Roadside musings…

Chennai, like Bangalore, seems to have become a city on boil….thats what you would feel if you are caught in the traffic….everyone seems to be on the road, all the time….there was a time when the city would draw its curtains at 8 or 9 pm. Not any more. The markets are all open late, and they are crowded all the time. If your flight lands at 11 pm or later, and if you expect to find Anna Salai free of traffic, you have another guess coming….Daytime driving, needless to say, is a ‘daymare’…Motorbikers zoom around, weaving their way in what would otherwise pass as dance-and-twist movements…’Right of nose’ seems to be the driving principle (if you can get your car’s nose into the gap, then you have right of way….)…(Earlier, they used to say that ‘you dont drive on the left of the road’…rather, ‘you drive on what is left of the road’…but now, there is not much that is left)…Yellow-plate tourist-cabs are the power users of the roadways, and bring in a new level of competition and rugby-skills…

Pity the pedestrians…Most roads have expanded to eat into the pavements….and to cross a road is not a pleasant experience….The elderly folks, needless to say, have it really tough.

That said, timeless Chennai shrugs its shoulders and carries on….there is this old lady, for eg, who sits on one end of KR Road that leads to Chola Sheraton….She sits on the pavement, in the same place, everyday, and just gazes at the traffic going by….She looks quite like what one would expect Avvayyar, the old lady of Tamil wisdom, to look like….Perhaps she is thinking of the Aathichoodi maxim ‘Aaruvadu shinam’ (anger will subside)….and wondering whether traffic will…


3 Responses to “Roadside musings…”

  1. Krish Ashok Says:

    Creative approaches to traffic management can be found aplenty elsewhere in the globe, but all of them take a certain amount of political guts (or a military dictatorship) to implement.

    For instance, Sao Paolo and Mexico City have experimented with a system where vehicles with number plates ending in odd numbers were allowed on the road only on Mon, Wed and Fri, while even-numbered vehicles are allowed on Tue, Thurs and Sat. The idea is to force people to car-pool on days that they are not allowed to drive their cars.

    London plans to implement something different. Every car will have an electronic prepaid toll card from which automatic sensors on congested roads extract some sort of a “congestion tax” when the driver uses a particularly busy road. The rates vary during the day based on the traffic patterns. Empty roads attract no taxes.

    Another idea, perhaps currently impractical, is to view this problem from a urban planning perspective. Perhaps we could reduce traffic congestion by grouping residential blocks around small commercial hubs instead of the american model of a central downtown and outlying suburbs. The idea should be to increase the number of citizens who can walk to work as opposed to drive to work.

    The US DOT estimates that it loses $68 Billion every year due to traffic jams. Im not sure if our cities have a clue about traffic metrics

  2. gkamesh Says:


    I wonder about the 1 lakh car, and whether it is such a good thing after all. Can you imagine what that will do to all towns and cities?

    Leave aside the traffic increase. What about the pollution?

    Time to have a completely new technology….or at least more hybrids….

    Something has to give.

  3. M A Prasad Says:

    I think there is a healthy competition between Chennai and Bangalore. Chennai (or their citizens) does not want Bangalore to have unique issues and probably they can very well learn how to live with problems and still be happy that you are living in a world class(?!) city

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