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Old 27th September 2006, 23:22   #1
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So here I am back in India after 1 year and 5 months in Canada and everyday I realise how much more worse India has got in that time. Living thousands of kilometers away, we keep hearing dream stories about the future economic superpower and how it's changing and about the huge infrastructure projects going on to improve traffic on our roads. BS I say! It's almost been a month since I came back and I am terrified of driving on our death traps. I have close shaves everyday! So here I go with my rants.

1.The famed and much acclaimed MMRDA, MUIP, PWD, BMC, ABCD (and God knows what else!) projects are already outdated. How many of you guys agree with me on this? Yes, outdated even before they have finished. The Western Express and Eastern express highway's lane widening work is terribly outdated. How many lanes are they making? 6? 8? How long do you think 6 or 8 lanes are going to help? Has the government done any research on the booming car sales? It takes me a minimum of 75 minutes to go from Chembur to Goregaon- a distance of roughly 20 kms. And I don't see that timing improving anytime soon. The guys in charge need to think big. India is a huge country, we don't have scarcity of land. Make huge highways. Don't think 6 and 8 lanes, think 10,12 or 16 lane highways. The government needs to understand that they are not building roads for 2006 but for 2050. Ok, the government doesn't have money to build 12 lane highways. At least, ensure that there is provision for adding extra lanes in the future as and when the need arises. Instead, I am sure the government will give permission to a few malls and multiplexes to come up with enterences touching the main road. Needless to say, these malls will have parking for 100 cars and we will see 2 lanes of these "highways" blocked by taxi's, auto's and chauffer driven luxury cars. BAH!

2.The 50 odd flyovers are also outdated. No longer does traffic zoom on these flyovers. Problems are the same. Too many cars, too narrow roads and too many potholes. By the way, we pay a toll for these flyovers that end up with gaping holes right in the middle. Where was our overcharged media? The gaping hole in the Jogeshwari flyover tells us the story of corruption loud and clear. And this isn't the first flyover to have a hole or have a section of it slip underneath from it's joint.

3. Roads. India is the only country in the world where the courts have to order the authorities to cover up potholes. Need I say more? Lighting on our roads is a joke. I don't mind a dimly lit or non lit up road. Most German autobahn's are not lit but then there are no surprises on those roads. Either light up the damn roads or ensure that there are no surprises lurking either in the form of potholes, pedestrians or animals. I thrashed my car thrice into a gaping pothole, used as I was to the smooth Canadian highways.

4. Trucks. EEK! 95% of them have no tail or head lights! What the hell is happening! And 100% of them have tyres that are totally bald with no grip whatsoever and 200% of them are being driven by people who have no formal training in driving! I can imagine how anyone gets employed as a truck driver in India. A guy gets off the train at VT/CST walks into a transport office asking for work. "Truck chala lega?" asks the boss. "Jee saab" says the guy. Interview over, the guy is behind the wheel of a tanker or trailer. If the cops stop all trucks at entry points to the city and only ask the drivers for their licence, I am sure 90% of drivers would'nt be able to flick out one. How many of you read the story of Laxmi? This ELEPHANT was walking down the road at night and was hit by a truck! The driver accepted that he was drunk and didn't see the elephant! What chance does a biker have then? Once again the cops got it all wrong. They charged the driver. Thats it? That is the solution? Sure, the elephant has no business being on the road, but what sort of driver fails to spot a ELEPHANT?!?! Ok, it's hard to spot a black elephant on our dimly lit roads but did our brilliant cops try and find out if the truck had working headlights? I am pretty sure the answer would be in the negitive. Be scared guys. I am!

