Update as of 27 October 2009
I bet you have been stuck in a traffic jam at least once in the last fortnight or at least last month. That is the price one pays for urbanization – where we believe that the more wealth you flaunt, the richer you are. So a bus traveler always dreams of taking a “shared cab” some day, while the lady in the “shared cab” looks forward to the day when she will ride her two wheeler (gearless for starters – and a push button instead of kickstart). The young college kid on his two-wheeler dreams big when he will be allowed to drive Papa’s modest small car. And poor Papa who drives to office in his four gear-shift, hatchback car looks out enviously at the sedan waiting alongside at a traffic signal. The sedan driver grumpily changes gear to start the car and swears that his next will be the automatic transmission luxury sedan. The smartly dressed executive driving the shining sedan looks heavenwards and curses himself under his breath on why his scrimped so much instead of getting a chauffeur. Everyone wants to move a notch higher than the present – but you see the government does not foresee or have the powers to read all these minds. So they don’t lay new roads; instead at times dig up existing ones or place barriers on good roads just to peek into large sedans and gawk at some movie or TV star. Logjams, bottlenecks become order of the day; and that too in a country where personal vehicles per capita is nowhere near that of the US, Europe, the Middle East or even the stringent car law country – Singapore!
So how do we push for a better life on the roads?
– ask for better public transport so that one does not need to be part of the Pentathlon team to get to work (jumping hurdles on way to bus stop, jostling one’s way into a bus that could burst out if made of nylon, running to catch a train leaving the platform, and so on);
– equitable urban growth so that we don’t need to crowd city centres – sometimes these are not in the centre but in the south or at times not even in the city, but in a neighbouring state like in the NCR.
– sustainable rural growth so that cows and goats can stay there and not crowd urban streets and highways.
– Polite public vehicle drivers – so that they don’t go crushing you down just because you overtook the bus.
For more ideas, do write in – or better still, try and practice it.
Traffic jams of a different class occurred at D Street today – everyone headed to the Central Bank that is just a stone’s throw away from D Street and this irked the D Boyz. They fretted and fumed as they sweated on their way to work and were not the least happy – especially towards banks! Some vehicle manufacturer had announced a growth in sales and profits late last evening; while the railway employees “protested” by delaying all trains. The harried D Boyz just went berserk today as they slammed the sell button on banks (for causing the jam), on the auto index (for adding to the mayhem); on metals (since they could not find railways listed on the SENSEX and chose the next best – iron for rails, and pushed the metals index down too). The traffic snarls and honking made it difficult to communicate so they slammed the Telecom Index out of frustration. Finally tired and fuming, they walked into their washroom at D Street for a face-scrub (pollution had already defaced them); and feeling slightly refreshed they were fair to the FMCG guys by not slamming them. All in all, thanks to the Central Bank meeting, the SENSEX was slammed down 387 points to 16353; a day when it is believed that more D Boyz complained than actually exist!
I have suggestions for a better civic life and really look forward to more suggestions from you, but how do we help the D Boyz? Maybe if we stagger their working hours, maybe they won’t have to battle peak hour traffic – so how about getting them to start early and ending slightly late. Maybe they can have an extended lunch session in the middle. Kind of like you and me, what say?