Friday, 26 August 2016

Be a seconds hand on the clock

It is around 8:45pm in Ahmedabad.

I am driving back from work and I am about to reach a crossroads which has functional street lights. I see from far that none of the four sides are following the street lights. It is not unusual to see this in Ahmedabad.

I decide that I will probably jump the signal as well given that even if I wait, no one else will. [I am still working on becoming a better follower of traffic rules.]

At almost the left most part of the lane, I see two people riding on a bike and they are slowing down at the signal just before the zebra crossing. I notice them and stop as well. This was more out of solidarity with the bike rider more than anything else.

So its the two of us standing before the zebra crossing. Another bike rider and a car move past us. We look at each other and nod. I don't know why we did that. Right after that, three two wheelers stop between us. Now we had the entire lane covered. All of us waiting for the signal to change. We were a group now.

A SUV came behind the first bike rider and began to honk. The guy just moved his helmet glass up and pointed at the red light. The car stopped honking after two times. I was waiting there, observing all of this. All the other three lanes were in utter chaos. Everyone was going everywhere. No one waiting and following traffic rules. Our lane stood out.

Suddenly, the vehicles in the lane to our right also stopped before the zebra crossing. They are all looking towards us. I smile.

Within a matter of a few seconds, the vehicles in the lane right opposite ours also stop. Only the lane to our left, the one which is legally allowed to go is moving. All of us are standing and following the rules. There is no traffic police. There is no one managing traffic.

Our light turns green. We all go ahead. I don't think anyone realizes how that one bike rider changed so much. I don't think the rider would have imagined when he stopped that he would do all this.

The bike rider situation today reminded me of a 5 minute TED Talk that I had once seen called 'How to start a movement'

I have always learned something new when I watch this TED Talk.

But today was about something else. Today's situation made me realize something about change.

It always starts small. You sometimes don't see the impact of that small change but if you keep doing it consistently for a while, it shows results. I don't know how many times this bike rider has stopped at a signal and then no one has stopped with him. It did not stop him from stopping at the signal today.

He did it and people followed.

The analogy that came to my mind was that of a clock. It has a seconds hand, a minutes hand and an hours hand. It generally also has a spot which shows the date. Now, every small thing we do is like moving the seconds hand one step ahead. That's all we need to do.

If we do it for a while, we would have moved the minutes hand. If we continue doing it for a long time, we would have moved the hours hand. If we continue to do this even longer, we would have changed the date.

All this and it starts with moving the seconds hand forward by one and to keep moving it forward. That's all.

Similarly in the bike rider's situation, him stopping at the signal was the seconds hand movement. All of us in that lane who stopped because of him is the minutes hand movement. All four lanes following the traffic rules is the hours hand movement. Maybe someday everyone in Ahmedabad will learn how to follow traffic rules and that will be the change of date.

I have thought of the clock analogy many times before but I think this was the time when I could see it in action and truly understand it.

All I am taking away from this is to keep doing work however insignificant the impact may seem. It will someday lead to something big. I have to be like the seconds hand on the clock. The date will change on its own.

Dear Bike Rider,
I will never drive through a signal irrespective of where I am and what I driving. I promise. That's all because of you.