May 25, 2018:
Friday, the 25 was a day unlike the city has experienced in days. For those awaiting the HSSLC (Arts) and SSLC examination results, it was a day of tensions turning into jubilation, hard work blooming into success and for those following the mundane city life it was a day of patience turning into anger which eventually faded into helplessness.
As cliché and scary as it sounds the popular saying – ‘The end is near or the time has come,’ seems apt for those enjoying the luxury that modern life has to offer especially on a day like today. The iron chariot as called by our forefathers or vehicles in modern day seemed to have ran out of city roads or space as hours were spent in getting from point A to B.
So, much so even two-wheelers were caught in the maze of unplanned, un thought and modern day disaster of chaotic traffic congestion. The vehicles were gasping for air as the cooling fans in the engine roared time and again sounding the exhaustion while the vehicle covered few metres and halted again. The smell emitted out of the clutch filled the air as the drivers exchanged occasional glance at each other and nodded the head sideways in the perfect Indian way signalling –Oooo Thiat! The local way or Oh! Tiring, the adopted way.
Either ways, such was the traffic snarl that drivers had enough time to chit chat, with the drivers coming from the opposite direction, have kwai or Beetel nut at their own leisure and discuss the traffic problem.
The easiest target despite their best efforts – the traffic police had a harrowing time in managing the city traffic. As the traffic police were busy in doing whatever they could to ease the congestion, the look on their faces clearly cautioned the public — ‘violate any rules now and you had it’.
At 10-10.30 am, after all the excitements, the rush for admission into schools and colleges began and the marathon to be the first to secure a seat in a reputed school or college unleashed a horrible sight of the Shillong traffic, we never ever want to experience. But we did!
At noon, the situation became worse and continued so for the next 6-7 hours. Shillong city was officially choked on Friday. I have never seen a sight so chaotic and congested, to the point, that I wish I had left my car at home and walked all the way to my destination.
Forget about reaching our destinations on time, the snail-pace movement of the traffic caused not only delays but also evoked different shades of emotion.
At 11.40 am, while on my way to pick up my kid from school, the traffic stopped at Dhankheti. I started panicking, worried that I wouldn’t be able to make it on time. At 12 pm, the situation was no different. I barely moved half a kilometer. At 12.30 pm, it looked like the motorable road leading to Don Bosco Square was cut off its air supply as the street was filled with people and cars.
After crossing Don Bosco, I breathed a sigh of relief figuring I had reached my destination, but to my utter dismay, there was not even a single space for me to park the car. The thought of making my kid wait for so long troubled me. I, of course, had no other choice but to go round and enter the same circle of unending feeling of annoyance and anxiety. By the time I picked up my child from school, it was already 1.30 pm. So much for being punctual!
It took me another 1 hour to get out of the mess and drop my baby home. And then it took me another hour and a half to travel from home to office. WHAT A DAY!
So here’s my wish-list
Dear Shillong Traffic,
>> it’s times like these that I seriously wish I was energetic enough to tread the 30 minutes’ journey on foot;
>> its times like these that I wish the streets of Shillong are wide enough to fit all the oversize vehicles;
>> its times like these that I wish the Transport Department was honest and strict enough while issuing licenses to any Tom, Dick and Harry;
>> its times like these that I wish the red-beacon Army vehicles accompanied by a convoy stops acting like they are going to fight a war and stay in line like everyone else;
>> its times like these that I wish modern-day Shillong is nothing but a mirage;
>> its times like these that I wish we had been open-minded enough to allow construction of — wait a minute! neither construction of over-bridge nor mono rail will ever see the light of the day.
>> its times like these that I wish the government had been stringent enough with its traffic-related policies — like school buses made mandatory for all the schools in the city, identifying certain areas or streets to roll out the ‘No vehicles beyond this point’ plan as was done by Sikkim and other hill states of the country.
>> its times like these that I wish I was home and away from the modern-day misery.
The iron wagon nightmare or The Shillong nightmare
(The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com)