Sunday, April 19, 2009

In the rant mode...

Friends, Romans and countrymen... Please bear with me for a few minutes while I vent my latent frustration through the series of tubes known as the internet (which, I admit, is a bit pathetic, but I am exploding here, people!!). Powerful stuff, this; it even got me out of my self-imposed hibernation! Well, here goes:

The streets of Baltimore city (where I live now) are absolutely horrendous, and very rough on my poor old car's tires - particularly the stretch through which I drive to work everyday. It is a bit like skateboarding on a corrugated sheet; the roads are broken and bumpy, and the punctuated driving experience on those roads would probably have been funny (like, funny! Ha-ha!) if it were not so damn irritating! Where do our taxes go? What is the City Administration doing? 

But I swear, folks, even more irritating and painful - trust me on this - are the Baltimore drivers. I have encountered drivers of different kinds in the West coast, in the Pacific Northwest, in a few Southern states, in the New England, as well as in the East coast. I have come across rude drivers, especially cabbies, in New York, and have gone head to head with the said cabbies on the 5th Avenue southward and Madison Avenue northward. New York cabbies are known to appreciate a bit of 'creative driving' and even respect someone who can take control of the streets as well as they do. I have come across gentle drivers in the Pacific Northwest and in the South. But nothing... nothing prepared me for my driving experience in Baltimore!

People here: 
  • Double-park on the streets in order to stand and chat - completely blocking outgoing traffic on busy streets. 
  • Completely and suddenly stop - without any indication of their intent - in the middle of the road.
  • Suddenly move out of on-street parking spots regardless of oncoming traffic. 
  • Have no concept of waiting at street junctions with no traffic lights, and just barge on.
  • Take very wide turns even with the smallest cars.
  • Talk on their cell phone while driving, and slow down to a crawl as a consequence - oblivious to the fact that he/she is blocking all path of all other cars behind him/her in the same lane.
And this takes the cake... Just the other day, on my way to work in the morning, I got stuck behind a car that was going painfully slow in the left lane. When an opportunity presented itself, I veered to the right in order to pass the car, and tried to catch a glimpse of the driver. I imagined the person to be talking on a cell phone as usual. Imagine my surprise when I found the driver, a middle-aged woman, applying make up to her face while driving! Her eyes were on the mirror behind the unfolded shade on the driver's side while the car was in motion, and she used both her hands to dab eyeshadow on - occasionally closing an eye for that purpose.

I ran away as fast as I could. There was an accident waiting to happen and I didn't want to be in the pile-up. The cops - of whom there is a large number on the prowl in patrol cars - seem to be largely indifferent, once again distinctly different from what I was used to in New York. 

And my friend, who grew up in Baltimore, cautioned me NEVER to honk at anyone on Baltimore streets, because frankly I could be knifed, shot at, punched or otherwise bodily harmed for honking. Apparently, such incidents are not unknown. 

Great! Just great! [Sigh!] I shall shut up now, curl up in a fetal position and rock myself back and forth.



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