Saturday, May 23, 2015

Pune Diaries - Traffic and Personal Leadership

In Pune recently I was surprised to see how much the culture had changed over the past twenty years. What was a peaceful law abiding town then has now turned into something vastly different. (I am basing my observations solely from the viewpoint that the traffic of the town mirrors its culture - here Hyderabad has cornered a unique place for itself!). According to my new observations, the moment a red signal comes on its almost as if someone has given a signal to go. Motorists, scooterists and all else rush through the red signal like a bull that has seen a red signal. Wrong side riding and other similar maladies were on show too.

Deep anguish.

I expressed my regret to all those in the car in my usual fashion. How can they do this? What's wrong etc? They listened patiently. What to do?

And then I saw an incident which I thought was the limit.

One side of the road was clogged with traffic. In such situations its normal to see some enterprising youngsters go on the wrong side in the empty road and catch up with the others in the front at the signal. Its their way of being smart. Now on my empty road I find two bikes stopped near the median - a lady and her scooter pointing in the right direction but only that she had one leg on the median and was talking with a young, well-built Sikh who was on his bike with a leg on the median too but on the wrong side. A love story in the middle of traffic, on the median? What the..?

And then as I passed them I realised what was happening. The lady (she must have been middle aged) was counselling the boy who was on the wrong side to go back, take  U turn, and join the right side. The boy was clearly resisting. She stopped her bike right in front and would not let him go any further. He did not know what to do.

I could see in my rear view mirror that she made him turn back and and join the traffic on the right side.

Now that is what I should be doing or what all of us should be doing if we have a problem with the world. Set it right. Not crib about it. It's a great story about personal leadership, about taking responsibility. If we cannot do anything about it, I think we should shut up and save ourselves and all around the trouble.

But if you really want to change something, take inspiration from the old lady.

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