Thursday, January 7, 2010

Polam rei...

It's the war cry that nearly every citizen of the fair city of Chennai who's ever had the misfortune of traveling in the city's buses is well aware of. Varying in pitch and intensity from a Nordic growl to a Singaporean pip-squeak, it is the cry that conductors spend hours practicing. And the finely tuned ears of Chennai's bus drivers have honed their aural skills to a fine pitch, waiting for this specific battle cry which signifies the moment to slam down hard on the accelerator with their rubber/leather thong sandals and start flexing their muscles to coax the stick shift into what is nearly always second gear.Yet, bus drivers in Chennai are just another class of poor drivers on the road.

What irks me though is how the poor bus drivers of Chennai seem to have their brethren elsewhere in the state of Tamilnadu as well. Especially on her highways. On my recent road-trip to Chennai and back, what I did notice, or rather what struck me as the poster child for poor driving were the state transport buses in Tamilnadu. The red or blue ones, with almost everyone of them registered in TN29 or TN30 plates. What makes them the worst highway drivers ever, you ask?

For starters, although the roads in the cities of India are death traps in the guise of pathways, where danger lurks in every corner and safe or good driving is an Utopian dream, the GQ highways are another matter. At least here the vehicles follow the lane system (actually, lane marking exist here). And the slower trucks move on the left. Except of course for our friends from Tamilnadu. They drive their buses at 60kms per hour on the right lane where everyone is traveling at 100kms per hour. And they have no compunction for doing so. Everbody else be damned, I will drive as I please. On the fast lane, at 60 kmph. Come the next town for a bus stop, and they swerve to the left lane; pick up passengers and promptly head back to the right lane. Why don't you guys have any common sense?

Of course the worst situation is when you have a truck on the left lane and a Tamilnadu state transport bus on the right. Both moving at the same speed, both hogging the entire road. Of course, the truck has nowhere to go. Pissed off that other vehicles can actually go faster than he can, the bus driver from Tamilnadu refuses to back down and switch to the left lane. So you're stuck waiting for a sliver of space to open up while one vehicle is a few meters behind the other and then you make your move. You do have one truck at 42 kmph trying to overtake another at 40 kmph, but at least they move out of the way when they're done. Not a pleasant experience when you have to slow from a 100 kmph speed to 40 kmph, but better than the kind of shite that you have to endure with TN bus drivers. What a load of bozos.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Old Man, Since when did the speed limit on Indian Highways get to 100 km/h. Drive slow and safe - it is good for your health :-P


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