Posts Tagged ‘traffic’

The Himalayan foothills of Bangalore

August 9, 2019

Bangalore is supposed to be sited in the Dakshin (anglicized to Deccan) plateau. But increasingly, I find myself in the foothills of the Himalaya, when I look at the traffic going past me.

It begins, as it always does, with gentle slopes. Vehicles gently climb over them. There are, even here, little chasms to be wary of…a broken spring, or a scraped tyre, might result. But we soon leave the gentle foothills and approach the greater elevations; traffic needs to slow down, and then push, with throbbing motors, up and down.

Next come the Big Challenges. Here, a gauntlet is thrown down to the passing motor vehicles, not only in the height, but in the series of hills that the cars or buses have to navigate. Thud-grind, thud-grind, thud-grind, they all go.

Since Venkateshwara’s abode is in the Seven Hills, and Shiva lives in the Himalaya, every house owner in my city deems it a matter of pride to have two hills flanking his or her residence. As the traffic slows to a crawl and stumbles over the hills, the home owners’ ego is satisfied…they, too, are god-like!

I just walked back from my daughter’s home to mine, and I counted 19 small hillocks and 8 fairly large hills, with three or four deep abysses that an unlucky motorist could fall into and never be heard from again….our hilly, and at times mountainous, road topography is known by the rather tame name of “speed bumps” or “rumble strips”…little does the unimaginative BBMP (Brihat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) know that they are helping us create a City of the Hills on a plateau!

I am looking forward to a time when it will become a matter of routine for roads to be laid in a series of ridges, with the mandatory small and big potholes nestling in the troughs. We can look forward to cars having treadmill belts instead of tyres. We can calculate our riding comfort in BPM…Bumps Per Minute. Every road will clamour for supremacy in these numbers, with the highest-achieving ones resembling corrugated cardboard, rather than a passageway for vehicles. We can count the number of pillion riders (and drivers) flung off two-wheelers. Perhaps, to top the whole thing off, we can introduce square or triangular tyres.

And since there will be ridges and bumps everywhere, there will be no need to even think of putting up signs about these!

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My walk home: vehicles

November 15, 2018

The walk home from my daughter’s, in terms of vehicles:
Cars, being washed, causing rivulets of water.
Scooters and mopeds, with helmeted and helmetless riders, the latter trusting to their luck to get away without being fined…or receiving head injuries in an accident.
The occasional cycle, ridden by spandex-clad, eye-shaded men (I rarely see women on cycles, even now) or men with lungis at half-mast.
Conservancy vehicles, with garbage being thrown into their noisome innards.
Autos speeding past with passengers, or refusing to take them.
School buses and vans threading their way through narrow side roads.
Cars carefully covered with tarpaulin.Pushcarts with various wares: fruits, vegetables, flowers, knick-knacks, ears of corn.
A tow vehicle, out early, looking for wrongly parked vehichles to pull away.
An excavator and a road roller, rumbling past.
A peculiar vehicle that my daughter calls a leper skateboard, with a beggar on it, bandaged hands outstretched in supplication.
BMTC buses trying to negotiate dug-up roads and chaotic crossings.
All this explains why our traffic problems are very complex!

Livelihoods: Driving others

June 23, 2017

Every now and then, a glimpse into lives very different from our own, brings us up sharply against alternate realities.

I am used to the notion of auto drivers as rough, rude people who will generally not co-operate with passengers. This preconception got a jolt when I noticed this man driving his autorickshaw in the traffic.

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It cannot be an easy life when your own mobility depends on a pair of crutches. I realized that this man, and many others like him, battle many disadvantages to earn their living. I have learnt to try and remove my prejudices, and look afresh at my ideas about my fellow-citizens.

Harassment by autorickshaw driver and police constables, Gavi Gangadeshwara Temple, Basavanagudi

February 2, 2014

After getting her car stuck in dug-up areas of Bangalore roads, my friend KV yielded the wheel of her car to me. We were going to visit the Gavi Gangadeshwara Temple in Basavanagudi.

What happened as we turned the last blind corner to the temple felt like a sheer accident at the time, but in hindsight, appears to be a deliberately designed racket.

