Mumbaikars and Punekars behave like children running out of classroom on hearing of the last bell the moment they hit Palm Beach Road in Navi Mumbai or the Expressway that connects the two cities. The older citizens, taxi drivers and auto drivers are right when they complain that the standard of the driving in the city has deteriorated to levels where I guess, more people now die on the roads than from falling from trains, each day, if not more.
If you have taken a driving test in any of our RTOs, you will know the depth to which our driving standards have fallen. I got my Driving License renewed recently and all you need to do to get a 4-wheeler license is to drive in a straight line, take a U-turn and stop the car when the inspector sitting next to you asks you to. Almost all of them did that with great difficulty and still passed the test. And there were a few who failed! And the men reading this would've guessed right, it was the women. That would've been a coincidence.
Of the 20 others who were taking the test with me that day, half of them were Chinese. In Navi Mumbai, where I took the test, Chinese visiting or working in India make it a point to get a driving license because it is easy to get one here. Unlike Bihar or the Andheri RTO (or so i was told) you need to actually take a driving test in Navi Mumbai. Those who apply for the Learners have to take an easy written test.
According to Chinese, most of them engineers working in Navi Mumbai, it is very difficult to get a license in China and the tests are very tough. So any young Chinese who comes here to work immediately gets a license, international one, I assume, and then uses it in China.
Going back to expressway and the city's driving skills, the expressway is one place to see our worst driving habits. Over speeding, jumping lanes, stopping where you are not supposed to stop, you name it and it's here for you to see. Exactly like in that wonderful ad for tyres with the line - Because the roads are filled with idiots.
Now that I've ranted like an old taxi driver, jumping signal and complaining about people who break them, here are few images from a drive up to Khandala in the rain. Monsoon 2012 has been dull and unlike the last few years, there wasn't enough opportunities to capture the rain, so it was a wonderful drive up the hills and for me.
Access controlled expressway, but not for hawkers.
Two wheelers aren't allowed, except for the maintenance staff.
No Stopping except to cause traffic pile ups.
No Stopping except to hitchhike or stop an ST bus.