Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Traffic Jam


A Vibrant Sun Set at Shimla


It was a trip to Shimla after nearly an year. And for the first time in car – not driven by a driver. 2 days of 2006 and half a day of 2007 passed like a breeze – a rather cold breeze, I should say, considering the freezing temperatures there. On the return journey yesterday, I took turn behind the wheels. But we caught the peak traffic time when we reached Parwanoo. Kilometers long vehicle queues – frequently brightening red lights in front, bright yellow colors, angrily looking at you from the rear view mirror – tempers rising somewhere, horns blowing elsewhere and people breaking queues to form more parallel queues.
I have been stuck in traffic jams a couple of times – but that was always within city – where you could always take a detour, if possible or the car was the one which you have been driving for years, hence like one of your body part. But this time, the body part was a bit alien - I had never driven a santro before, and I had never driven a car on a hilly terrain before. So it was a bit hesitant me behind the wheels. A car in front made a brave move. There was no on coming traffic. He broke the 2 lined vehicle queue and went ahead to form one of his own – with zero space if something wanted to come from the opposite side. Then another went behind him. The temptation was hard to resist. So our car also made a dash for it. What happened next was what had to happen. A truck was majestically making its way from the opposite side. The 2 leaders in front of us were listening to the abuses of the truck driver. The next step was to try and reverse. But one glance back and it was almost a simultaneous “aaah..” from everyone in the car., followed by “lo ji.. phasss gaye”. The line behind us was endless. Then started the process of merging the extra line back into the mainstream. Some ego clashes, horn blowing, arms waving and forcefully cutting into other cars later, we merged, moving, at one point, only millimeters away from the stranded oncoming truck. The painful process of moving at speed of inches/minute continued for eternity after that. There were a few opportunities to repeat the foray we had undertaken earlier but only one or two were taken – playing it safe the other times. The normal few minutes journey from parwanoo to kalka took years. And everyone wondered how much time it would have taken had we not attempted the first venture.
As we steered clear of the jam after kalka, we saw a truck coming from opposite side bang into a car moving in the same direction. In a matter of seconds, another mini jam had been formed behind the two. How much more complicated things became as a result of that – we will, fortunately, never know.

6 comments:

Amrut said...

Kaake... When i read this, I remembered a similar traffic jam in Ooty... It was a single road, traffic jammed with Big busses stuck there, it is a muddy road, with a "khai" on one side. The jam was around 1-2 kms long....
You will not believe it dude, but it was cleared off in just one hour.. All thanks to the local skilled drivers whi managed the show so very well... It would have been done faster, but there were some "Ka 01" cars which really caused loads of problems with the style of driving you have just explained... To make things, we do work arounds which finally end up making the whole process more clumsy!!!

Fleiger said...

Are, we in Pune are habituated by now to such traffic jams in Katraj ghat area. Hilly terrain, two lane roads, and perpetually long traffic jams...
Makes life fun, right?

SiD said...

@amrut: yes.. that indeed makes things more tough to handle... and i realized that when I saw the truck coming :)
and i remember the incident u hv written.. u once told how terrible it was..

@fleiger: ya... lots of fun!!!;)
if a person is driving alone... he wud be half mad after all this!!

Cuckoo said...

Know what? Yesterday there was a huge traffic jam and I was wondering why these educated people behave in this manner? Why can't they have some discipline etc etc.
Traffic jams in city is totally manmade whereas on hilly terrain sometimes we are unfortunate. Have experienced some good ones on way to Simla, Manali and Tirupati. :)
As Amrut said, locals help many times.
Good. Now you know what to expect during such journeys ;)

Neha said...

Wow so u celebrated New year in my home town... Niceee
Though u cant escape traffic jams on such occasions, but who would want a simple smooth new year that you cant even write about.
Happy New year anyways.

SiD said...

@cuckoo: yes, i guess if everyone (including me) just be patient for some time and avoid unnecessary attempts to break lines, these jams would never complicate and guess wont take much time clearing.. but human nature - everyone wants to get there first!!!

@neha: ya.. new year in ur hometown and along with ur collg friends - vishesh, alok, mohit, chachu..
and nice comment - who would want a simple smooth new year that you cant even write about.
Happy New Year To you too...