Traffic in Bangalore tops the list of my pet peeves. I can claim to have some experience on the subject having had the experience of driving 28km each way from IIM to peenya every single working day for 3 years and that practically covers a diagonal sweep from southeast to northwest ends of bangalore (in the early 90s - now bangalore has stretched beyond in both directions)
And I have spent another 20 years driving around town to different workplaces and so I can speak about it with some authority. But one can sum up Bangalore traffic today in one word:CRAZY! and add a statutory warning: KEEP AWAY!
So it was highly cathartic to read a hilarious article forwarded by Ramkumar on the condition of Indian traffic and pretty spot on. Thanks Ram. I agree ,there is no calamity so great that you cannot laugh about it!
This hilarious article was written by a Dutchman who spent two years in Bangalore, India, as a visiting expert
Driving in Bangalore / India
"For the benefit of every Tom, Dick and Harry visiting India and daring to drive on Indian roads, I am offering a few hints for survival. They are applicable to every place in India except Bihar, where life outside a vehicle is only marginally safer.
Indian road rules broadly operate within the domain of karma where you do your best, and leave the results to your insurance company.
The hints are as follows: Do we drive on the left or right of the road? The answer is "both". Basically you start on the left of the road, unless it is occupied. In that case, go to the right, unless that is also occupied. Then proceed by occupying the next available gap, as in chess. Just trust your instincts, ascertain the direction, and proceed. Adherence to road rules leads to much misery and occasional fatality. Most drivers don't drive, but just aim their vehicles in the generally intended direction.
Don't you get discouraged or underestimate yourself except for a belief in reincarnation; the other drivers are not in any better position.
Don't stop at pedestrian crossings just because some fool wants to cross the road. You may do so only if you enjoy being bumped in the back.
Pedestrians have been strictly instructed to cross only when traffic is moving slowly or has come to a dead stop because some minister is in town.
Still some idiot may try to wade across, but then, let us not talk ill of the dead.
Blowing your horn is not a sign of protest as in some countries. We horn to express joy, resentment, frustration, romance and bare lust (two brisk blasts), or just mobilize a dozing cow in the middle of the bazaar.
Keep informative books in the glove compartment. You may read them during traffic jams, while awaiting the chief minister's motorcade, or waiting for the rainwater to recede when over ground traffic meets underground drainage.
Occasionally you might see what looks like a UFO with blinking colored lights and weird sounds emanating from within. This is an illuminated bus, full of happy pilgrims singing bhajans. These pilgrims go at breakneck speed, seeking contact with the Almighty, often meeting with success.
Auto Rickshaw (Baby Taxi): The result of a collision between a rickshaw and an automobile, this three-wheeled vehicle works on an external combustion engine that runs on a mixture of kerosene oil and creosote.This triangular vehicle carries iron rods, gas cylinders or passengers three times its weight and dimension, at an unspecified fare. After careful geometric calculations, children are folded and packed into these auto rickshaws until some children in the periphery are not in contact with the vehicle at all. Then their school bags are pushed into the microscopic gaps all round so those minor collisions with other vehicles on the road cause no permanent damage. Of course, the peripheral children are charged half the fare and also learn Newton's laws of motion enroute to school.
Auto-rickshaw drivers follow the road rules depicted in the film BenHur, and are licensed to irritate.
Mopeds: The moped looks like an oil tin on wheels and makes noise like an electric shaver. It runs 30 miles on a teaspoon of petrol and travels at break-bottom speed. As the sides of the road are too rough for a ride, the moped drivers tend to drive in the middle of the road; they would rather drive under heavier vehicles instead of around them and are often "mopped" off the tarmac.
Leaning Tower of Passes: Most bus passengers are given free passes and during rush hours, there is absolute mayhem. There are passengers hanging off other passengers, who in turn hang off the railings and the overloaded bus leans dangerously, defying laws of gravity but obeying laws of surface tension. As drivers get paid for overload (so many Rupees per kg of passenger), no questions are ever asked. Steer clear of these buses by a width of three passengers.
One-way Street: These boards are put up by traffic people to add jest in their otherwise drab lives. Don't stick to the literal meaning and proceed in one direction. In metaphysical terms, it means that you cannot proceed in two directions at once. So drive as you like, in reverse throughout, if you are the fussy type.
Least I sound hypercritical, I must add a positive point also. Rash and fast driving in residential areas has been prevented by providing a "speed breaker"; two for each house. This mound, incidentally, covers the water and drainage pipes for that residence and is left untarred for easy identification by the corporation authorities, should they want to recover the pipe for year-end accounting.

