About Me

I was born under the sun sign Aquarius. And I always wonder, why dont people who are born at night, have moon signs. Even after spending more than half a century being a... read more


THE RED LIGHT AREA

Life is a journey – many a philosopher opined thus. I heard about it at an indeterminate stage in my life when I started reading beyond studying. I was not much of a believer at that time. I thought if I stay put in my place, don’t travel much, life would not be a journey. Putting my theory to practice, I have been staying at the same place ever since I remember.

Then one day while staring at the roof, lying down in bed in an attempt to have a non-journey life, I realised life is a journey in time and not in space. I might have not traveled to the next continent, but I traveled through change in century and millennium. Its kind of time travel but only in one direction. Scientists traveled onto the next world while trying to travel back in time. I am a total non-believer at this time.

One comes across many a turns and crossings during this journey. Sometimes it’s a difficult decision – to move ahead or to stop and wait. And to help us make that decision, at least on roads, some philosopher scientist cop invented traffic lights. Red means stop and wait before you move ahead, and green means its apparently safe to continue the journey.

I was in school and at that time there was only one crossing in Patiala that could boast of traffic lights. One fine day I thought I must go and have a look at the automated traffic control system. So, I pedaled my bicycle to the spot. From far, I chose a shady place to park and observe at leisure. And with the sole aim of reaching the spot and completely oblivious to the working of traffic lights, I managed to pedal through red light. Traffic lights stand tall and try to dictate terms but have no authority to enforce. They run on power but have no power to check non-believers. For that, almost every crossing with lights has a posse of traffic police men – interceptors and executioners -  ready with a challan book. That day of my baptism, only one policeman was there and dutifully he stopped me. “if you are over-run by a truck, your mother will have to scrape and collect you from the road” he said. I tried to visualize the thing but gave up immediately coz of the spine chilling effect. I would have lost one D and be reduced to 2D from 3D. I became a believer from that day, at least for traffic lights.

Though, It can be an out of this world experience for those who skip the red light, life at red light is a different world experience. It’s a variant of flash mob – unrelated people gather there and perform almost same activities and can be categorized as – waiters, utilisers, peeping toms, restless, horny and commercials.

Waiters are the true Aryans – they stop at the right place and wait patiently for the light to turn green. They are the people whom traffic cops adore and hate at the same time, depending upon the integrity of the cop. They make the job of cops easy but deprive them of hard earned pocket money.

Utilisers are more prevalent in metros and other big cities. They tend to catch up on their chores or work at red light stops. Men having breakfast and women applying makeup on their way to office, is a common sight. Then there are youngsters who hurriedly go through the messages on phone. Few others are busy clicking pics of whatever they perceive to be worth sharing on social sites.

Peeping toms are more interested in what’s happening in other cars. Female driven cars and vehicles with young couples are scrutinized with intensity that can put security at airports to shame. Range can be from face reading to full body scan, depending upon the angle and visibility.

Restless are people who tend to move forward inch by inch not bothered whether there is space or not. Two-wheeler guys are masters of this art form. They move zig zag between cars and other vehicles to reach the front. Once they reach the front, they keep on inching forward till they have half crossed the road. After a quick scan for policemen, they zip through the red light. I always thought people who jump red light must be having some emergency. But most of them are teenagers seeking a life threatening thrill. I have not come across any one defying red light who seems to be in labor pains or clutching the chest in pain. Only the ones with a healthy body but a sick mind jump traffic lights. That’s why I mentioned its safe to stop at red light but not really safe to go through green.

Horny are people with amazing reflexes. They start honking as soon as the light turns green and before the hapless driver in front can set the vehicle in motion. May be the horn happy people are aware about the lack of focus of utilisers and peeping toms.

Commercials are the natives of every crossing with traffic lights. They are the ones seeking alms in the name of disability, small children or even gods. Then there are few who have functional egos and opt to sell goods for cars or kids.

Next time you stop at red light, look around and enjoy the cultural amalgam.

And yes, I hope my choice of title was not misleading….!!!

May 7, 2018.


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