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Monday, May 22, 2006

If motorcycles had feet...

This morning, when I returned from class, I took a bus and crossed the road to go home. I was walking on the “footpath”. But I couldn’t walk peacefully there. I had to keep moving sideways to avoid colliding with the oncoming vehicular traffic. On the footpath!! By definition, a footpath is “A narrow path for persons on foot.” In this city, however, it doesn’t seem to be the case. Time and again, I’ve found motorcycles on the footpath. Maybe it is because this is the age of instant gratification. This is where I feel “old” because I’m not one of the “I want this, and I want it now” brigade. I belong to a generation that believes a red signal means “stop”, that when the “red man” gives way to the “green man”, it must be safe to cross the road, that sounding my horn is not going to magically clear up the road ahead!

When I first moved to Bangalore, I was waiting outside my office to get an auto. A guy, proudly displaying the dog tag of a famous software company, was riding on the footpath. I stayed put; didn’t budge. The guy braked and stopped a couple of inches away from where I was. I kept looking at the traffic hoping to find an auto and the man sounded his horn. I looked at him and said, “Education is such a waste” and he said, “It has definitely been wasted on you. Can’t you see I’m riding a bike? Couldn’t you move out of the way?” I almost spat at the guy. I wished that I had a dictionary with me so I could show him what a footpath meant.

I watched the Gods Must Be Crazy over the weekend. In one of the scenes, the bushman sees a man drive up the road and wonders what kind of an animal it is whose “legs” go round and round, instead of up and down. He then goes on to describe the “animal”. I thought that was funny and laughed for quite a while. I thought of it as very very funny until this morning’s incident. Suddenly, the definition seems incomplete. Now, I’m pretty certain that all of Bangalore thinks that motorcycles have legs and feet “that go round and round instead of up and down”.

6 comments:

Mukund said...

The following incident was witnessed by my sister-in-law right in front of their apartment on old madras road last friday morning: fellow on a bike riding on the wrong side of the road collides with a bike coming on the right side! the guy who was on the wrong side actually got down from his bike and beat up the other guy for colliding with him!!!

so, the incident you narrate isn't surprising at all...it appears that riding on the footpath is permitted so long as there is no sign saying "driving on footpath is prohibited"!! further you must also note that there is no sign on any footpath indicating that it is a "footpath"!! its a democracy after all....so, its for the pedestrians to give way...

Raaga said...

And then with signs, we'll begin to wonder if people in this democracy are literate :)

Caffeinism said...

Raaga you have so beautifully written what I faced every day when I was in bang. The BTM layout road is one such place where all two wheelers use footpath and the prevalent excuse is jammed roads with 4 wheelers...

shrinivaz said...

Good point...had noticed this near the airport road flyover during my internship last year. But spare a thought for 'em too. The roads are so narrow and the traffic signals..so painfully long...nearly 5 mins!!!! I am sure the said motorist would have felt the same had he been in ur place. The infrastructure needs to be spruced up or WORST CASE, ban private vehicles and force people to pool in. Introduce lots of shuttle services...

Raaga said...

@Shrinivaz: Sorry... bad excuse! If you have to wait, wait. Or take a different route.

Hrishikesh said...

Two and a half years later, nothing in Bangalore has changed. "Bikers" seem to lose it when they get the keys.