Vasant Bapu Rao Kulkarni is 72. It is expected that he will laze around and enjoy his retired life like most of his peers. But Kulkarni does not really care about living up to such expectations. On most days he gets out of home a little before 9 am and takes position on a busy crossroad in Bibvewadi. Armed with a whistle and a cap,he animatedly goes about making sure that the traffic flows smoothly. When he waves,the vehicles start moving and when he motions them to stop,they do. At 1 pm,Kulkarni takes some hours off for lunch,getting back to his job at 5 pm and again waving at traffic till 8 pm. With seven hours of being on his feet in the midst of vehicles zipping by,Kulkarni’s days are busy and tiring but he says they are very satisfying.
Volunteering as a traffic warden for three years now,Kulkarni says it’s all part of his job. So rain or shine,he stands his ground with the faded black cap shielding him from the downpour or the scorching heat. People think what I do might be very hard for me,but I actually think it is very entertaining. I get to meet and talk with so many different kinds of people who stop by. If I were to stay at home,I would only get bored. I don’t earn anything from being a warden but I really enjoy it, says Kulkarni,who retired from the Public Works Department.
Proud of his hearty health,Kulkarni says he had always wanted to do something for the country. Also,I have always been inclined towards laws and law enforcement bodies. By volunteering to help the traffic police,I am helping both to maintain order as well as to help residents have a smooth drive on the road. It is a small measure in helping the country, he says,adding that he had earlier volunteered as a Home Guard and a Police Mitr too.
Of course,things are not always smooth and nice,he admits. There are times when people are rude to me and tell me I am not authorised to manage traffic. I generally begin by telling them that I am only trying to serve the community. In instances where they still don’t calm down,I have to be stern too, says Kulkarni. The training he received as a Home Guard also comes very handy he says. We were trained in fire fighting,rescue work and the likes. Though I am not using those primary skills,it has trained me to think a certain way,react quick,be organised and not get easily alarmed, he shares.
About what his family thinks of his social service,Kulkarni is nonchalant. My wife tells me to be careful but also supports my decision. At the end of the day,it would bother my family only if I were failing in my responsibilities towards them and I try not to let them down on that account. They are also happy that I am putting my time to good use, he says plainly.