Your family is waiting for you. Drive carefully and go back home. Noida people have by now become too familiar with these words and the voice behind these to not pay attention to them. And why not? It has been over seven years when Mukul Chandra Joshi, a resident of sector 21, has been educating people on roads about traffic rules and regulations and also cajoling them to follow these. For this purpose, he has adopted Gol Chakkar, Atta Peer, Chalera Intersection, NTPC Crossing and Sector 21 Crossing.
Fondly called as Traffic Baba/Suraksha Baba, this 75 plus man shames you with his sheer agility and passion. Come evening and Joshi dons a white gown and a cap, gets hold of his microphone and a flask of lemon juice or tea (depending upon the weather) and heads for a busy road crossing. He spends the next one hour politely guiding people not to jump a red light, give way to pedestrians or waver out of their lanes.
During this time, Joshi also distributes about 150 pamphlets on traffic rules and the importance of following them. Not used to being spoken to politely on roads, people were initially bewildered. Today most give out smiles of recognition when they see this old man speaking on microphone.
"When I started doing this, in 2003, people didn't even pull down the window panes to accept a pamphlet. Today they see from a far and wave at me. And that, for me, is a big achievement," says Joshi. "The biggest high is when parents come and tell me mere bete ne aapki baat maanin aur uski jaan bach gai," he adds.
"In the beginning, I got got awkward glances and odd comments. Today people see me and automatically start following traffic rules," he adds. "My aim is to make this city an accident-free city and towards this endeavour I shall continue as long as I can. How much will I succeed only God knows," says Joshi. "I believe every old person must do some good work for the society to actually prove that old is gold," he says.
"I don't get to help my wife in her household chores but I don't know from where I get this energy to stand on the road and speak out to people," he says. "After the one hour I spend at a crossing I really feel at peace with myself. In fact, on Sundays when I don't visit a crossing, I feel I am missing something," he says.
How did it all begun?
"Actually one of my close friend's son died in a road accident. The news shook me and I kept on mulling over it, on how to prevent such deaths on roads. Then I thought the best way was to educate people, not like the iron hand of a cop but with the soft touch of a child," he says. "I met the Circle Officer-Traffic. He was quite happy with my proposal and said that it would be a unique service I would be rendering to the society," says Joshi.
"In this city, people like flouting traffic rules more than following them. The moment people cross Delhi they just take off their helmets, remove their seat belts and drive at break-neck speed. But, the saving grace is they do listen when I point out their mistakes," he says.
Joshi refuses to take any financial help from any quarter. "It is my bit for the society," he says. "Besides, God has given me enough. I get pension and I also work as an insurance agent. And the monthly expenditure is not much. The pamphlets' printing cost me about 1500 per month," he says.
Sundays are family days
"I have a large family and all my relatives are around. I love meeting them and spending time with them," he says. Plus he also keeps busy with his grandkids.
In the last seven years, he has been honoured a number of times, at a number of platforms. The Noida Traffic Police regularly calls him whenever they hold a seminar or a talk on traffic rules, at schools, colleges or any other public platform.