Karthik Kumar (KK) spends 6 months in Chennai with his elder son and for the other six months he is away at Ranikhet in the Himalayas with his other son. The half lucky uncle! In a strange way, his life at each of these 2 places, is like KumbhaKarna from the Ramayana. Just like the other KK, our KK also keeps himself busy for 6 months at one place and then disappears completely … Whatever it is, I am glad that KK uncle is back from Himalayas. Every time he visits Chennai, he is convinced that the city is actually a stud farm of sorts for vehicles. Be it bikes or cars of whatever shape and size, their numbers have multiplied faster than the rate at which certain insects like Kosuthollai, MachharKiAankh, LGB (Little Green Bastards) etc multiply.
Whats keeping KK busy now? Interestingly, as a result of traffic congestions, KK is drafting a letter to be submitted to the Ministry of Measurements and Standards. His petition also states that Google or other maps for India should rightly show distances ONLY as a time factor? For explanation purposes, let us take the following examples from Chennai:
A. How far is Nandanam from Anna flyover?
B. How far is Porur from Valsaravakkam Arcot Road?
Today, one would say that both are 2-3 kms from each other. But the right answer should be as follows:
If you leave at peak office hours, Nandanam to Anna Flyover is about 20 minutes while Porur signal to Valsaravakkam can take anywhere between 30 to 45 minutes. Therefore the unit of distance is time but it is elastic in nature. The same distance of 5 kms (as measured with a tape today) can take 40 minutes at 9 am on a weekday but can be covered in 5 minutes at 6 am on a Sunday. Therefore, a complex equation can emerge if you consider the clock timings and add the variable: Weekday / Weekend to measure distances.
So, while KK and I have been discussing the profound effects that traffic systems will ultimately have in blurring the distinction between geography and history. It will happen once time alone is a metric of distance.
We are told that there are several rules that are coming up to enforce disciplined driving. Fines for not wearing seat belts or talking on the phone are going to be steep. But we are unhappy to see that there are no fines for driving on the wrong side. If you come to the 100 feet Velachery Byepass Road, for example, KK is right in saying that he feels that only Brahma can drive here. The three headed God can look at the right side, then ensure that nobody is driving like Schumacher on the wrong side. The crazy bike riders can put any of the professional stuntmen also to utter shame. Most of the reckless ones keep flirting with some formula that had kept me really busy during my JEE preparation days. What a waste of time! And how much of an impact it has had on me … crazy 2 wheeler riders who keep swinging about 60 degrees to the right or to the left and using this angle to push through the tiniest gaps … and what comes to my mind is the relation between friction, weight, trigonometry etc to determine when and where they would be falling off the bike.
Well, yes, sometimes there are accidents … and helmets are also rarely worn.
Unfortunately, unlike KK, most of us are stuck in the same place throughout the year. So, I am seriously hoping that before it gets too late, fines and revised traffic rules can really bring about a transformation to the commuting experience. In other words, ‘Hoping that the ‘road’ ahead is safe for us’ .. [Self Praise: What a cunning use of the word ‘road’ … double wink 😉 ;-)]