Name any city in India, big or small, and the traffic mess is a part and parcel. Some blame it on the economic gains of the middle-class citizens and others on the rising impatience of an urban fast life. Be what it may, not only has the traffic multiplied exponentially over the years, bringing with it a list of woes, but people’s patience has thinned down immensely. Tempers flare up quickly, thanks to an incredibly short fuse, resulting in frequent road-rage, often with fatal outcomes. And despite the rising toll of lives on the roads, traffic refuses to abate.
But then, what appears as a silver lining is the humane attitude and manners that continue in some of the smaller cities and towns. A colleague was heartened to notice that even in a big city like Lucknow, the traditional “tehzeeb” (courtesy) is still visible. On a recent visit to the City of Nawabs, to attend a conference, the colleague was rushing from the airport to the conference venue in a cab. Since it was peak hour and almost all the roads were clogged with vehicles, the driver resorted to all the tricks up his sleeve to move ahead.
Finding stagnant traffic on one of the main roads, the driver took a slight detour, driving through a housing colony before rejoining the main road ahead of the jam. Taking a right turn within the colony, the car was suddenly jolted. In a flash the driver stopped the car and got out. Our colleague saw that a scooterist had crashed into the car from behind and had fallen off. As she prepared herself for a long fight, laced with foul words ~ which is the norm in Delhi ~ our friend was surprised as the driver first picked up the elderly scooterist and enquired if he was alright.
Passers-by and other drivers also came out to help. Seeing no damage done, as the vehicles were moving at a very slow speed, the driver got back in but was mildly admonished, “Beta, please indicate before turning.” As they drove off, our colleague could not help but contrast the scene with what would have been in most other big cities.