4. Close shaves: I am scared of curves. I have had 2 close shaves on curves. I have been lucky but I am sure I am pushing my luck. I wonder how much longer before the law of averages catches up? The first time, I was driving on the Anushakti nagar flyover in Chembur. Traffic was thin at 9pm since it was Ganpati visarjan. I am doing 65kmph on the curve on the flyover. As I finish negociating the curve I see a Yamaha bike parked bang in the middle of the rightmost/fast/overtaking lane with 2 guys sitting by the side working on the engine! Luckily there was no vehicle in the lane next to mine and I moved over. The second time, I was driving in Kharghar at about 8pm. I am doing 70kmph in the fast/overtaking lane when I approach a curve. I take that curve and as soon as my car turns through the curve, I see 2 GUYS walking towards me bang in the middle of the rightmost lane! Again there was no car in the lane next to mine and I could swerve into that lane and avoid them. As expected, the guys thought nothing of that close shave. In fact, they didn't even react of the sight of a car hurtling towards them! They continued walking as if it was the most normal thing in the world. I am pretty sure they must have had a talk about how badly people drive cars nowadays. They didn't realise how close they were to death and that is what I find amazing. A few things arise out of these close shaves.
a. You could argue that I was overspeeding. Frankly, I don't know if I was because there are NO SPEED LIMIT boards posted on that road. Is there a law that says speed limit is xx kmph in case there are no boards on the roads? I don't know. But I do know that in Toronto the default speed limit is 50kmph in the absence of any speed limit boards. Funny isn't it that I know the laws of a country that I lived in for 17 months but know nothing about my own country where I was born and lived in for almost 30 years! By the way, the speed limit boards on our roads are a bloody joke. They are so obscure with such small letters that you wouldn't spot whats written on them with a electron microscope! And we, as drivers, are expected to read them when we are driving! And that too on Indian roads!
b. As a driver, I was well within my rights to assume that roads are meant for cars and not for people to walk on like it's their bedroom. And definately, people have no business taking a leisurely evening walk in the fast lane! And they have no business walking in the fast lane even if traffic is thin or sparse on the roads.
c. Even if I was doing 50kmph - the most conservative speed on that road, I could have still killed those idiots. By any arguement, I, as a driver, cannot be held responsible for running over some idiots who decide to walk in the fast lane. BUT, this is India and I shudder to think, that if I had hit them, I would be hammered by a mob that would have appeared out of nowhere, my car would probably have been burned and the cops would have booked me for rash and negligent driving! ***!!

Last edited by amit : 27th September 2006 at 23:34.
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Old 28th September 2006, 02:14   #2
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By jove... you are pissed as neem paste on bitter gourd ain't you? Well actually you are justified in some of your observations about the road sense of people in this country. And yet you are skipping many other issues here. Yes the roads are nowhere near what you get in a 1st world country. Roads in many african and other asian countries are as bad or even worst. Yes the vehicular desity is high but then that is what happens when you suddenly start growing at break-neck speed as India is. It takes the official machinery its own sweet time to wake up to the challenges, anywhere... more so in a corruption prone country.

And yet, as you said you have lived here for 30 years. Are you seeing these things for the first time? The problem is you have still not atuned yourself to the realities here. You are still living or rather trying to live by the canadian standards.

Taking a sharp banking curve like the one near anushakti nagar on the narrow flyover at 70kmph is thoughtless. You always have to make pre-calculations. You have to remember that most indian roads and particularly those narrow ones that meet them are mostly without signals. And people do not think twice before driving in out of nowhere at high speeds. So you always need to be mentally prepared to take evasive action.

High speed or the overtaking lanes in this country belongs to the slowest of traffic (rumbling trucks, slowish bikes etc). Btw, I have never seen this fast lane, overtaking lane definition written anywhere in this country. Have you? Its only an extrapolation of our ideas from the facts in western world. I think so.

The fact my dear friend is that to be safe in this country you always have to be alert. When I drive my eyes keep periodically darting from the RVM to the ORVMs to the corners of the road ahead. I always expect a crazy nut to come spinning out like a out-of-control top from any corner. That is way of life here.
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Old 28th September 2006, 05:28   #3
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Its really the people who need to learn and change. Its a behavior problem
within the indian society. People do not wait for their turn, everybody
wants to get his stuff first. Just go to any store checkout or eatery,
you see every one sticking their hand into the transaction at the same
time. The idea of standing in line and waiting for one's turn does not seem
to get in their heads. This is the same behavior on the roads as I said in
my previous post. Its a "Me first and Me only" behavior.

