The bright May sun was beating down, as the vehicles tried to nudge one another at the busy traffic light! It was like any other regular day, as I peered out of the window to see the worked up faces behind the steering wheels and exasperated looks on the faces of the co passengers in the adjoining vehicles. Driving in this hot weather under the glaring sun requires grit. Some impatient ones were honking as if the vehicles ahead would don wings and fly leaving place for them to drive on! A plume of smoke belched from the adjoining auto rickshaw as the driver cleared the beads of perspiration with a sodden handkerchief. Two young girls had their faces covered with stoles and only the dark shades were visible from the veil. They were trying to maneuver their way through the stationary vehicles to cross the road
I then noticed the frail figure who adorned a jungle hat on the head, a portable amplifier slung with a strap across the shoulder and a microphone in hand! He was wearing a white overall with inscription ’Traffic Baba’ in bold letters both in front and on the back. In the other hand he was holding a bunch of leaflets of paper which he was handing over to those inside the vehicles. Every now and then the speaker would crackle to life while the ‘Traffic Baba’, urged the people to follow the traffic rules! At least someone was making an effort to drive sanity in this insane world of hurry!
I had seen ‘Traffic Baba’ on the road intersections in and around the locations near my place of residence a few times, working with similar zeal, though he was well past prime of his youth. He had seen more than seventy five such hot summers! A genuine Good Samaritan who on his own initiative went from place to place to assist the traffic police to manage the unwieldy traffic! He is also known as the ‘Suraksha Baba’ urging people to ‘Drive Carefully as there is someone waiting for them at home’. His penchant for people to follow the traffic rules started almost a decade back when one of his close friend’s sons died in a road accident.
Mukul Joshi (actual name of Traffic Baba) is a retired government servant and earns his living from pension and as an agent selling insurance policies. I first met him many years ago to assist in renewal of an insurance policy. I came to know about his passion for educating people much later when one day I spotted him on the traffic light indulging in his favorite pastime of driving traffic sense in people! His children are settled abroad and he along with his wife stays in our colony, rendering this yeoman’s service.
He does not seek any financial assistance for the services rendered including the printing of pamphlets for distribution for which he bears the expense on his own. According to him one has to prove to the society that ’Old is Gold’ by actions and not mere rhetoric!