This is a repost with a few modifications. The original post was done a couple of years back, but my exasperation with driving and the traffic situation remains just the same, maybe even worse.
Anyone, who has lived in Bangalore marvels at how we manage to drive so chaotically and survive. We have suicidal drivers; maniac bike riders; aunties who veer onto the roads in a two-wheeler at snail’s pace right in front of your car; homicidal bus drivers; goons driving autorickshaws who would challenge you by giving you black looks; and hapless pedestrians walking on the roads sometimes giving company to cows and dogs; it’s a real jungle out there on the Indian roads! Add to these woes is the terrible traffic infrastructure. Badly laid roads, potholes, speed breakers without markings just creeping up on you ( of variable heights that are sure to break your bones and car), traffic signals not visible even from 100 m, and the maddening narrowing and broadening of the road leading to major traffic bottlenecks.
I had a German friend a long time ago who was working on a project in Mumbai. He used to get hypertensive just by seeing our traffic . He had a chauffeur to drive him around (most of them are lunatics cum formula-1 racers). He would sit in the back of the car, and put his hands on both sides of his head like blinkers, keeping his eyes firmly off the road to save himself the agony. My experience is that Mumbai drivers are a better organized lot as compared to Bangalore and Ahmedabad drivers. Ahmedabad autorickshaw guys use their legs to signal left or right . Bangalore ones don’t know what an indicator is! And, only fools like us removed our sun film; I see almost 50% of the traffic on the road still having them. Just reflects something more about our aversion to follow rules.
Here are some handy tips to survive on Bangalore roads:
- Always overtake from the left else you would never have an opportunity.
- Never use any indicators, you don’t have time because you have to swerve to avoid a car which suddenly braked in front of you or the driver on the right-most side remembered that he, indeed, needed to take a left turn. Wow, the entire traffic turns nightmarish.
- Always honk, the guy who merges on the road does so at high speed and never looks in your direction.
- Always honk, because the driver ahead could have fallen asleep and is not moving.
- Keep ear plugs handy because the impatient guy behind you honks when you have stopped at the red traffic light. There is a car ahead of you, but he expects you to fly and give him way.
- Be extra careful especially when there are no medians, because the traffic coming from opposite direction has mental patients who would rather kill themselves and you at the cost of risky overtaking.
- Keep some stones with you when you get really frustrated.
- Keep a pepper spray especially ladies (I have one) to ward off scary-looking mustachioed pests who think that they have a right to threaten you for imaginary grievances or for just being a woman.
- Always lock your car doors and keep your windows shut, so that you can cuss to your heart’s content, and no one would hear a thing. This will let you feel safe.
- Pray to God that someone does not bang into your car when it is parked or when you are in it. It is a tough ballgame altogether to get the other guy to pay up for the damage caused.
- Bike riders tail gate you or sometimes stick around in your car’s blind spot. Most people don’t even know what a blind spot is. They change lanes blindly. Try to look over your shoulder or else there is a real possibility of knocking down some of these people.
- Watch out for cows, dogs, calves, camels, elephants etc. who might be taking a leisurely stroll down the road.
- Oh yes, there might be temples too bang in the middle of the road. You are supposed to carefully manoeuvre your car like a graceful gymnast around it!
I really don’t know how I survive in this mad, mad world of Indian roads. Just go with the flow, I guess!