If there is a huge difference between Traffic and Trafficking, it’s in the way they are managed. The latter is managed very well and the trafficked mostly get to their destination on time. After they park there, what happens is a different matter altogether. Of course, there are loopholes; through these loopholes, the traffickers are caught and the trafficked are caught in the traffic. But again, someone somewhere is responsible!
We too are caught. Not trafficking but in the traffic. This is true of any city. I can speak of mine. Traffic management in India, has so many innovations that I thought it’s best I get educated and you with me. Are you with me?
Fine for Parking! Most places in India do not have these boards. Or if they do, they are misunderstood. English is indeed not our native language! People park there, and interpret the sign or lack of it, either way, thinking it is fine until they are fined, or their vehicle is locked or towed away! Getting it back from the towers of vehicles is quite the experience for connoisseurs of humility! The alternative is to prove in court that it was parked in a place fine for parking. That is unlikely, unless there is a working CCTV camera, in the vicinity to which you have access. That would be like having a recess for a 24×7 news channel! A good idea would be to take a video of the location and surroundings every time you park with a date and time stamp! Not that it would help much. Given the cost of justice, you would still spend more than you would pay to get it back – towing charges included! But you could park at the court premises – if you find a spot – and argue!
The only way to get a decent parking slot is to park in a slot “reserved for customers of….” and walk into the shop, exit quietly, finish the rest of your work, and return to take your vehicle. It’s not clear though under what reservation law the slot is reserved. Competition, the arbitration mechanism of all merit, is being stifled by boards like these. Of course, too much competition could result in fatalities too, given the pressure to find a parking slot combined with our preference for hard skills over soft skills.
The tragedy perhaps is that those who fine you for parking and those who don’t say this is fine for parking are two different species who rarely see eye to eye, though they reside in the same face. (they can’t – try it with yours and see). So, eye see what I see, and They see what I don’t see! And there is a sea of difference. Given their reporting hierarchies, they only meet in the apex political office of the state! And for him, all places are fine for parking. There is no need to fin_d parking. That is statecraft.
Staying with this fine_ding (that’s the new spelling to cast a spell) maybe there is a need for root cause analysis, much like the Japanese do. We too do it, but in our own way; we dig deep to find the root and paper it over. We don’t often find the root cause the first time, so we dig deep a second and a third. By then, there is a need for an all-new road.
But there is no need to be upset. All that digging is in your interest only (not the contractor’s). They have to find the root cause of a problem – remember? So that once and for all, it can be sorted out. Meanwhile – you have to use a diversion. And this diversion comes upon you just as a diversion should – at the last minute when the only way out of a cul-de-sac is in reverse. That’s when you realise what, ‘for better or for worse; means and you start to use all the verses you know, and some you don’t too, but have heard somewhere!
Must hand it to them though. The construction of Roads in India is an engineering feat sans parallel. Widening even more so, even though it has very little to do with Engineering. That could be one of the reasons, why they require reverse engineering immediately thereafter! It’s more about routing, land acquisition and tendering! It’s a tender process, that can hurt many sentiments. Once the tender process is complete with TLC, a contract is awarded… in parts. And the contractor leaves the sidewalks in the form of a deep ditch for someone else to do but is never done. It’s a summer residence for wheels and feet!
By this time, we are reminded by our ever-present consoling soul (see last week’s episode of BSH) of the story of the tortoise and the hare. Slow and steady can also win the race. Otherwise, we are already in a hurry to get to where we have to go and do what we believe we have to do. We are ready to cut corners – literally – and convert U-turns into W-turns, make a footpath a wheel path, and manage to avoid traffic flowing in the opposite direction while on the same road! That might be the impact of rising fuel prices, and its impact on household/office budgets and handouts, but also from a sense of our own importance. How will they manage without me?
And then there is another. The lowering of the poverty line. More families are commuting by car. Some by their first two-wheeler / Car, some by their second, and some by both! Commuting and cursing the rest doing the same! And Size does matter, no matter what the manufacturers tell you. The road remains as narrow as it was, but the commuter is broad-minded and there lies the paradox! And the manufacturer, the dealer, and the Govt. laugh their way to the Bank – our bank! Because consumers are bankable stars in this scheme of things – always wanting a better life – every two or three years!
Be that as it may, as you get bogged down in traffic, you hope to see light at the end of the road. The Traffic light – Red, Amber (Never Heard (pun intended) – and seen for a second just as you near the crossover!) and Green. They are installed with fanfare, even filmy fare, at a function, but rarely function thereafter. And no one asks why. Theirs is not to reason why, theirs is but to do or die. And this is true both of the traffic warden and his wards!
If they function, peace peaks at peak hours. And one doesn’t have to peek out of his window or helmet to find a way to weave through! Though some still do, and before you know it! If they don’t, the climax of getting to where you want to can be a damp squib!
Slow traffic has both pros and cons if you are not driving/riding alone though. A lot would depend on who your commuting partner(s) is/are. Mostly it’s a spouse or someone connected to your work/household. You can have long pending discussions and debates (if lucky) even. If you are riding, it’s easier – you don’t have to look into their eyes when you say what you say. The aftermath of course has to be calculated before saying it!
There is also a case for Potholes – they may cause one or two accidents and anyway no one can be held responsible for those – they are as they say, “Acts of God” and happen often to the most devout; one argument is they save so many lives, more lives than they lose – commuters look this way and that, up and down, and then move forward. The problem arises if one keeps looking down while moving ahead! That’s when the accident happens. It also happens when you see one at the last minute or go in and come out of one. All these are tests of your driving ability and are considered aptitude tests on the job. They cannot do these when you apply for a driving licence, because at that time you are a beginner. These are advanced tests for advanced drivers!
Many of the commuters on the road have one for the road too. It’s prohibited, but when has prohibition stopped anyone? It just adds to the thrill! Remember Eve and the apple? Not the iPhone; the real one. But the road can’t take it. And sometimes throws them helter-skelter. The problem is not if cheery you are thrown helter-skelter. The problem is if you attempt to divide and rule the road, if you get the drift, or drift while driving, which possibly might happen if you are in the habit of saying here’s to the road!
On this Fizzy but Fuzzy note, let me leave you to your daily commute. If there is an accident for no fault of yours, and you are convicted, also for no fault of yours (it’s just the system), hopefully, you will be able to commute your sentence. In the meanwhile, find a place that says fine for parking!
This Article is written in the lighter vein. It hopes to bring a smile to your face, and you must not ascribe motives to its contents. There is no connection to events and characters in real life and if perchance you find a connect with any such real-life event or character, rest assured it’s purely coincidental.
Pic: YouTube Screen grab