Ask anyone what he despises most about Pune and the answer would be "Traffic"**.Without intending to sound vainglorious, I am proud of the fact that I have lived in quite a few cities in India. Which brings me to the most common vexing question. Is my dad an armyman? Unfortunately, he isn't. Fortunately, he doesn't work for a bank either. For that matter, none of my parents do.
Getting back to the point, Pune probably has a traffic which is worse than any other city. Personally, the list of things that I dislike (euphemism for hate) about Pune could become endless. However, traffic would definitely qualify for a podium finish. And for a change, roads are not the real problem. In defence of the Pune-ites, it can be said that the roads are definitely narrow in some parts of the town. There are speed breakers which would be best described as blink-and-you-miss and some road dividers that are barely visible. The entire logic of invisible-traffic-controllers seems to be founded on the "shock and awe" doctrine.
Residents of Pune belong to a peaceful race that lives in love and harmony. What gets their adrenaline pumping is the idea of driving on their own roads. For any proud Puneite, any Pune road is like his own backyard. She has her own set of traffic rules and abides by them religiously. When caught in a traffic jam, she is highly likely to mistake the accelerator for the brake and thereby ram her vehicle against the rear of another parked in front of her. This sets off a trigger reaction which actually helps clear the traffic. The casualties are the smaller two wheelers which mostly belong to the student community. Who cares about them anyway?
The two wheelers, on the other hand are no less enterprising. In Pune, you are considered cool if you can squeeze your bike in the space between 2 cars moving parallel on what ideally should have been a one-car-at-a-time road. Narrower the gap, higher is your coolness quotient.The narrowest of gaps have led some bikers to the OTs. Even as the doctors are amputating their legs, they would insist that
1. They still ride better than 90% of the Pune-ites (The scary thing is that they are RIGHT!)
2. There was only one car in front of them
Statistically incorrect it may be, but the fact is that 75% Pune-ites are better than average drivers . To further spice up things, Pune has recently been hit by a gang of girls who love to call themselves the biker-gang, as quoted by Pune Mirror. No, I am not making this up! What do they do? Flout the rules, flaunt your coolness!
The traffic lights in Pune also work according to their own whims and fancies. To the credit of the Puneite, she doesn't care two hoots about the traffic signal. For her, it’s always blaring green. She doesn’t know any
The way the traffic constable operates in Pune is no less than the way a secret unit carries out some covert operations on the battlefield. He would be conspicuously missing from the traffic outposts he is supposed to be manning. Be forwarned. He would be lurking around in some corner waiting for you to commit an offence. And if you happen to be sporting a number plate that belongs to some other Indian state, you are doomed.
Mamu: Do you have an NOC (No Objection Certificate)?
She (the qunitessential Tam Brahm driving a santro with a TN number plate): Yes, here it is.
Mamu: License? PUC (Pollution Under Control? Vehicle Papers?
She: Yes, here they are!
Mamu: Voter ID card? Ration card? Employee ID? Medical Insurance Card? Passport? Marriage Certificate?
She: Scavenges through her Luis Vuitton and manages to fish out everything.
(Failure to produce even one single document calls for a heavy penalty as per Pune Traffic norms)
Mamu (exasperated) starts ranting in Marathi: … kutthes?... kartos? ….kutthes-kartos combined?
She:Abuses him in the filthiest of Tamil possible
Mamu(anger oozing out from evey pore of his face):… kutthes?... kartos? ….kutthes-kartos combined?
She: I am sorry. I don’t understand Marathi.
Mamu (with a victorious smile): Techincally speaking you have to shell out some 2000 bucks but we can settle it for 500.
The woman goes on to feign bankruptcy and the deal is finally settled at 300 bucks. The mamu then proceeds to give her a receipt printed on a paper which is the pinkiest pink imaginable. She is free to scoot away breaking all speed barriers before the next mamu intercepts her.
**Information Source: Pg 24 of Pune Mirror. The same page that carries "ask the sexpert" column. Period.
PS: For those who were tempted by the title of the post into reading this,my apologies :)
PPS: The stress on one particular gender is not at all coincidental. It has been done based on prior experience and some relevant research. However, it is open to argument.