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Contrast too glaring to be missed

chandigarh Updated: Oct 08, 2013 10:30 IST
Rama Kashyap
Rama Kashyap
Hindustan Times
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Hailing from a land of chaotic traffic where unruly vehicles of all kinds, ranging from four-wheelers to two-wheelers, heavy and light, motorised and animal-driven whiz around in every plausible trajectory, I was awestruck by the orderly flow of traffic on the wide and smooth Sydney roads. The contrast was too glaring to be missed, and dismissed. In fact, my trip to Australia was my first overseas and it had a lot to astound me.

I was amazed at the discipline and strict adherence to traffic rules in Australia. Truly impressive was the regard and consideration for pedestrians. While drivers stopped their vehicles and waited patiently at the zebra crossing, pedestrians comfortably crossed the road. What a sharp contrast it is to India where the jungle rule of might is right prevails on the roads. In our country, drivers of heavier vehicles literally lord over the road, intimidating pedestrians and two-wheeler riders.

Honking is a compulsive habit of drivers in our country. We have a strong urge to blow the horn whether it's required or not. During my entire stay of about a fortnight in Australia, not once did I hear the sound of a horn!

Back home, we are always in a hurry and have no patience on the road. In fact, we are persistent honkers even at traffic lights. No wonder Indian roads are so noisy and chaotic.

Not just our roads but our localities are equally noisy. Never mind the inconvenience to people in the neighborhood, we love playing loud music. Be it a marriage, religious congregation or any ceremony in the neighborhood, it is free-for-all in the locality. Loud play of bhajan/kirtan is a norm.

The organisers feel they are doing service to humanity by sending holy vibes into the atmosphere. But this kind of service is clearly not acceptable in Australia. Nobody dares disturb the neighborhood there.

Though it was only a fortnight in Sydney, the hangover persists. I can't help noticing the unkempt, dusty pavements in my city which earlier appeared perfectly normal to me. I have even begun to count the number of street dogs in my locality. They were conspicuous by their absence in Sydney. Garbage dumps on roadsides look uglier and filthier to me. Potholes on the road appear bigger.

This heightened consciousness could be a temporary phenomenon, a passing phase that I should get over. Soon, I hope to find the chaotic traffic, the noise and din perfectly normal, as normal as before.

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