The traffic signal

While driving to office from my home every day, I come across a traffic signal at a particular point where 9 out of 10 times I get the red signal with the waiting time displayed in seconds and I wait for the signal to turn green. What’s the big deal? So many people do the same every day. Why am I blogging (or bragging?) about the same?

Well, it is not about the waiting at the traffic signal and not also about getting the signal red 9 out of 10 times. It’s about the behaviour of assorted people at that traffic signal. Some wait patiently for their turn and many don’t. No matter what is the colour of the traffic light, many cross the junction (in four directions) as if either they give a damn or for them the light doesn’t exist. Again, what’s the big deal? It happens at many places so what’s anything particular about the daily routine.

Let me give you the geographical location of the traffic light. On its eastern side mostly the apartment people live in group housing societies. On its western side, there is a huge ghetto, a totally unplanned, haphazardly grown colony where majorly the helping hands in offices, factories, schools, hospitals, shops and malls live. I have been told that nearly half a million people live in that area (seems to be an exaggerated figure nonetheless even half of that figure is awesome). On the southern and northern side there are offices, shops and institutions which are abuzz with activity during day time and quiet during night. Probably now you may be forming an idea why some people don’t bother the colour of the traffic signal.

Since I wait in this signal 9 out of ten times and for a good 40 to 60 seconds almost every time, I get my daily dose of people ignoring the colour of light. It happens from all directions. But to a great measure it happens from the eastern part. The traffic from that part consists of cycles, bikes, autos, shared autos and occasional cars. The cars from that side do slow down if the signal is red but they eventually flow with rest of the traffic because none cares. The bikers and the overloaded autos are the worst offenders. I am yet to see any biker or the auto driver obeying the light on his own. The autos are particularly the demons. The office hours are their best bet and best earning time. They drop the passengers and turn back immediately to get the next lot. There is a huge competition among them to get back to the stand where they would pick up the next lot. So for them the traffic niceties are passé. Most of them are so arrogant that even traffic constables are unable to control them. A lot of reasons are there for their arrogance and I can write separately not in this piece. The bikers are kings of the road and their most obvious move is overtaking from left even if there is space in the right and they hardly care for any traffic rules. The cycle riders are always late for their workplace and so are always in hurry to cross any hurdle that comes their way. Probably all of us know about these habits of auto drivers, bikers and bicycle riders. So what’s the big deal again?

As I stated elsewhere, the western part of the signal is populated by a particular working class, they show no respect for the traffic signal. It shows their behaviour, upbringing, social character and above all the area they represent. This colony is 99% illegally constructed. 90% of the people live there in rented accommodations and the owners are locally influential people who give two hoots for abiding law. Almost everything up there is for grab, be it land, buildings, water, electricity, civic amenities you name it. If anyone lives and grows in such an atmosphere, there is bound to be an effect on him to ignore law as he never sees any law and order in his locality. So abiding by a traffic light is such a miniscule matter for him that he just not ignores it but also has no faith in it. The moment he reaches the traffic junction he doesn’t apply brake but actually speeds up so that others who are about to cross the junction slow down or stop totally to let him pass. The drivers in vehicles in other three sides of the junction are well aware of the behaviour of the people coming from the eastern side and never show protest or things like that as they are aware of the futility of it.

The gist is that our upbringing and living conditions are benchmarks for adherence to law. And there is a mob culture which turns blind eye to law. The crowd coming from the western side represents a mob who no one dares to cross. People there earn their daily livelihood, pay rent, pay school fees, and probably also pay protection money. Most of them earn daily wages and their lives depend on it. They have seen arrogance and no respect for law are the order of the day. Slowly they get absorbed in such a culture and start believing in it, at least some of the traits. A mob forms whenever there is a tussle and they easily outnumber others.

The people from the rest three directions will have to live with it. God knows how long!

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