Traffic, Traffic everywhere:
A very common source of irritation to Bangaloreans is the omnipresent traffic jams. Being one of the contributors to these traffic woes, I started to think of a solution. What are the ways to solve the problem of long hours of waiting and mindless quarrels on the road? As a teacher, my thought process goes like this – What can I learn? What can I practice? What can I then teach my next generation friends? Here, I share my thoughts on the features of the problem and possible solutions.
Dissecting the problem:
In order to learn the reasons for traffic jams, we need to observe the happenings in the city that lead to these jams. Then, we understand what we can and should do as individuals to reduce the impact of these jams. Will this lead to solutions? Let us examine it further and see how we can educate ourselves out of this mess.
Features of a traffic jam:
When asked, the typical reasons we attribute traffic jams to are – the growth of industries, large sales of vehicles, and poor infrastructure. Have we ever thought that we all play an important role in contributing to our collective misery?
Long commute –
Let us reflect on this. How many of us live near our office so that we can avoid long commutes? Why are we not living closer? I can already sense some readers justifying this decision.
Consider the decision of buying a house that is far from our workplace, are we not adding to the traffic with every kilometer we travel? The justifications may be numerous; however, they don’t solve the problem of collective trouble.
Until a few years ago, I used to travel 20 km one way each day to the office. It not only cost me more money and time but also adversely impacted my health. Remember, the longer you live, you must handle a longer old age. An unhealthy old age is extremely hard to live with.
I can connect back to my school and college days in the late 90s and early 2000s. My friends and people in my generation had to travel long distances for schools and colleges. We grew a sense of comfort about it. So, I now see why we are not worried to travel long distances and justify these commutes. Also, as carriers of the nomadic gene, it is probably inherent in us to not worry about the commute.
Spreading the message
How do I educate the next generation about it? This question makes me think about children who travel to schools greater than 10 km one way. Do the parents really understand the need for kids to do this in today’s world? I am unable to understand the justifications for this at all. Aren’t there any suitable schools closely situated? Why on earth send your kid to a school so far? What have they achieved at the end of the day?
They are too exhausted to do anything productive after coming back home. Yet they do it because of pressure from parents and peers. This disinterestedness results in their becoming mostly unproductive. This is not just my observation alone. Many parents face this problem but ignore it to avoid heartbreak. The consequence of this is that these children emerge as complacent youngsters by the time they reach their 20s. Lo and behold, we have a whole generation of frustrated individuals. Whatever be the reasons for long commutes, it is not helping society.
Another annoying characteristic of traffic jams is the constant honking. There is a small percentage of drivers who are obsessed with honking. This is very similar to one bunch of students at school who do not care about the rules of the system. Their unruliness contributes to the misery of many. I don’t know if we can call them outliers in this context, I will call them stupid.
Lack of common sense –
This is perhaps the most annoying feature in the traffic scenario. The driver of each vehicle is aware that other vehicles on the road are not like their own. They also know that they must make space for everyone. Yet we see that everyone rushes into the same narrow space available, leading to a bottleneck.
At these junctures, you see individuals fighting with each other and venting their frustrations not even relevant to the situation. This does more harm to mental health. With a frustrated mindset, we go to work and carry on with our lives without relishing the beauty around us. Every day we are missing out on wonderful things happening in the universe because we are simply engrossed in traffic jams. This negative engrossment increases the noise in our brains and sends our minds into futile pursuits of solutions to our mental traffic woes.
This further extends into the mindset of the society. As a counselor, I observe this bottle-neck phenomenon in parent behaviour. Every parent wants their child to join the course that is trending at that time. This leads to a bottleneck of demand. This demand creates an unreasonable surplus of supply. Look at the sheer numbers of preschools, schools and engineering colleges around us. Such a mindless mushrooming and here we are!
It is fascinating to see how everything in our life is connected to our mindset. As a teacher, it is imperative that I work on my mindset first and then on the mindset of the next generation.
Here is my take. The only way we can solve the traffic problems in Bengaluru is by coming up with a mindset for society. A tall order, I know! I personally believe that well-being should be at the centre of every social setup. Then we will be able to create meaningful social contexts for the next generation and immediately for ourselves too. If we live frustrated lives, we will never be able to inspire our next generations to live happily.
We might build as many signal-free, lane disciplined, efficient road systems as we want. But without care for social well-being, we will never avoid a jam – traffic or otherwise.