A thousand times before today I had wished this happened. A million thoughts and million more regrets. Regret about not doing anything. Regret every time that I cursed the nerve-wracking and utterly frustrating urban traffic chaos I would find myself in. From Bangalore to Delhi to Mumbai and back in Bangalore. Regret for not helping the hapless driver who would be struggling to move his immobile auto/car out of the way. Regret for not assisting a traffic cop who single-handedly was handling both the noisy traffic and noisier curses. Regret at being selfish. Regret that I have always cursed but haven’t done anything. Not just regret, an ever increasing burden of guilt as well.
That burden lightened just a little today. As I was riding towards office on Margosa Road in Malleswaram, it was yet another logjam of motors. On a road barely 10 feet wide, we had vehicles driving from both sides. To top this, you had intersections that let in more from the east and west too. And, to top it all and the main cause of the logjam, there was this car parked on this razor-thin road. No cops, no traffic lights and no sanity.
My first instinct in these situations is to wriggle my bike out through the narrowest of spaces available and escape the bedlam. This time I fought my instinct. I parked my bike on the side of the road. Walked down to the culprit intersection. Everyone was honking away and no one could move an inch. Vehicles from my side had crossed over to the opposite, blocking the movement that side as well. There were cryptic mazes of helmets and chrome all around. I didn’t know what to do. The jam seemed to extend further than I initially thought. I walked back to my bike, letting my usual instincts take over. As I started my bike, I noticed now that though the traffic was moving, just because there was no order, every one wanted to get out first. Now, this seemed more like a job for a first-timer. I stopped my bike again. Got out. Approached this one car who was trying to move across and had stopped in the middle of the road because the vehicles ahead weren’t moving. Because of his car, all the other guys on the perpendicular road were stuck. I went up to him. I had not done this before. I put on a smile and I requested him to move his car back.
“Look at the vehicles behind. How can I move it back?”
I asked the autos behind him to move, which they, surprisingly, didn’t protest to. Other vehicles tried to squeeze into this gap. I flailed my arms around to stop them. One car ignored me. The other one stopped. Another biker passed through the gap again, swearing at me and the car driver. The driver, who had graciously made space for the rest of the vehicles, swore at the passing bikers in return.
“This is what you get for being good and helping people. They just curse you”, he said, looking at me.
I smiled. “But, see how smoothly the traffic is flowing now. Forget them.”
“Why don’t you go left and take the other road? The car in the middle of the road will only delay you further”
He heeded to the advice and drove off.
As I walked back, I kept looking back to see my little success at easing traffic flow. It wasn’t difficult (I hadn’t imagined it to be) neither was it smooth (I thought it would be). But, damn, it felt good!