Night driving on Indian roads can be an exhilarating experience for those with the mental make up of Genghis Khan. In a way, it is like playing Russian roulette, because you do not know who amongst the drivers is loaded. What looks like premature dawn on the horizon turns out to be a truck attempting a speed record. On encountering it, just pull partly into the field adjoining the road until the phenomenon passes.

Our roads do not have shoulders, but occasional boulders. Do not blink your lights expecting reciprocation. The only dim thing in the truck is the driver, and with the peg of illicit arrack (alcohol) he has had at the last stop, his total cerebral functions add up to little more than a naught. Truck drivers are the James Bonds of India, and are licensed
to kill. Often you may encounter a single powerful beam of light about six feet above the ground. This is not a super motorbike, but a truck approaching you with a single light on, usually the left one. It could be the right one, but never get too close to investigate. You may prove your point posthumously."
18 Responses
  1. GuNs Says:

    HEY !!

    Thats a hilarious article. Forwarded it to all people whose email addresses I know. Can you put up a link to the original article? I just have to congratulate the guy on a most amazing piece of humour.


    P.S. : My recent post is something I picked up off the net too. Its equally hilarious - a bunch of examples of Murphy's law. Check it out.

  2. Visithra Says:

    heheheh uve either been driving or was stuck in a madhatter driven auto?

  3. Preethi Says:

    Funny article, but sadly true.. its exactly like this these days.
    I thought that Hyderabad is lot better than Bangalore in terms of traffic and distances, but I think I will have to change my opinion...
    U know these days, we are waiting for more than half an hour of our really precious evening time in the cabs, waiting for the traffic to clear!! With all the flyovers under construction and other such things on the road, going safely is a dream these days!!!

    Good one, Usha to point out!!!


  4. passerby55 Says:


    that was funny "Baby taxi" I often travel by those...Haha

    My son as a child was very crazy about these baby taxis, the reason unknown to me till date!

    btw in thailand these baby taxis are called "tuktuk".

    Truck drivers are indeed the real James bond.

    A funny post but very Real, and would sound reel to many in the West...


  5. Anonymous Says:

    Hahaha! What an hilarious article. I couldn't help but laugh my head out aloud several times!
    Ravi expressing joy buzzing horn 3 brisk times *Toot Toot Toot* !!!

  6. Alapana Says:

    Hahaha,that was hilarious,i fwded it to my hubby just now:)

  7. Deeps Says:

    Hehehehe. Very funny article :).

    But you know what? I think traffic in India is much more exciting than that in US. Nothing ever happens here, cars are like ants, they keep going, keep going and keep on going :-p. Bangalore traffic is fun :-D.

  8. Ha,Ha!! I claim that I am an adventurous soul. My adventures mostly include driving on Bangalore roads (btw I am usually on the passenger seat) :)

  9. Statutory Warning:
    Never risk reading Usha's blog while having breakfast. You may choke and die ;)

  10. Wild Reeds Says:

    Hilarious. Portions of the Dutchman's article, btw, are from the book "Culture Shock - India" in the Culture Shock series. I lived in Bangalore for a week in May, on Bannerghutta Road, in L&T South City. Since at one point (beyond the IIMs) the whole road was dug up for an underpass, one had to take a tortuous winding path through narrow adjoining village roads, or then simply alight and walk precariously across the construction site. I didn't mind since the weather was glorious (blossom showers in the evening etc) + I was on vacation, but it must be nerve wracking for Bangloreites to do on a daily basis.
    As far as Bombay is concerned (a city I have lived in for 30 years), traffic has VASTLY improved. There are a 100 odd flyovers at crucial points, plus a sealink between Bandra, Worli and Nariman Pt is on its way, which should take 30% of existing traffic. The road widening authorities have been thankfully ruthless and most roads are double or even triple the size of what they were 15 years ago. The funny thing is, the environment lobby is equally strong. Hence you have a straggly tree, which used to be on the footpath, now smack in the center of the thoroughfare. It cannot be chopped down, so big red neon signs surround it and cars brake screechingly and carefully make their way around them. Sort of like the road-resting cows of yore :-)

  11. Mahadevan Says:

    Dr.Naarayan Murthy once remarked that thanks to Bangalore traffic, he could read nine newspapers a day while driving down to his Office.

