With horror I read in the newspapers the other day that they were going to implement some measures to manage the growing traffic menace in the city.
And I quote:
Under the TRS(Traffic Restraint System), which would be applicable during peak hours, vehicles with number plates ending with numbers 1 and 2 would be barred entry into the island city on Mondays, number plates ending with numbers 3 and 4 will be restricted entry on Tuesdays, 5 and 6 on Wednesdays, 7 and 8 on Thursdays and 9 and 0 on Fridays.
Simple enough you will say. Simple enough, say some Government officials too, asking the city to experiment. I too, am all for change, but this one, this time, kind of worries me personally. You see, between work and home, my car scuttles around various parts of the city in a day. Then there are social engagements (not too many but…) and of course the “friends & family” bit. And then there are certain contingencies. All unplanned, of course. Such is the life we lead.
So here’s the deal.
You are one smart person. (Quite unlike me.) You have it all planned in life. (Very much unlike me.) And you have charted your day for what is called the ‘island city’ on the day that the city’s administrative services allows your vehicle in. (That is so not me!) Simple, isn’t it? It’s smooth. There is less traffic because of the new restraint system and all is well with the world. Well, you know what? Lucky you, you smart person, because I have a whole lot of questions for the powers that be.
In the first place I am horrified. I have a constraint about the restraint. I am dyslexic about numbers. I can’t for the life of me remember my car number. Forget ( yes, forget!) the alphabets preceding it… the numbers alone do a salsa in my head. Is it 1261? 1621? 1126? 1612? Every time I have been asked for my car number I have politely got out of my car and looked at the number plate and spoken the truth and nothing but the absolute truth. If I am at home, I’ve actually gone down to where my car is parked to check that. Any other way and I am liable to be arrested for cheating the law. Which brings me to the question: how do I know which part of the city I can drive into this morning? I can’t remember what my licence plate ends in when I am at home? So maybe I start planning my day as soon as I reach my parking spot? Maybe?
Okay. Park that thought for a moment.
Now think about this. I go for a late night movie into a designated ‘1 & 2 area’. Having checked that my car number plate ends with 3 the happy cop gallantly whistles me through. The late late show ends at 1 am. Oops! It’s now tomorrow. And it’s no longer Monday. It’s Tuesday. And Tuesday number plates ending with 3 are barred! What do we do now? Change cars? Or places? Or cops? Or simply hide the car under a bush and crouch in the darkness till the designated days pass by?
Then there’s this happy event in Mumbai’s most loved five star hotel. A grand anniversary celebration. On a Monday. My car number ends in 1. Wrong number for the wrong day. Uh-oh. I quickly fill in the RSVP card stating the reason. I am sure my dear friends will understand. The law is after all, the law. Silver anniversaries, notwithstanding.
More number crunching. While vehicles with 1 & 2 will be debarred entry what about the ones that are exiting? What about vehicles that actually belong to residents in that area? What about people staying overnight? Working late? Catching that late night concert? Or going for an after-dinner icecream jaunt to town?
My head is spinning with numbers. 1 & 2 means I can’t go to town on Monday. And Tuesday to Friday I am all tied up in this part of town. So does that mean I can’t go to town till next week? Can things in this maximum city be postponed even by a day? Leave alone a week? Just because you were unfortunately endowed with a number plate that was all wrong? They say that for every system that is proposed, there is a way to beat it. Someone talked about people using their second car to beat the system. I think I am way smarter. I am investing in a second number plate!

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