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How to Survive Bengaluru Traffic Without Really Trying

Taxis

I’ve heard many horror stories about traffic in the big cities of India. Bengaluru is reputed to have some of the worst, because so many of their roads are narrow, compared to other locations. Bengaluru has over 10 million inhabitants, so I was expecting a rough time of it.

I’ve ridden in taxis in other world-class big cities, such as Shanghai, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Taipei, Singapore and more. Some of these are truly scary places, and if you’re the nervous type you’ll likely need extra medication and some serious therapy once you get back to the States.

Could India be any worse?

Well, yes and no.Tour Guides

Fortunately for me, the hotel has dedicated cars. And drivers. I let them work the hassles. And I’m only eight kilometers from work, so that’s helpful too.

I stoke up on a big breakfast so I’m relaxed. That’s a real key, being relaxed! That, and learning how not to flinch when the cows stampede across in front of the car. Cattle have the right-of-way here, in every sense of the word. (I have to remember when I step out of the cab to the curb, not to also step in something rural.)

India’s transportation system runs on four energy sources: Diesel (trucks, buses, trains, etc.); gasoline, although they call it petrol (private cars); LPG/LNG (the black-and-yellow taxis and other small vehicles); and horns.

For instance, when it’s time to go at an intersection, every vehicle starts tooting on their horn. Somehow that breaks the logjam and pushes the cars along. It’s an extra efficiency we don’t enjoy in the States.

When traffic is light, the first madman driver in the intersection with his horn going has the right-of-way. In case of a tie, you have to evaluate things like: Whose horn is loudest; which vehicle is smaller; who is missing their helmet; and finally, who has extra karma at the moment.

When traffic is heavy, then things go statistical. Which group is tootling in harmony? (Counterpoint, or better yet a fugue beat, gives a big bonus.) Any large buses in the throng? How much momentum do they have? Are you on the protected side of the large vehicles? Are there any cops watching? (That doesn’t make any difference, of course; just more local color.) And if I really, really hit the gas, can I terrorize a trifecta of bicycle, motorbike and taxi-trike in one go?

It’s a real challenge learning all these rules. Which is why I leave it to the professionals. And I make sure my mini-bar needs massive re-stocking each day. That helps more than you can imagine.

One really amusing event, which occurs quite often, is some fella on a motorbike, usually with 3-5 other members of his immediate family onboard, begins to honk madly at a twenty-ton bus full of commuters. Trying to get them to yield.

Like I said, it’s amusing, in its own simple, twisted way.

Tonight is a special Indian buffet; I gotta go now…

Enjoy the (Rootin’ Tootin’) Heat!

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