Most of us walk on Mumbai roads carrying a death wish!
This piece was prompted by the accident that happened last week on the Jogeshwari Vikhroli Link Road (JVLR), where an Indica mowed down six women, killing two. A death is a death. Such accidents should never happen and my sympathies rest with the families of the deceased.
And yet…read this report from one our dailies, which may or may not be true, but does describe similar situations that often occur with all of us. According to the Aarey Milk Colony police, the women were in a hurry to cross the road in front of a BEST stop just as a bus was leaving the stop. “While crossing, they did not see the Indica car approaching from the other side. Their view was blocked by the bus. The car was speeding and the driver lost control and crashed into the women. Four were thrown to the left side of the car, while two flew to the other side,” said a police officer.
Why does this happen? You are cruising along comfortably when you have to suddenly slam the brakes hard to avoid hitting a person who has materialized without warning in front of your car. The reason you didn’t see her is because she came right out from the front of a bus or a large vehicle parked on the road and you don’t have Supermanic X-ray vision to see through that large vehicle to help you anticipate the situation.
Why do people cross the road without looking? Isn’t there some survival instinct that is supposed to kick in when a person is in front of a large vehicle to his right and hence can’t see the oncoming traffic, that would make him stop, look to the right and cross only when the road is clear?
I am not even going to bother discussing the issue of crossing major roads only at zebra crossings, etc. That is never going to happen at least in my lifetime and is not the issue here. What surprises me is the immense faith we have in the ability of car, bus and truck drivers to avoid hitting us.
Let’s look at the other idiotic things we pedestrians do.
Like, when the pavement is not available for walking and we need to walk on the shoulder of the road (which is pretty much all the time in Mumbai). Why do we walk along side the traffic? Doesn’t our survival instinct tell us that there is no way we can control what is happening behind us? How can we assume that the vehicle from behind won’t ever brush or bump us? The only way to walk / run safely is to face the traffic, so that we know exactly what is happening in front of us and take evasive action if required. Why don’t we do this all the time?
Or like the oblivious idiot who walks unconcerned along the perimeter of Maheshwari Udyan (King’s Circle)? Why should a driver who is driving along the inner side of the road be blamed if he bangs into this obliviot on a curve? What “divya shakti” would let him know in advance that an obliviot has suddenly decided to be where he shouldn’t be?
Or like the idiot who jumps over waist-high dividers straight into the oncoming traffic, like the girl who was killed last year outside a five-star hotel in South Mumbai, for no fault of the driver?
Hum log jaan hatheli par leke kyon ghoomte hain?