Walking…with our Lives in the Palms of our Hands

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? 


  • Sriganesh wrote:

    Bhavin it is Jogeshwari not Juhu. You need to visit suburbs beyond the airports.

  • Sriganesh wrote:

    I always say that we in India drive on the assumption that some other person will make a mistake whilst in most of the foreign countries they drive ensuring they will not make a mistake.

    Here is a typical case of someone other than the driver committing an error.

  • what to do we are like this only…. it’s India man this happens in Amrika also! chill…. yes our roads are encroached upon by cars and buses parked on both sides but then where they will go only, you tell no? They also paid road tax and whose father has the ball bearing to move them out of way…. as for road crossing if ppl wait for traffic God only knows how many years they will need to wait…. zebra crossings are for foren return idiots and posh/effeminate type south mumbaikars not for mard log or real people… sad the women died but then what was the indica doing driving so fast on a city road that too on a congested one? isn’t there a speed limit of 40kmph or some such….

    basically all I’m saying is… we all are responsible for what we get…. just like we deserve the government that is in power

  • H.L. Chulani wrote:

    Collective stupidity!

  • Bhavin, I can see that you are a very good sport and a cool one at that.
    Coming from one of the four great schools (one of the biggest opposition to Don Bosco in Hockey, Football and Athletics) of that period and a very good sportsman myself (may not be so cool)kindly bear with me. I wish to offer an apology for flying off the handle last week.
    Trust me at 66,(fit as a fiddle) am trying my best to (there are others too) get some sanity on our roads, discipline and try to ensure some civic sense. We do not throw our weight around. We request people to tow the line and if we succeed in at least one out of ten cases. It makes our day. Have silently made a good break through in saving water and messing of the roads/localities. Will not blow my own trumpet any more, as I am sure there are thousands of others who do much more and that is the reason we are better off… I was a bit taken aback when you glorified?the happenings in Ahmdavad. It is not Gujarat or any other State. It is happening all over India, we are Indians and surely it affects us. Have an axe to grind. Here in our lovely land we have so many people who like/live to create trouble for one another. They just assume certain things about another. If a person is of a different (I do not have to spell it out).
    Since I started out in Business (more than 25 years)have had staff from all Religions. Majority were Hindus. They were personally trained my me, without any bias.
    Till recently when my son had three Maharashtrian partners. They would have all the rituals for Dassera, Diwali etc.in our office, along with their Families.We too would partake in the formalities, tikka and all.
    I know of many others who practice this way.
    While on Gujarat. Surely very few Gujjus would have traveled the length and breath of the state. Yours truly, while in the service of the best Engineering firm, (prior to starting own business)was looking after the service department and posted at Baroda.Have toured the whole of the country.
    Gujrat has taught me two wonderful things.
    1. The first to offer ones guest is water. We would straight away begin with tea, coffee etc.
    2.To eat my veggies. Not that I did not eat veg. at all, but I would prefer only certain types. My Dearest Mummy was so happy to see the difference.
    Most of our business associates are Gujjus/Jains. Have learnt a lot, especially finance. You see a give and take situation. A win win…This is how it should be.

    What you have written this week is part of this malaise. No discipline, civic sense. Have time and again requested parents to walk on the pavement(wherever one is available)with their little ones, or at the least keep the child on the inner side, as some drivers may not see these toddlers and knock them down.

    Once again. Kindly accept my apology. Thanks.


  • Well said, most people jay walk on the road and think its the responsibility of the motorist to ensure that they do not die. People walk with their back to the traffic listening to music, ear phones shutting out the world. Also people make their small children walk on the traffic side while they themselves are towards the edge. They cross at intersections and junctions and appear where a motorist will least expect. A whole group will be chatting and walking in a horizontal line the person at the end will be nearly in the middle of the road. How can people have no instinct whatsoever? And despite knowing how pedestrians behave, the size of our pot holes, the number of free running stray dogs and darting street urchins, the motorists drive at breakneck speed as if they are on some Los angles freeway. They too lack any anticipation. Its really a sad state.

  • govt shld come out immi wt films on how to walk n drive,this country is full of people who have a death wish and blame the drivers only.

