Horn Honking, Indian Drivers and Bangalore Traffic
I am from Los Angeles. Trust me when I say I know traffic. On top of that I have also traveled a bit and have seen traffic jams in many cities and countries around the world. But I swear to you, I have never seen anything like the traffic in Bangalore.
Tonight I am sat on the terrace on the upper floor of a lovely restaurant and lounge on 100 Feet Road called “100 Feet” enjoying the amazing ambience of this fantastic Mediterranean hotspot, the smell of the incense lightly floating up into the air, the groovy chillout music playing softly, my perfectly prepared caipiroska … and the loud blast of HORNS every 2 seconds from the street below. haha. And no one here seems to mind the noise. Heck, even I don’t really seem to mind it after only 10 days here. But the truth is that I have never been to city that embraced the sound of the horn quite like this one does — fully and with a fevered passion.
When I was here the first time for my interview I really thought that the driver who had collected me from the airport was bi-polar. He had seemed like such a sweet guy in the airport terminal but then changed immediately into a really rude guy honking and honking and honking his horn at other drivers at — what to me — looked like nothing. I assumed that behind the wheel he changed into Road Rage Man. But like so many other things here in Bangalore, my idea of what is appropriate conduct or correct behavior was totally wrong.
Unlike L.A., where the horn is used as a basic tool for expressing “F** you” to a crappy driver, in Bangalore the horn is actually a safety tool 100% of the time. And it appears that the Indians are very safety conscience because the toot toot beep beep that goes on here 24/7 is pretty insane — yet none of the locals know what I am talking about when I mention it. Trucks have “BLOW HORN” messages painted on their backs to remind drivers to BE COURTEOUS and please honk! Basically it goes like this: when you pass a car, you honk so they know you are coming. When you see a car waiting to turn onto your road, you honk to say “ehhhh, stay there, I won’t stop for you” like my current driver does And since the concept of a 1-lane, 2-lane or 3-lane road does not exist, and cars just go wherever the hell they want to, the horn is used to alert the car on the right or the left that you are coming around or to get out of your way or any other fabulous number of reasons.
And VERY MUCH unlike Los Angeles, I have never once, not even for the slightest second, seen a single moment of frustration or road rage enter into traffic here. What an amazing, beautiful thing to discover!
Ahhh but the delights of Bangalore traffic do not end with the autos! The foot traffic is also pretty insane. All my American friends will remember Frogger, the fun video game we used to drop quarter after quarter into at the arcade during junior high school in which you had to safely guide the cute little frog across various lanes of traffic without it being run over by a car or truck or motorbike. Well, that is what I do each night when I venture out from the hotel to go for a drink or to take my laptop out on a dinner date. If you look at the slide show photos you will see the road I “Frogger” across (yes, I just used that as a verb), taken from the center divider as I was half way across my journey waiting for the traffic to die down enough for me to … YES …. Frogger across. I have to admit it is really pretty fun and definitely wakes me up, but a few well placed zebra crossings wouldn’t be a bad thing. But this is India, and unfortunately no joy there! But maybe someday.
Today was a pretty normal day but I was almost attacked by a giant ant that just appeared from nowhere on my desk! haha Ok Ok, maybe not attacked, but it was so big that the thought of squashing it really grossed me out (see photo!). And finally tomorrow I will sign the lease on our new apartment. Tomorrow I also have the fun task of going to “register” with the Indian police as the final step of my visa process. Hopefully by the weekend I will be out of the hotel and into our new home — and a legal permanent resident of India.
XOXO from Bangalore
PS. I have just been watching the live cricket game and I think I need to go see one live the next time RCB plays … but towards the end of the game because they can last 4, 5, 6 hours….
© Angela Carson, Angela’s Adventures in Bangalore blog and photos, 2011
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