The other day I ran across Residency Road to get into my car which was parked on the other side. At first I panicked: my heart was pounding, my hands clammy, my feet leaden. But then years of crossing roads in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Jakarta had given me a solid foundation. Long forgotten tips came back and I achieved the miracle. I got onto the other side.
Crossing the road in today’s Bengaluru is a combination of two things: a good old fashioned square dance; “Right leg in and right leg out, left foot in and take a run…”, etc, and a game of Russian roulette. It requires the courage of a bull, the speed of a matador and the psychological ability to read the minds of the crazy people driving the assortment of vehicles on the road- right from a Volvo bus to a lone cart with broken down horse. It is after all, a game of one-upmanship, a psycho social science that every Bengalurian should possess.
Having courage means not waiting for the traffic to stop for you. It also means your not stopping once you plunge into the maelstrom. I have a friend who is barely 5 feet tall and she lost her cool when crossing and just sat down in the middle of the road until her friend just pulled her up and hauled off the road!
Bangalore traffic will not stop even at crossings. Pedestrians have really no right to be on the road, according to vehicle drivers! So the agility quotient has to be extraordinarily high.
I have accumulated a few tips which I would like to share. First make sure that the drivers of the vehicles see you but do not look at them. For the moment you do that they think you are looking for permission to cross but are hesitant so they will capitalise on that.
Never ever trifle with buses, BMTC or Volvo or anything else. They have size on their side. They know it and will use it. Do not also trifle with motor cycles or scooters either — they do not have size but are intimidating because they are more arrogant and will twist and turn their way through the worst of traffic. Do not assume that a one way street is what it is meant to be. Look both ways.
The best ploy is to join a group. If you cannot find a group just go to the nearest policeman and politely ask him to help you. My white hair certainly helps and I am seriously thinking of acquiring a stick.
Otherwise think out a strategy like my friend who lives abroad but visits Mumbai every year. She alternates, visiting all the relatives on one side of the road this year, and next year it is the turn of the relatives on the other side.