What it seems at this point is the educational system needs to bring these
into the culture through schools, where kids are taught the proper
behavior, this will eventually filter into a more disciplined society.

Lets not compare with other 3rd world countries, thats what we should
be getting away from.




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Old 28th September 2006, 08:27   #4
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You are right ..M7. On a recent trip, it was really a scene out of a bus stand to see people jostling to get inside an Air Deccan flight!! If the windows weren't sealed, I am sure many a kerchief / hand bag would have been used to "reserve" seats
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Old 28th September 2006, 14:20   #5
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Quote:
And yet, as you said you have lived here for 30 years. Are you seeing these things for the first time? The problem is you have still not atuned yourself to the realities here. You are still living or rather trying to live by the canadian standards.
Canadian standards are nothing extraordinary or special. That's how things should be everywhere. Most problems are basic ones. But yes, I do agree that I am used to the more predictable canadian standards. Human nature is such that we get used to better things more easily. You could watch a 14" TV for 5 years but will complain about the small tv screen after watching a 51" plasma for just 3 days.

My complaint is that things have gotten really worse in the last 1.5 years. One would think that high traffic density, choc a bloc narrow roads, pathetic driving standards would have forced people to adopt better driving standards. Anyway, all it not lost. In all this crap, there is still some hope. The other day I was driving towards the highway from Vashi station at 9pm. There were two girls about to cross the road at the zebra crossing outside Center One mall. I came to a halt giving them the right of way. One of the girls looked at me, smiled, gave a thank you from her lips as they crossed over. That made my day.
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Old 28th September 2006, 20:41   #6
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Ha, you are right no dude. Whenever I visit bangalore I do all the driving.
Everytime I stop to give way for people to cross, most look astonished,
and some are very thankful. The reactions are very funny. I will try to
video tape this next time.
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Old 28th September 2006, 21:32   #7
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Dunno about you mate, but I've been out of the country for about 10 years now, driven around in at least a dozen countries - but I still make it a point to drive myself around, right from the airport when I land. When a lot of people share the same amount of badly maintained roadspace these things are bound to happen, but it isnt like we've never seen any of this before.

Your observations are correct and we as a people generally lack discipline. There is a historical and cultural background to this individualism but I wont go into it - suffice it to say that its this very individualism that makes us better at certain things like logic (and by extrapolation, software). We will never be good at unquestioningly obeying edicts and rules like the west, because that is not the way our heritage has taught us to think. There must be a way to channel this in a better way though, but that way is most certainly not by following the west. We must look at better ways of doing whatever we do well, rather than adopting the ways that suits other people with different inclinations.

Let us remember however that most of the other members go through this every day....and still come here to discuss the joys of driving. So there must be some fun out there in the midst of all that chaos - which side of the coin we look at is our choice, though.

Last edited by Steeroid : 28th September 2006 at 21:48.
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Old 28th September 2006, 22:18   #8
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I think whatever difference we find in day to day living anywhere is based on "With Respect To" syndrome........we have tendency to merge ourselves to the surroundings wherever we live..........if we cant do this for any reason then bound to get problems......those we spend few days or years abroad must find roads & infrastructure so advanced compared to ourselves......they immerse themselves happily till they stay there.............& when people return to mother land they get victim of above syndrome......

More we stay here merging ourselves here with society more we forget that syndrome & then we dont have any reason to complain at all like those we never visited abroad......

So in my view amit is very much right in his observation till he finds himself so much tuned to our roads............there after joy & happiness errupts in whatever condition we live............

