Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Traffic, ISB and more

I have been admitted to the prestigious 1 year Post Graduate Program in Management at the Indian School of Business that starts in April 2010. It was a dream come true for me. I had applied in 2007 but was not even called for the interview. ISB had always been on my radar ever since it started its operations in Hyderabad, so I was disappointed at not making it in 2007. However, that turned out to be a blessing in disguise as in Oct 2007, I moved into a Solutions Architect role in the APAC region and learnt about Sales, presales, marketing, solution selling, engaging with CXOs, etc. Now I have a better understanding of the business of IT.

One of my goals at ISB would be to see how my time there can be used towards a more structured approach at solving traffic problems on Indian roads. I have already reached out to my classmates about doing something for traffic improvement in India and found that there are traffic engineers that have worked on real time traffic flow issues in the US that are part of the ISB class of 2011. This is good as  we can use their inputs to come up with (and implement) solutions.

I will also be working with the Right 2 Walk Foundation to make our roads safer for pedestrians. We are doing a membership drive for Right 2 Walk Foundation and I have already signed up about 10 members. If you are interested in joining the foundation, do leave a comment or send me an email and I will follow up with you.

Here's hoping that my time at ISB will help me in some way for traffic improvement in India.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Latest tourist attraction at Hitech City - the Lake

Did you see it? Did you swim in it? If it rains for another day, we'll have to swim through it to get to our offices in Mindspace. This part of the road gets flooded after every shower, so I wonder why the administration has not done anything about it.

When I saw the traffic jam in the morning just before taking the u-turn opposite Cyber Gateway (to come to Mindspace), I decided against taking this route and instead went back to Whitefields, drove to Gachibowli and used new link road to approach Mindspace. The traffic jam was massive. I took the other gate into Mindspace and even that road (to Durgam Cheruvu) was water logged. I entered into Mindspace, drove to the main gate and parked my car there to see if I could help ease the jam. This is what I saw (Pic sent in by my colleague, Mehul. Click on it to enlarge the pic!)

There was nothing I could do but watch! If it rains heavily again, see if you can avoid this road. Meanwhile, happy fishing!

The cab story: The Ending!

So how do you think it turned out finally? Do you think there were punches, kicks, exchange of money, etc? Well here's how it turned out(there's a twist):

I had been badgering the cabbie to pay me the money and I kept calling him and the owner to follow up.
The cabbie was supposed to meet me on Monday night and pay me Rs. 500, but because of the downpour that night and because his daughter was not well, I told him to meet me today (Wednesday). I told him to call me before 9am and meet me by 11am. I was more interested in seeing if he will actually call me. He did call at 930am and say that he will meet around 1130. He finally came in at 130pm, but did keep me informed of his delays.
I met him outside Mindspace, right where the accident took place. I asked him to sit in my car and we drove ahead to the side of the road, parked and got out. I greeted him with a smile and made small talk with him. I told him that I was happy that he came to meet me and we spoke about how the accident took place.

I then asked him to give me the money . He said he only had Rs. 240 out of which he could give me Rs. 200. The agreement was for Rs. 500, so I told him that he will still need to pay me the rest. After some deliberation, I made him agree to pay me the rest over a 2 month period . He promised and said that he'd pay whenever he gets the chance.

The twist:
Once I had the Rs. 200 with me and his promise to pay the rest over the next 2 months, I gave him his money back. My main aim was to make sure that because of this accident, this cabbie realizes that he needs to take safe driving seriously. I told him that I had been giving him a hard time on purpose so that he is more careful on the road next time, lest he ends up dealing with someone like me again. The cabbie got emotional and started crying saying that he never expected me to be like this. He said that this "twist in the climax" was unexpected. He had a completely different view about me. I said that I wanted to make sure that he pay an amount which would pinch him and make him realize that he cannot get away with rash driving. He insisted that I keep the money, but I declined saying that I got what I had wanted . He felt happy and promised that he'd be careful about driving from now on.

We then spoke about his future plans. He hopes to buy his own taxi and run it as a radio taxi. If I had filed a police complaint, this cabbie may not have been able to do this, since the taxi companies check the police records(ask for a certificate from the police). He is financially weak and is the only earning member in a family of 10. I offered to use his taxi service whenever possible and also told him that if he needs any other help, I'd see if I can do something.

So that's how this ended. Hopefully, through all this, I may have reduced one reckless driver on our roads. I still have an ugly bumper, but you can't have your cake and eat it too, right?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The cab story: continued!

It was a dark stormy night. Strange bat like creatures flying around....

