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


Jitesh Shah said...

8. Even if you are caught by a genuine mistake of yours, do not bribe the officer.

9. Smile at random people on the road while grooving to awesome music on your iPod :-D

I already do all this! Its fun!

siddhya said...

hehee ya that does them in alright :D

Praj ~ said...

I try to follow most of these..
well except #9 by jitesh.. will try that one :)

2. look for the white stop line at every signal.
This is weird.. there are 4-5 stop lines @ most of the signals in pune.. along with 2-3 zebra crossings :) Every time I stop at wrong line n people behind me start 'jamming' with their loud horns..

siddhya said...

i guess stopping at the last one might attract the least number of hate honks :P

it looks so neat when everyone is standing behind the white line. its worth doing just for that.

Sagar said...

Good one...
I think rules listed by you are not difficult to follow
I will also do it ( actually doing it already :P )..

Parag said...

Siddhu, I've also taken part in this activity.. as you rightly said.. its fun to watch people wasting their time fighting for Rs 100/- and more importantly not realizing it was their mistake. However, I had few good experiences too. Let's hope Pune's roads will be better place after all "Literate" people starts following rules.. :-)

Parag said...

Another typical Puneri (sarcastic) comment would be:

Question to ask: हिरवा सिग्नल लागल्या लागल्या होर्न वाजवावा, हे RTO च्या License exam मध्ये असते का?

shirin said...

Nice...I hope people sincerely start doing this. One more addition

10. If you are going slowly please drive from the left and let the people behind you pass ahead. We are not in any race and you are not going to get a prize for winning :)

siddhya said...

@parag: ya it was unfortunate to see that the so called educated and decent people were also among the "fighters" :P

@shirin: agreed. there is a subtle but important difference between driving fast and driving aggressively. i am all for the first one, but not for the later :)

Moreshwar Apte said...

Do not Drink and Drive...:-)

Maitreyee said...

Good one! Were there any people who readily agreed to your suggestion of standing behind the white line? My belief is as much as we talk about indisciplined Pune traffic, only a very little percentage of the entire population is at fault. Consider the amount of people running the red light at every signal. Ofcourse stopping behind the white line also needs to be considered. But I guess that rule is not given enough importance because it is not too much (not always) a threat to one's existence. :P Anyways..really such blogs need to be read by people who defy the rules than most of your audience you already follows them :D

Jitesh Shah said...

if they defy the rules, they can defy a blog too :-D

Anand Teke said...

I follow 1-8 while driving a car... n none while on a bicycle :P ...

a genuine appeal to all to watch n think about this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTv4yD6BKlA

siddhya said...

hehee ya i observed cyclist are the biggest violators, then come 2-wheelers and 4-wheelers are the most disciplined of the lot.
i wonder why.

All Talk and No Action said...

nice post.

However, I already see a fallout...

If everyone on the road appeared blissful, our govt wouldn't mend the roads ;)

Anand Teke said...

i guess the reason is simple... they hardly go after cyclists ignoring red signal, 2-wheeler riders often manage to strike a deal anywhere from Rs. 10 to 100... they never spare 4-wheelers

cyclists suffer the most from in-disciplined driving, theres no infrastructure dedicated for cyclists when they actually deserve much more, the cycling lanes in the city are a big joke, so when i am on a bicycle i can break the rules without any hesitation

actually the risk of injury is maximum for a cyclists... but we rnt that rational, r we?

siddhya said...

@ATNA: you really think govt mends the roads cause we are unhappy? govt, for the most part, is independent of our wishes :P and will remain that way until we actively intervene.
so smile away ! :D

आश्लेषा said...

If you want to turn right at the signal, _please_ try to be in the rightmost lane when you stop at the signal and if you want to turn left, be on the left side.There is no need to strive hard to be first in the line waiting for signal.

Harshad said...

Nice post.. Wish it affects few good souls in positive way! (including me.)
P.S.: In Hyderabad, it is worse. (I wasn't expecting myself to get terrified after leaving in Pune traffic for last 5 years)

siddheshb said...

good points. :)

even better: make use of PMPML bus service (improved, with new buses added under JnNURM mission) and stop worrying about traffic woes!
you can also brag about not adding to the pollution / global warming and congestion! ;)