Traffic Trauma - Bangalore Bengaluru
The ‘Monday Blues’
of Bengalureans are different. It’s got little to do with returning
to work after a lazy weekend. Their despair is almost always more
in line with the traffic they need to face, or rather battle, every
morning. The feeling is obviously all the more heightened when you
hit the arena after two days of blissful serenity. The
morn hours here are nice and dewy. That is, almost till 8:30 until
the cloud of smog engulfs the city so much that you feel it’s a
cow crossing the road until you come close to realize that it is
your neighbor with the enormous appetite dressed in large polka
Helmet latches are
sealed and mirrors are positioned on all two-wheelers across the
city; yet, the hudugas and hudugis share a common prayer
as they mutter: “Oh Lord, please give me the strength to surpass
the hurdles on my way and reach my workplace safely… or rather in
a single piece at the least”.
Coming to the ‘hurdles’
part… in my five years of driving and riding experience in Bengaluru,
I have come across certain generic stereotypes. This, of course,
is excluding all the BBMP excavations. Any person who passes Cantonment
for the first time would think that a spaceship had temporarily
landed there sometime back and scientists are researching its footprints.
I now firmly believe
that each of you would have encountered at least one of those mentioned
below, albeit with slight variations.
Apologetic Aunt: This is
the lady who decides to cross to the bus-stand on the opposite side
precisely at the same moment when you hit the highway at full speed.
She will give an expression of shock but will continue walking closer
to your vehicle. And then when you finally slam the brakes (after
refreshing the abusive vocabulary in your mind), she will pretend
to run in slow motion, Bollywood style – the pace is much slower
than walking – and cross to the other side with a very dramatic
look of remorse.
Boaster on the Bike: This
is the guy with the cheap cooling glasses and bleached hair. He
is perched on a bike that almost always has a screwed silencer.
He will zip past at full speed and come in your way to mark his
victory on his Bengaluru track. In roads where traffic is chock-a-bloc,
our man will display his finesse by winding his way through the
parked cars and breaking a few rearview mirrors in the process.
Loud Lorry Driver:
This is the guy whose sole intention on the road is to make
his ‘presence’ felt. He will honk, honk and honk in full glory
even if it’s just the two of you on the road and you are almost
a 100 metres away.
And just when
you thought it was over, the lorry nears you and the young
chap next to the driver will bang so hard on the door that
you almost lose your balance. Horn Ok Please?
Flexible Bus: Make way for
the King of the Road. BMTC drivers clearly pride themselves in their
ability to block an entire road each time they resume from a stand.
The way they steer the bus to go as close as possible to the median
on the road (many a times I have seen the bus brush on the divider
too) and then revert 90 degrees to come back to the track is laudable.
It’s their mission to check that no cyclewala should be able to
squeeze through their track when they leave their stands. Kudos
to this perfect way of marking territory.
Sprinkled among these
icons of the streets are annoying autos, puzzled pedestrians and
of course ‘precautious’ policemen. I raise a toast to us, the gallant
men and women who brave their way through the streets of Bengaluru
each day – Cheers to our spirit. Do you know that talks of our valor
are resonant throughout the country? My friends in other cities
of India often ask me: “How do you manage driving or riding in
the traffic of Bengaluru?” Now that’s an interesting question,
Malati Karthikeyan a copy editor
who loves writing