An auto driver came too close to me and hit the right-hand-side wing mirror. I was irritated at his driving, but since we were four ladies (my friend K V, her mother, her aunt, another friend, J V, and myself) in the car, I didn’t want to get into a slanging match. I knew that there had been no damage to my friend’s car or to the auto. I decided to let it go, as one does, countless times. I went further and parked.

The auto driver followed me, parked his auto next to me, and collected a group of other auto drivers (who all hang around with their autos there) and unleashed a storm of invective. Vituperative and abusive beyond belief, it was plain that he was angling to get some money. I refused to respond to his demands and told him I was wiling to go to the police station with him.

Quite magically, two constables appeared…with big grins on their faces, which I could not understand or explain at the time. They talked to the crowd of auto drivers, all of whom had become “eyewitnesses” to the “fact” that I had hit the auto. I stood my ground and they told me to come to the police station, just at the end of the road.

My poor friend, though a lawyer, is of a soft nature, and she did not want to respond to the threats by the auto driver and his cronies. Also, her mother and aunt were very perturbed, and the aunt tried the tactic of apologizing to the police and the auto driver, hoping that they would let us go. This only marked us down as being weak, and the auto driver’s behaviour became even more belligerent.

The constable on duty at the police station took down the details of the auto driver. When I said I too wanted to register a case, he was magically reminded that he could not book a traffic case, and told me to go to Basavanagudi Traffic Police Station. If this was so, how was he writing down the details of the auto driver’s complaint? I refused to go to any other police station, reminding the constables that it was they who asked me to come to this police station.

At this point, the auto driver touched me, inappropriately, and yelled again. I told him I would slap him if he touched me, and rounded on the constables who saw it happen and were enjoying the spectacle. By this time, I was indescribably angry.

Meanwhile, my friend called up another lawyer friend of hers, who advised her to book a case of harassment against the auto driver. At this point, she too was extremely angry. She came in, demanded that a case for harassment be booked, and promised to stay the night if necessary at the police station, until the matter was resolved. The police, who were there to protect citizens, were obviously not doing their job, to say the least.

The fact that we stood our ground, and clearly would not pay, and the fact that she was a lawyer, may not have had anything to do with the matter, but the inspector stepped in and asked us to go. And go, we did. We took the car right back to the temple, and J and I watched the car while my friend, her mother, and her aunt went in for darshan.

Whie we were there, the two original constables came back! They asked how we had come away. My friend J, with presence of mind, replied, “Go and ask your inspector that, he was the one who asked us to go.” They pushed off at this.

The person who takes care of the footwear outside the temple informed us that this is a regular happening near this temple, and usually, the frightened passengers of the car pay up to avoid trouble.

Therefore, the way the auto driver hit the car, the way he followed us and created a ruckus, calling in a crowd of other autowallahs, the way the constables appeared, the smiles on their faces, the attempt to intimidate us at the police station…all these conspire to make me feel strongly that this is an organized racket.

Here’s a photo of the auto driver and his auto. No, I could not get pictures of the police constables. I was far too upset arguing with them and trying to deal with the goons.

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He’s the one wearing the khaki coat, and the two others in the photos are two of the other auto drivers.

I’m still laughing!

August 31, 2013

Do watch till the end….I just couldn’t believe it!

, I’m sending the friend who gave me this link, my gastro-enterologist’s bill for the tummy-ache.

“My own GPS”

July 17, 2013

Perhaps a little sexist…but I still liked it!

I have a little GPS
I’ve had it all my life
It’s better than the normal ones
My GPS is my wife

It gives me full instructions
Especially how to drive
“It’s thirty miles an hour”, it says
“You’re doing thirty five”

It tells me when to stop and start
And when to use the brake
And tells me that it’s never ever
Safe to overtake

It tells me when a light is red
And when it goes to green
It seems to know instinctively
Just when to intervene

It lists the vehicles just in front
And all those to the rear
And taking this into account
It specifies my gear.

I’m sure no other driver
Has so helpful a device
For when we leave and lock the car
It still gives its advice

It fills me up with counseling
Each journey’s pretty fraught
So why don’t I exchange it
And get a quieter sort?

