Tuesday, October 05, 2004

We evolve!

We’re all used to hearing that Delhi has a high traffic fatality count. But the more I think about it, the more astonished I feel that the number of serious road accidents here isn’t actually much higher than it is. Each day, without exception, one sees countless instances of little road crimes that can add up to so much: cyclists leaping out in places they have no business to be in; drivers scraping others’ cars in desperate attempts to take advantage of even the smallest gap; people stopping their vehicles in the middle of a crowded road and getting out to do battle with someone/something that has angered them; buses swerving suddenly and dangerously to the right, completely unmindful of their own size and the laws of physics and geometry; all cars sticking dedicatedly to the right side of the road so that the left lane becomes, by default, the fast lane; the horn-blowing that deserves a long, impassioned blog all its own; and much more that I can’t think of now because I’m still gathering my senses, having gotten off the road only 10 minutes ago.

As I experienced firsthand a couple of weeks ago, you don’t have to be driving badly to be involved in an accident here. All it takes is a momentary lapse, and sometimes not even that. Which is why it surprises me that we don’t hear of/see many more accidents than we do. It’s probably the case that, like entire species rising to meet nature’s challenges, Delhi’s roadsters have developed a subconscious code all their own, one that enables them to factor in the improvised traffic "laws" unique to this city. It’s called evolution. The unknown water-creature that first successfully clambered onto land millions of years ago would have been proud of us for keeping up the tradition.

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