Enjoy.............
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Old 29th September 2006, 09:45   #9
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I started this thread mainly due to three specific instances but I guess I did'nt put down my thoughts down as well. So here goes:

1.
Quote:
How many of you read the story of Laxmi? This ELEPHANT was walking down the road at night and was hit by a truck!
The driver accepted that he was drunk and didn't see the elephant on the road. We all know it's illegal for a elephant to be on the roads but lets focus on the driving standards. Like I said I am confident the truck didn't have working headlights like 95% of trucks in India. If a truck driver couldn't spot a elephant on the roads, what chance does a cyclist, biker or pedestrian have? In typical Indian chalta hai attitude no one seems to have raised this question. Neither the media, nor the cops. There was no discussion about this scary aspect on our forum too.

2.
Quote:
As I finish negociating the curve I see a Yamaha bike parked bang in the middle of the rightmost/fast/overtaking lane with 2 guys sitting by the side working on the engine
This wasn't a car or a truck that couldn't be pushed over to the side. So ignorant are most road users here that it didn't strike them they were hidden by the curve and were sitting ducks for an accident. Problem is I would be hammered by a mob and arrested for negligent driving if I had hit them.

3. This was the worst and most scary expereince I had.

Quote:
I take that curve and as soon as my car turns through the curve, I see 2 GUYS walking towards me bang in the middle of the rightmost lane!
No words can describe the scare this incident gave me and though it needs a few words to explain that I moved over the the next lane to avoid these idiots, the actual expereince wasn't as smooth as it sounds. But whats worse is the reaction or the lack of it that these guys showed. What would most of us do if we saw one ton of metal hurtling down towards us on the road? We would all jump and try to get out of the way as fast as possible. These guys didn't show any reaction at all like what they were doing was the most normal thing on this planet. These guys didn't realise how close they were to death or worse, life long disability that day and that scares me because based on their reaction that day I am sure that they are going to repeat this same act again sometime and maybe they will not be as lucky as they were earlier. And like I said, I would be hammered by a mob, my car burnt and me booked for rash and negligent driving though the fault was ENTIRELY of these idiots.

To keep the title of this thread alive, here is another not so close shave I had yesterday. I am driving down palm beach road at 9.15pm when I see a Indica standing in the rightmost lane with neither the parking nor the breakdown lights working. I move over to the middle lane but as I cross the vehicle, I see the driver sitting near the front left wheel changing the flat tyre! The guy was sitting exposed to fast zooming traffic at nighttime wearing a dark coloured shirt with none of the lights of his vehicle left working or blinking. Like I said, close shaves everyday!

Last edited by amit : 29th September 2006 at 09:49.
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Old 29th September 2006, 11:29   #10
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Amit,

Nice thread. Let me take a philosophical approach so that your bad cholesterol does not shoot too high.

I learnt driving in the hands of AAA in NY way back in 1974 when I was all of 18 then. As such my driving frame of mind is all organized and rule following since that is how I got my licence there.

But I live in Mumbai and spend 4 days in Pune and travel to US often and drive there too.

Flash back a little now.


A shortwhile ago, I hired a car in NY JFK and drove to Boston. A 3 hour drive, Yahoo maps printout in hand. Van Wyck Expwy was as choc a bloc as any busy road can be. The work there never seems to end. Anyway, a Veg burger and Coffee at a Mac later, I am in Boston sitting in front of my client.

4 days later I am back in Mumbai and making my Monday morning commute to Pune. The roads are as bad. Fortunately it is early in the morning and I breeze through. A Wada Pav and Masala Tea later, I am sitting in my office in Pune.

Same difference only no? As we say in this part of the world.

I could get all worked up and fret and fume about the differences / similarities.

But I take a different approach. Can you compare apples and oranges? As a wise man once said, ' do not teach a pig to sing. You will get tired and it annoys the pig.'

God....please give me the strength to change the things I can and the composure to accept the things that I cannot.

Neem paste on bitter gourd......worth remmembering and repeating often.

