Blurred lines in Chennai

When you transplant some aspects of modernity, like high speed motor vehicles on crumbling old city centres, the result you get is a farcical system.

The neo-liberal love for automobiles and the material life may aid GDP growth figures, but on the ground, it leads to the most bizarre things. Such as policemen who cannot themselves follow the rules. I was following a police jeep today in Pudupet, keeping to the left of the newly painted yellow line.

But the driver of the police jeep was hardly interested in the line painted by his colleagues. He kept violating it, weaving and overtaking other vehicles. I could capture that at one point with my mobile phone camera.

If you feel sympathetic towards the driver in uniform, I can understand. I began by pointing out that you cannot get the best results by plonking automobile nirvana on an arthritic city centre. Pudupet in Chennai is already the nucleus of used automobile spare parts sales, and these wares from the pigeonhole shops spill on the road margins (there is nothing called footpaths here).

So you are talking about people and vehicles competing for space on the road, and the yellow line, with all its good intentions, cannot be obeyed unless you are ready to undertake a repeated stop and go routine behind the vehicle in front of you. Not the kind of thing that appeals to motorists in India in general, and Chennai in particular.

So there you have it. Policemen using taxpayers money to paint yellow lines that no one can follow because there are so many other factors that make these rules meaningless.



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