Rush Hour

If insufficiency of empathy is a criterion used to measure evil, then you must endure Bangalore’s rush hour traffic to experience excruciatingly unadulterated evil. Forget a description eliciting any confidence for its precision, Evil, I must admit, wouldn’t count as much for a euphemism to describe the frustratingly uniform and utter contempt that thousands, if not millions, of riders and drivers shower toward the scream of pitiful ambulance’s emergency siren.

Let’s distill this. While a man, presumably struggling each minute to hold on to his dear life, is transported from his house to emergency care, let’s say four kilometers away, this literally important journey of his life will need anywhere between 20 to 30 minutes to conclude in Bangalore’s rush hour traffic. Ladies and Gentleman, that is a top-speed of 12 kilometers an hour.

Its impossible to imagine the hopelessness of family members accompanying the dying man in the ambulance as they watch bike after bike, car after car, truck after truck trying their best to get ahead of the them just so they can skip that next traffic stop signal; Just so that they catch their dinner or one among the hundreds of cheaper rip-off’s of the cheap Fear Factor shows. And to think that most of these automobiles are boarded by supposedly educated, evidently unintelligent, young people, those who have helped this unruly city be bestowed with the title of silicon valley of nation, those who someday will govern this city, is a shocking indication of the abject and utterly disastrous future to come for life in this city.

While little argument is needed to prove that the collective behavior of the society is evil. Whether this evil is only a culmination of lack of empathy is questionable. The underlying cause is far more horrific – It is complete disrespect to human life.

Let’s grant this primitive society the benefit of doubt that a traffic which herds forward like a bunch of wild pigs rather than move ahead like an organized, and in comparison, far more civilized group of ants is unimaginably difficult to regulate through laws. Let’s grant that this difficulty, unfortunate as it is, explains why the traffic police who manually operate traffic signs refuse to switch the stop signal to green as the ambulance carrying the dying man is stuck behind several automobiles refusing to make way for it.

But, how can the genesis of the rigorously enforced helmet rule in Bangalore – the rule which requires the main rider only, but not the pillion rider, to wear a helmet, irrespective of whether it is a real one or a cardboard paper stuck together to look like one – be explained with anything else than sheer disrespect for human life. The pillion rider, by law, is not required to wear a helmet, irrespective of whether it is man or woman, healthy or handicapped, young or old, child or infant! Last time I checked, two year olds who are routinely transported through motor bikes here, had the same pulpy, and if I should specify tiny, brain stuck into a fragile skull, which under unfortunate circumstances can be crushed easily by three feet drops.


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