Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Remember the heroes

Every morning my eyes water - partly from the Bangalore morning rush hour pollution and partly from the sight of heroes on cycles weaving through the mayhem. Peddling furiously between cars, over pavements and the razor-thin tarmac dividing two giant potholes, the heroes sally forth where no other dares. They brave the unending rush of horn-blaring bikes and mammoth juggernauts of Honda Cities and Ikons as they blind turn towards the right from the left or vice versa. My only complaint is that, in daring this impossible move, the terror and plea in their face and manner as they pedal to the other side between the flurry of MRF wheels does not really become the dignity and courage of their endeavour.
When the roads were converted from 2-way to 1-way, the Bangalore Traffic police forgot to communicate the fact to these brave men. Unheeding of the coming storm of cars, scooters, bikes and horns, the heroes slowly but steadily continue their pedalling. Together, they hold the memories of the era of 2-way streets. A reality that strikes me every time I succeed in finding the gap besides the lumbering Sumo to make my breakaway, only to be confronted by a timid hero, advancing in the opposite direction, precariously clinging on to
  1. the memories of the Bangalore and that particular road that were,
  2. the little space on which he finds his way through and,
  3. of course, his dear life.

The Bangalorean cyclist is a dying breed. Literally. Those who survive live to fight another day. In all the scenes of accidents that I have witnessed, it is the cyclist who has been at a disadvantage. Whether in the mangle of steel, tube and bones, or the receiving end of a string of Kannada abuses from the biker who's just realigned the poor cyclist's front tyre.

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