Sunday, July 5, 2009
What Makes a City Lively?
Today, in midst of confusion, we were having a chuski of chai at Amdavadi ‘kitlee’. And suddenly both of us were startled by a loud honk by a rowdy young biker. The normal human tendency is to curse the biker and complaint about the traffic sense in India. And this made, my friend Pandya Saheb, that’s what people call him, spark this discussion on traffic sense and he very rightly pointed out the huge rift in the traffic sense of Nairobi & Ahmedabad. (It is an apt illustration for us as we frequently visit this African city.)
Although, being a third world city, Nairobi traffic is very silent and more disciplined which follows sensible lane driving. (No doubt things are changing and even, Nairobi is joining the Indian ishtyle bandwagon.)
As opposed to calm & serene traffic in Nairobi, where people honk to abuse or alarm a sleepy driver, our Indian city of Ahmedabad, is very much lively and bustling with various kinds of sounds – some shrill and others sharper than the shrillest.
It echoes countless hidden messages behind it. In true democratic sense, people utilize the right to express.. Just imagine a man, who is a slave to boss at work & slave to wife at home, after a long hectic day is riding back on his lovely two wheeler, humming his favorite track from his college days with his whistle & his horn to accompany his lonely song on a clear four lane track. Anyone would feel happy and enjoy the nostalgic mood. Why should one bother about the decibels as if it’s going to end the world..!!
I call it freedom to express self. Different kinds of horns; college students to grey haired uncles - all very correctly utilizing the expressive technology. Also, needless to say, it avoids so many accidents!!
The next point that would be raised is Lane Driving. I am very sure you will appreciate the urge of our Ahmedabadi driver to reach his/ her destination at the earliest convenience. Humans are very responsible and should care about own convenience first. The Ahmedabadi driving culture truly respects this fact and all people mutually understand the opposite driver’s feeling. Why to worry about lanes if we have enough room to find different ways. Where there is a wheel, we will find out the way.
This reminds me of a new ad campaign of Airtel which says – ‘Impatient Ones’. It truly captures the spirit of real India. The guy honking behind you at a traffic light which has regrettably turned red (before you cross the signal) is very politely reminding you that orange light means to speed up & not to slow down. He is true citizen of Incredible India who wants to save on fuel & asks you to move on..
Where in world will you get pleasure of violating the signals & traffic rules without worrying about the tickets? People have to travel across the globe to have the privilege of driving without any traffic rules & regulations. This is very peculiar habit of our own NRGs (Non Resident Gujaratis) to follow any & every damn rule abroad but same NRG goes bananas in his own motherland.
How few of those creatures called ‘tholas’ can manage thousands of berserk guys like us. They are busy reminding you of missing helmet, various documents and finally remind your moral duty to pay him for his chai-pani. Why should we pay fines when we have so many taxes to care for.. Chai-pani helps improve economic stability of the country by maintaining continual money circulation.
Just to gently share with you that cops are same every where (From Nairobi to Ahmedabad). However, some like those in Nairobi at least apply their genius brains and try to supersede the logic of traffic lights and generously contribute to add more traffic jams through out the city. Making it a dull city..!!
Cutting it short, I would say - When in Rome, Do As the Romans Do....!!
Off the records,
Despite, above remarks, I do sincerely follow traffic rules & don't believe in honking. I strongly feel its people like you & me who are responsible and
'We have to BE THE CHANGE WE WANT TO SEE.'
Would like to quote one of our TV anchors,
"इसी उम्मीद पर के हमारा आने वाला कल, हमारे आज से बाहेतर होगा.. आप से इजाज़त चाहेंगे!!"