This story is about a key western city of India called "Ahmedabad". When I decided to come back to India after having stayed at Oxford & Chennai prior to that, my preference was company's office at Gandhinagar. There was a lot of research that I had done before choosing this location primary of which included the city being "Safe for Women".
Of all the Indian cities that I had stayed in, so far, I could say with a great certainty that Ahmedabad / Gandhinagar & possibly Gujarat was much safer for women. One of the reasons was also my frequent travel to Vadodara (Baroda) where I could see women folk travelling without any fear even late I the night that one dare not do in cities like Delhi. UK was a very safe destination, at least Oxford for sure, where I stayed for almost 5 years along with my family on a company deputation. In the last 4 months that I have stayed at Ahmedabad / Gandhinagar, my conviction has just got stronger.
The city has a very bustling life too. In fact the city itself is quite alive - day or night. Night out joints are famous too. Crime rate seems low as well, may be because of high employment opportunities. May be also the first city where I see a lot of women driving motor bikes which generally is a manly occupational fashion around other parts of India. Lump sum a good, no, a better, place to live in. The general belief that "Guju manav" focuses more on business or finding avenues to earn then wasting time on petty things, has a much better argument here on the ground . I love that aspect of the people here.
This perception completely gets falsified, though, when you get on the road. Driving is something that I would always be scared to undertake on the local roads here. Traffic rules are always kept on the pillion here. Well that was a very positive statement that I made rather Traffic rules just don't exist here.
Traffic policemen are generally found issuing "Traffic Challans" rather managing traffic, in fact on most occasions; it seems as if they want people to resolve issues on their own. They would typically bother themselves only when an incident occurs.
People would jump traffic lights in such a way that traffic signals are made for some inferior class of people, I mean, how can they be stopped? They would honk behind you even if you are passing by a hospital without thinking for a minute about the pains that a patient must be going through because of your honking. In fact this happened just a while back when I was returning from the school with my kids. I couldn't do much besides staring the driver with expressions of "what the hell do you want"?
Very recently a set of few shops were gutted in fire at Prahalad Nagar & the only thing stopping the fire tenders to attend to the grave situation was the apathy of the driving community who would not budge to let the fire Brigade pass through, hope the very same people don't have to go through such a situation some day. Ambulances can keep sounding the beacons but it doesn't bother some people here who have the first right on the road & not a patient, in dire need. I would be really surprised if they or any of their relatives meet the same fate some day.
People would keep talking on mobiles while driving making it highly unsafe to others but why will they be bothered, after all every minute of theirs is so important as if the if the call is not taken the whole world would fall flat like how most of the American movies showcase with the hero of the movie driving at a break neck speed to save the world.
A state that has so many people from abroad, where the very same people would follow all regulations, just don't understand what happens when they come back to their own state.
A city that has all of what it takes to make it world class, I feel, would never become so with such low level of respect for each other. May be its money that rules here but as one says - more thou get, thou shall become humble, doesn't just seem to be applying here.
PS: Idea of this blog is not to be critical of anyone rather requesting people to treat others with the same respect on the roads as they would expect for themselves.