ME POWAIKAR October 2018

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Road rage - a bane to society

Dear readers every month I generally feature some interesting person residing in Powai as My Powaikar of the month. But today I take a little deviation to bring to your notice a menace rampant in our society.

How often have we faced road rage related incidents in our daily lives? Stress levels, congestion on the pothole-ridden terrible roads, chaotic traffic conditions, etc has resulted in anger and anguish building up in the general public. Outbursts of their simmering anger could be the cause of major law and order problems as people take the law in their own hands. Everyone breaks the law, from a family with a minor misdemeanour like jumping a signal to rowdy underage boys whooping and yelling on their bikes stripped of their silencers to decent young men driving into a No Entry Lane and it goes on. Morning walkers are terrorised by those zipping in vehicles and soon a confrontation occurs. Crowds gather but as usual nobody intervenes because trying to discipline the violators will end up in some form of violence. 

Our streets have turned into lawless havens and it’s frightening to walk on these crowded roads and not feel this perpetual threat. The most trivial incident flares up into a major confrontation. It is irrelevant who the violator at fault is. 

Once upon a time cities like Mumbai used to follow some rules of the road. People rarely honked, stuck to their lanes etc but today one can’t recall times when we had a calm atmosphere with people waiting for the traffic signal to change or allowing pedestrians to cross while they patiently and chivalrously waited with a friendly smile on their lips.

We have all at some point or the other seen or been a victim ourselves to such incidents that occur on a daily basis. Sidewalks that are meant for people who walk are taken over by bikers who want to get to God-knows-where in such a rush that the few seconds they gain by riding roughshod over the pavement could save their lives. God help you if you are in their path. They are quite liable to abuse you and zip away. With traffic barrelling against the one way, you have to look both sides even on a One Way Street. Speed-loving youngsters do not care about anybody but themselves. They blatantly break rules and flaunt their family name if reprimanded and unfortunately the family shields them despite knowing they are in the wrong. But it’s time to do something about such incidents because often an innocent falls victim with irreparable damage done to him. One such case occurred on the 19th of Sept. Let me describe it for you.

Air Vice Marshal Hundiwala is a sprightly 80 year young gentleman not yet in the winter of his life. He was to fly to China on the 20th of Sept on a visit to study its history. He needed a few documents to be xeroxed so he walked out of Jalvayu Vihar to the stationery shop near Bhakti and was knocked down by a two-wheeler at full speed. Worse, the rider hit and run without caring to see the man’s condition who was eventually helped by a carpenter working in the building across. He was taken to Hiranandani hospital and then shifted to Fortis for surgery. AVM Hundiwala suffered multiple fractures on his right leg, stitches on the back of the head and a wound on his temple. News spread like a raging fire because this couple is well-known as the Good Samaritans of Powai. Mrs. Hundiwala has been mobilising ladies as well as personally cooking and feeding the scores of poor cancer patients who camp on the road outside Tata Memorial waiting to be cured. They’re the saviours who are always helping others and for this trauma to happen to them is unfair and callous to say the least.

Despite the injuries, AVM Hundiwala hasn’t lost his sense of humour and has converted the painful ordeal into a relaxed break. He says his broken bones will heal soon and we pray for his speedy recovery. It is hard to find a solution for road rage. Maybe it’s a breakdown in community values that is responsible for this putrid traffic scene.

Sometimes, I find a little humour on both sides helps. I read this little anecdote. A family was spotted enroute to Sunday mass in a car headed against the one-way around my little park. "You're going to church and still breaking the law!" I shouted, shaking my head. The man leaned out and replied: "Don't worry, I will ask for forgiveness." This is the typical ‘chalta hai’ Indian attitude.