Chill man....as the current phrase in vogue is.

Venkat
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Old 1st October 2006, 16:42   #11
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Having lived for 2 years in the US, I understand the many frustrations of encountering traffic in india. I came back in 2002 and for 2 years didn't even try to drive more than once a week, the traffic, the pollution all irritated me to no end.

In India, flyovers are built by those connected to the bureaucrats. Don't ask me how, but somehow they are. In malaysia, the govt devised the system that they divided different parts of the new highway construction and gave it to companies from japan, korea, malaysia... National pride came into the picture and companies raced to finish their parts of project. Work went on 24 hours a day, in 3 shifts. What is the case in India? The anand rao circle flyover took god knows what, 3 years? That too for a lousy length. The company that built it worked 8 hours a day and was more interested in shoring up its share price than doing a fast efficient job. This same company is constructing a few hotel projects in the mid-east and it racing against the clock there...

One has so many close shaves in India that you tend to redefine what a close shave is when compared to one in the US.

[COLOR=#0000ff]Driving lessons from Malaysia[/COLOR]

[COLOR=#0000ff]Highways and lows[/COLOR]
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Old 1st October 2006, 16:56   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bugatti
In malaysia, the govt devised the system that they divided different parts of the new highway construction and gave it to companies from japan, korea, malaysia... National pride came into the picture and companies raced to finish their parts of project. Work went on 24 hours a day, in 3 shifts.
Nope. In Malaysia the road system was broken up into different parts and given to different cronies of Mahathir, mostly 'favoured' Malay companies. However, its a different matter that they still worked to a plan and were able to achieve completion not too far off the target.

Many of these Malaysian countries are now in India working on the Golden Quadrilateral and North South Corridor projects. The same companies are unable to work their magic here, which is probably because of 3 factors:

1. Escalation clauses in contracts instead of penalty clauses elsewhere, incentivising delays rather than timely completions.

2. Lack of committed budgetery support.

3. Lack of co-ordination between federal, local and grassroot level governments.
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Old 1st October 2006, 17:20   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steeroid
Let us remember however that most of the other members go through this every day....and still come here to discuss the joys of driving. So there must be some fun out there in the midst of all that chaos - which side of the coin we look at is our choice, though.
Would say - I go through all that pain just to do something that I love. All the way, hoping things be better.
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Old 1st October 2006, 17:43   #14
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would it be right to say that since you came back after 1 yr and 5 months, You lost the Indian Driving Practice...? Just kididng..!
Resource are being utlized in various development projects, however the sad show is only those regions are being developed where the Congress led alliance is in power, no development projects in UP, Gujrat,Rajasthan,Kerela,Goa...Only ones limited to Maharastra,Karnataka,Andhra,Haryana...this disparity was not their in the NDA rule, We had the Golden Triangle Highways project which included several states and zones,The Konkan Railway project, The Delhi Metro project..All which were approved by the Central Govt and developed.
The problem basically lies in ourselves, We don't question our elected representatives, We don't lobby for a cause, We do not come together and find a solution instead we approach the Power Leaders and try to influence our way, Why don't we all complain on CVC Site for any Govt Officer asking for bribe, Why are we afraid to call the cops against Political leaders- I read a post on how a member was assualted by Narayan Ranes Son on Pune Expressway..It is us that need to develop and bring the change which has been transforming the youth today from Sleepers to Awakened citizens.
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Old 12th June 2007, 20:36   #15
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amit, kudos to you for your reaction to the current mess in India. The problem is people don't have the very basics of common sense.

Steeroid said: "We will never be good at unquestioningly obeying edicts and rules like the west,"

I would disagree. After all how many hundreds of years did was India obeying foreign edicts and rules?

Finally, I don't think it's a good idea to compare India to African basket cases. You compare yourself to what you want to be like. So one should compare India to the West and Japan so as to have a target.

After all, it is said that only 30 years ago, there were still oxcarts in downtown Seoul, Korea.
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