Saturday, September 30, 2023

Bovine, autos and traffic mayhem in Jamshedpur

Himalayan Paths

Mail News Service

Jamshedpur, June 9: Sages, saints and lesser mortals with a hint of philosophy in them have, out of their own experiences or those of others, have understood and passed on fairytale wisdom through generations that there is always a bright side even to the worst experiences … like, the summer of 2023.

It is always better to begin a critical review on a brighter note so that the first bite on a bitter morsel tastes misleadingly sweet. The 42-43 degree Celsius read on the mocking mercury scale has at least ensured that men and machines start making themselves scarce from the roads by the time the clock strikes around 10 am and the mice run down to the cooler climes of home. By midday, the markets have a forlorn look with sellers hopelessly scanning for a solitary customer instead of looking upward towards the sky to catch a glimpse of at least one tuft of a wayward cloud.

And so, the streets are ‘denuded’ of traffic mayhem as long as the sun guffaws in sadistic delight. But the scenario around the Sakchi roundabout is not as pleasant as one may mentally conjure. Autorickshaws are parked helter-skelter narrowing the already narrow Kalimati Road. A traffic cop, by chance appears and knocks half-heartedly on the rear of a tempo in a gesture of ‘requesting’ the auto drivers to take their tempos off the road and park them at the stand a few feet away; yes, this parking lot is not authorized but then…

Then of course is this lot of bovine species who form ‘coteries’ or groups and munch cud while oblivious of the curses of the passing pedestrians and car and two-wheeler riders who dare the volcanic sun and venture outdoors to  attend to unavoidable commitments. But there are those young runts on their ‘rear-lifted’ sports two wheelers carrying a gal or plural pillion riders zigzagging at high speed through an already ruffled traffic because autos, bovines, cops and other road blocks do not matter to such monsters in human garb. And by the time the sun begins to set, this ‘mild’ Sakchi traffic scenario begins to grow menacingly with a few more traffic cops thrown in who prefer catching helmetless two-wheeler riders instead of attempting to usher in a semblance of sanity to the growing traffic chaos.

Similar scenarios abound in other parts of the city where flouting traffic norms is more or less a birthright with cops reduced to just blowing their whistles frenziedly and swinging their batons as wildly in the air in spite of knowing fully well that discharging this part of their duty will remain as ineffective as trying to tug away a laden truck with a shoelace. Well, at the end of the day, who is to be blamed for these partial ills? The insufficient number of traffic cops trying to control helmetless riding and traffic bottlenecks? The unconcerned bovines? The more than permitted three-wheelers parked on the middle of already overloaded streets? Car and mobike riders? Or the civic sense of road users? Or, finally, does one have to wait for the ultimate Judgment Day to solve these jigsaw puzzles? Well, in that case, one has to be the highest grade optimist who gropes in a dark pit leading to nowhere.


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