I sit here in the middle of my daily traffic woes thinking how life could have been so much better had I lived in a hill station or a beach villa in Greece. The driver of the car behind me won't stop honking and the car ahead of me hasn't moved an inch. Having driven for many years in Delhi, I am amused when friends from Bangalore or Mumbai tell me how lucky I am to have such wide roads. Really? Are they being sarcastic, I often wonder, especially when I am stuck in a traffic jam every morning and evening as I drive Delhi-Gurgaon-Delhi for work.
Stuck in traffic for hours on end, I have not much to do but think about driving and drivers. I wonder why my fellow Dilli-Gurgaon commuters can't drive a little sanely. Not everyone is crazy, but enough are for me to have identified 11 specific categories of drivers and driving habits in Delhi-NCR.
1. The Parking Mafia
This special category of drivers will park their vehicle anywhere on the road. Many a times the vehicle occupies one third of the road width, but do they care? No. It is "our Dilli", it is "our road" they seem to say with the defiant position of their car. Be it the local market or a main road, these people can park anywhere, anytime. They block entire lanes, but they are the only ones who are not bothered.
2. Feelers & Touchers
Now, I love my vehicle, but so do some other drivers it seems. They love to cop a good bumper-to-bumper feel, keeping the cars so close together that even air would be hard-pressed to pass between. This type also likes to honk until you go deaf. There are also those on bikes and scooters who will squeeze almost superhumanly through the tiny gaps between two cars. As they drive off into the sunset, they only leave bruises and scratches on your car as their signature.
3. The Clueless
Those special characters that will stop at every few seconds to ask for a route to a particular place. They halt without warning in the middle of the road to holler at nearby autowallahs for directions, unaware of the nerve-wrecking pain they are causing to the vehicles behind them. Seriously guys, Google Map is an app and if you are not internet friendly, please stop in a side lane and do the needful.
4. Rebels Against The Road
These people will go to any length and put themselves and others in danger to avoid going all the way to take a U-turn. They don't even mind driving on the opposite direction of the traffic to meet their objective. Worse, they often speed up to such a point that people on the right side wonder if they are driving right or wrong. Guess what. You're not just on the wrong side of the road but also on the wrong side of every sane person (however few there may be).
5. No-Blinker Lane-Changer
These drivers have a form of selective blindness. They don't seem to be aware that there is such a thing as an indicator in their vehicle. They like overtaking and taking turns without sending the appropriate signal to other drivers. Often, not only does it cause a delay for the whole lane of cars (they are stuck in the middle now, blocking two lanes), it is worse when the vehicle stops in such a position. I understand how their mind works. Yes, the other lane always seems faster, and you are tempted to change your lane. But, please for the sake of others, use an indicator and wait to see if there is enough space to change lanes.
Some drivers take it personally when you overtake them, especially if the overtaker happens to be a woman. They will make sure they chase you and annoy you until you regret that you ever even thought of overtaking them. These people will glower at you for several traffic signals, block your car from moving and relish their revenge on you.
7. Staring Specialists
As a woman driver, I am quite used to find men staring at me from their vehicles. And my little research with fellow women drivers makes me understand that it is apparently a very common phenomenon. They will stare, lurk, smile and worse, throw flying kisses at you (that has happened twice with me)! Well, no marks for guessing why we hate such drivers. Their unwanted attention on us makes them lose their sense of time. What next? The cars behind start honking!
8. Zebra Riders
So yes, the signal just turned red and you need to slow down and stop before the zebra crossing. But for many people the signal seems to register on their brain a little later. They stop way ahead of the zebra crossing, waiting to start the ride again once the green jhandi is shown. Guess what? Not only do they block the way for pedestrians but also for cars coming from the other side on a crossing.
9. Blasts From The Past
Think you'll be zipping along happily on the fast lane of a highway? Not if you happen to have the misfortune of being on the road with a vintage vehicle. These 1960s models of cars with a maximum speed of 30km can be found in middle of the road (sometimes in the fast lanes), slowing down the world. They will drive in such a manner that the people at a normal speed of 50km/h will wonder if they will be pulled over for speeding. I understand the affection to your old pieces but, on a highway? Seriously?
The award for the worst offending drivers goes to those who are always in a massive hurry. They will flaunt every rule in the book - driving on the opposite side, honking madly, you name it -- to get to their destination. Because, guess what? The world will end if they reach five minutes late. This type is highly correlated with those who play tacky music at top volume or yack endlessly on their cell phones (hands free? What's that?), unaware that a world beyond them exists.
11. Road Trashers
A special award goes to those who voted for the current Prime Minister yet cheerfully use their daily commute as an opportunity to toss out garbage from their car windows. I am indebted to them for making me realise that Swachh Bharat Abhiyan won't happen unless we change our attitudes.
Just a thought: Which category/ies do you fall in?