The day I got this idea of solo paddling to Ambala Cantt to call on my father, who had undergone surgery for one of his eyes, none of my friends liked it and tried their best to dissuade me. All were concerned about my safety on the Indian roads, especially Chandigarh to Ambala, having high number rashly driven cars. Frankly, I would like to admit that even I got scared to ride on NH 22, after having heard all my friends. But I had made up my mind whatever could be the consequences, I had done quite a bit of mental rehearsal of all the safety point to be kept on my mind while riding to Ambala. It turned out to be quite a safe trip, no threats; for I kept myself quite alert and handled all the U turns and service lanes and the motorbikes being driven by the young lads of rural Punjab (quite mannerless) head-on which means in a wrong direction. I am sure you know that this is never noticed as an offence by the Police in Punjab. I hope they would wake up in next few years at least.
Its not to discourage you all about cycling, it’s the truth that India is NOT a safe country for cycling at all; leave the main roads apart, even the inside roads, streets, lanes and bylanes are not safe at all. But majority of Indians still ride cycles to work in small towns at least. I think, we all have learnt how to live with the menace on Indian roads and quite dangerous to cyclists.
The safety of cyclists is quite a big concern even in many developed countries, not that India alone is bad for cyclists. Though, in those countries they are working on it, Indian system is still sleeping over it and God knows when they will wake up. Only God runs this country.
This morning, I did 30 kms of cycling and then was heading to a friend’s house to measure my weight on his swanky scale which is digital and accurate. While I was about to get on to the main road, there is a service lane before that, a woman was driving her car absolutely in wrong direction and then at high speed, worst she did not even stop or slow down at the crossing where I had the first right to get on to the road. Trust me, not exaggerating even an ounce, if I was not alert and I did not have hydraulic disc brakes , I would have been hit very badly by this speeding b…….ch.
It was like a routine for her and she did not even blink her eyes, leave alone to stop and being apologetic. All my Indian friends know how well mannered most of the Indian car drivers are, when it comes to such incidents. And I was not going to give up; with my strong legs by now and being on a speed worthy bicycle, I chased her like a dog (of course not smelling her back side) to her house. She had definitely not expected me to be there as she alighted from her car quite in peace. I confronted her with politeness – I wish you had not been speeding in a service lane and that too in a wrong direction, throwing all traffic rules to wind, I too have kids and family of mine waiting at home. I wish you had stopped to say sorry at least. Friends, I am sure you do not need a full description of the situation and her plight, she just did not know what to do and I left her there itself after that brief sermons. At that moment, she was like a `bheegee billi’ (do not translate this in English and imagine …. ). I was polite to make sure I am a good example of a good citizen not `tit for tat’, unless it was `tit for tit’….. not trying to be demeaning a woman. I wish she was with her man, it would have been difficult to face another Indian, as I am also quite aware of how to do `tit for tat’ but that doesn’t bring a change in the attitude of people.
Just be extra cautious on Indian roads and enjoy cycling. And be a bit extra cautious when women are driving expensive cars, they know their hubbies can deal with anything by paying any amount for compensation, so they drive carelessly, casually and carefree to enjoy life at the cost of your safety.
Your life has no meaning here … Take care of yourself and you are safe…