Lessons I Learnt from Traffic Jams in India

Traffic Jams.

Even before you get your first whiff of (clean) air as you step out in the morning, you will be met with honk from an OLA/UBER/MEGA Cars/Meru Cabs or techies trying to make their way through our potholed roads that our dear CM has never heard of!

No matter what transportation you use; Ride, Drive, Namma Metro, BMTC buses, Autos, Walk or even Fly, you will be pleasantly acquainted with our dear neighborhood friend – Traffic Jam. Annoying, frustrating, anger, boredom, restlessness – these are usually the adjectives for the mood every person who is stuck in traffic is safely assumed to be in.

With a growing population of nearly 10 million, Bangalore has nearly 75-lakh vehicular transportation on road almost every day. In a recent article, I read how traffic congestions cost nearly Rs 3,700 crore per year. This number sounds exaggerated but then I’m told the number could be higher!

As frightening as that sounds, I’ve had my share of traffic jams across India and I think every city has its woes and problems with or without the monsoons too. Right from Delhi, Gurgaon, and Kolkata to Hyderabad, Mumbai, Chennai and of course my beloved Bangalore. Patience has been a strong suit with me but traffic jams do certainly make me doubt it and also led me to learn and hurl abuses in every local language I can possibly use! Every new language you learn, you are curious to learn the “bad words” or abuses (as adults would prefer to say), what a better way than to learn while you drive through traffic!

Lessons I Learnt from Traffic Jams in India is my way of amplifying the noise that is created around Traffic Jams, in a positive sense maybe!

Traffic Jams teach and test your patience to follow

As Indians, we are always in a hurry to get somewhere and more importantly get there first! But in traffic, we have no choice but to wait our turn and just follow. Of course we are rebels too and jump the occasion signal and traffic rules to get ahead but the fear of paying the cop at the end of it or going to court is more troublesome and tiring hence, mostly we abide. The reason some of us maybe patient are because we have a car or bike that is dear enough (expensive enough) to not be repaired or damaged in our pursuit of happyness. The ‘Auto Raja’ never cares for you when he overtakes or goes slow (purposely) ahead of you. The old uncle or aunty who is carefully driving their Maruti Alto or WagonR doesn’t care if you are late for your meeting/party or destination, they care that their car is safe and they are following rules of not driving more than 40 Kmph! You are the rebel or bad person in the situation that is pointless to fight or argue about so you accept and wait your turn to go ahead patiently.

Traffic Jams teach you to move ahead (even if it means inch by inch)

When we are in the midst of traffic, there is only one way – FORWARD. We have to move ahead, even if it literally means an inch forward by utilizing the bike gap we get. Move we must! We move to the opposite corner fondly hoping that we can move faster once the traffic becomes thinner. Our trials to advance are always there.

If you are a L-board (cars or bikes which indicate as Learners with a big red L on their vehicle) God save you! Firstly, the number of honks and abuses you receive is much higher compare to the normal driver (who was an L-board once!) and secondly, if your car jerks and halts half way up the slope, you need t figure your act out and MOVE THE DAMN CAR! Sometimes, our judgment gets the better of us and we stop behind someone who is struggling to get his or her car or bike started and as much as we are cussing, this person sitting in the heat of the moment has only one choice – To move ahead! This obstacle is blocking your way to your destination but you will reverse, stumble, halt, reverse, check for ‘touching’ and cut through, bend, brake, reverse and get past! This is your move.

Traffic Jams in India teach you to grab every opportunity that comes your way

Before the person next to you moves his car or bike (autos are a lost cause to overtake) you put your car in first gear and move into the small space that helps you get close to the 10m away signal. We create the space someway or the other and move into it! We are the creators and we must be the movers (into that space).

Traffic Jams teach you Focus, Discipline and Single-Mindedness

Speaking of the Rebel that is in every one of us, we sometimes become the fellow or ‘Auto Raja’ who is causing inconvenience to others and still thinks is right as I have my book of excuses to narrate! But we are late and have no time to argue or debate over your choice of being the rebel and hence, you focus on only one thing, get out of here ASAP. Once you do get out of there, you even forget the incident. Out of all my regrets in life and the decisions I have made, jumping signals or overtaking someone from the right has never made it onto my list! I’m sorry but I am not sorry.

With the numerous advertisements showing us the importance of not using phones, not texting and not driving under influence; I can safely assume this does guilt trip us incase we do. Why? The fierceness of traffic in the cities makes us want to concentrate and not daydream. No one wants to meet Danger – our dark friend! We don’t care much if someone else is daydreaming or looking around meaninglessly, we honk so loud that we wake him or her up from slumber singlehandedly and urge him or her to move ahead. In a way, we are being mentors they never knew about! How nice are we!

Traffic Jams makes even the most laziest person PLAN his route

In a day and age where Siri is the most talked to and of course the Google Maps lady who now sounds Indian, we are people who have plans! When we plan to go to a restaurant or movie or the airport, the first thing we do is plan how long it might take us to get there! Will there be heavy or light traffic? Can I leave after 20 minutes or should I leave now to be there on time. Most of these destinations are places you’ve been to or around there and you understand the obstacles you may face to get there, hence, planning is the key in any given situation!

I never knew I could actually just sit in a busy street and learn so much about traffic but I did! I have not mentioned all lessons as I believe in constantly learning and evolving. I am of the belief that the right lesson today maybe the wrong one tomorrow, so I’m leaving my lessons open ended that gives more room to develop.

The other Lessons I Learnt but can be debated include:
If you are a scooter or motorcycle rider, you would’ve made your way on the footpath at least once in a lifetime cause the road was jammed
If you are stuck behind an L-board you have abused them under your breath or directly knowing that you are discouraging them consciously
Everyone has honked his or her way through traffic, even though you knew you don’t really need to and with a little patience you could’ve gone through
If you are a woman driving or riding, every man would’ve overtaken you in the cycle gap knowingly that he will beat you to it
And god forbid if it rains, you have no way out and call mother to tell her you will be drenched, hungry and late!

Lessons I Learnt… is my noise creator to fill in the blanks to my existence called Life. This is a series based writing I’m trying to explore; where I will dive into it’s core of philosophy and connect instances of daily life and share my point of view of life lessons and hacks I can take from them. People say I put too much logic into it, but I’d like to keep it light while not hiding my intense side to writing. Share your story or experiences and we can talk about how things create an impact on our every day being. I am open to people’s suggestions and critic of my writing so don’t hestitate to drop me a message or email! I’m always the student 🙂 

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