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!

 

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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92 Thoughts on “Driving troubles in India!

  1. yep.the only way is..go with the flow…

  2. Rachna,

    That is why Godrej and other brands have come out with hair dyes,so one can keep hair black inspite of such stress. Also just substitute Delhi for Bangalore and it is mostly the same.

    Take care

  3. Having fun on the roads?I dare you to drive in Kota!!!!!

  4. well, i live in a very small town. so, we actually don’t have any traffic problems. i can just walk.

    poor planning is the problem in Bangalore. narrowing and broadening of roads, invisible speed breakers, etc. but why so many bylanes intersecting the main road? that’s the main reason why traffic moves at a snail’s pace.

    • And, that would be ideal because I love walking. But imagine walking on broken footpaths where they exist or on the road directly in the path of traffic! Yes, poor planning is a huge problem along with the number of vehicles. Metro work has been going on forever. I hope that I can see it completed in my lifetime. Ah, woes!

  5. 🙂 you should be able to repost 10 years from now without any changes too!! we are like that only!! unfortunately!

  6. Never been in India, but it seems crazy in Beijin too – bikes and cars together on the road seemed a mess! And more than once I had to close my eyes and trust the taxi driver. Reading you post made me appreciate once again the bike lanes in the Netherlands! Man, I love order! 🙂

    • Oh yes, Iliana! But, if you come to India, to Bangalore, trust me I’ll drive you around safely through this mess :). I love order too. And, NL is a dream place to live in. I loved the trams, dudes on bikes ;-), the trains, walking and the greenery. Enjoy your time.

  7. Driving is really frustrating in India…

  8. Hyd is nothing less. Though I dont drive, I hate the traffic and the way people drive. In my last trip couple of months back, I was pretty much like your German friend. My ears shut, eyes shut whenever I was in a vehicle. If i move back, I am scared to even think about it. Once you go out of the house, there is no guarantee that you will come back safe.

    • Yes, Hyderabad is pretty bad. The congestion on the roads have increased manifold. And, the Congress government does nothing about the condition of the roads. After Naidu, the roads have just been left to decay.

    • Glad that you realized living in bangalore. But the folks in A.P are like sheep. They all still vote for the same morons.

  9. well…its not only Baglaore but every Indian city(more or less) where you will have to follow these tips so that you don’t commit mistake in irritations…..:))

  10. I hate the traffic in b’lore esp during peak hrs … i try my best to start early and come back early …

    “Keep some stones with you when you get really frustrated” he he he …loved this one 🙂

    • You bet! I hate driving in peak traffic myself. I try to do my grocery, shopping etc. on weekdays. And luckily, I work out of home so that is saving a few years of my life :). I know, stones are just there to give you comfort. It would be another situation altogether if you decide to use them :).

  11. Chennai autorickshaw walas put the indicator on the left, show their hand on the right, but go straight. It’s a movie dialogue, but stands true. Traffic is total madness..honestly, I’ve lived for 25 years there, and have done all of that above, and have driven recklessly, paid fine to police. But now, I am scared to drive – partly because the traffic / no.of vehicles on the road is increased, and partly, I am too scared. And don’t even talk about honk!

    • I am scared to drive in India these days but not to the extent of writing them twice in the same sentence 🙁

    • That is seriously crazy about Chennai autos. I haven’t driven recklessly. I allow everyone to pass. I am not slow but not rash either. Yeah, it is pretty scary to drive, but I ain’t giving up the freedom so easily.

    • I used to hate Chennai driving–thought it was the worst ever. And then I visited bangalore and one of my friends have me a ride on his bike. That is when I discovered the horror of Bangalore! Everything you have said is so true. Chennai is bad but seriously not as bad as Blore! Take good care!

  12. Things have only gone from bad to worse with passage of time and with more impatience and road rage we have more challenges ahead! Just pray to god a little louder, Rachna:)

  13. You said it all as it is. For me most irritating slow driver on the middle of road in the front when there is whole lot of free space ahead of him.

    • Yes, old people driving is another hazard or distracted drivers on cellphones who stall everyone behind them. Thank you for your comment, Rajesh.

  14. Bombay’s so called “traffic discipline” has steadily declined over the past few years and is slowly degenerating into B’lore-like chaos. No one in b’bay respects traffic signals anymore and pedestrians crossing roads at zebra crossings are considered fair game by all motorists! The sheer volume of vehicles on the road makes it impossible for even the traffic cops to manage the traffic – they are busy collecting bribes anyway!

