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Road block.

Ever since they put in a bus line down the middle of Mathura Road (cutting off half the street in the process), the traffic has been one giant organism, slowly inching its way forward. The ever benevolent city government thought to add a walking and bike path on the opposite side of the road from the bus stations, disregarding the possibility of walkers actually wanting to take the bus. That lane, of course, ate further into the road, exacerbating the traffic problem it was supposed to fix.

In the great Indian tradition of making do with what you have, Indian motorcyclists, the occasional rickshaw, and the daring car or two decided that the term “bike lane” included them as well. Driving over a four-inch curb, they merrily speed past the traffic. I suppose I shouldn’t say speed. There are plenty of law-breaking motorcyclists. Steady crawl would perhaps be more fitting.

In the face of such blatant disregard for signs, that benevolent government stepped in again and hired an army of guards to stand literal gate keepers along these paths. Lanky, young men in uniform stand next to flimsy, plastic barriers, menacingly waving their batons in hand.

These obstacles mean that every hundred yards or so, a veritable roadblock of motorcyclists gather round the guard and his solitary wall of defense. What usually occurs is the motorcycles gradually pour over the curb back into traffic and then clamor up the curb a few yards onward to get back on track. Every once in awhile the guard lazily allows a small gap, just big enough for one motorcycle to drive through the defense.

During a particularly gnarled point in traffic, as a wave of riders waited their turn to pass through that single slot, one man decided to take matters into his own hands. Disregarding the rather large baton in the hands of the guard, he kicked out at the road block. It clattered to the road. The flood gates opened. Bikes poured through. The guard, twirling his baton, looked at the onslaught and decided gossiping with his friend was far more a priority. When the sea of bikes trickled down to a stream, he ambled onto the road, picked up the road guard, and set it back into place.

A few minutes of bikes meandering off the walking path into traffic passed. And then a motorcyclist yelled at the guard. “Move that, please!”

Another great Indian tradition? Hospitality.

The guard promptly broke off his conversation and tilted the road block just far enough to let one motorcycle through.

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