The secret healing powers of Bangalore’s traffic

by neo

Bangalore’s traffic has finally cured Mrs. Neo of acute “backseatdrivingitis”.

Ready for a green light

In all the other great cities of the world, Mrs. Neo has always been the ultimate latte-sipping backseat warrior – a relentless proponent of all the routes that the GPS-following Neo didn’t take.

(Mrs. Neo refuses to drive Neo’s car because it’s an automatic – Mrs. Neo is possibly the only truly luddite woman on the planet – she prefers manual transmission.)

In the US, Mrs. Neo shook her head knowingly and disapprovingly at every wrong turn, narrowly missed green light or wrong freeway exit. She looked triumphant when the Neo family arrived late after following Neo’s choice of routes (never mind the fact that the Neo family was late because they left late).

In Bangalore, Mrs. Neo has quickly learned that if she keeps gasping and sighing for every near-miss, she will hyperventilate faster than a tragically over-enthusiastic Art of Living newbie. (True story: Neo got thrown out of a Business Art of Living “training program” because he asked the teacher “So how come God created humans with such poor breathing technique?”)

road safety education, bangalore style

Now Mrs. Neo no longer forces Neo to get directions from scary strangers. Not because she suddenly realized how bitterly humiliating the experience is for Neo, but because she realized that almost no one in Bangalore has any clue on how to give directions.

Most Bangaloreans seemingly make the assumption that you already know where you are going – because they start giving you directions on “how to get to 5th Main” with questions like “Do you know the small electronics shop on 5th Main ?” Neo is confused at so many levels – is it a shop selling small electronics or is it a small shop selling electronics ? And no, Neo has no clue about specific shops on 5th Main, since he has never been there – hence the need for directions.

So now the newly cured Mrs. Neo waits patiently as Neo does complex mathematics in his head as he plans the best route from “15th cross 23rd main 1st block” to “3rd cross 8th main 3rd block” (yes, Bangalore street planners think in three dimensions.)

Random road sign 1, Bangalore

So don’t think of Bangalore traffic as the biggest mess on the planet. Think of it as a cathartic, healing experience for the backseat driver in your household – and you will be fine.

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