“Young She-Devils on wheels” – 13 March 2013

Congratulatory messages started coming in one by one by friends living outside Nagpur as my lovely city received not one but four acclaims in the Best City Awards Survey conducted by ABP news. It was a happy and proud moment for all of us as we could obviously perceive the envy in their friendly tones and tenor. We beat all the cities in four areas such as health care services, best public transport, best green city, and the most livable city. Wow! That was news for many of us who grumble about the conditions of the roads and the public transport (the killer buses someone called them). See, we told each other we have nothing to complain about- now that we are the best! We are the best! However, I enjoyed the comment of the FM Radio jockey who said ‘Oh my father, if we are the best in these four, I shudder to think about the state of the other cities!’ A telling comment indeed –many of us decent people would agree with him.

But coming to the point I want to make- there is a fifth award that Nagpur city deserves—‘the dare- devil award for the city girls!’ The young girls of Nagpur on two wheels are notorious and infamous in the entire country. This was also news for me. They are the worst compared to all the other girls in other cities when it comes to riding on wheels. They have scant (read none whatsoever) regard for traffic rules, they revel in zipping around in full throttle scaring the hell out of people, don’t care for the humans on two feet, care a damn for safety conscious drivers of four wheelers, and to top it all also mask their complete face with cloth’. They cannot be identified and are comparable to the devils in four wheelers who zip around with dark mirrors in spite of them being banned. That speaks a lot about the character of the girls of this city and particularly of the super driving skills of Nagpur’s girls/teenagers.

This was a keen observation made by a very perceptive and experienced gentleman who recently got posted to Nagpur for the first time. Having a vast background of experiencing all types of big and small cities of India, he had some interesting and pertinent observations to make about my beloved city. This one about the city’s she-devils was an eye opener and a bumper for me. As my face fell with obvious surprise he enjoyed elaborating his experience about this phenomena being specific to Nagpur only. ‘No where have I seen young girls with such impunity on wheels. Metropolitan cities such as Banglore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Mysore, do not have girls with such type of bad behaviour’. Everywhere he finds girls more disciplined, following traffic rules and have good regard for the norms of the land. ‘I do not understand this daring undisciplined behaviour of girls at all’ he stated with horror. Citizens of the senior generation are generally overawed and horror stuck with the terrible attitude and delinquent behaviour of the juveniles.

Has this something to do with the city and its socio-cultural ethos would be a good question to ask. Or does it tell on the respect or the lack of it that the law and order system enjoys in the minds of the girls is another hypothesis. Or it has something to do with the architecture and the roads of the city that encourage such behaviour. Another angle could be the large percentage of youth population the city has due to hundreds of colleges and institutes the city hosts. This would make a good cross cultural study of delinquent behaviour of young girls of Nagpur. Girls should know that a vehicle gives a sense of freedom but that it certainly does not give them a licence to break rules, injure others, hurt and kill or get killed. If the girls are trying to prove themselves equal to boys than this is not the way at all, no, not in such a fashion. There are better ways of competing and achieving in better fields. The bad behaviour of boys need not be copied or imitated and imbibed. ‘Boys will be boys’ so say all when we see them behaving dirty. But girls are a better breed of God and so be it. A friend of mine observed ‘everyone with some common sense can see that girls break rules more than the boys. Of course people forgive boys by saying that boys will be boys but girls are worse!

Maharashtra is one of the better known cultures for equality between the sexes compared to the north Indian cultures where girls are treated with secondary status. Equality and freedom is a responsibility and not a license to throw all decorum to the winds. Mothers and fathers should take serious note of this. Do not allow your young girls to wear full face masks, teach them to follow rules otherwise punish them by depriving them of the vehicle. Do not give two wheelers to irresponsible youth. They do not deserve it. Do not pamper them. The streets and roads belong to all and is the common property of all citizens. It cannot be treated as personal property. They must respect the law of the land and its people. Otherwise withdraw their driving license and let them walk.

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