Driving in Bangalore

Kannada Bharata?
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.


  1. Though I know these are practical tips you have written, I could find humor in them. However, attitude to women drivers is sad. :(

    I had taken driving classes early this year and had learnt in the erly mornings on empty roads. So you must understand the shock I felt when I took out car at night in full-blown traffic...I almost paniced..I guess I still need to hone my reflexes in fll-blown Delhi traffic.

    I will link it in my blog.

  2. Ah, I can very well understand your plight. But B'lore wasn't like this. I came from north in 94 and since then I have seen the city taking a 180 degrees turn.

    Jai Karnataka flag and Rajkumar's poster thing came into picture after RajKumar was kidnapped. Oh it was hell. MNCs, Hotels, Houses, Vehicles were destroyed if Rajkumar photo was not flaunted. And upon his death it was literally riot.

    For language, I feel thodi-bahut local bhasha aani chahiye. I mean its not mandatory but then haraj hi kya hai... We siblings picked up but parents gave it up after trying for some time.

    For the tip, more than BMTC ones, avoid autos.. they are the real pain.

    Anyways, quite a read it was for someone new here.:) Keep Blogging.

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  4. "parva illa amma!" ;) I learnt when i was in karnataka (though not bangalore in particular, learnt nevertheless!) :)

  5. yes it is true some people will be rude cops are so but not all. generally we see women drivers do create problems for others ( not all bur quire a few) who drive both two and four wheelers. these traffic problems do exist and it is a fact city has grown multi fold in population and no. of vehicles with out matching rise in infrastructure and police force. still the authorities are doing their best. cant believe thay have made travelling to new air port much much easier than the people expected or anticipated.
    we all must love our mother tongue and at the same time respect others. be roman when you are in rome as common saying says so learn the local language minimum to manage nothing harm in it, it helps u to communicate better, but our bangalore people or karnataka people are known for their magnanimity and they themselves will adjust to language others speak. you must experience from cities in tamilnade and maharashtra other than mumbai and express your views.
    advise to lady drivers please follow road discipline dont try to cross criss and cross take all precautions when u r on wheels. deinitely kannnadigas respect women and always there will be elements who ruin the image yes such organisations do exist but in toto it is much safe place to live and for your info. kannadigas are in minority in the city of bangalore
    thanks for sharing your veiws and experiences and I am here thro poonams blog. you can mail me for any quieries or help whenever u need as I stay in bangalore or bengalooru

  6. Poonam: About the attitude, it's the same everywhere. From the jokes about women drivers u'd realize it's the same all over the world. Just an insecurity issue with some people. Not our problem.

    Vee: I mentioned Bangalore because I happen to face it here.

    This change has happened everywhere. Bangalore still has a charm, a natural beauty, I hope it retains.

    As for Kannada, I have reached the "Swalpa Gotta" stage, but have a long way to go. Not just because it's needed on the road, but because it has a rhythm of it's own.

    Praneshachar: I agree. I have found courtesy comes naturally to people here. They are ready to go out of the way to help strangers.

    It's just that the anonymity of crowds lets the few bad elements get away with crap. Not a Bangalore issue at all!

    Sakhi: Yes you have the last word. Parva illa-it's just a part of the trip!

  7. Wow! Awesome post & agree with you more than 200%. Being a woman driver whose office is quite far from home, I can relate to each & every word. Even I have faced some weird issues just because of the fact that I am a woman at the wheel. And to add to that the behavior of Auto guys & Taxi guys are always such as if they own the whole Karnataka. You know even after knowing driving very properly for quite some time now, I'm looking for a driver now to commute to work as my husband does not want me to drive alone on bangalore roads after dark!

  8. Thanks for sharing your experience-I am not the only one then.

    If you find a good driver, it will certainly take care of safety besides the stress. Wishing you all the luck in finding one.

  9. Nice tips for any city with traffic woes ;)

    make grocery lists and the menu for dinner - ha ha gud one :P

  10. Yes I guess the same logic will apply wherever there is chaotic traffic-like in Bangalore.


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