It is amazing how my perception of traffic has changed over the years. Few years back, had I been driving in the present day’s Hyderabad traffic I’d have gone mad within hours… Ok, even today it takes just a few people who totally lack driving sense to bring choicest of the expletives to the fore. But than I am not talking about my choice of expletives, but on the perception of traffic.
Few years back, in Raipur, I would consider a road empty if there were hardly 2-3 bodies in sight (I’m using the term bodies to signify Cars, Bikes, Bicycles, Rickshaws, and Buffaloes). The road would be empty just after everybody is done playing Holi, the road would be empty on the early morning after Diwali, the road would be empty when a India-Pakistan match would be on on a Sunday, the road would be empty in the dead of the night, and the road would be empty during a curfew.
These days, in Hyderabad, for me an empty road means that I can hit the 3rd gear comfortably. An empty road means that I am at least two car lengths away from the vehicle in front of me and no other vehicle is behind me honking to say I should move up that stretch. An empty road means that I can cover a distance of 10 kms in 25 minutes or less. An empty road means that I am driving along with the wife, we see there are around 50-60 vehicles within sight instead of the customary 100+, and we sigh, “Thank God, the roads are empty today”.
If I were to encounter a road today that would be “empty” by the old definition, my first reaction would be – “Something is amiss, something is wrong, there is some problem”. I would not think that I am unexpectedly lucky, because that kind of luck has ceased to exist in any big city now. Only ministers get an empty road of the definition of yore. We sometimes get lucky, and get the empty road of the present day.
Still, I love driving in Hyderabad, this is the only place where you can get a National Park bang in the middle of the city, when you drive towards it the horizon is covered with trees, and a mountain of cloud is erupting behind them trying to touch the bright blue sky.
The perceptions of traffic have changed dramatically; the love for driving remains the same.