Articles Sabita Radhakrishna

Bangalore bursting at the seams

The traffic inched forward, then came to a dead halt for what seemed eternity

If we grumble about Chennai's traffic, it would do each grumbler good to stay in Bangalore for a week and move around “at leisure.” With the city bursting at the seams and the growth becoming uncontrolled, it is a commuter's nightmare. It puts you in a bind to confront flyovers galore in various stages of completion and ‘one-ways' reversed.

We were staying on Millers Road, Bangalore, and invited guests for dinner. We thought we would make a quick dash to a friend's place in Trinity Gardens. Mercifully, this took us 20 minutes. We left her place at 6.15 p.m., hoping to reach home by 7 p.m., well in time to receive our guests. Alas! our optimism was short-lived, as we drove into a gridlock. The cars moved bumper to bumper, and when we prudently maintained a safe distance, cars would squeeze in, and we were behind in the queue. Queue? Might was right, and I was amazed at the dexterity of the Bangalore drivers as they expertly wove in and out of the lanes, with screeching brakes and burning tyres making James Bond films pale by contrast. The motorcycle wallahs, two-wheelers and autorickshaws were not to be outdone. They zigzagged in a game of musical chairs, and we felt incompetent at such awesome driving skills.


The traffic inched forward, then came to a dead halt for what seemed eternity. The pattern continued till I lost all consciousness of time and place. The roads were horribly bumpy with potholes and speed humps. I prayed that our vertebrae may not be displaced. It was well past Ulsoor when the congestion cleared.

It had taken us exactly two hours and 20 minutes to reach home. Ignoring the guests who were waiting in the lobby, we rushed to the bathroom!

When we murmured our apologies sheepishly, they assured us that this was a common occurrence they faced frequently! One had to know which areas to avoid at certain times and update oneself on the routes and non-entry points. It was a lesson well learnt.


I thought up a whole lot of compensatory measures for the poor Bangaloreans, since most of the people I talked to were resigned to their fate. If you are a computer fiend, take your laptop and use a card to activate your Internet, so you could save time answering your emails.

Of course, your cellphone is a must to make those urgent calls. All the better, if you have a Blackberry. The newspaper can be read from the beginning to the end — and, with luck, you can finish your sudoku. Take some DVDs with you so you can view them on the computer, and you could watch a full English movie comfortably. All this will be possible only if you are privileged to have a driver. If you drive yourself, I would earnestly urge you to have your blood pressure checked regularly. I'm not sure whether you could consume water aplenty. You'll have to choose between dehydration and a full bladder.

Car manufacturers could have a field day designing the interiors for emergencies and charge a well deserved premium. The back of the front seats could have a small cloth-holder for novels, magazines and newspapers to house a mini-library. The back seat should have a push-up device to reveal a concealed chamber pot in times of emergencies for women and children, the ones with built-in chemicals which would just diffuse the contents and keep the pot hygienic. It wouldn't do to have the contents splashing around while riding over speed humps and potholes.

And what happens to someone having a heart attack or stroke, or a pregnant woman who develops labour pain? The city planners may have to make one facility available — a helicopter service which can be summoned at will to the site of the emergency, and the person concerned bailed out and taken to the nearest hospital.

We are fast reaching a stage when online shopping and door delivery of all commodities are the only way out, especially for senior citizens, and we need not visit anyone. There is email and Skype where the webcam gives you pictures of your loved ones and we can continue to live in virtual reality.

Then we can dispense with cars. So the traffic will ease. But what happens to the empty flyovers and the planning and vision which have eaten up several crores of rupees? Not to worry, the visionaries will take care of that.

One last fervent prayer is that Chennai will not take its cue from its sister city.

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