Last week, I got an amazing opportunity to visit Sikkim for my family trip. Though my body was in a relaxed party mood, my mind was still observant to the surroundings. And thanks to this, I happen to come across one of the forgotten wonders of our Indian roads i.e. Road Manners.
To my surprise, even in a traffic jam, the locals were not at each other’s throat honking horns for no reason. They were actually patient and calm. And the most beautiful welcome gesture to us was how the resident vehicles were giving preference to tourist cabs. It felt so heartwarming. They truly made “Atithi Devo bhava” real for us. That feeling was so profound and beautiful. The locals on the road seem so organized even in walking and letting other cars pass by. There was not a single kind of noise disturbing the soulful mountains.
Not only were people courteous on roads, but they also seemed to enjoy their journey: it was visible from their peaceful behavior. Further, the traffic officers were very cooperative and nice to move the jams along. One of the stark things that I saw there was how people were not flouting traffic norms. Even with no traffic police in sight at various junctures, people were still driving in lanes, giving each other’s vehicle a pass. I never saw such things happening in Delhi. I myself switch lanes whenever a narrow gap is available beside a vehicle. (Not very proud of it though)
The Sikkimese people are not only smart with respect to road sense, but their road planning is smart too. Gangtok city there has a special sideways walking space for pedestrians. And it is constructed with iron rods on side frame to prevent notorious bikers from using the lane. This way pedestrians can enjoy their journey without any hassle. Hats off to road planners for making it so enjoyable and systematic.
Further, the MG Road in Gangtok, which is the main/ central market area is completely vehicle-free, letting pedestrians roam around freely and explore the place. Markets such as these make pedestrians feel safer on roads and they are devoid of the threat of being run down by a speeding vehicle. Once can explore in peace, without having to look around on the road, in every direction, before crossing it as one would do anywhere else in the country. This happens on busy roads or otherwise.
It was a marvelous trip for me, not just because of the beautiful locations but also the way I witnessed the road manners in people, which is absent in Delhites. People in Delhi-NCR can learn a thing or two from the people of Sikkim and the authorities can do so too. Firstly, the people in NCR should start following traffic rules to make our roads safer; this includes not rapidly cutting lanes, not using footpaths and pedestrian walking areas to drive/ ride/ park vehicles, not riding/ driving on the wrong side of the road even if it is just to reach the traffic signal, and following traffic lights. The authorities, on the other hand, should ensure that proper, safe spaces are cut away or pedestrian usage – creating railings to close off footpaths for vehicles, and ensuring that more traffic personnel are kept to man signals and busy roads.
Eagerly waiting for another journey on Sikkim roads and hoping Delhi’s roads come closer to that some day. 🙂