Stand by the side of a busy road in Bengaluru, and observe closely. You will not miss it: to drive wrong is the right way to drive in this burgeoning city.
Be it going against the one-way rule, jumping the traffic signal (often right under the traffic cop’s nose), overtaking from the left to shock the other motorist, mounting the footpath to race ahead while blowing the living daylights out of pedestrians, honking behind another motorist who has rightly (wrongly?) stopped for the red signal, or bursting out of line to overtake an entire queue of vehicles that have stopped at a signal to reach right ahead – that’s the way to drive in Bengaluru, and that’s the way we do it. To hell with the rules, because it’s considered “not happening” – you got to be “living with the trend”, and the trend is that you have to drive wrong to be acknowledged for driving right. You do it any other way, even playing by the rules, and you are made to feel like the biggest fool on the roads.
The other day, I refused to give way to a cabbie who kept honking from behind although I was moving at a fair speed. But he wanted to overtake me. There was enough and more space on the right from where he could overtake me, the way it should be done by the rule book. But he didn’t. He wanted to see me budge from my lane to give him way. I didn’t. Finally he overtook me from the left, and as he passed, I was honoured with a middle finger “salute” and an expletive. He wanted to pass on the message that I was driving the wrong way, and that I should be driving the way he did – or does – and that is the right way to drive.
A friend, who was sharing his experience of riding on the dangerous Bellary Road, said he preferred to ride faster than the speed limit in the hope of avoiding any other speeding motorist crashing into him from behind if he went any slower. I realised then that the Bengaluru motorist tries to overcome the wrong by attaining a higher level of wrong, and feel right about it.
British Formula One race driver Lewis Hamilton once said, “The way I drive, the way I handle a car, is an expression of my inner feelings.” If that is the case, then the mental state of Bengaluru motorists begs to be the subject of a methodical study.
World-renowned physicist Albert Einstein, while talking about driving, had once said: “Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.”
Well, Einstein never made it to Bengaluru or he would have thought otherwise, because here he would have come across drivers making love to their mobile phones while driving, let alone kissing a pretty girl. That’s the right way to drive here!
Senior Assistant Editor