Posted by: KG | Monday, February 13, 2006

Barichellos of Chennai

Title Courtesy

A few weeks ago, I was returning from Chennai Central by a call taxi after sending my sis off to the place where she studies. (Uh! What a relief!) An experience most of Chennai gets from time to time – on the MTC bus a.k.a. Mega Thriller Coaster or the mini AUTO-matic coaster with one wheel less (more fun!!). Only this time for me, on a call taxi.

Oh, I forgot to add an important credit – the corporation, for the roads.(or, the lack of them) You may have a Schumacher; But where goes his skill without the streets of Monaco drenched in rain? If the streets of Monaco need some rain to get slippery, we’ve got drainage(ofcourse, once in 4 years, add lots of rain to that). Ofcourse we’ve an opposing factor too. Roads are bumpy. So you do get some good grip and ofcourse, some pain in the a**. More on the roads, sometime later. Now back to our driving ishtyles.

These drivers are so special. They display such immaculate technique that will put F1 drivers to shame. Driving a F1 car with special-everythings at 300 KMPH along well laid straights and chicanes IS still, big deal. But to me, racing neglected, rusting metal frames on ordinary wheels on our roads demands as much, if not greater skill. Not to forget the clash of egos on the road. That is another dimension to contend with. Now, to the brickbats.

What really puts me off is their lack of consideration for others. Empty,well-laid roads. No one else on the vehicle. I don’t care how you drive! But driving without any margin for error on not so friendly roads is worser than Sehwag not moving his feet and getting out on a green top. What are at stake, are lives. Not, wickets. You miss. Life hits!

And ofcourse, the natural computer scientists that try to minimize time taken by using algorithms like the shortest path spanning tree. Just say, take left and then right. Left on the inside and using the full width of the curve and taking the outside on the right. (I can imagine Steve Slater commentating on Star Sports as Barichello drives along)

One pattern, I observe, across all these people is tailgating. It is spectacular to watch Barichello tailgate his opponent and overtake him. He does it so as to gain speed by using the slipstream of the car before him. But you won’t enjoy it when you are perched on the backseat holding your breath.

All this, gets us to: “Why all this?”

Prestige. Ego. The “I can. So, I do” argument. Go shi* on the road. You can!

To me, the alternative is to make it a SPORT. If we look back at history, we find lots of cases of uncivilized behavior channelized into a sport. This is a vent for the animal, that man is. Wrestling. Kabadi. Bull Fight. Jallikattu. Computer Games. Speed and Thrills.

Why not Race day in Chennai? Among MTC drivers/Auto-drivers, say? Let’s get together on one of those days in big sprawling grounds under safe conditions and let the guys have a road rash. Fire them that do the same on a normal day. Then, things will be alright soon. (hopefully)



  1. Chennai is heaven when compared to Bangalore when yu talk of traffic. You have the METRO rail which takes of most of the burden and you have lane discipline there. In bangalore there is no METRO rail nor any lane discipline. So the ultimate race happens over 6 lanes(left and right) on hosur road. You have to keep changing lanes to reach E city. These bus drivers implement the perfect solution (The greedy algorithm whcih took a day for me to understand from the CLRS book). I think most of the Algorithms and Datastructures are in the natural world ( Queues stack ……) I think the best way to learn is learn from nature.

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