What is it about Indian men and traffic rules? Does their reluctance to follow even the most rudimentary of these come from the clichéd (and oh-so-wrong) stereotype of them being ‘better drivers’? Or are they still stuck in some sort of high-school cool-guy persona, fulfilling eloquent standards of “mah life mah rules”? And when the police are intent on ignoring these rule-breakers, who will come forward to teach them the basic lessons of driving?
Well, Bangalore is lucky to have Manju Thomas, a 27-year-old HR professional.
On 14th March, near Corporation Circle, Thomas was seen telling off two men for driving on a footpath that she was standing on. Having witnessed enough of this illegal footpath-to-road transformation, she decided to block the way of the men who were on a white Activa. The men obviously did not take to this kindly.
In the video taken of the incident, one of the men is heard saying “I am not here to listen to your lecture”. (Translation: I am a man and driving on the footpath is my birthright). But Thomas superbly holds her ground and tells him that she has no interest in ‘lecturing’ him and that she’ll stand here until he gets back on the road.
As I watched Thomas, I was filled with admiration and envy. One can guess that her dedication was the cause of my adulation. The envy was because I know that even in the most frustrating of such circumstances, I would never have raised a voice against these men, for fear of being belittled with a “Ladki faltu hi baat ka batangar bana rahi hai” (This girl is unnecessarily making a mountain out of a mole-hill). So, Thomas’s enough-is-enough attitude is the coolness I aspire to.
When the incident took place, traffic was at its peak (given that it was 6 PM in Bangalore city, notorious for its unmanageable traffic), and the itch of commuters to get home must have been high, which, of course, still doesn’t justify driving on the footpath. But hilariously, the man defended himself by saying that it was ‘urgent’ that he reaches fast. Thomas immediately fired back with, “If it would have been so urgent, you wouldn’t be standing here and arguing for this long!”
Who else is applauding Thomas right now?