Ah well, you see, it cleans the house,
Makes sure I’m properly fed,
It washes all my shirts and things
And – keeps me warm in bed!

Despite all these advantages
And my tendency to scoff,
I do wish that once in a while
I could turn the damn thing off.

-anon

I’m boiling over…

January 22, 2013

On Friday, 11th Jan 2013, a few of us were going for a birding trail, and we were waiting at the chai shop at Mantri Residency Apartments, on Bannerghatta Road, for a couple of others to arrive.

Suddenly, in the pre-dawn dark, my friends (all young men) said there had been an accident, and rushed on about 10 yards ahead. Then one of them came back and told me that it was a girl who had been hit. A Tata Sumo driver had started the car and speeded up, and a young woman (about 19 or 20, I’d guess) had suddenly walked across without looking. There was no way he could avoid her, and he hit her. He stopped the van, and did not attempt to flee. One could say, literally, that he was petrified with fear.

I went to the girl, who was sitting, propped up against a tree. She was moaning, and unconscious. Her bladder had voided. I gently lowered her to the ground, and checked her pulse (it was steady, not thready) and checked her limbs for obvious fractures. There were no external bleeding or bruises.

The girl was dressed in jeans and a top, and we were surrounded by men, so I could not check her body beyond a limited examination. Someone had already phoned for an ambulance. I knew that if there were spinal or head injuries, moving the girl might result in an increase of the injury…or worse..so I held her head, keeping it low, so that she could get more blood into her brain. She tried, several times, to sit up, and twice, actually got to her feet, but had to lie down again.

At this point, another lady came up, and exclaimed that this girl was a maid, working in the apartment building (Mantri Residency). She said, “Her name is Sudha”. So I left the girl after trying to get her to drink some water, went to the security personnel at the gate, and asked for the identity card of any “Sudha” that they had. They produced one, and yes, the photograph WAS of the girl. It gave her name as Sudha Ramesh, but contained no home address or contact number. I asked the security people to call up the people for whom she worked, and get them to contact her home, and ran back to the girl.

The girl seemed to open her eyes and look at me. She said, “Madam!” twice or thrice. Some people tried to ask her where she was from, but it was obvious to me that she was in no coherent condition. But I held her.

The ambulance arrived, and a lady paramedic got out. I was intensely relieved, that now this young girl would be in trained hands, and she would get over whatever injuries she had. I felt that they would treat her for shock, too.

To my horror, the lady paramedic did not even come close to us. She stood her ground next to the ambulance door, and kept asking if we had phoned the police. None of us had thought it was necessary to phone the police as well as the ambulance, but someone then did call the police.

The paramedic also asked if any of us would come with the girl to the hospital. She said they would not take the girl unless there was someone with her.

I asked the paramedic to at least check the girl’s pulse, and check her for injuries. Her reply was, “I don’t know what happened to her.” Well, neither did we, and that didn’t stop me from checking the pulse and for obvious fractures, so why could the paramedic, whose job this was, not do this? No, she still kept her distance.

The girl was lying on the dusty road; I begged that they take out the stretcher and at the very least, put the girl on the stretcher instead of letting her lie on the road. They need not put her in the ambulance until some family member turned up. The driver and the lady paramedic turned a deaf ear to my entreaties.

Finally, the police arrived on a Cheetah motorcyle. Also, someone had succeeded in informing the girls family, and her brother turned up. Then, and only then, the girl was taken into the ambulance (not in a stretcher, she was made to stand up, and helped into it)….and the ambulance went off.

I was utterly horrified by the callousness of the ambulance people, but seeing that the girl had stood up and got into the ambulance (though with a lot of assistance) I hoped that she would be OK.

All this happened from about 6.15 am to 7 am.

On Sunday evening, I came to know that the girl had died at 9.30 am.

I am not sure if the ambulance personnel could have saved this girl. But I do know that the inordinate, inexcusable delay in their even touching her could have wasted precious minutes of the “golden hour” that follows any such accident…and they *might* have been responsible for her death.

Why are the ambulance personnel so callous? Surely, their job would be to help the victim first, and all questions later? Obviously they must have had some major issues with the police earlier, which is the only thing that would explain their stance.

