Monday, February 16, 2015

Being Bostonian

I moved to Boston nearly couple years ago. I have lived the Midwest culture, experienced the west coast life now trying to be a Nor' easter. And I must say.. there is no greater joy like living in Boston and being a true Bostonian. But.. you have to prepare for that!

As soon as I moved to Boston, I felt closer to my home country when I was driving. People honk, that is a means of communication telling the other person to yield, just like in India. You have to be aggressive on roads.. this is how you clear the prelims of being Bostonian. Other things are add-ons. You can honk on turns just to be safe if anyone is coming from the opposite direction. You do not have to show respect to pedestrians as they are not supposed to stop you from driving. (“rastyat sarvat durlakshit goshta mhanje padachaari”). There is no lane system on the roads. Two lanes can change into one or three without any indication. But there is an unwritten code of conduct between every driver. You have to master that to be a Bostonian. If two cars can be accommodated alongside each other (on an internal road, or a freeway ramp/exit), no one cares about how many lanes are there. Organically traffic keeps on flowing making optimum use of the space. And esp in peak hours, people calmly keep flowing as and where they find space. Until there is a “road romeo” who tries to cut through and merge in between a lane to save time/ go faster. That’s when Bostonians unite to make sure he cannot cut through their lane. It’s a matter of Bostonian pride now. That time you’ll hear honks and see fingers flipped at our road romeo. Most of the times, this road romeo is someone from outside Boston or new to Boston ..or from New York. Being Bostonian on the roads is not about following traffic rules, it’s about utilizing space and time optimally so that everyone can reach their respective offices on time (and then bitch about how bad the traffic is getting these days …:aaj kal chi pora na.. “).

A true Bostonian will hate New York, or a New Yorker. A true Bostonian cop will ticket almost every NY license plate seen on Boston roads (and from a personal experience, vice versa is also true :/). It’s much like how a true Punekar feels about a Mumbaikar or living in Mumbai and vice versa. You need pride in being a Bostonian. Bostonian honyasathi abhimanachi garaj aste. (jajwalya abhimaan nai.. to punyakadech ahe ajun). And unlike Pune, where pride can to be of anything and everything, here the pride has to be about the Patriots, and Red Socks (Tom Brady and beards). And when it comes to Red Socks v/s Yankees, nothing can get better than that.

(image from google)
Unlike in Bay Area, where most of the people are migrated from outside, in Boston, you can see people living here for generations. People are family oriented, live with families, together. People are very friendly at work and outside. Not to say there is huge population of students here (due to world class universities like MIT and Harvard), but there is also a huge populace of people living in this area for decades. These people know every gali nukkad of the area. They would not use google maps to “show” you how to get to a certain place, but will tell landmarks, names of streets, restaurants that you would come across as you navigate. It’s similar when you ask you grandmother how to go from shanipar to nagnathpar (google gets confused here but not your grandma). You as a newbie, you would require a personal guidance initially. Google need not rescue you every time. (And yes, its a feeling of achievement and self pride when you are able to navigate in Boston without using a GPS. You are tuning into a Bostonian)

And when it comes to snow…!
Boston gets a lot of snow. A lot! So much that there is no place to pile it up or dump it. This time, being Bostonian is about writing at least one article in a local newspaper (every other weeks) expressing how the govt sucks and does not take any measures to remove snow.

Boston does not have a luxury to have garage spaces for everyone and hence people park on streets. This is where it becomes interesting when it snows. Streets reduce to half there widths and the “spot fight” starts. Being Bostonian in winter is to get creative in your “space savers” A “space saver” is something that you keep on street to “reserve” your so called parking spot. It can be anything, a chair, a ladder, a tire, a discarded computer, a hand glove.. anything. Well, by law, parking on streets is not allocated. Anyone can park anywhere on the street where parking is permitted. But, now you dare to move this “space saver” and park your car in someone else’s “spot” and you cannot guarantee the well-being of your vehicle anymore. Windshield could be trashed, tires may be flat, windows could be broken with snow on all the seats. People can get much more creative. Oh.. and cops.. they have given up in tracking people who put space savers and ticketing them. They have better things to do.
(images taken from google)

 But, being Bostonian means respecting a space saver and not parking your car there. It’s an unwritten rule. A true Bostonian knows the effort one has put up in digging his car out, and he would never go and park in his spot if there is a space saver there. (True reason is he loves his vehicle and is aware of the consequences: P). Still some people clarify the consequences like below

People are very patient in winter. If a car is stuck in snow, some do get out of their own and help push the stuck car. The honking percent goes down. On single lane roads people wait patiently for the oncoming traffic to pass or effectively navigate around them if space permits. Bostonians face winter in a united fashion. The most agitated people in winter are the plough guys though. The people who plough the roads. I guess their boredom in ploughing in this cold winter when everyone “works from home” is reflected from the aggressive driving they do when ploughing. If you are on an internal single lane street and a plough truck comes in front of you, don’t even try to navigate from around it, just back up all the way and let him go!!

To all those Punekar’s… just be like those oaks and leles from sadashiv peth, and it’s not very difficult to be a true Bostonian thereafter.

(This article is not written to insult anyone and is a work of fiction… Boston chya snow madhle sanskar ahet amche!)