Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Profound observations that amount to scintillating social commentary

Traffic in Bangalore, while hideous, offers opportunities for observation and judgment on a daily basis. (Mostly judgment, because that's so much more fun.) A few things that I've put on a mini-list, forthwith.

The Sidewalk as an Alternative Road: You mean you thought the sidewalks were solely for walking? (The term sidewalk may be alternated with the term footpath here. I use 'sidewalk' because I'm so used to it because it's J's influence, etc., but I digress.) Our city planners (devious witches) actually came up with this crafty plan when they looked into their crystal ball and saw the future of traffic in 2013. Thus, all those boys on their bikes who aggressively swerve on the sidewalks are merely following the fate written in the stars. If you happen to be standing on said sidewalk waiting for your cab and one of these helmeted hellions drives straight into you, why it's your fault, you worthless bystander! And be prepared for the honking, too. 

The Hairy Eyeball: This is observed when one vehicle is being driven by a maniac and comes too close to another vehicle, which may or may not be driven by a maniac. If not, then this second driver gives the first driver a long, mean, earth-shatteringly evil look. The first driver merely drives on, untouched by this brush with death. The Hairy Eyeball may also be accompanied by the One-handed Gesture Meant to be an Insult, which consists of the driver raising his hand, stretching out his palm and pointing it in the general direction of the insultee. What it means, I have deduced, is a sort of half-hearted insult: "Why are you driving like a maniac, but I'm too busy to really stop and fight, besides I myself drive like you half the time, har har...." (Of course the Hairy Eyeball and its accompaniment are infinitely better than the drivers actually getting out and taking the trouble to fight.)

Honking at Nothing: I like to think that this is a way for Bangalore drivers to connect with the vast reaches of outer space, trying to establish a link with any living thing out there. You know how lonely Bangalore roads can be in off-peak hours, right? So to counter this soul-crushing sense of alienation, our vulnerable drivers have come up with this idea. To honk at nothing. Of course many times it is actually honking at what's right in front of them: a puddle, a stray plastic bag, a pothole, or a speed bump. It's all just an attempt to connect with the pitiless expanse of the universe and feel a sense of belonging and awe. No need to get all up in arms. What is a mere honk in the face of existential loneliness?

Perhaps I should add to this list passengers who simply get out of their cars and run away when stuck in the same endless gridlock day after day? Oh, wait. There's only one person who does that- me. Ha. 

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