TODAY -

Rules of the Road at Silicon Valley

Kamal Baruah *



"Oh you break my car; you’ve to pay the repair cost.” I said very sorry for my part and promised to repay. He left a visiting card and quickly drove away. He was courteous and behaved throughout like a perfect gentleman. No matter what the damage, a car crash can be upsetting and stressful. After a week, I reached Bellary Road to meet the HMT Engineer Mr Balamurgan...

Speed is exciting! After seeing those fearless bikers stunt riding, now I realise why my father had stopped it. Riding a motorcycle requires more coordination, agility, and alertness but one felt like riding a horse. The temptation to speed and dart through traffic is hard for some teenagers to resist. Almost 78% accidents take place due to reckless driving. The rapid urbanisation has changed our lifestyle.

The financial institutions have vigorously pushed aggressive marketing for vehicle loan. And I got my first Bike through Loan from AFGIS New Delhi. Driving in big cities is never an easy job. I just couldn’t forget DTO’s rude remarks “Better luck next time”. Ironically I had to appear three times in late 90s to qualify Driving License test from RTO Bangalore North.

I saw drivers using hand signals as well as indicators. Seat belts and helmet rule were mandatory then. Many states do not adhere well to regulate such strict practices and follow minimum proficiency resulting rise in road accident.

Motor Vehicle made our days real easy. Owning two wheelers on 80s was a dream for us. Bicycle was the only companion. Come rain or sun – we walked to school of 4 km treacherous stretch of the road. Sometimes sand trucks had great sympathy for us by giving a lift. Those were great moments of our school days. But my quest of going school by a cycle happened only in high school.

My father had Philips bicycle during his university days. And with that I pedalled along the canal towpath effortless and free. We kicked football after school and ride past during dust storm. I wasn’t allowed to ride a Scooter or drive on wheel. His strict order was to complete graduation. I was very displeased indeed. When 17 years can join as Flying Pilot at Air Force, I was insisting to my father.

The roads of Silicon Valley are known for drive on. It is home to the IT industry. Since the early 1990s, global technology firms began opening offices here and a large number of support industries have grown around it, bringing with them a huge influx of people from all over India.

Bangalore became the new El Dorado. MG Road is a one stop destination for shopping adventure, swarming with people for recreation all the time. It was the South Parade during the pre-independence era. The entire stretch of the road is no stoppage zone. But there are unscientific speed breakers that make drivers uncontrollable. Western countries do not have speed breakers to control speeds rather a STOP sign.

Young people tend to crave the culture of cities that offers vibrant and bustling lifestyles. My RX100 produced one of the best sounded bikes on those days. We used to loiter near the MG Road. The city grows with a transportation handicap with tangled plans for road systems.

Bangalore infrastructure has not kept pace with time. The roads are taken away by parking and encroachments. The only difficulty was to get a parking slot on this stretch. I had the experience of towing away of my bike as I parked one foot inside car parking. People follow lane discipline as police crackdown often. Slower driver just can’t hang out in the Right Lane and allow faster cars to use the lanes right of you.

Barricades are strictly monitored. Such things do not happen to most of the cities. “What’s sort of driving?” I was politely shouted for a wrong turning by a lady once. I realised A. G. Gardiner who says on the rule of the road that liberty is not a personal affair only, but a social contract.

To control the unprecedented growth of motor vehicles, the Motor Vehicle Act 1914 later known as "The motor Vehicle Act 1988" came into force from 1 July 1989, it was amended and revised several times. The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2016, came into force w.e.f. March 31, 2017.

The city has more subways to ease of flowing traffic. Honking is not allowed at night time. The Cubbon Park is horn free zone 24x7. “Honk if you wish to pay a hefty fine”. The City Police tweeted with Lord of the Rings “Unless you’re summoning your troops, no matter how loud you honk at the red signal, the traffic will simply not move”.

Majestic Bus Stand has led the example of organised infrastructure. After a Sunday movie at walking zone Brigade Road, I was hurriedly returning towards my Air Force HQ Training Command since dinner was about to close. The road condition was good and it thrilled me to go for a fast driving.

Traffic signals are made to ease traffic congestion. And suddenly there was Red Signal at Hebbal intersection. I saw the front car pressed the hydraulic brake suddenly. Braking system of bikes was not developed earlier for better stopping.

I used the smart rules to bike safety and pressed the mechanised leg brake as well as hand brake and tried to took left to avoid hitting obstacle but my bike skidded straight a couple of feet, and its leg guard hit the left tail light of the front car. I was shaken by the incident.

It sustained severe damage to the vehicle. The Traffic Police arrived and witnessed the incident. The gentleman came out from his car, observed the damages and politely said “Oh you break my car, you have to pay the repair cost.” I said very sorry for my part and promised to repay. He left a visiting card and quickly drove away. He was courteous and behaved throughout like a perfect gentleman.

No matter what the damage, a car crash can be upsetting and stressful. After a week, I reached Bellary Road to meet the HMT Engineer Mr Balamurgan. He showed me the vehicle repair invoice of Rupees four hundred and fifty and I obliged.

An occasion, I saw Wipro living legend’s life and times Mr Azim Premji walked going to his office at MG Road. Azim has always led by example in hard work and austerity. The people of southern city are known for simplicity and hard work.

Mr Narayana Murthy, the head of Infosys, who stands in queues and takes meals at Food Court with his employees, was grateful to Mr Azim who rejected him once for a job; else his founding of Infosys would have been delayed by few years. Such honesty is a rare find. I had the privilege of being there at my early Yamaha days. Life happens in a flash; but memories are forever.


* Kamal Baruah wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer is a resident of Guwahati and can be reached at kamal(DOT)baruah(AT)yahoo(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on February 16 2019.



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