    In Mumbai traffic is better organised. If you stick to your lane, you can safely reach your destination. But too many service providers digging at different places have led to chaos at many places.

    Speed breakers are virtually car breakrers. Many Car owners complained about too many speed breakders, many of them unauthorised and not of even height and the High Court had to intervene, directing the Authorties to demolish the unauthorised breakers. A large number of 18/25 age group drivers think that they are driving Formula I cars.

    Dr.B.Ramamurthi, the late leading Neuro Surgeon from Chennai pleaded that the front wheel of a autorickshaw should never be allowed to move beyond 45 degrees to prevent accidents.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    CANT BLAME BANGALORE ALONE. HYDERABAD AND MUMBAI is EVEN WORSEt. MUMBAI has a traffic jam at 1AM Everyday, everywhere and Hyderabad, people are colour blind (They cant see red or green at the traffic junction). Blore is definitely better (relatively).
    I am not a Bangalorean....but I must say - Bangalore is still the best in India!!!!! Keep up the faith Bangaloreans.

    Rajeev - New Delhi.

  13. Mohan Says:

    ITs extremely funny but teaches us a lot about the way we drive, doesnt it?

  14. Usha Says:

    guns: I do not know the source. This was a mail sent by a friend. But In his comment wild reeds talks of the book "culture shock-India". I need to google and see more.

    Visithra: No autos for me thank you. If I had to brave the roads, I'd rather be in control of my life rather than leave it to the mercy of some mad auto driver.

    Passerby55: True. someone ones said that if you can drive safely in India, you can drive anywhere in the world. I am told Italy is a lot like India. saw a film called "taxi" in which Queen Lateefa drives a lot like our drivers!

    Preethi:in bangalore the distances are not so much but the traffic makes it seem so. I spend 1 hr 30 mins to go to the Alliance Francaise which is just 14 km from where i live.

    Ravi: Toot toot toot back at you!

    alapana: :)

    Deeps: I wish the vehicles would move, move and move. Nothing more frustrating than traffic that has come to a standstill.

    Orchid: Oh if you know how to drive and have to be in the passenger seat while someone crazy is driving that is even worse. I spend my time applying imaginary brakes when i take citytaxis!

    The Rational Fool:Hope the accident was averted. what is it, even talking about the roads is dangerous now? :)

    Wild reeds: Thanks for the source. Must check out the book. You know I have lived for 25 years in precisely the same endroit that you have described ( before South City) and you can imagine the night mare.Hey, I wish I had met you when you were here.
    I know it is pretty charming to see those trees in the middle of the road. In bangalore you often find a temple in precisely the same spot - middle of the road and traffic has to go around.

    Mahadevan: Good to hear that traffic is better in Mumbai. in mid 90s when i used to visit Mumbai on work, I used to be shocked by the traffic jams from nariman point to bandra especially Peddar road.

    Doozie: :)it is, isn't it?

    Rajeev:It is no consolation it is better than other cities, it is just torture.

    Mohan:True. I guess most of us join them because we can't beat them!

  15. Hip Grandma Says:

    i live in jamshedpur which was part of Bihar till nov.2000.tho'our small township that is maitained by Tata Steel is an exception.i know of a professor who went to Ranchi to submit his pension papers.since he felt that he could not walk to the university amid the chaos that prevailed, he took a cycle rikshaw.the rickshaw competed with a hundred other modes of transport, toppled right in front of the university.the professorhit a divider and died on the spot even before submitting his are right usha in bihar and jharkhand people who rely on their two legs are better off.Jamshedpur is as bad as Bangalore if not worse.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    It was a riot. Good writing.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    {Warning Bad spellings/Grammer Ahead}

    cool writing...
    am i also frustrated with every thing abt blore trafic.i ve seen the degradation of it since last few yrs I also cant stand the excessive

    I plan to wear a T-Shirt which says
    "Dont honk for no reason..
    ... I cant help it, if YOU cant
    satsify your wife"
    "your honking wont change the
    red signal to green"
    "You are an Idot"
    Honk once for "Yes"
    honk 2ice for "True"