Road to impatience – The Hindu


Some drivers, with no guilt whatsoever, believe that they have every right to flout the rules

Some drivers, with no guilt whatsoever, believe that they have every right to flout the rules

I have heard a few quotes related to age. The best one was “With age, comes wisdom”. I am uncertain about this in my case as it is highly subjective. I have not lost hope though. I believe I may have to age more before this proves convincingly true. I am still in my forties.

The next best quote on age was “With age, comes patience”. This is totally not true in my case. On the contrary, I am losing patience as I age. I observed that I have been losing patience in the past few years, especially when I am on the road and, more specifically, driving.

As a true believer in “Be the change you wish to see in the world”, I follow the rules of the road to the core whenever I drive either a two-wheeler or a four-wheeler. Although a small population, people like me do exist. I hoped many would change gradually and follow the rules. It has been 20 years since I hoisted the flag of hope for the first time. It is now flying half-mast. I don’t believe anymore that people would change and start to follow the rules of the road.

I recently heard someone state that one attains inner peace when he or she is able to drive on Indian roads without being frustrated or swearing with not-for-print language. I would love to see the person, if any, who has been able to attain inner peace in this approach, get his blessings and get some tidbits.

There are pressing reasons why someone would not change, especially when I follow the rules. Why wouldn’t a bus driver behind me impatiently honk at me when I stop at a red signal before the stop line while most drivers would stop 10 to 20 feet ahead of the line and get some headway before the lights turn green? Why would a truck driver behind me change when I am at a red signal and wait for 10 more crucial seconds for the signal to turn green even as no other vehicle is crossing the road? They literally get on my nerves.

Some drivers, with no guilt whatsoever, believe that they have every right to take a “U” turn at a “no U turn” junction even as they take 10 seconds to turn, hold up 10 more cars in the lane and cause a cumulative delay of over three minutes. If you are doing the maths, note that a 10-second delay for the first stuck car means up to 30 seconds for the last car. Imagine the patience, if I am in the 10th car.

How can I remain patient, when I see a heavy vehicle driving in the middle of the road ahead of me, not staying on one lane, occupying both the lanes, waiting for the opportune moment to overtake the vehicle ahead of him and, at the same time, not letting anyone from behind?

I believed better road sense did not prevail in my generation or the earlier ones because of lack of awareness and exposure in our growing-up years. Also, I believed that the next generation would fare better due to exposure to information and civic education in school as they grow up. I can’t be any further from the truth. They are even worse. While my generation is speeding to catch up with time, they are accelerating.

They use helmets just in time to avoid a fine. While it’s two to tango, they believe it’s three on a bike. Being tech-savvy, they use the maps prudently to avoid the arterial roads. We know when and why. They feel jumping signals is no more a crime than bunking a class. Parents inherently teach their children a few lessons on popular practices. With the children on the pillion, they drive 200 meters on the right side of the road, with a concrete median, to avoid a 500-meter “U” turn. Children, oblivious of repercussions, inherit their parents’ practices that are particularly deemed bad.

My patience has been constantly challenged while waiting for the change. Change is evolving when one first understands what has to change. Having said that, I did understand it’s the rules of the road, not the people, that need to change. That’s some piece of wisdom. Isn’t it? After all, I may have gained some wisdom with age.

sundarsnathan@gmail.com



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