Get out of the way, you pedestrians!
Although driving anywhere in the world is an amalgamation of knowledge and respect of traffic rules and a good command over ones reflexes. In Pakistan it is a different ball game altogether. Not only do you have to possess nerves of steel but also reflexes that can be pushed beyond normal human abilities.
Since there is complete disregard for traffic regulations as well as no sanctity for human life and property. Our attitude on the roads, and almost everywhere else, is utterly deplorable.
Every time I get behind the wheel I face 4x4’s with tinted glasses, guards sporting handlebar moustaches and toting guns (with muzzles pointing at all and sundry), Pathans putt putting their rickshaws and buses challenging me with statements like,
“Hemat hai toh pass kar warna. Bardhasht kar”
(If you have the strength than pass me by, otherwise tolerate it)
“Fasla rakh warna pyar ho jaye ga”
(Keep your distance otherwise you will fall in love)
And boy! do I keep my distance.
But even taking all this in stride, what daunts me still is traffic caused by those on foot.
Pedestrians on our roads can be divided into different categories, and any of them can fall into one or more brackets during the course of each day.
The foremost variety is what comprises of the Butt factor
Don’t get me wrong it has nothing to do with “Butt key karahi” in Lahore or Butt Tailors in Multan but the kind that walks on the road and not the footpath. Yes, I agree that in most places there are no side-walks and even if there are they are broken or encroached by vendors hawking their wares which are as distinct as undergarments, cell-phone covers and bun kababs. They pay no heed to approaching traffic and no amount of incessant honking will deter them from their path. They will amble on until you, both literally and figuratively, drive into their rear ends. I think they probably have some innate meandering sense because they clearly have no use for the ones of sight and sound.
The second class consists of the jaywalkers
They materialise in front of vehicles as if conjured out of thin air, most often than not they move in packs. You will encounter a horde of them as soon as the light turns green. It is up to you to swerve, brake and curse and if by chance, you happen to have the windows rolled down you will be subjected to some fruity comments, the most decent one of them being,
“Dekh kar naheen chalta andha hai kiya”
(Can’t you see where you are going, are you blind)
It baffles me that anyone, who isn’t likely to be inebriated, can put his life at peril with such neglect. They put the proverbial ‘cat with nine lives’ to shame.
The third one encompasses those fond of night time strolls
Dressed fashionably in black, they stroll down an alley, on which the lone bulb on the lamppost was shattered by bored mohallay key bachay. These individuals are firm believers that all motorists are fitted with night vision lenses and if not, should be.
However, I can understand that pedestrians are not completely at fault since there is a dearth of footpaths, pedestrian bridges, bus stops, zebra and pelican crossings but since, every time there is an accident, no matter who is at fault the motorist is inevitably blamed for it, the least pedestrians can do is make sure not to walk in front of vehicular traffic or hop on and off public transport right in the middle of the roads! Try walking on the side-walks as much as possible, I promise they are safer!
The government should launch a public awareness campaign and not waste taxpayer money on mindless records, dancing at world heritage sites and bullet trains.
Driving has given me more grey hair and ulcers than I care to admit, and sadly I have no choice, but to brave the roads and keep the L’Oréal and Alka- seltzer coming.
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