Indians are a weird bunch of people, we do some bizarre things that would make any foreigner very confused and a little bit scared. But for us, these things are so a part of our daily existence, that we feel strange and off-balance without these crazy experiences everyday. Today I would like to discuss the three Ts that we are absolutely obsessed with, Trucks, Tolls and Traps.
You know what’s the most recurring thought I have during my long-ass rides? Let me give you a hint, it’s not how beautiful our country is, it’s not how bad our road infrastructure is, and it is not why I am spending 14,000 rupees on petrol, when I can pay 2,000 for a train ticket, and travel so much more comfortably. The thing I think about the most is:
Why are there so many fucking trucks on the road? Where are they going? Where are they coming from? How many truck drivers and cleaners would be there in India? 10 million? Why the hell are there so many trucks on the road man?
You might be in city, or on the highway. You might be riding at 3 AM or 3 PM. You might be in Kashmir or Kanyakumari, there will be a truck somewhere around 50 feet of you. And you know what the strangest thing is? Half of these trucks are empty! Is this some kind of a conspiracy? Are these empty trucks running on our roads just to cause traffic congestion and create general mayhem?
I like truck drivers, don’t get me wrong. They are generally better than the average taxi/auto/hatchback drivers out there. I also understand that these trucks are like the arteries of our distribution system, these trucks bring everything from your Samsung Galaxy Note 2 to your Pulsar 200NS in a shop near to you. But dammit there are too many, too many for our shitty roads.
The three Ts: Tolls
As a biker, I am not really affected by Tolls. I just breeze past them, while watching the hapless non-two wheeler guys lining up to pay money to use bad and broken roads. Tolls have to the THE biggest scam in India, definitely the biggest that we witness everyday and are a part of. And there are just too many tolls guys, not as many as trucks, but too many for comfort.
On the route from Mumbai to Himachal, I must have gone through 40-50 different tolls. That’s insane! What the hell are you charging for anyway? We pay a wide variety of taxes, from income to VAT, to convenience, to road, but that’s not at all sufficient to fill up the coffers of our corrupt administrators, no sir. You also need to slow down on a highway, go through some irritating speed-bumps, line up at a toll, pay up some lousy bastard behind a window, then go over another set of frustrating speed-bumps, speed up on the highway, only to end up in front of the next toll booth.
Himachal Pradesh is special, in the sense that you not only have to pay for bad roads, but also just to enter the state! Another toll scam can be found just at the entry to Manali, where these people charge an exhorbitant “Green Tax” for any vehicles without HP registration. The reason we have so many tolls, is that people don’t seem to care much. We are too busy, too rich and too ignorant to care about such little things.
The three Ts: Traps
When I say traps, I mean all types of setups meant to get you to slow down, for no apparent reason. India has to be the speed-breaker capital of the world. We have speed breakers at the most unexpected places, like in the middle of a flyover, after a toll both, and in the fastest section of an expressway. Most of these speed-bumps are unmarked, so you don’t even know what hit you, until you are a few feet in the air, waiting to kiss the ground with a thud.
We have a wide variety of speed-breakers too, rumblers, normal humps, flat humps, chassis scratchers, and just plain white lines meant to scare you to a stop. You know why there are so many speed-bumps? Because every time these bureaucrats get to install one, a substantial commission goes into their pockets. They don’t give a shit if the place even needs speed reduction or not, they are making money, so you gotta slow the fuck down!
Apart from speed bumps, the other types of traps include barricades. I understand that police checkup requires barricades to be setup, but at so many different locations I have seen barricades without any police! They are just there, slowing people down, creating traffic jams. And no one dares to move them away, or maybe no one cares enough. We haven’t got enough time to take an injured motorist to the hospital, but we are always free to get stuck in a traffic jam caused by our own stupidity.
Like I said, we are weird. We are so used to these three Ts, that I bet you don’t even give a second thought to these items during your daily commutes. And it is sad that we are so used to these, because they are stupid! We don’t need so many tolls and traps, not sure about the trucks though! What we definitely need is more common sense, respect for other’s rights and better road infrastructure. Hopefully, our obsession with Trucks, Tolls and Traps will be over soon!