There are so many things around the road one observes when travelling on the roads. The blue skies, the wispy clouds, the sunrays bouncing off the windshield, the moon following the car, the stars winking and the traffic signals. Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it? It probably would be if you were in a pollution-free, traffic-jam-free country. But unfortunately, that does not apply if you are living in India.
So, we’ve established what we see around us while on the roads. But there is one important thing that we forgot about the Indian roads: the variety of unnecessary things that find their way onto the tar. What exactly are these things doing there? If you thought I’d have an answer, you are unfortunately wrong. Nobody ever knows.
Here’s a list of those unusual and unnecessary things we find while driving and have a hard time getting around:
- Animals: Alive or dead, these beings always seem to crawl on. Well, not so much crawl as strut into the middle of busy traffic. Buffaloes, cows, dogs, cats, squirrels. You name ‘em, we have ‘em! I’ve seen buffaloes making their way leisurely across one of the busiest crossroads in the city.
- Speed-breakers: I agree that India is a tough place to drive in, what with all the congestion and people straining to get to wherever they want to be in a flash. But does it really justify the presence of these entities every twenty feet? At this rate, a person walking would reach faster than a car. Oh, and also. Fast cars in India? What are those?
- Ditches: These are much more scary and annoying than speed-breakers because for one, you cannot predict when a new one will come up and two, if you’re driving right behind a bigger vehicle, then God save your back and your car’s tires. And what can one say about these abominations during the rains? They practically invite the vehicles to have a nice splash and go!
- Plastic bags full of rubbish: Even if people are educated, they are not educated enough to understand that littering the roads is as bad as littering their cars. I’ve seen people dropping these bags in the middle of heavy traffic jams thinking they are sly enough not to warrant attention from those around them.
- Fruit peels: These look good in scrubs and face washes. NOT on the roads. The most common fruits that have been subjected to this “peel-and-throw-on-the-road” treatment are bananas and oranges.
- Spit marks: Trust me, you can find red tobacco stains all over the city roads. Be it the old woman who couldn’t find a place to spit it or the middle-aged man who was too uncomfortable because of the building tobacco juice and had to rush because the signal turned green or the youngster who does things just for the heck of it. All of them consider the roads as their private spittoons.
- Pedestrians crossing the roads with their hands held up: There was this article in the Deccan Chronicle which aptly described how Hyderabadis in particular behaved when on the roads. It said, “You feel it’s your Nizami birthright to show your hand and stop the traffic while you cross the road.” But unfortunately, traffic isn’t a genie and it definitely doesn’t say, “Your wish is my command.”
- Wires dangling from bare transformers: Oh no. Human life is of barely any use. What difference does it make anyway, a couple of people getting electrocuted? Maybe this is the attitude that explains why we have clumps of wire dangerously hanging from those stilts we call electric poles. Or maybe it is just sheer laziness and procrastination.
- Vehicles with iron rods or wooden poles: These are just happily transported off in incredibly smaller vehicles which ply on roads with heavy traffic. Trucks, minivans, autos, jeeps, lorries. Whichever they can lay their hands on! Who cares if the car behind this vehicle is pierced and the driver dies? It’s just pure business!
There are times when you just want to go to the Municipal Commissioner’s office, throttle him and ask him what he’s been doing all this while. But then, you realize that it’s not such a great idea after all. So you just shake your head, shoot a volley of abuses at them and resign yourself to the fact that nothing is going to change.