Rule No. 1: Learn FAST
That’s the first survival tip for Bangalore roads.
Rule no. 2: Women shouldn’t be at the wheel. No, don’t try to educate the auto wala, the call center cabs, or the sleekly oiled gentlemen in the Skoda. Even the cops have the same attitude. Save your breath.
Rule no. 3: You are from “The North”-you are responsible for everything that’s wrong with Bangalore roads, and the culture (well that’s the subject for another post).
Rule no. 4: If like me, you are a woman, at the wheel and from North (technically I am NOT from North India-but that’s again another story!)-It’s back to Rule no 1.
While you are still at it. Parwa illa-learn the key words, and keep some telephone numbers of Kannadiga friends (preferably guys-Remember Rule no 2). You never know when you might need them.
This is from experience. I have been harassed by cops. Then there was a driver who tried to make me pay for scraping against his car when I didn’t let him overtake me. Both times, the tone changed dramatically, when I just dialed a number.
I have been told that having a “Jai Karnataka” flag or a poster of Rajkumar is the ultimate passport to avoid being harassed on the road, but I am yet to try it out.
Anyway, this is the extreme scenario; there are some other tips which help my everyday commute a little easier:
- Always keep food, water, newspaper, novels, pen and notepaper in your car. You never know where you can get stuck and for how long. In the mornings, I have my breakfast while driving to office, on the way back; I make grocery lists and the menu for dinner, next day’s breakfast, kids’ tiffin and lunch during these breaks.
- Keep your phone charged if you don’t have a car charger. Use longer stops to connect with all friends and family.
- Always keep your horn, brakes and tyres in good repair. Last monsoon, I kept two spare tyres in the boot and used them. I am still carrying both-although with the increased security awareness ((?) Another story!) it always takes two extra minutes before the guard lets me enter the office parking.
- While driving, the most comfortable thing to do is to target any office cab, they are there in every lane and by lane and tail it. They know the best routes and lanes and when to overtake from which direction.
Sounds weird? But there is a complicated logic in knowing the exact moment to overtake. And yes, you overtake from either left or right depending on psychographics of the vehicles in front of you and on both sides. Most of us have our own way of working it out, but it’s again easier to follow a cab.
- The bumpers need to be at kissing distance. Otherwise the whole strategy fails.
- Never tail a BMTC bus. Unless you are nostalgic about playing criss-cross hopscotch.
- While dealing with Jay walkers-Honk ferociously, scowl and mutter gibberish. Most will understand. Let the others cross. (the fundamental Rules –remember!)
- If you see traffic build up on the main road-stick to it. The arterial roads will be worse –everytime.
- Explore the lanes and bylanes. There is always a better way. Although my daughters are not too enthusiastic after the number of ways we’ve got lost trying to find one. The moment they see me take a unfamiliar turn one or the other will ask anxiously “Mummy can we please go from the longer way?”
I’ll keep updating the list. Please share your tips too, it’ll make the drive a lot smoother.