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Driving Us Crazy

No, this is not the sequel to the much-acclaimed Driving Miss Daisy. This, my dear Chennaivasis, is the story of the battle we wage every day – on our roads. I am not talking only about their condition. I am, of course, talking about our road sense – or lack of it.

Though our country can never ever say with pride that its citizens are good drivers, I think gradually the standard has degenerated into absolutely appalling levels that these days it is a wonder if you can set foot outside home and come back unscathed. A casual bang to the side of your vehicle, courtesy a whizzing scooter is the norm.

While driving, we are supposed to look out for each other. Bah humbug, say the drivers. It is one mad dash to get from one point to another. To quote a popular holiday website, the traffic lights in India resemble the start of a grand prix race, with each vehicle vying for pole position. If only our roads were as good as the ones in Monaco! No wonder there is an increase in the number of people interested in becoming Formula 1 drivers. After all, they get practice every day!

One can’t put all the blame on Chennai drivers alone. The roads play a major role in this mess. And a right mess would describe the city roads perfectly. Huge craters in the middle and massive trenches along the sides are so yesterday. The latest accessories to the Chennai road are iron girders – and lots of them! Thick, long iron girders are plunged in the middle of the road, with the trench being strategically placed to make it unfit for traffic to pass in either direction. Add the monsoon (Thank you, Lord Varuna, for your bounty!) and you have one big water feature.

Of course, the usual adornments such as the Veeranam pipe, smaller pipes, random wires and posts, vast quantities of dug-up mud, chunks of tar road and the ever popular garbage sundries all make our road a thing of beauty indeed! One wonders what must go through the minds of the Onyx workers each night, as they toil to clean these excuse of our roads.

I guess therein lies the problem – the Onyx cleaners do their bit while we are sleeping. Come morning, we see the clean roads and our hands just itch to start throwing things! We do have to give something for the poor guys to clean every night, don’t we? We don’t want to deprive them of their likelihood!

You know something? I have always wondered at the volume of mud that lies surrounding the road trench. Even after they are covered, there is still a 2 feet surplus sitting all around it, making it a mini hillock. What puzzles me is that 2 feet surplus. Where did it come from? I mean, it was dug out of the same place and the lovely corporation guys have put it all back in, haven’t they? So where did the extra bit come from, the bit that sits atop like a crown on the head? Did they dig somewhere else to get that bit? Is there an unidentified crater somewhere that has contributed to this trench?

Ok, now I am digressing.

We have identified the problems – bad roads, worse drivers. So, let us all take a moment and think. Road users – we have to stop battling one another. We all have to get from Point A to Point B. There is no point in going like a bat out of hell, only to be caught at the next signal. We might as well go slower – and safer.

Do move to Sholavaram if the spirit moves you. Bullock cart men, please exercise your pets when the city has gone to sleep.

Meanwhile, corporation Annas, please don’t wait till the roadways department lays the road to start digging. Feel free to get in there, be first! And can the wizard who sunk in 8 feet of iron girder into the middle of T Nagar’s Dr Nair Road please put up his hand and explain the mystery behind it?

Brothers and sisters of Onyx, in addition to night shift, please do work on occasional day shifts too. Then you can actually catch us red-handed, making a missile of a banana peel and missing the bin by a mile.

Lastly, can somebody please stop all the timer clocks at the signals? Even Michael Schumacher doesn’t race everyday!

[First published under 'Desi Diaries' at ChennaiOnline on Nov 9, 2004.]

Posted by DesiGirl 9:31 am  


  1. Dee said...
    Aaman wanted to take me along for one of his chennai office trips but an instinct told me stay put in Bangalore.

    I used all kinds of excuses from heat to jams to getting bored in a hotel room with two ever ready battery kids bouncing off the walls.

    He was pretty upset but once he came back he let me know that I had made a wise decision.

    It had been sticky, raining and the jams had been awful.

    But then again I'm sure there must be some good parts to the city apart from the diamond stores that are yet to be discovered by outsiders:)
    desigirl said...
    come and visit me down there once i've returned Dee and I shall show you my favourite hotspots - will make the jams and sweat worth it.

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