Sorry, I just thought I'll make it a little more dramatic! :)

So here's the update:
I called the cab company - not once, not twice but about 5-6 times before I was finally put through to the supervisor of the call center. The supervisor gave me the number of the person who manages the cabs' operations. I then called this guy, who asked me to call up after another hour so that he could give me the number of the car's owner.
This "owner" (let's call him Mr. Lawyer) wasn't really the owner, but was the person who was running these cabs! (Look at the levels of contracts and sub contracts in this process).

I then told Mr. L what happened and L promised that he will revert by Thursday (day of the accident) evening. I waited until 9pm before calling L up again and he promised that the driver will call me on Friday morning and will settle the matter with me.
No surprises when the driver did not call me and I had to speak to L again to find out if he was indeed serious about this matter. The driver finally called me up on Friday evening and tried every which way to wriggle out of the mess he had crashed into. :)

After listening to various angles ranging from the accident being entirely the driver's fault to it being partially my fault to the driver's financial situations not being stable, I finally told him that he would have to pay for damages because there was no way I was letting him off that easy. He's to meet me today evening. Let's see if he comes.

A note about the cab company: pathetic customer service is what comes to mind. An accident is caused by one of their cabs and the "victim" is to call multiple times and to multiple people. It should be the company's responsibility to verify the details of the incident and revert with a plan. I guess this is one way of discouraging the complainant. I had almost given up.

I have got emails from folks asking me to report this matter to the police. I have also got calls from friends who're willing to help me register a police case.

Now, here's my take on this entire episode:
  • The accident wasn't a serious one.
  • If I had to register a case with the police, I might have had to go multiple times to the police station.
  • What happens behind the scenes is not in my control.
  • Lastly, my aim here was to make life difficult for this cab driver so that he understands that he cannot get away every time in such cases.
I will be traveling tomorrow so may not be able to update the blog until Wednesday.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Car got hit by a cab this morning!

This morning (13th August '09) at around 1045 am, my car was hit by a cab while I was turning into Raheja Mindspace.

To better understand how this happened:
  1. Imagine a four lane road
  2. The cab was in the left most lane and almost stationary, as if it was deciding whether to turn into Raheja Mindspace.(The driver said that his customers wanted to know where Raheja Mindspace was and he was pointing it out to them when he hit my car.)
  3. Because the left most lane was occupied by the cab, I was on the second lane from the left and turning left (with indicator et al).
  4. I had almost completed turning when my car got hit by the cab and my left rear bumper was damaged (dislocated and badly scratched).
I stopped my car and pulled the cab over and gave him a piece of my mind. Initially, the driver was apologetic and said that it was his fault. I then said that this damage will cost around 3k (I own a Honda City & each panel's painting and denting costs 3k.) I told him to pay for the damages or deal with the Police.

He said he didn't have the money and after he saw that I was very serious about calling the Police (I called and spoke to the Police in front of him and a mobile police party was on its way to help), he started getting agitated and started saying that it was my fault. He also took up an aggresive stance. I explained to him the concept of lane driving, rule position when a car hits another from behind, etc but he wasnt ready to listen. So I said let's wait for the police to come so that they can explain these rules to him. He then sat in the car and motioned as if he was going to take the car to the side, but drove away. Luckily, the security personnel from Raheja had noted the number down and I then called the Cab company and lodged a complaint. I'm waiting to see what the cab company does and will update this blog later.

The bigger picture here is that such drivers cause harm to others who aren't at fault. What if instead of my car, there was a two wheeler with a kid on it? What if he had hit a pedestrian? He wasn't looking on the road, so he would have hit anyone who was in front at that time. For that, I am thankful that it was me and not someone else who could've gotten seriously injured. I want to make sure that this driver learns his lesson. I have half a mind to name the cab company here, but I will give them a chance to sort this out first.

Few pointers for others:
  • Always note down the errant car's number.
  • Call the police if the driver is refusing to pay for damages or if he is threatening you.
  • Make sure there are witnesses who can corroborate your version.
  • Don't let the driver off easily.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Video: Traffic in Hyderabad (Paradise)

This video was not taken by me. I found this on Youtube.
This is a junction with traffic lights in perfect working condition, yet the situation is chaotic. Can we blame the government? Can we blame the Police? We can't, because we have a road that is good condition and we have police constables/home guards who're manning this junction. But still, because of pedestrians crossing the road at will, motorists jumping red lights and cars blocking free left turns, this junction is one of the most clogged ones in Hyderabad.

Videos: Traffic in Hyderabad (SR Nagar road)

This video was not taken by me. I found this on Youtube.