It was November morning and wintery (just on paper like everything else in India). The day was not as cold as it had to be. Regardless, I rode toward Gurgaon, feeling empowered, on my 350cc beast. The sweet sound of engine and the rustling of air through my helmet are always exciting. This is the time, when morning, even in Delhi, seems like a morning: sweet, slightly cold, soft sweet wind.
Everything was perfect, I went to Gurgaon, did my work and returned within 10 minutes, indeed 2 hours of ride for a 10-minute work, the enterprise is worth praising. But to understand the fun, you should know the reason, which anyways is beside the point.
What I was telling was, I was returning from Gurgaon and as usual humming some song; there is a peculiar thing about the way I sing a song, actually, I pick the music and change the lyrics and hum and even sing louder, sometimes really louder. I know, it’s embarrassing for some, sometimes even for me but at other, its sheer joy.
It transcends and takes me back to the time, when I was a kid of 8-9, and during vacations, in cool breezy winter, I used to walk on the embankment. The river always was silent, listening to my humming and singing. I always knew I had little scope as a singer, and I guess even the river knew that I knew about my limitation and hence, she just stood there, silent, listening, obviously not admiring.
Oops! I again straggled, the point is I was returning from Gurgaon, and just before Dhaula Kuan, at a red-light, I saw a beautiful, green, luscious (indeed it is if you see at that hour of the morning and from that spot, elsewhere…no guarantee), low-floor DTC bus.
My eyes chased it and suddenly it stopped. The reason was a woman, middle edged, lower class. She had her head slightly popped out of window, I felt disgust and all my thoughts, and the feeling of rustling wind was gone. The woman was vomiting and painting the bus’s exterior with the substance she ate, before this incidence.
Now, the question rises, is it that difficult to control this situation? Indeed, there are people who get motion sickness and they can’t do much about it. The question is, can’t government think about these smaller issues? How much will placing vomit bags in these buses will cost? 1 rupee or 2 each ($0.02- $0.04 each)?
It’s not the question of price; it’s the question of willingness. Let me give one economic solution, which won’t cost govt. anything, but will take care of such situations., yet, I know it won’t ring a bell.
Place vomit bags in these buses and price it Rs.2 (or whatever the cost is) and make it obligatory for the person with motion sickness to use it, and if they fail to comply levy a fine of Rs 20(ten times the cost of bag).
This fine will incentives the use of vomit bag. Wait, add another layer to this, and make the driver and other buss staffs accountable for the situation. If any stain of vomiting is found on the bus and the buss staffs fail to show the penalty receiving slip then they should be penalized for not being watchful. Economics is only about incentives. Right incentive will get your job done.
There is a slight concern though, bribery. My answer to this is, let it. Someone has to clean it, be it the cleaner (who will be paid from the received penalty) or the buss staff who accepts bribe. In any case, buses will be clean.
People must be thinking, have I gone mad? In the time of terror attacks, I am worried about vomits? I must be mad on that account.
Well, I am not. Let me tell you one story.
In early nineties, the crime scene in New York State was very bad. Criminals were not afraid of NYPD and entire state was terrorized by murders, drugs, rapes and what not. A lot of measures were taken, like increasing the policing, increasing the numbers of NYPD personnel, but all the effort went down the drain. [There is one interesting thing about police, research suggests the more police you have, the more crime you’ll face.]
Then, a new chief of NYPD, Commissioner William Bratton, came in picture. He was brought from Boston. He was a wise man; he knew the limitations of NYPD and started mobilizing resources.
The very first thing on his list was to save the subway from graffiti-makers. Well, seeing the rising graph of murders, rapes and kidnaps this step was funny, stupid. Still, he continues giving soft signals to the criminals, that the scene was changing and this small change, eventually, wiped out criminals from New York.
I am asking for the same small cue, that we care. And for the curious lot, this is called broken window effect. More on it, some other time. And by the way, I am yet to try a joy ride on Delhi’s buses. If luck favours, someday I’ll….