We’d stab with our Sarcasm, but that was about it..

driving wrongside
Image used for representation only

I don’t know if you caught this news item around the time of Holi, but something rather startling occurred on Fergusson College Road the other day.

A group of people had just stepped out of a restaurant and were standing outside, when one of the members of that little group was jostled by a motorcycle driving on the wrong side of the road. When aforementioned member remonstrated with the biker, the biker responded by –  and this is the part I have trouble coming to grips with –  stabbing him.

Actually, back up to the first paragraph, and scratch the word startling. Call me an alarmist, but on second thoughts, I think I’ll prefer terrifying. Incidents such as these are supposed to be the preserve of the rambunctious people of Delhi. Punekars used to be thought of as the staid, laidback variety. We’d stab with our sarcasm, but that was about it.

Incidents such as these are supposed to be the preserve of the rambunctious people of Delhi. Punekars used to be thought of as the staid, laidback variety. We’d stab with our sarcasm, but that was about it.

I completely missed the memo about taking the stabbing bit rather more literally.

The point of this column isn’t the stabbing, however, genuinely scary and crying out for reflection though it may be. I want to ask a rather more basic question today. Why, could somebody please explain to me, do we treat driving down the wrong side of the road as a completely normal thing? And much else besides, of course – including but not limited to, as they say, driving two-wheelers on the footpath, breaking signals at all hours of the day, and stopping our vehicles on zebra crossings.

When it comes to breaking traffic rules, we must be pretty close to the top of the global charts.Not only do we do it with impunity, we also seem to react with complete insouciance when stopped and questioned.

Insouciance, come to think of it, is what we serve for starters. Continue to eat our heads over it, and we escalate matters to sharp objects lodged in your shirtfront. That this happened is bad enough – that we choose to not outrage over this is just mind boggling.

What really befuddles me is this: I type this out in a cafe located on Fergusson College Road, and I have counted no less than four (4!) people who have taken their bikes down the wrong side, and (I swear I wasn’t drinking yesterday evening) an enterprising gentleman also took his car down the American side of the road.

I rubbed my eyes, took in a generously sized glug of coffee, and swore to stay off the bottle if I was hallucinating – but I wasn’t. In the peak hours of the ante meridian, there was a guy taking his car down the wrong side of one of the busiest roads in Pune. And the people around him seemed to think this normal! There were no complaints, there was no grumbling – people placidly made their way around the vehicle. And who am I to complain? In their place, I’d probably have done the same thing.

 

Ashish Kulkarni

Ashish Kulkarni

Ashish is a confirmed Punekar, which guarantees eternal undying love for the city, but also mandates an incurable sense of cynicism about it.

He doesn't expect the paradox to be resolved in his lifetime
Ashish Kulkarni

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