Monday 16 June 2008

Thy Shall Not Ignore Traffic Lights

Coming from a fairly organised society in Western Europe, with well- and pre-defined traffic rules, my experience of ignoring, up to 3 times in one week, a red traffic light was quiet something. The fact that each of these 3 times that I consciously crossed the mentioned traffic lights, happened under the watchful eye of a Chennai City Traffic Police Officer makes it worthwile to write it down in a blog post and to share it with you.

Situation One
: Huge (4 armed) crossing in the center of the City, guarded by a police officer. The usual crowd of more than 50 twho wheelers is waiting for the green light to pop up. As people get unpatient they start slowly advancing, slowly taking more space on the crossing, till the point that the first one's shift in first gear and actually start driving through the red onto the crossing. The Police Officer goes pretty mad, waving everybody back, but the evil has occured and the poor guy lost all control of the people who now freely go wherever they desire, despite the lights and the sad attempts of the traffic police. Of course I'm in the middle of it, so yeah,I crossed too, smiling at the sight of so much traffic anarchy.

Situation Two: After a slight incident and a lot of traffic in 'peaking' times and a half an hour ride from my work to Leticia's work (1km), my growing impatience and tiredness of exhaust fumes make me drive over the sidewalk, between people, around cars to finally reach the traffic lights. I notice it's red, but as I have to turn left I can just go with the flow without having to cross a street (note that we drive on the leftside here). It's quite usual to have a free left turn, so I guessed it should be ok to give it a try. Whom I didn't see was the sneaky bastard of a polic officer hiding right behind the tree on the corner. I noticed him and his orange fluorescent jacket right when I joined to traffic coming from the other side. Luckily for me I'm foreign and white, so he didn't bother to stop me. They prefer to leave foreigners alone...

Situation three
: This is probably the most unbelievable one and the one that actually motivated to write about the other ones. Sunday morning, as an example boyfriend, I go out to get breakfast. Streets are empty early on sundaymorning and the temperature pretty enjoyable so I truly enjoy riding out in these conditions. At a respectable speed I approach a crossing, with a green indicator on to the left. I accelerate extra to make sure I make it before it turns red. I don't. I close all my breaks cos I see a chennai traffic police officer standing right on the pedestrian crossing. I cross the white stop line with some meters coming to quite an abrupt stop, but ok, at least I didn't commit any traffic offence, (if they even know what that is here). The officer looks at me, I'm the only one waiting in front of the light, and here it comes...despite the traffic coming in hordes from the opposite direction,with a very discreet gesture behind his back the cop tells me to just go and blend in with the traffic...Initially I was so amazed that he actually had to do his gesture twice before I understood I could really just go and do whatever...Chennai City Traffic Police, a legend.

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