  • Jayaram, M wrote:

    Dear Bhavin,

    You would have been better off had you stopped after the first sentence – brickbats, I mean…

    My viewpoint – by both pedestrians and drivers: No education, discipline, awareness, control(self) and respect: for rules and laws either written / or not, encroachment, bad planning & layout –

    All this combines to the worst statistic for traffic related fatalities – just wonder what would happen if the roads were in better condition ??

    Have a better day –


  • basically, we are a selfish, unconcerned lot, bordering on the uncivilised!In all walks of civil life, it is “me first, the rest be damned”. As for road safety or following rules, it is not just Mumbai, it is the same all over India. Indian roads are a death trap and more so for the drivers. Pedestrians, more often than not, bring it upon themselves.

  • Unwanted hurry,meaningless avoidance of traffic rules and sense and contributory negligence are the causes of such incidents
    In suburbs people, specially ladies gather and chat in the middle of the road. How to change this anti-civil habits is the big question. We do not learn from experience of others or of our own. God save my countrymen!

  • Jayesh Desai wrote:

    Thought provoking article, has provoked many, judging by response!
    My take- let’s cut the crap, stop whining and start acting-1. Do defensive driving, ball on road Will be followed by kid, people will jump out from behind the parked large vehicles, two wheelars will materialize form all directions except from above!
    2. While walking follow all directions given by Bhavin, and insist yourself friend and family mambers do the same.
    BECAUSE AT THE END someone gets killed.

  • Armaity Surendra Patel wrote:

    Hi Bhavin,
    Your articles do try to bring about awareness in various fields. This one is for both the drivers andthe pedestrians.
    I agree with all the above readers’ comments.
    My dear Parents used to say ‘INDIA WILL NOT IMPROVE EVEN IN HUNDRED YEARS” and I and my sibling would defer and defend our Country!
    They would just laugh it off at our anger and patroitism!! After 64 years of Independence their statement is still valid!
    All the best Bhavin, keep churning educative topics!

  • I think fault is 50-50.99%cars don’t follow rules and 99%pedestrians don’t either. BEST drivers also tend to scare pedestrians by revving engines rather than honking. And does it not seem strange that the indica guy hit SIX people. How does one not see six people? This guy was obviously speeding way too much. Agreed the six popped out of nowhere, but still…

  • Also bus was leaving the stop which the car driver realized and so speeded up. Unfortunately the six crossing did the same.
    Moral of story Haste is waste.

  • Prakash Nanavati wrote:

    The pedestrians must remove from their minds the logic of walking on left side of road (as if driving a vehicle). Unless one wants to get into a bus or taxi, one must walk on right side for safety. Another observation – elders walk on left side of road with a child holding his/her right hand thereby exposing the child to danger of a vehicle coming from behind. This is natural since most are right handed. One should always protect the child away from traffic. Walking on right side of road permits elder to hold the child by right hand as well as protect the child away from traffic coming in front.

  • Rakesh Gupta wrote:

    Road safety and etiquette is missing in pedestrians as well as drivers. We have a long way to go in this. Sadly there are many more pressing issues facing us and few lives lost may still not awaken the people who govern us.

    They have done what their limited senses would suggest….they have now put up a “speed breaker” at the same spot. Time will only tell if this is a wise decision.

  • jamna varadhachary wrote:

    I get upset at women crossing the road when red light is on and with a kid in tow.I usually stop them and tell the lady, your kid will learn to cross this way. Please learn to obey the lights.

  • Harsh Ranawat wrote:

    Quite an alarming piece , rather an unusual look into usual happenings.

  • I totally agree with what you have mentioned here. To add to your above article … why do people use hands free , mobile casually while walking / crossing on the roads?

  • Ajay Bhonsle wrote:

    I fully sympathize with the driver of the Indica. Its early morning, there is no traffic except for the parked bus, he is on the way (or returning from)the airport, the JVLR surface is fairly good- so if he doesn’t step on the gas under these conditions when does he do it??
    Ditto for the driver who ‘mowed’ down some people sleeping on the pavement because his vehicle swerved out of control & mounted the pavement. It could have been a mechanical failure too but for heaven’s sake why are people risking their lives by sleeping on the pavements with hundreds of vehicles thundering past them every hour? Are these people not to blame? Can they not find an open ground anywhere? And why must the insurance company loose out for the government’s failure in not providing them any night shelters? Yes do blame a drunk or an incompetent driver but if you allow more & more cars to come on the road every day this is what you are asking for…

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