I rave and rant so much about life in Delhi that I thought let me chronicle some of my pet peeves about Delhi and Delhi-ites and see if any of what I have to say resonates with my readers. I don't pull my punches and in these jottings I certainly won't. Successive posts will be like episodes on aspects of life in Delhi. The Two-Wheeled Monstrosities
Reading the newspapers this morning I discovered that a two-wheeler manufacturing company's net earnings for the quarter had gone up by 95 per cent over the pervious year. I read the news item and felt both deflated and anxious. Sales of two-wheelers mounting rapidly can only be bad news for a city like Delhi.
The city roads are infested with motor cycles and scooters that nonchalantly weave through peak-time traffic, break every rule in the book, get involved in accidents (which more often than not are fatal) and a two-wheeler manufacturer doing good business basically means that many more of these two-wheeled monstrosities would join the road, weaving through traffic even more nonchalantly and all the rest Make no mistake about it.
Two-wheelers are not the only offenders. Everyone on wheels or legs breaks traffic rules and abandon commonsense. Whether it's someone driving a Mitsubishi Pajero or riding the humble bicycle Why then pick on two-wheelers, supposedly a vehicle for the lower middle-class? Why? Because it is the unsafest mode of transport on the bustling streets of Delhi.
Besides, I really do find it depressing that two-wheeler riders in Delhi think nothing of precariously perching their entire family on the vehicle and venturing out into the maddening Delhi traffic. I get panic attacks looking at ladies in sarees perched on the pillion seat with both legs one side, holding a child in her arms. My instinct is to look away but before I do, I also notice that there's another boy sitting on the rider's lap. Two-seaters carrying entire families on the fast-moving Delhi-Gurgaon expressway?it can't get more depressing than that.
They are not allowed on the expressway. There are signs asking them to keep off. There are often uniformed workers waving at them to get off the expressway. But, oblivious of all that, the two-wheeler riders speed on the expressway with a whole brood for company on a two-seater
Two-wheelers have been allowed to become family vehicles because of sheer apathy on the part of law enforcers. More than two should be a strict no, no. Helmets should be a must. Sarees should be prohibited. People should be advised to sit astride a two-wheeler. All that should happen. But it doesn't.
What does happen on the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway, for instance, is that the two-wheeled monstrosities zip about and every other day there's a fatality I hear of. I have even stopped trying to find who died in the accident. It's invariably a two-wheeled rider or a pedestrian trying to cross the road. Talking of pedestrians, a couple of footbridges have been built on the expressway. I was stunned the other day to see motorcycles on footbridge. My driver told me that the footbridges have ramps and two-wheelers are allowed to cross the road using them. It's shocking, isn't it?
Pedestrians die by hundreds and finally the administration builds a footbridge or two, whereas they need to build maybe 20 on the 27 kilometre stretch. And he two-wheeled monstrosities are allowed on those footbridges. Is anyone who takes these decisions even thinking straight? I find two-wheelers flouting every rule in the book every single day with impunity. Which is not to say that car drivers don't. Only that the misdemeanours of the motorcyclists far exceed anything the motorists unleash on city roads.
The other day on the expressway I saw this Sikh dude on a heavy duty Yamaha motorcycle (may have been a 1500 CC bike) zipping on the highway leaving everyone in his trail and looking over his shoulder to have a look at the chaotic traffic he was leaving behind. I mean he was doing this on an autobahn in Germany you may just forgive him, but here in Delhi? At 8.30 p.m.? I wish there was a court order restraining these dudes and dudettes
At this point an aside. Believe it or not, a few weeks ago in the Safdarjung Enclave market near Deer Park this black Mitsubishi Lancer screeched to a halt and this dude made a spectacle of getting out of the car, walked with a swagger to the paanwaalah and a few minutes later with several pairs of eyes following his every move, he contemptuously flicked ash in the direction of the rest of the world, entered his car and roared off. Guess what was written on the rear windscreen of the car? Fuck the law. I don’t often feel sudden rage but that day I did!
Any way, to return to two-wheeled monstrosities, Harley Davidson, the iconic American brand, is meant to be introducing their motorcycles in India and I am sure there are enough people with money who will buy those machines at whatever price they are available. But driving those machines on the miserable roads of Delhi? Is that any fun? I haven't ridden those bikes. Not do I have any intention to, but I am quite sure that the prospect of sitting astride a Harley Davidson and avoiding a whole assortment of barriers?inanimate and otherwise?on pot-holed roads would be completely off-putting.
Let me think of what to rant about next. There’s so much to rant about…