Monday, September 28, 2009

Drive-by bullies

One of the scariest experiences on Bangalore roads (and there are several, including rain driving) is obeying traffic rules. It is dangerous to stop at the red-lights while the rest of the traffic drives by blissfully ignoring the stop signal, especially since the trucks and buses are on top of the food chain on these roads, and a lowly motor-bike is an insignificant road kill.

Initially, I used to jump unmanned (by the policemen, that is) red lights too. Then, a growing realization that traffic rules are a contract between me and every other road-user, and thus a more conservative approach. Also, began to realize the utter pointlessness of it. Those who jumped the signal didn't actually do so with impunity. They were getting bitten by a very guilty conscience, and drove very slowly (or may be it was their survival instincts). I realized that I could overtake them easily anyway, so why bother taking the risk ?

Yet the problem of appearing foolish while stopping at a red-light while nobody else bothered to stop remained. Then there was the absolute fear of a reckless bus or truck ramming me from behind. This was especially true at night - since there are no cops around, and most signals are on blinking amber, and *nobody* else, obeys the traffic rules, and everybody is going at minimum 60 klicks.

I started to change the world, and then realized that these road bullies are actually sheep that need only a little guidance. I began to stop at traffic signals even if they are unmanned and even if they are completely ignored by everybody. Wisdom gradually prevailed, and I started stopping at the extreme side of the road, caring a damn about those drive-by bullies. Then, an interesting thing started happening. People actually started stopping beside and behind me ! Show an example either way (jump the signal or stay behind) and they will choose to follow. A really fun experience at 10:30 pm ...


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