A fortnight ago The Man from Madras Musings wrote about the Royapettah clock tower roundabout and many of you of the MM congregation under the pontificate of the Chief were kind enough to express your appreciation. Fifteen days later, MMM once again writes of Royapettah, this time about its flyover. Though glorified by that name, it is nothing but a narrow strip of elevated road with two lanes, one for each direction of traffic. The service lanes below are eternally in a state of being dug up and so have long been given up as useless. Consequently, there is heavy load on the flyover, all the time.
Early one morning, residents who live along the flyover were woken up to a tremendous sound, followed by the sickening noise of crunching metal. It was a collision involving a couple of two-wheelers, both being in the wrong lanes. Fortunately there was no loss of life or limb. After trading a couple of filthy abuses, chiefly involving each others’ mothers, the two who tried to tango but became tangled, parted ways. Royapettah went back to its routine.
Such collisions are par for the course. Two-wheeler riders repeatedly find their way blocked by slow-moving vehicles and being the optimists they are, keep trying to move ahead by darting into the lane meant for oncoming vehicles. The major risk here is that of a vehicle suddenly appearing from the opposite side necessitating a sudden zig, which works provided the party of the other part zags in cooperation. The problem occurs when the zig party zags and the zag party also zags or when the zag party zigs and so does the zig party. You get the picture.
In such instances, there is no option but to suffer collisions, rise, check for injuries, and heap choice insults (chiefly involving mothers) on each other. Though it must be added that abuses in Chennai are nowhere in the Delhi class. But MMM did say that these two-wheeler users were optimists, did he not? And so despite a number of these zigzag attempts ending up in zigzigs and zagzags, there is always the belief that such things happen to others and so why not try and get ahead one more time?
Last fortnight, the authorities embarked on some urgent repair work on the flyover. At the end of the exercise, none, including MMM, was the wiser as to what work was actually done. Whatever it was, it involved blocking one lane at a time, and on the blocked lane a series of small metal humps were placed. A barricade was erected at the entrance to the flyover, which further acted as a deterrent to those wanting to take that lane to go across. But did that prevent our two-wheeler friends from hoping that they could reach the other side? They simply began using the lane that was open for traffic from the opposite direction. Whenever they espied a particularly large vehicle coming their way, they would duck into the closed lane, wait for the vehicle to pass and then get back. In effect, a single lane on the flyover was handling two-way traffic. A week later, the up lane was opened and work began on the down lane. The chaos simply shifted from left to right.
So what, you ask. And MMM can hear most of you muttering that this story ought to have never been allowed in print. MMM has lost it, you declare, and so has the Chief. But you don’t know the end of it as yet.
Last week, a bus made bold to do the same thing. The metal barricade was pushed to a side and bus made the ascent, egged on by passengers, conductor and driver. Halfway up, a metal hump caved in and there was no way the bus could cross. Have you ever seen a bus reverse down a flyover? MMM has, and let him tell you it is not for the faint-hearted.