Hatt Na! ^@#$*)&<~

In the last few years that I’ve been made aware of the importance of right of way on the road, it always puzzled me why a human being’s life was less precious than reaching a business meeting in a swanky BMW. Why couldn’t people put themselves in the patient’s death bed just for a moment and shift a little for the ambulance driver to wangle his way through? In much smaller Baroda, from where my tiny backpack hails, road bullying is even more ubiquitous.

But I recently saw a heart rending sight in Bombay: an ambulance being given way amid jam-packed traffic at the newly restructured (and heavily criticized) Haji Ali junction. Drivers reversed, steered to the side, did whatever it took to save a life. The crossing is a locality that is known for its deafening honking and ruthlessness on the road, after all, how can you expect higher morals as compassion and considerateness when time's at a premium?

A poignant feature of this incident was that there was no pandu to direct the traffic, or even regulate movement. It has been often observed by old timers, or even those who've spent considerable amount of time driving in Bombay, that when there's no traffic police supervising (or pretending or attempting to supervise) the flow of vehicles on the roads, both, road rage as well as accidents are fewer. What's more, the traffic also seems to (though amble) at least get on, unlike when they're doling out pseudo signals.

Having digressed adequately, we return to the psyche of the regular Bambaiyya - whether the Nariman Point headed sophisticated-looking executive, or the more weathered trader hurrying towards Fort or Tardeo - has undergone change. Sure he's scared more than ever before, sure he wants to stay safe as home even under the humidity filtered sun, but he cares. Even if for the selfish reason of what goes around comes around. Either this attitude of benevolence has evolved from the multiple incidents of mass deaths, where thousands, if not millions lost their loved ones, or an awakening has come that the only way to get on in Bombay is to give way…

No comments: