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From 7 pm Thursday to the early hours of Friday, thousands of vehicles remained stuck in traffic jams that stretched on for kilometres on Gurgaon’s streets, their headlights revealing the hopelessness of a gridlock that had taken over NH 8 and its many offshoots.
The tired and impatient commuters included, among others, office-goers on their way home, school students on their way back after attending coaching classes, single women taking taxis back home from work, and senior citizens. “My 60-year-old father was stuck in traffic near Sohna Road for over three hours Thursday night… we were terrified because he is a heart patient and he didn’t have any food, water or medicines,” said Anil Kumar, a resident of Gurgaon.
As district authorities and policemen struggled to find a way to ease the traffic quagmire, the stranded commuters reached out to each other for comfort, reassurance, and help.
Some of them shared their experiences on social media, while others played a more hands-on role by trying to help clear the traffic. Several commuters offered to share their resources — from food and water, to a phone charger.
“There was a point when a couple of ambulances transporting patients got stuck in the jam, so commuters joined hands to clear the way for them,” said a commuter who spent five hours in the traffic.
Mayank Shekhar, the owner of a local restaurant, was one of the many stuck in the jam. When he realised that many of the stranded commuters had had nothing to eat for hours, he called up his restaurant and had 150 food packages dispatched for them.
But as the situation showed no signs of letting up till late into the night, many exhausted commuters abandoned their vehicles in the middle of the road and decided to cover the distance back home, sometimes quite a long one, on foot.
The traffic jam cleared up slightly at 3 am, only to return with renewed vigour Friday morning. The combination of three factors — abandoned vehicles on the streets, peak hour traffic, and roads that were still waterlogged — led to longer jams and slower traffic.
As the day wore on, and traffic congestion started thinning out, Hero Honda Chowk seemed stuck in a time warp, clogged with vehicles full of frustrated passengers who sipped on tea offered by volunteers.