BY: SOMDYUTI DATTA RAY
Fifteen minutes. That was how long I stood at the RK Mutt Road crossing, wondering how to cross the road
without getting myself run over. I would have called it an exaggeration had I not seen it for myself.
The four roads that encircle Kapaleeshwarar Temple in Mylapore have a long-earned reputation of being traffic-congested and encroached by hawkers.
Cars, buses, motorbikes, autos – there was only so much the narrow four-point intersection of RK Mutt Road could fit. A group of people stood in the heart of the traffic, waiting to cross the road. By the time, the rest of us managed to get across the road, their faces mirrored what I felt too – annoyance, exhaustion, relief.
North Mada Street greeted me with rows of flower and fruit stalls, chaos of the hawkers and cars zooming inches away from you. The pavements being flanked by shops of varying sizes, prompted the evening crowd to overflow onto the street.
One right turn later, East Mada Street was a comparatively quieter lane. Another turn and South Mada Street notched up the frenzy of the evening market, in sync with car horns. When I managed to jostle out of South Mada Street and onto RK Mutt Road, it was dark, which meant only one thing – more traffic.
Somewhere between these four roads, I had come close enough to getting hit by a motorbike, a cow and a bus. But if there was an accident to happen, who is to be blamed – the victim who was careless, the vehicle drivers who were not careful enough or the hawkers who occupy so much of the street that the pedestrians walk on the road?
That is an answer I chose not to find out – not when my life was at the mercy of hawkers and drivers.