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Really, does the road belong to your grandpa?

If our behaviour on the road is any indication, we have one of the worst cultures in the comity of nations.

We perform on our road a fabulous variety of functions we should be ashamed of. Besides walking and riding, we spit, squabble, scuffle, speechify, demonstrate and even conduct surgical feats! To put it in another way, we infinitely outrage the modesty of this infrastructural facility.

“Road indicates culture,” reads a road sign. If our behaviour on the road is any indication, we have one of the worst cultures in the comity of nations. Or, for that matter, will we be even categorised as cultured?

We perform, scarcely move, on the road. The other day, while walking along the main road of our township, Guntakal in Andhra Pradesh, I found an unusual legend on the numberplate of a motorbike that passed past me. “This road is the property of my grandfather,” it read. Of course, the way the road hog rode his bike amply vouchsafed for what the inscription proclaimed.

He zigzagged along, passing the row of reflectors planted at spatial intervals to demarcate the median.

Instant snarl

We have in our town a moderately wide road. Tanker trucks also ply on the road. One day, I was witness to an interesting snarl here caused by two trucks. They were about to cross each other. Suddenly, they came to a screeching halt. A gentleman, who was trailing one of the vehicles, hardly escaped a crash by dint of his robust reflexes.

The drivers of the trucks stopped the vehicles to exchange pleasantries on the middle of the road. That is our fantastic road sense! Good grief, a casualty was averted. However, as the exchange of pleasantries prolonged, other vehicles queued up behind the trucks, triggering an instant snarl. Shouts and counter-shouts rent the air. Finally, the late intervention of a traffic constable cleared the chaos and anarchy.

Another uncanny assault comes from the departmental people, who lay the pipeline and the cable. They dissect the road across, along or the way their whims dictate. After the completion of the work, they leave the worksite in a shabby way. And our unpredictable monsoon is there to mess up the site.

Another tribe

Yet another tribe of intruders comprises the building contractors.

They bring truckloads of construction materials and unload them on the road in an unruly manner, causing obstacles on the road for weeks and months on end.

We have to go a long way to foster a civilised road behaviour. It cannot be creation ex nihilo. We have to cultivate it within us.

( The writer's email id is: sadasivan.chc@gmail.com)

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Printable version | Jul 14, 2020 4:36:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/Really-does-the-road-belong-to-your-grandpa/article15129111.ece

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