Sunday, April 26, 2009

Trafficking in Pune

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
Massa, any Schumacher or lately, any Vettel. For that matter, she would also love to ignore the local mamu (a traffic constable for the uninitiated). Which is where the lady luck betrays her.

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.


30 comments:

Psychochan said...

Lol!! You're a diligent researcher, I must say! So glad to see you using your acute skills of observation to the situ... I have had the good fortune of being in pune traffic just once and it was exactly all that you describe... and in defence of my gender, i thought that the testosterone- fuelled aggression was what made the situ worse! ;)Keep writing buddy, it's fun to read :)

Yashika Totlani said...

First, header was controversial... 'body' wasnt. Second, typical arunabh style write up. Light, sarcastic, funny. Although the mamu and LV girl story seemed exaggerated.

Best pick-"Narrower the gap, higher is your coolness quotient." :)

I didnt know the traffic in Pune was that bad. Keeping that in purview, man are you gonna love Delhi :P The office rush hour crowd has, over the years, redefined 'bumper to bumper' traffic!

Anonymous said...

Dood, who is this tam brahm mam who subjected you to all this in pune traffic?
This is interesting ;)

Vardaan

arunabh said...

@deepti
You research when you love something or hate something very badly. I so hate Pune traffic and quite a few other things that are so Pune :p
I dispute that belief. Science and general perception would suggest otherwise :)
Keep visiting

@yashika
I have a weak spot for my blog. I so love blog visitors. Hence the header :p
Slightly exaggerated? Yes. But it went more or less on those lines. While a friend and I were mute spectators watching from the sidelines (we had been booked for not furnishing the PUC for his mobike)
I hope other advantages in Delhi offsets that disadvantage :)
Keep visiting

@vardaan
The lady had been taken to the side for brandishing a Tamil Nadu nameplate. Beyond knowing that she is a Tam brahm (yes, i peeped into her i card) and that she has a black santro, I don't have any other info on her.
So, in case, you are interested and getting despo, sorry to disappoint you mate ;)
keep visiting

SaIk said...

Dude... i cant tell you how much i loved this over your last post... too much..
"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." - this line is super awesome and the doc-puneite, mamu-tam biker conversation is super-fantabulous :D... love you ;)

Kaustubh said...

been there..seen that.those two months of my internship were...in absence of proper adjective...funny...since i happen to know marathi, and being from MP, puneri marathi was alien to me...so i really enjoyed some of the traffic instances i had...how is job going arunabh???

Prachi said...

Arunabh,
Come to Delhi quick! There are so many many things to enjoy @ delhi :)
Traffic is congested at times. But chalta hai.. right? ;)
Yes, ofcourse, we converse in either english or hindi. So, your famed language problem wudn't surface here :p. Saaddi delhi waits for you ..
~Prachi

Jealous Boy Friend said...

Whos this Prachi.. I thght we discussed abt this.. you were not to solicit company through your blog... you are mine and only mine.. now you could have ytold everyone that you were on my bike on a date but noooo -- too scared of your status..

the other guy(i guess) said...

oooh ic.. now i get it..
u rock arunabh!!! so i am the other guy...!!!

QuackyQuotes said...

Well that's just another of your crazy posts. It's a really wonderful read, I must say. You explain things here too, in detail. I just wish you would give a profound explanation of the questions I pose too! But yes you are a wonderful writer. Just dont let boredom get you down.....ever :)

Sushrut said...

too gud.. next P G Wodehouse :p

arunabh said...

@sai
Seriously man, the Pune mamus are funnier than the Bombay mamus. Although the Bombay mamus are more shrewd.
Thanks for the compliments and all that affection ;)
Keep visiting

@kaustubh
Being a marathi would still have been helpful :P
Job life is decent. The city bores me no ends though. Moving to the gurgaon office in the last week of june in the hope that life would be less boring there
Keep visiting

@Prachi
Yeah Prachi, chill! I have been to delhi before as well and have liked the place. Hopefully, i would continue to like it. And pretty soon i would be there.. june last week i am hoping :)
Keep visiting

arunabh said...

@jealous boys and all the "other" guys
Don't get senti dudes :p. There is nothing brewing over here. For that matter, nothing is brewing there either x-(
Keep visiting :)

@nimmu
I am trying my best to answer your profound questions to the best of amy abilities. But alas!
As for "boredom", I hope moving to delhi would be of some help.
Still hoping :)
Keep visiting

@sushrut
Thanks a lot firangi ;)
But P G Wodehouse? In all my humility, that would be taking the comparison way too far . Though, for a moment, i was really delighted by that comparison ;)
Keep visiting

Nikki said...

Lolz. Nice. Well...what do you have to say of Mumbai Traffic then?

I enjoyed reading this!

arunabh said...

@nikki
Oh Mumbai traffic is awesome. I am just too much in love with that city to criticise any aspect of it :)
Keep visiting

Aneesha Pillai said...

You cannot be more accurate.My roomie used to drive on footpaths to escape traffic...Imagine my dilemma on the pillion with my heart in my mouth!

moody_mermaid said...

Hey! Had not visited my blog for a long time, hence had not seen ur comment .. Thanks a ton for the compliment ... Will try to blog mor often .. :)

mallika said...

and so....i am having a dejavu...i wonder whether i happened to have mentioned any "trafficking incident" to you and i wonder where the tam brahm lady comes from? ;)... biker gang girls? i guess your pps is definitely open for argument....wait till you see delhi dude...you will be wishing to be back in pune...nice post :) one which certainly needed attention in your funny sarcastic way...

arunabh said...

@aneesha
Have seen so many hapless Pune-ites take to the pavements to avoid the traffic. Didn't know you were one of them.
Keep visiting :)

@moody_mermaid
Mention not.
Keep visiting

@mallika
Okay. The Tam Brahm lady wasn't someone I knew personally. But all this makes me really curious. I want to hear more of this. We need to discuss this "mallu" incident very soon ;) Besto for the exams or whatever little remains of it!
And please be a little polite to your home town, will you? :P
Keep visiting

Archer Reloaded said...

Arunabh ...just be careful if you happen to commute the garware bridge.It's a "no two wheeler" zone(never seen that rule anywhere else)and the mamus there are extra vigilant to catch hold of some non marathi trespassers.If you happen to enter the bridge nevertheless ,smartly get off your bike and stroll away which will confuse the mamus and will buy you some time to make a sly exit.

exclusively_me said...

Read ur blog after agess ..maybe perhaps a year.. nice post..!
And well im goin to be frequent visitor , again!!

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Anonymous said...

I loathe the driving habits of Pune residents but your post is absurd. NOBODY who can afford an LV wallet would be caught dead driving a sad sad santro.

I'm convinced there's something in the water in this town. There's no way an entire 'city' of people can be so collectively stupid, selfish, dangerous, and retarded in their driving habits.

Damn the 2 wheelers who squeeze into every/any space possible no matter how dangerous/illegal. Damn the tempos. Damn the idiots that drive with their brights on. Damn the lack of a SINGLE decent road in 2011. Damn the fat cops who don't do jackshit. Damn the total lack of infrastructure and a narrown-minded populace that would be better off on donkey carts than on motorized vehicles.

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