As a young boy, I hated mathematics - little did I know that in later life I would come face to face with this subject and then master it if I was to take up the career I had chosen. I was lucky that I found a mentor, who deftly kindled in me, a passion for jigsaw puzzles and crosswords. Once I had learned to successfully apply logic, he gently pushed me into the world of Boolean Algebra, values of Delta and Trigonometry. I recently tried to apply the science of mathematics to the roads of the federal capital and came up with some interesting conclusions. During one of my drives to work, I began to observe motorbikes and the people who rode them. I noticed that almost 80 percent of these two-wheeled menaces were without rear view mirrors, while indicator lights of around 50 percent did not function. The combined effects of these two deficiencies alone turned this machine into a hurtling weapon, which negotiated traffic with utter disregard to what was coming up behind it. Many motorbikes had crash guards installed on them. These were metal structures that projected at least 12 inches on both sides, effectively reducing clearance for the daredevil rider to manoeuvre through narrow gaps between cars halted at traffic lights.It turned out that motorcycle riders are a special breed that needed special mention. These individuals always appeared to be in one hell of a hurry to get somewhere - which in my reckoning was sooner or later ‘a six foot hole in the ground’. I imagined myself to be a bird roosting atop a traffic light and getting a top down view of the drama below. As the light turned red, cars began stopping creating what could best be described as a ‘concertina effect’. Suddenly, numerous two-wheeled machines began squeezing through the mass. A driver let out a stream of unprintable language, as one of these machines brushed the paint off a new Toyota. Oblivious to the what was happening and driven by the uncontrollable urge to reach a ‘pole position’, these individuals pressed on. I also saw that dividers or islands did not deter these daredevils, as they often used muscle power to push their ‘steeds’ across such obstacles in a bid to take shortcuts.I recently had a brush with one of these ‘flying machines’ when it crashed into the side of my car at breakneck speed in total disregard of all traffic rules. I am grateful to my Maker that everyone involved in the mishap walked away from the scene unscathed, but this adventure made a huge dent in my savings.This brings me to the grey clad guardians of the roads, who when not committed on VIP movement duties are found standing languidly on cross roads. Lest I be too harsh on these individuals, I must acknowledge the fact that some of these traffic officers are efficient and highly motivated, but their presence is overshadowed by colleagues, who form chat groups in the shady corner of some intersection, while members of the public play havoc with rules of the road, right under their noses.I had an interesting encounter with a pair of such individuals at a U-turn in a suburban Islamabad area known as Barakahu. I was visiting a friend, who lives in the area, and had to take this U-turn at a time when the traffic from Murree was at its peak. I found the spot regulated by the Islamabad Traffic Police, who were alternately allowing the traffic, taking the turn and that coming from the hills, to proceed. One cop motioned for me to take the turn and then immediately allowed the southbound vehicles to move. I narrowly avoided a collision and protested to another grey clad figure standing nearby. His reply stunned me: “Sir, you were driving too slow and the traffic on the main highway could not be kept waiting.” All I could do was to tell him that in future I would approach this turn at high speed, as it was illegal to drive slow in Pakistan.
nThe writer is a freelance columnist.