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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 dots.

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.

The 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.

The 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.

 

The 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?

The 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, isn’t it?

Contributed By: Malati Karthikeyan a copy editor who loves writing kmalati@gmail.com

 

 

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