Saturday, July 31, 2010

Rickshaw menace in Mumbai

Ask any vehicle owner or a person who does not own a vehicle, what the biggest menace on Mumbai’s roads today is … well apart from the zillion potholes, I’m sure each and every one of then will point their fingers at the ubiquitous rickshaw drivers.

Private vehicle owners, complain that it’s the rickshaw drivers who always break the lanes without giving any signals, stop just about anywhere on the road, again without giving any signals and start suddenly from their parked position, guess what, again without giving any signal! If you try to reason with them regarding this bad driving and not following of traffic rules, invariably they will fight with you using the foulest of language and they always have the other rickshaw drivers rushing to their support. They have absolutely no respect for basic civic sense or courtesy.

Now coming to the plight of the people who are forced to use the service of these princely rickshaw drivers daily. Every time a person gets off a crowded train in Mumbai, the first thing he prays for is that he gets lucky today and at least one rickshaw driver is willing to ferry him home. But alas, if wishes were horses …. Beggars would ride!! The Rickshaws refuse to ply your route as if it’s their right to refuse you every time. I guess they get some sadistic pleasure out of it! And the funniest part is they refuse just about every route, making you wonder why are they even driving a rickshaw? Will they decide where you need to go?

As per the law, they are supposed to ferry you wherever you want and cannot refuse you. But it never happens. Even if you try to forcefully sit inside the auto, after the driver refuses to ferry you, he’ll either give you excuses such as ‘petrol nahi hai’ or he will simply refuse to move. They care a damn even if you threaten to lodge a complaint against them.

Well, the papers scream out everyday, giving numbers for help lines and email addresses for commuters to complaint against such errant rickshaw drivers. But does anything actually happen after you complaint? No! We had a bad experience with a rickshaw driver last week, and like a true blood Mumbaikar wanted to fight back against injustice. So we filed an on-line complaint against the errant driver with his auto registration number, the place and time of incidence. But to date nothing has happened of it!

The Traffic Police as well as the RTO really need to be serious about this rickshaw menace and try to help the commuters who face tremendous difficulty everyday because of this.
The solution to this could be that, the police can post officers during peak hours, at specific rickshaw stands, especially outside railway stations, bus stations, etc and see to it that the rickshaw drivers do not refuse to ferry commuters. Also the RTO should give basic soft skills and civic sense training to all the rickshaw drivers and help them to improve their image.
On the part of commuters, they should make it a point to continue to complaint against errant drivers hoping that at least some of them will be pulled up.

So till the time the authorities take some real strict actions against these errant rickshaw drivers, lets keep the prayers going!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Trip to Malshej Ghat

We had gone to Malshej Ghat last weekend which is a small hill station, 150 kms from Mumbai. Surrounded by tall Sahyadri Mountains and lush greenery, Malshej ghat transforms into a perfect heaven during the monsoons. We stayed at the Flamingo Resort there, which is owned by MTDC. The rooms and food arrangements were pretty good and the climate there was just incredible. As soon as you open the windows of your room, cool moist clouds rush in. You feel as if you are living in the sky. Everywhere you see there are beautiful waterfalls rushing down the mountains on to the roads.

We had an amazing time getting drenched in the waterfalls and the rains. There is not much to do at Malshej Ghat, apart from enjoying the beautiful scenery and the waterfalls, so make sure you go there only during the rains. Also try to avoid the weekends, as it will be full of wild crowds guzzling beer on the roads and dancing. So a better plan is to go there on a weekday if possible to get maximum enjoyment. Also other nearby attractions are the Shivneri fort, which is Shivaji maharaj’s birth place as well as the Levyadri and Ozar Ashtavinayak temples.

Do not buy car logos from the black market

Every time you stop at a signal now a days, the first thing you notice is that most of the cars have been stripped of their maker logos/monograms. At first I found it amusing, till yesterday when I discovered that the logo on my Tata Indica was also missing! Till now the logo thieves were targeting higher value car brands like Mercedes, BMW, Honda, Skoda, etc but off late even logos from Marutis and Tata have been disappearing.

Various newspapers have been reporting that these gangs mostly consist of school children, which is really shocking. These kids get anywhere from Rs. 25 to Rs. 500 depending upon which logo that can steal. Logos of Mercedes and BMW are the most sought after. Many schools have been facing problems with their students having been caught red handed while stealing logos. Also since most car owners don’t register a case of theft for the logos, police are unable to take any action.

But who are the customers for such stolen logos? Apart from the few rickshaw and truck drivers who pretend they drive BMW rickshaws and BMW trucks, we our selves who have their logos stolen, are the biggest customers! A second hand Honda logo costs around Rs. 1000 while an original costs somewhere around Rs. 4,000. So many people who have their logos stolen prefer to get logos in the black for a much lower price. Unless we stop this practice and only buy logos from authorised dealers, this logo theft will go on. The only way to kill supply is by killing demand. Also please inform the nearest police station that your logo has been stolen so that the police can keep a watch and try to nab the culprits.

And ya, well I did go to an authorised Tata dealer and got a new logo fixed.

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