Why must it be the duty of the general public to infom the police? Can the protocol not be ensure that the ambulance people themselves call the police as soon as they are informed of an accident? Knowing that the ambulance was calling, the police would also respond faster. And definitely, there should be not a second’s delay in the paramedics’ attending to the accident victim.

I am totally shocked by the fact that we, as bystanders, did what we could, and yet, we could not save the life of a young accident victim, and had to watch the indifference and red-tape attitude of the very people whose job it was to do their best to help her. Not even first aid was provided.

The ambulance was a BBMP ambulance, in the rush of events, I did not take the number or the names of the paramedic or the driver, as my attention was focused on the girl.

Please…somebody…tell me how and where I can take this up further. I want to ensure that other Sudhas do not lose their lives in this tragic, needless way.

Confusion…

June 23, 2012

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Sometimes, the mind says one thing
And the heart another.
“Don’t go!” says the mind,
“Don’t listen to my brother.
“He talks from the middle,
“I talk from the top;
“He may egg you onwards,
“But I ask you to stop.”
Whose pull should I heed?
Whose advice to take?
Which is the course of action
That will not result in a mistake?

Cycling…and logic

October 3, 2011

I had a wonderful trip to Bandipur with a great group of friends…but of course this post is not about that!

On the cycling group I belong to, someone had said that someone on a cycle had yelled at him (while he was in a car) to stop wasting petrol, and added a rather delightful word to quality the statement. Someone added that many people use the car to go to the shop down the road.

My response:

” I am not disputing that there ARE EAC (Evil Anti-Conservationists) of the type you have mentioned above…..I am just saying, you cannot assume that everyone is of the car-for-crossing-the-pavement category! Eg, I often take senior members of our apartment complex, or student of a blind school nearby, for medical checkups and so on. They need to be taken by car, they are often frail and in bad health. At these times I will certainly not use the cycle, or ask them to do so. I may have a large amount of shopping to do, which I may not be able to do on the cycle. I will definitely use the car at such times.

“Actually the increasing jams are having a good effect on our worthy citizens. I find so many people now saying, “We take the bus because driving and parking are such a hassle”….so every cloud does have a silver lining!

“A great source of entertainment for me is…. let me give you one scenario. The lady of the household said they had gone to attend a wedding. “The traffic was so bad!” she exclaimed. “First my husband went to the reception in his car, he had to park so far away. Then I went with my driver in my car, and he had to circle around four times after dropping me. Then my son also brought his car and he didn’t find parking at all!”…. They never see that they ARE part of the problem. I was once advised, when I wanted to walk about 3 km to Marina Beach in Chennai, “The traffic is terrible…you will be unsafe..take the car.” The person saying it had no clue of the irony in his words….he was genuinely concerned for my well-being.”

When people realize that when they are complaining about the traffic, they can try and do something about it at least on a few occasions, our snarls may start improving!

K sera sera…

March 9, 2009

When I went to the Malleswaram Heritage Walk, my beloved MLC fell to the ground, and though it was in a bag, it still broke…and the camera guy told me that it would cost “more than 3K” (that more-than sounds ominous!)….

Yesterday we went to attend the wedding of fellow NTP-er, sainath (can you imagine, I can’t post a pic of him and his very beautiful bride, as there is no MLC!)…and, a very rare occurrence for me, I had decided to take the car.

So naturally, an autorickshaw (I don’t know WHERE the driver was looking, he could not have hit me if he had been looking ahead) hit the car broadside on, on the left-hand-side, and when we stopped to look at the damage, he ran away. We spent a lot of time trying to see how we could file an FIR at the nearest police station….

It turned out that if the damages were anything less than 7K,it doesn’t make sense to claim insurance, as we would lose the no-claim bonus for the next two years, and that would amount to a loss of 5K….so today, the tinker-job garage told me that it would be done for 6.5K…and we are not claiming insurance, which is anyway a big pain…

That flapping noise that you hear is all those K’s flying out of our pockets quite quickly….! That’s why I feel that worrying about money is futile…K sera sera….whatever (expenses) will be, will be!

We still managed a lovely weekend, though!