Traffic in Bangalore is less likely to make you go hmmm, and more likely to make you go f*@! All the more reason a sense of humour is required when navigating the city streets. Buckle up (or don’t, like everyone else in this city) and enjoy the ride.
In a city where the attractions, workplaces, and people have far outpaced the infrastructure, you will be sitting in traffic at some point in Bangalore. First rule of that traffic: kilometres mean nothing. 5km could be 15mins on a Sunday from Malleshwaram or 1 hour on a Monday morning by the new metro at Whitefield.
THE VINE TIP: ask for timings, but pay by distance. And download Spotify and audible. And call your mum.
WHY DID THE COW CROSS THE ROAD?
Because it’s in Bangalore and therefore king of the road. In fact, Bangalore is Dr. Dolittle’s paradise with animals galore, from the free-range chickens scampering unconsciously by the butcher’s (you will meet them later in tikka form) to the goats performing their public service of going through the rubbish. But it’s the cows who rule and they know it. If you see one in the road, whilst you are driving, stop, salute and sing the national anthem before driving on.
Cows in the road are one thing, goats in an auto rickshaw another wonderful Bangalorean sight. The question is, how many goats can you fit on your lap whilst driving a motorbike? Answer: more than you thought humanly possible.
“Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.” Or don’t fasten your seatbelts, wear a helmet or place your child in a car seat, because nobody else does here. Ostensibly the rule is that the driver must have a seatbelt, but even this is only enforced for the five minutes you’ll see a traffic policeman. Good news: you will rarely be going so fast that you will need it.
Similarly, with helmets, the driver needs one; the others not so much. And new question: How many tiny tots can you place on a mum perched side-saddle on a motorbike? (n.b. side-saddle may be for modesty, maybe for practicality. You try wearing a sari on a bike. See above answer re goats.)
STAY IN YOUR LANE
It is when driving that you realise Bangaloreans are not ordinary people, but circus performers, able to perform the most extraordinary zig-zags, turns and tricks on the road. I particularly like the one where drivers go up the wrong side of the road hurtling in your direction and narrowly avoid a crash by swerving last minute. And why have lanes for three cars, when the truth is you can fit 8 astride? It’s like a real-life version of an old car-racing arcade game where you can go straight through the middle of the lanes, flipping over motorbikes and others that get in your way. 5 points for the chicken, -20 and God’s curses for the cow.
THE VINE TIP: This is the time to collect material to tell the folks back home. After all, they’ll be expecting something truly hair-raising in this department and good news, you won’t have to make it up!
VIEWS OF BANGALORE
One genuine advantage that you have in sitting in traffic for hours is seeing the wonderful Bangalorean sights, which can range from the houses of parliament to the piles of trash left outside; no parallel intended. Even the other cars say something about the city; the ubiquitous Toyota Innovas, the traditional green and yellow rickshaws, entire families forming a pyramid on their bike – this is Bangalore. So, if you do manage to go through Cubbon Park or see the Vidhana Soudha, you will actually be glad to be stuck in the legendary Bangalorean traffic. As long as the AC is working.