Friday, June 27, 2008
Life's like that
The other day I was driving down one of the side roads in the madness that is T.Nagar. Thankfully I was on my bike, as is the wont of the public utilities a big portion of the road was dug up bang in the centre of a four way intersection. Being a crowded intersection at as it was in the peak hour, the place was manned by a single traffic cop.
Anyway drivers were driving everywhere possible till it became a stalemate with vehicles jammed in every conceivable square inch of space on the road. Horns blared, load cursed thrown back and forth but no body budged, for there was simply no room. People of all kinds and classes unmindful of the fact that they were on the wrong lane and that they were hindering the onward traffic tried to bully their way through. I parked my bike and started trying to work out some order in the mess. I saw that a couple of auto drivers and another well dressed guy (presumably returning from office like me) had a similar idea. We managed to reroute the traffic and did everything that the poor cop couldn’t do alone. There must have been 300 odd vehicles of all shapes, sizes from 2 heels to 10 wheels that had got piled up but the sorry state of affairs was that only 4 of us were doing anything about clearing the mess dumped by them.
I am no saint,common sense tells that unless somebody did something about the mess, nobody was going home that night. Since even Divine intervention has to be routed through mortal men, I thought that I can be that somebody so that everybody went home. Makes you wonder why is common sense such a scarce commodity these days.
Half an hour of thankless work in the noise, smoke and dust brought some sanity to the proceedings. But what was disheartening was the moment an opportunity opened up again people jumped lanes and tried to start another mess. I was too tired to continue and when I looked up at the other good Samaritans they indicated likewise without even saying a word. No words exchanged we separated and left on our ways.
The entire incident left a bitter taste in me. It is not something new; we are the most undisciplined, uncouth, boorish, ill mannered people and often behave like the scum of the earth the moment we leave the close confines of our homes and our social enclosures. We will not hesitate to trample on our fellow men so that we may go ahead. We believe that self is above all and for self we will sacrifice everything. We point our fingers and roll our eyes at thieves, robbers and other delinquents and tell our kids that they should not grow up like these bad people and we do the same things. Does taking away someone’s liberties and rights and using it illegally become any less condemnable than simply taking the person’s goods? By driving on the wrong lane, we hold up our neighbour’s right to drive and deprive him of the happiness of reaching home on time to be with his wife and kids. It sounds so trivial that you may laugh, but big criminals started with stealing small change once. Yes you can always ask “who is my neighbour?”, you will not be the first (somebody beat you to that question 2000 years ago) nor will you be the last.
You can read this post and do many things. You can laugh, comment, mock, introspect or just move on. If you are one of the few who still believe that live and let live is not a bad thing after all do think what we can do about this. It will be a drop in the ocean, but little drops of water did make the mighty ocean. I was doing my drop in a wonderful initiative called IFix, I’m sure that there can be many more.