  15. Having witnessed both Delhi and Bangalore traffic, it is the bike riders of Bangalore who drive like crazy and in Delhi it is the Don’t you know who I am syndrome. Plus the Delhi heat.

    • Two wheelers are a huge problem, as you rightly pointed out. But, have you seen these large SUVs or those BPO cabs, office buses or even school buses that drive so rashly; it scares the hell out of me. You are absolutely right about the road rage. Have you faced the, “Speak in Kannada” syndrome in Bangalore?

  16. When you talk of road rage, it is the syndrome Alka talks of, that is responsible. Other metros are fast catching up. But ask people living in different metros and they would all swear that theirs is the worst one in terms of traffic chaos and unruly drivers.

    • Yes Zephyr, road rage is a huge nuisance and can be really dangerous. I guess, I must replace the word Bangalore with India in the post :).

  17. Add to that Pune drivers who begin moving 20 seconds before the red light urns green despite the timer. It is pathetic. The only place I like in terms of traffic was Chandigarh. I don’t know now but 3 years back, it was good and civilized.

    • And keep going on for more than 10 seconds after the light has turned red. Hmmm, never lived in Chandigarh. Hope it is doing good in this regard.

  18. Good one! I actually keep pepper spray in my car 😛

  19. LOL…You’ve to come to Kolkata to see more chaos…:D
    Enjoyed the writing, Rachna. And do you actually keep that pepper spray with you?? omg…You gurls are amazing…xoxo

    • hehe I am sure, it must be bad there too. So happy that you enjoyed the post. What else to do, sometimes these road rage incidents can get out of hand. And, one must be equipped to ensure one’s safety.

  20. Gosh, actually wrote a post once for my cousin who had come back after a long stay in USA and had to actually take driving lessons to start driving in India … it is chaos
    http://phoenixritu.com/driving-lessons-for-maitri/

  21. Heh…It sounds like one of the episodes from the Survivor series, where you are thrown in a jungle and expected to engage in a hand to hand combat with a grizzly bear.

  22. what to say about foreigners, even Indians are scared of traffic…but one advantage is, anyone who can drive here, can drive anywhere in the world:)

  23. Rachna this was a true post. I can’t agree more. Now the metro construction happening on all major roads makes it even worse.

  24. Rachna this was a true post. I can’t agree more. Now the metro construction happening on all major roads makes it even worse.

  25. Rachna this was a true post. I can’t agree more. Now the metro construction happening on all major roads makes it even worse.

  26. Rachna this was a true post. I can’t agree more. Now the metro construction happening on all major roads makes it even worse.

  27. Rachna this was a true post. I can’t agree more. Now the metro construction happening on all major roads makes it even worse.

  28. Rachna this was a true post. I can’t agree more. Now the metro construction happening on all major roads makes it even worse.

  29. Rachna this was a true post. I can’t agree more. Now the metro construction happening on all major roads makes it even worse.

  30. Rachna this was a true post. I can’t agree more. Now the metro construction happening on all major roads makes it even worse.

  31. Rachna, its kind of andher nagari, chaupat roads everywhere. Not sure if the Ahemdabad drivers take the cake: you never know what craziness you’ll be faced with on the roads next day. As long as one is returning home everyday as a single living piece, one should be thankful to one’s favourite God.

  32. I survive driving troubles by not driving, or have a chauffeur or driver. I simple take the public transport. I can do that as the public transport in Mumbai is pretty good.

    • Sudhagee, Well you seem to have found a good solution. I hope your driver is not among the maniacal ones on the road. And, I agree public transport is better though I am frightened to get into a local train during peak hours. We are praying for Metro to help ease congestion on the roads.

  33. Oh! I can write a book about driving in Bangalore! All these but still can land you in trouble

    • Absolutely Insignia! Who knows what misfortune will befall you. Some guy/truck/ cement mixer/bus might come and hit you despite you being cautious.

  34. You’re right! I think the problem is not only for the big cities like Bangalore and Ahmedabad.. nowadays some small towns are also having it, trying to be a miniature of these big cities.

