. There was no more honking, not even when the gates were opened!

Take what happened last month and is continuing to date. Idea Cellular has problems with their billing system and I get calls every few days telling me that my calls will be blocked if I don’t pay my bill. I settled my bills on the 24th of last month! Every time I get a call from them I go through the whole exercise of explaining the issue and they say, “Ok Sir, the issue has been resolved.” Later in the day or the next day I get call from Idea Cellular telling me that my bills are still unpaid! Ideally (no pun intended) I would like to go over to the Idea office and shake them up, but after the time I spend travelling and lecturing, I am in no mood to argue with some idiotic billing clerk who doesn’t know her mobile phone from her lipstick.

Yesterday, as I drove to Lavale from Viman Nagar I saw smartly dressed policemen stationed every 400 metres all along the route. They were in attendance for the crown prince of Indian politics – Rahul Gandhi, who was in the city. Where do these uniformed gentry disappear to when it comes to manning the traffic when we need them and saving us from these torturous journeys?

And then there was the traffic cop who tried to levy a fine because I had parked my car in an area which he claimed was a ‘No Parking’ zone. I asked him to show me a ‘No Parking’ sign anywhere on the road and when he realised there wasn’t any he resorted to some old fashioned ‘dada-giri’. By then other car owners who were also about to be penalised gathered there and raised a hue and cry. The cop had to beat a hasty retreat. Not for one moment am I suggesting that Pune’s Traffic Police is not doing their job. I know they are terribly understaffed and underpaid. But if they enforced road discipline systematically instead of cosmetically, things would be so much better.

So coming back to the girl on the scooter…she was waiting for the light to turn green, her chin cupped in her palm, her elbow resting on the dashboard of her scooter. It was her face that caught my attention. For one so young she had a look that said “I’d rather be someplace else.” I understood that look completely. I travel three hours every day shuttling between the places I lecture. And it’s not the distance but the journey that frustrates me. If that isn’t bad enough, I have to listen to crap from the telephone man to the traffic cop, avoid errant drivers and lunatics on two wheelers, ans listen to neighbours squabbling over either the elevator in the building or the minimal rise in Society fees. It make me wonder how I still keep my sanity around me.

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Comments
  1. The resignation emanates from the heart of India Sir.. And what has been done to us over the years.. Drastic and radical as the notion may sound early in the morning, we do not need crown princes of politics.. We need a Dictator..

  2. Joe Pinto says:

    My dear Sinha,

    I have a crazy theory, which has its roots in “Problems left over from Childhood” that may explain the insane behaviour of the honkers.

    When these guys were young they had gone with their parents to the local jatra (village fair). There this little boy/girl saw other kids blow on their ‘pungi'(horn).

    S/he pleaded with their parents, “Please buy me a pungi.” But their parents did not.

    That boy/girl grew up. Now they have a two-wheeler or a car. And we pay the price for the sins of their parents. Now that the two-wheeler or car comes with its own free ‘pungi”, there they go honking.

    This is a Freudian kind of explanation. But I believe it’s true.

    Peace and love,
    – Joe.

  3. Mohan says:

    The explanation seems logical!

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