Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Crossing Roads in Hyderabad

Crossing roads in any big city is an art. The denizens of each city usually become experts at this art. They teach it to their children along with the nuances of negotiating the long distance to school everyday and being wary of the strangers along the way. But this art takes a different form in every city. Having been in Hyderabad for about a month now, I think I’ve picked up a few such nuances myself.

First off, you must be good at mathematics. You must know your maxima and minima. Like all big cities, the traffic in Hyderabad never stops. There is a continuous barrage of motorized vehicles on the road. But unlike other cities, there are no subways or overbridges anywhere in Hyderabad. The average Hyderabadi doesn’t believe in them. He believes more in his knowledge of mathematics and maxima and minima.

What you have to do to cross the road is anticipate a local minimum in the traffic density. Understand that the traffic density will NEVER become zero. That is an impossibility. Even late night on a Saturday. Minima is the best you can do. So when you do encounter this minima, just cross the road. Don’t think. The people driving those fast and furious cars have eyes too. They can see you, they will avoid you. Have faith. Just walk across.

But the real challenge lies when you have crossed over one side of the road and are now standing on the divider. Because, of course, you only located the minima on this side of the road. There was now way to do it for the other side too. Unless you’re a mathematical geek or something, you cannot simultaneously locate a minima for both sides of the road! So now you’re stuck on the divider, the traffic in front of your so dense that the proverbial chicken will not be able to cross it even in nine lifetimes.

Now you just do the Matrix thingy. You walk onto the road confidently, raise one hand in the ‘stop’ gesture and walk across. God, in his infinite wisdom, put a little bit of Neo in all of us. Therefore, when you raise your hand and think stop, matrix of this world pauses for a while to wonder at your reckless suicidal spirit. And that momentary pause is enough to take you across the road!

Great! You’ve just learnt the secret to crossing roads in Hyderabad which I had to learn the hard way.


  1. when I went to Rome and was horrified by the amount of traffic and "no stopping on red" culture, one roman suggested that I shud just start walking. even if some car is coming u keep walking at a constant speed and in one direction, cars will change their path to avoid hitting u. mind that they will not slow down, just change the trajectory. :)
    amazing naah .... it worked.
    Then I thought of raju bhaiya
    "Hamare yahan light-wight kauno nahi dekhta hai. paar kanne hoye to dhapp se aa jao road ke beech mein, phir hool de daal, aey thaam re, teri to, phir aaram se road paar karo"
    ka kahi bhaiya :)

  2. I guess that happens over here too - the cars change their trajectory. :) It is almost like a video game, you have to judge and dodge the trajectories or you're 'dead'. (Most likely severely injured.) Glad to know that the Romans also do as we do. When in Rome do as the Indians do, eh?

  3. the cat has nine lives, not the chicken; so he has just one lifetime at his disposal. But it can cross the road, for it is 'the one'
    Locating maxima and minima, of a random function!! I think we can sell a lot of scientific calculators in Hyd. What say? Coupled with a GPS system, it'll make a fortune. Add a music player to it, and we'll have Jobs asking for a job.

  4. Kya bakwaas kiye ja rahe ho? So jao.

  5. ya ya.. i know.. we do similar things in Kolkata.. here the secret lies in keeping ur reflexes faster than the drivers... and also we in kolkata need some mathematical determination of the dynamic gap between vehicles and their variation over time.. once u can map them.. u r the smartest road crosser..

  6. that is certainly a very interesting way of looking at hyd traffic.
    the maxima minima thing is bang on. totally..
    you've got us all figured out now!!