Sunday, December 11, 2005

Road Rage in Bombay

Yes, from the time that I wrote the Autorickshaw post, I have acquired a spanking new car. (It’s on loan of course, and it’ll be a good 4 years before I can call it totally mine, but finances call for a separate post altogether!) And after 45 days of having driven it around in Bombay, last week I acquired a spanking new dent as well!
That has galvanized me into some kind of action, and I hereby post on the woes of driving a new car in Bombay.
The four main hazards of driving in Bombay are: the pothole-ridden roads, the (paradoxically named) BEST buses, commercial transport (trucks & the smaller autorickshaw type of tempos), the autorickshaws and motorcyclists!
I have since gathered enough SELF-control, and stopped driving roughshod over the lousy roads in this great city. I drive slowly, in lower gears not caring about fuel consumption in order to ensure that my new car doesn’t take punishment.
With BEST buses, you really can’t do much. They will drive like they own the road. And one really doesn’t have the time to drag out & beat up each driver who tries to force you onto the divider.

Commercial Transport drivers are bad too since the vehicles they drive aren’t their own & are really low maintenance. But by and large, the truckers within the city are not that badly behaved. It’s the local mini-tempo variety that I’ve come to loathe. They’re the size of autorickshaws and drive in a similar manner. They cut left, they cut right, and they just can’t get it into their thick illiterate skulls that the lanes on the road are not meant to weave in and out of!!! Ditto autorickshaws and motorcyclists.
The accident I had was because one of these mini-tempos decided to suddenly cut to the right, straight into the path of my midnight blue Indigo! I was at less than 40 kms an hour yet the joker managed to dent my fender and chip my headlight! I’m not a violent man, but that day I got out of my car, caught him by the collar and was dragging him out of the offensive red thing he was piloting! I must have sworn at all the women in his family, in my loudest possible voice by the time I came to my senses!
With autorickshaws and motorcyclists I run the same risk. On two occasions, in tight traffic jams, my rear bumper and my rear-view mirror has been bumped into, and the offending motorcyclist has fled before I had a chance to get out of the car. The mini-tempo guy probably got the other two motorcyclists’ share as well!
I think there is genuine value in buying an old Ambassador and getting out on the roads. Every offending driver/rider will then REALIZE the risks of weaving in and out of traffic!!!

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