Tuesday, April 20, 2010

road rage

" पुणेकर होण्यासाठी cycle चालवणं हि क्रिया एक खास कला म्हणून शिकायला हवी. चालवणं हे क्रियापद इथे, हत्त्यार चालवणं किंव्हा एखादी चळवळ चालवणं ह्या अर्थानी वापरलं पाहिजे." - पु. ल. 

परवा उत्साहाच्या भरात मी sptm च्या mission 10vi pass साठी volunteer केलं. काम असं होत कि १ तासासाठी बालगंधर्व च्या चौकात उभं राहून तिथल्या traffic पोलिसांची मदत करायची. ती लोकं "signal ला पांढऱ्या line च्या मागे वाहने थांबवण्याचा नियम" enforce करत होती. एखादा माणूस खूपच भांडायला लागला तर त्याला समजवायचा प्रयत्न करणे, इतकीच काय ती मदत.
honestly, i did not expect it to be such fun! people fought with me like their lives were at stake (when the actual stakes were just Rs. 100 and possibly some embarrassment). but there was so much hostility and anger, that it was almost funny. मी, असा-असा नियम आहे, तो मोडला तर असा-असा दंड आहे, वगेरे सांगायचा प्रयत्न करत होतो. पण फारसं कोणी त्याला भिक घालत नव्हतं. काही लोकं कोणाचं लक्ष नाहीये असं पाहून हळूच पळून गेली, काही "तुम्ही जबरदस्ती करताय म्हणून भरतो, पण खरा तर माझी काहीही चूक नाहीये" असं म्हणून गेली, तर काहींनी, "सगळेच मोडतायेत नियम, आम्हालाच का दंड?" किंव्हा "signal फार पटकन पडला, आम्हाला दिसलाच नाही." अशी करणं दिली. but the one common thing for all of them was the question they were asking themselves.

and it was not "why did i have to break the law?" but "why did i have to get caught?"

पुलंनी लिहून ठेवलेलं वाक्य आजही इतकं खरं का आहे? पुणे शहराला संस्कृतीचा प्रचंड मोठा वारसा मिळालाय असं म्हणतात. मग इथला traffic इतका असंस्कृत का? i left feeling all superior and proud for doing my bit for the city. but i knew i would be no different than them, as soon as i get behind the wheel of my own car. all of us think we are better drivers than most others on the road. that myth was broken, atleast for me. and it got me thinking.

why is there so much anger and impatience on our roads? why do i keep inching forward while waiting for the signal to turn green? why do i hit the gas and push my nose in just enough so that the other guy can't pass and i get to go first? why do i have to fight my way through a traffic jam? can't i extend some courtesy _even_ if others are not reciprocating? do these things really gain me any significant time advantage? 

dude, don't get emotional, get scientific instead. how about doing an experiment?
if you start following all the rules at once you might never reach your destination (e.g. lane discipline, there is simply not enough space on most roads). so i made a list of some rules and niceties to follow while diving. i know the avg. time it takes my commute everyday. so i would measure how much time i lose if i abide by this list:

1. if its working, stop at a red light. yes, even if its very long and boring and there is no policeman around
2. look for the white stop line at every signal. if there is one, stop before that line. if not, enjoy the freedom and revert to your old self :P
3. do not honk at the guy in front of you a split second after the signal turns green. (basically stop showing off your dhoni like reflexes)
4. do not honk if you can see that the obstructing vehicles are trying to un-obstruct, but there is some genuine problem holding them up and do not honk if you can't see what the problem is.
5. honk only when you need to alert someone in order to avert a collision with you. or any other time, if you feel you are not contributing enough to the noise pollution :P
6. slow down when signal turns yellow (contrary to the popular belief that yellow is a signal to stand on your gas pedal and zoom through like a 100 meter sprinter)
7. in a traffic jam, let atleast 2 cars pass, before you surge forward and join the battle to prove your mettle

well it turns out all these things added 2 mins to my commute. that is a trade off i can live with :)

i would suggest you try this out. use this list or make up your own standards. and live up to them. i can assure you it will make your daily commute more interesting and you will be among the very few drivers who look happy at 7pm on nalstop.

if nothing else, the utterly confused look on an irritated driver's face when you smile and let him pass in front of you, will make it worth it :P

Monday, April 12, 2010

india verses forest people

NOTE: No, these are not two new IPL franchises. No, this is not even about a cricket match (damn! i lost most of my readership right there).

Now generally I wouldn't have dared to read an 8 page essay in one of those flashy magazines you only see in a doctor's waiting room. and if the author's name sounded like arundhati roy? i would probably have spent my time staring aimlessly at the mosaic tiles on the floor, than flip through it. but when so many articles are written with the sole intention of bashing the living hell out of it, the urge to read the original piece became irresistible.

surprisingly the facts are not what is disputed in this debate. everyone agrees that the mining lobby started exploiting the locals (tribals), the government (politicians + forest/police department officials) being hand in glove with the mining companies (for obvious reasons) did not do much to stop this exploitation, in fact they aided it. at some point in time the tribals took to violence, and became the maoists/naxalits that we hear of in the news everyday. now whether the maoists/naxalists of today represent the majority of tribal people is obviously debatable. but it is pretty clear that the movement started off from among the people.

if these are really the facts (and correct me if I am wrong) then they are believable. what other reason can there be for a people to rise up in arms against an obviously and significantly powerful adversary? other than the possibility of them having gone stark raving mad, that is.

in a democracy everyone has a right to property. but the thing is, they are sitting on a shit load of minerals, which we want. the problem is, they think they don't need anything we can offer. so here is a strong guy who desperately needs something that a weak guy has and is not ready to part with. you only need to remember high school to know what happens next.
a country needs to do whatever it needs to do to maintain law and order throughout its territory. if that means indulging in violence against its own people then as unfortunate as it is, it needs to be done. but lets stop being hypocritical about it. we are _not_ doing any of this (the so called development, getting them into the mainstream, etc.) for the betterment of their lives. we are doing it for our own sakes. they are different and weak. and they are paying the price for that. it is times like these when you really appreciate being in the powerful majority, dont you? :D 

so i do the needful. loathe the AK47 slinging maoist, feel sorry for the war ravaged tribal and immediately cuddle up in the snug feeling of power and invincibility that the Constitution of India with all its armies and police provide me. all the while oblivious to the fact that if tomorrow they find a huge oil reserve under my property, and if the country needs oil, i will have a choice to make. either accept the compensation they give and abandon ship or hold my ground and get run over by a tank :P

some choice that !