Nuisance Committing On MG Road Is Prohibited... Somewhat
In any sportive fight, the rules are simple.
Two individuals meet to joust with each other in a weight-matched bout. A referee keeps watch to prevent scratching, clawing, groin-kicking and eye-gouging. Eventually one is declared winner. The contestants shake hands, the loser congratulates the winner sportingly and both leave the boxing ring in an orderly manner.
And Stone Cold Steve Austin is your grandmother.
In the World Wrestling Entertainment—called the "WWF" until some tiger lovers foiled them—the action is compelling.
The rules are scanty.
The action is compelling because the rules are scanty.
In polite societies (like say, the US, Japan or Singapore), everyone buys into the concept of public good – and civil rights are enjoyed liberally, but responsibly. For the most part, everyone is mindful of the comfort of others.
Their definition of “normal life” is where everyone waits patiently in a queue and conduct their lives in an orderly manner, bound by laws, rules and above all, the sense of common good.
The violation of all rules is why the WWE is titillating. And that is why it attracts so many screaming fans in the West.
People who live by convention would sense liberation in an atmosphere like the WWE, where participants thumb their noses at rules. An atmosphere where the referee is comic relief.
And then one day, I was in a café in the 1 MG Road mall where they were showing a WWE match on the TV. Two wrestlers were chasing the referee around the ring, trying to beat him with a folding chair.
But none of the patrons of the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf café paid attention to the action.
I realised why such action does not titillate us Bangaloreans.
We live this action everyday.
Replace referee with “policeman”. Replace “wrestlers” with you and me. Replace the “boxing ring” with say, MG Road. And welcome to life in Bangalore.
In the WWE, the boxing ring is merely a point of reference. The action happens everywhere around it.
Bangalore is like that boxing ring. We do have laws (like traffic laws, or anti-bribery laws) and we do have public facilities, (like roads and sidewalks). But we use these only as points of reference… the action happens everywhere around them.
So, in a moment of love for my native city, I made a list of Bangalore’s reference points.
Invented to contain refuse in a sanitary manner, hidden from plain sight till the garbage truck collects it.
Reality: The garbage bin is a reference point for the presence of other people’s garbage. Civic-minded Bangaloreans scatter their garbage close to the bin. The rest scatter it anywhere they want.
THE YELLOW LINE
Invented to regulate traffic and keep it on one side of the road.
Referee: Traffic cop.
Reality: Drivers use the line as a reference point to drive on top of it. Or on either side of it, depending on what is expedient. The traffic cop waves his arms pointlessly like a cowherd in a stampede. The bovine analogy has resulted in large metal barricades being erected to herd traffic, like cattle.
Dashed lines painted on the street to separate traffic headed in one direction according to size and speed of vehicle to allow for commodious usage of roads.
Reality: The inter-lane demarcations are presently used for slalom practice. Soon, there will be large metal barricades not only in the middle of the road, but between lanes, too.
Invented to regulate movement of vehicles to prevent gridlocks and accidents at intersections.
Reality: “Give way to the traffic from the right” means “Yield to whoever might get you killed if you don't”. “Stop” means “Accelerate and knock the cyclist off his perch”. “Slow” means “You are driving too slow”. (“Caution: Men at Work” is actually the City Corporation’s stab at humour, because we Bangalorean men don’t do that. We leave it to our women.)
Invented for safety of pedestrians and for vehicles to allow them to cross the street.
Reality: A waste of paint. Pedestrians note the road marking as reference points and then run across the street from a location of their choosing, generally wherever they are currently positioned. Cars and buses accelerate at the sight of pedestrians in an effort to scatter them.
Invented to allow pedestrians safe access across railway lines.
Reality: It’s too much trouble to climb stairs. So the overhead footbridge serves as a reference point as to where the tracks must be crossed. Under it.
Invented to allow pedestrians safe passage.
Reality: Sidewalks do prevent pedestrians from walking in the middle of the road. Instead they walk on the road right beside the sidewalk. Two-wheelers sometimes ride on the sidewalks because the roads are too full of cars. And pedestrians.
Invented for travellers to queue up and get in and out of buses in an orderly manner.
Reality: The bus stop is as a reference point for buses to stop at least twenty feet away from it. Passengers then break all queues and make a determined sprint for the doors, every man to himself.
“Q PLEASE” SIGNS
Invented so that customers can be served efficiently and quickly, one after another.
Reality: Customers crowd the location in a higgledy-piggledy manner and a profusion of sweaty hands is stuck through the ticket window. Neither seller nor customer understands the concept of queuing. Notice how the chemist will raise a questioning eyebrow at another waiting customer before he has finished dealing with you. If the other customer does not interrupt your transaction with his request, it means he is embarrassed. He is probably buying condoms.
Invented to provide the itinerant human a private and sanitary way to relieve himself.
Reality: The public latrine serves as a reference point as to where one must empty one’s bladder. Though contorted like Peter Sellers in “The Party”, the Bangalorean first identifies the location of the public toilet and sees it as a reference point.
Then he pees on the wall next to it.