Every biker in Chennai would have atleast once heard this comment from someone among the family circle or friends – “You have a bike or scooter or atleast tvs 50 na. Wats ur prob? U can fly wherever u want in very less time”. or “Hey you have bike na. Drop your aunty in station da.” or “Hey you have bike na, then why are you showing faces when I ask you to go often to the shop” or “U always roam in bike with your friends, but to take me to TNagar in bike you feel sick.”
I am a biker who drives from Anna Nagar to Taramani daily which is around 24 kms two and fro. Let me tell you the challenges travelling in my scooter to work and back to home or travel to a shopping complex. Before I begin let me explain about my scooter. He is in shades of grey and his name is activa. Loyal he is that he has been carrying me everywhere i wished to go since October 2011. I have felt very bad when he got his first scratch and still I feel bad when I drive in a bumpy road of Chennai (Pls dont remind me that most of the roads are so and I feel die with that guilt 😉 ). At times he had got dents due to the careless drivers on streets and few times due to my mistake. And last but not least he had managed to carry me all thru my weight gain and he has been loyal to carry as my family grew from 2 to 3 🙂 Ok, now the readers who think that “Honda activa ku ivlo build up ah?” (So much build up for just Honda Activa), my reply is simple “teda hai phir be mera hai” (konala irunthaalum ennudayathakkum).
Ok, here I tell you why the riding in Chennai is not fun :
Chennai traffic : The biggest challenge is driving through traffic of Chennai especially for me as I have to cross all main areas of Chennai starting from Koyembedu, Vadapalani, Ashok pillar, Ekkaduthangal, Guindy and Velachery to Taramani. The chennai bikers have the in-built GPS that our memory had stored. Search for small lanes around and drive through them. Even if you dont know the path it would take you to some main road. Connect from there. OR follow some random motorcyclist who takes a small lane and he should definitely be taking to the traffic free main road. Sometimes even the footpath becomes your way to drive. “Where there is a will there is a way” is saying apt for bikers in chennai.
Handling cyclists, auto walas and pedestrians : India unfortunately doesnt have any seperate cycle lanes and so the cyclists are in their flow wherever they get space. Honking them is like the movie dialogue “playing fiddle behind a buffalo”. Pedestrians dream on roads and doesnt follow any rules. From somewhere suddenly one guy ll come and if he is hit, your day ends there. Auto walas would compete with bikers in every nook and corner. They have fun in blocking the small paths which bikers take to go ahead in traffic signals. And unfortunately bikers are the ones who often have to hear “O**ha” et all other abusive words in chennai for anything and everything.
Escaping Police mamas : Next challenge is the police mamas who will be waiting to collect maamul (bribe). Suddenly there will be a police who will jump your way and tell you to corner your vehicle and he will take your bike key. Inspite of showing papers and wearing helmet he will tell some junkiest reason to get 100 rupees from you. Carrying cards and less money is best way to escape from this mamas. If you want to escape take the extreme right lane to avoid getting held.
Get dusty : Dress up well, do how much ever make up you want , put perfumes but if you are driving in a scooter in chennai, you will end up looking horrible at your destination. So even guys (gals always do) in chennai end up carrying a kit containing face wash, perfume, wipes in their bag to look better at the destination. Dont think that you look like a hunk with all dust, it happens only in ads. These pics depict the state better.
Chennai heat : Even after you say ok for all the above, beating chennai heat is toughest. Sun has so much love towards chennai that he never allows the city to cool down. And since the mercury never drops travelling long distance in bike invites health issues from dehydration to stroke. So carrying water bottles, buttermilk etc etc is only choice and resulting in huge luggage even to office making us feel like we are going for some trekking.
So to all dears and nears, I just want to say that we struggle a lot to drive scooters or bikes in Chennai city. Just by watching Gautam menon or Maniratnam’s movies, please dont decide that if we drive out we are having a breezy ride. I can hear few commenting now in comedian santhanam’s tone – “Appo neenga fulla cover pottukittu thaan poganum”.
If you plan to advice me to take an alternative, PLEASE LET ME KNOW WHEN YOU ARE BUYING ME A CAR ? ) 🙂 🙂