    Your driving tips were funny 🙂

  35. This is true for any big city in India, I guess! I remember learning driving in Calcutta before coming to the US. My dad told me that if you can drive in Cal, you can drive anywhere in the world! True, in fact, it actually becomes quite tame and boring elsewhere, though not as stressful, when you think of it!! 😀

    • haha Actually I took some time adjusting my driving to US especially the drive on the right. And, the procedure was so rigorous. I was majorly thrilled when I got my CA DL. Loved driving in the US :). In India, I do it out of compulsion not pleasure.

  36. Haha.. Nicely rolled up..

    Remember reading a post on Pepper’s blog some time back, on driving on Indian roads and the ones abroad.And somebody just commented pinpoint: That driving in India is easy compared to foreign countries as in India we dont have to follow any rules.. 😛 Hey na?

  37. I always thought I wanted to visit India. But, not so sure about it now. Ha.

    I had to deal with the traffic in New York City for much of my life. Guess it wasn’t all that bad, compared to what you deal with.

    Nice post.

    • Hi Myrna, You know the nicest part about being in India is that you can make do with autos, cabs or buses if you don’t have a car. You can even afford a driver. So, go ahead and visit India. And New York isn’t all that orderly either :).

  38. Ahh…those Kannada swear words that those auto drivers keep throwing! I couldn’t take the rash driving (of the cabs) on the outer ring road.

    I guess all these hazards on our roads make Indian drivers some of the best defensive drivers in the world. 😀

  39. A really good post. I seriously learnt a lot!

  40. You need to know a bit of human psychology I guess, thinking like how the person driving the vehicle in front, back, or sides of you would drive! Kerala roads are also filled with maniac drivers who seem to be “learning” to drive with a license (to kill)!

  41. Hello.
    Visiting from the group Bloggers.

    I have never been to India, but I have seen some of the traffic chaos on the tv. It sounds like a nightmare to drive there! You made me laugh with the pepper spray, but I guess when tempers flare, you have to be prepared! Thoroughly enjoyable post. Thanks for sharing.

    Goddess Of Fantasy

    • Hi Andy, Thank you so much for visiting and for your comment. Well, you’ve never been to India :). Yes, pepper spray is for safety. I’ve never needed to use it till now thankfully. I am glad you liked the post.

  42. Hahaha…wonderful post. I am taking a print out of your rules n gonna store it in my dash board:P

  43. Very funny!!!
    And so true about the cows on road (but lately i am thankful to them as they help in subsiding a tantrum from my 2 year old)

  44. Hello again.
    If you and your friends are interested, I invite you to linkup to Blog Hop Saturday! Linkup #3. Linky is already open.

  45. not jsut bangalore but everywhere i think.. have you been to punjab drive near ludhiana or other parts you will heave a sigh of relief that you are in bangalore .. Telling you from experience..

    I have give up driving altogether in india now , although i would love to drive once in a while ..

    I can write a book myself on it all .. I ma stopped at a red light and still the horns going on .. I get out calmly ask the driver behind ot fly over me please ..

    Driving in india is surly BHAGWAN AASRE 🙂

    sorry to be so late , I have been on this course

    Bikram’s

  46. No, I haven’t driven in Punjab. I am sure it must be pretty bad :). Once you live elsewhere, you find it even tougher to adapt to these driving conditions. Hope your course is going well. Take care.

  47. Let me tell you,it is not restricted to Bangalore.
    Try driving in Delhi,you willknow how good is traffic in Bahgalore

  48. It seems like you haven’t been to Delhi yet, or even if you are you hadn’t tried your hand in driving in traffic of capital city of the nation.

    Every second living creature down there belongs to some MP , MLA or minister of any other higher officials. Their being Punjabi attitude always catalyse them to drive blindfoldly at the top most gears.

    Metro works are like mission forever in Delhi. they never seems to finish, block 50% of roads narrowing the lanes. BMW and TOYOTAs are moving as if giving the trial for formula-1.

    remembering each others’ mother and sisters are inevitable them. There every sentence includes atleast on or two behan**** as if it is most important helping verb without which their sentence never seems to complete.

    However its not only about Delhi (or Bangalore), its more or less equal in almost every “big” cities of India.

    (Also auto drivers in Delhi are same as Bangalore except the indicator which they use as if bluffing)

  49. Welcome on the Indian Road..Driving here is really a crazy experience. I have kissed these roads two times already from my bike, once with a broken color bone..

    • Hey there, Solo Backpacker! Hats off to you. As much as I am in awe of bikes, I have only been a pillion rider. My respect for you. Do take care while riding, and welcome to my blog!

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