It’s actually quite difficult to describe the crazy driving and chaotic system that operates here in Bangalore. Cars, lorries, buses, bikes and auto rickshaws weave in and out of spaces you didn’t even know existed. Every inch of space on the road is used. There is no such thing as keeping your distance or even stopping distances; lane discipline does not exist here. Rear view mirrors are rarely, if ever, used. Wing mirrors are merely to ensure other vehicles pass your car without hitting it – and I’m not joking. I’ve not seen a driver yet use a wing mirror for anything other than gauging a gap.
There are so many people trying to get around a city with badly maintained roads that traffic jams are frequent. Add into that equation cow’s meandering the roads and having priority over any traffic also causing havoc. The picture above is unusual because there appears to be no traffic on the road – what you can’t see is the queue of cars behind the two cows waiting for them to moo-ve out of the way enough for vehicles to get passed without touching the cows.
Added to this chaos is the edge of your seat stuff. By this I mean the truly dangerous and life threatening way people choose to travel – usually on the back of vehicles. It is not unusual to see people sleeping on top of a pile of wood, veg or other cargo at the top of a vehicle. Others sit on the edge or stand and hold on. No helmets, no seats, no seat belts – just sheer determination.
The thing is, it works. Lots of beeping horns advising other road users where vehicles are but no road rage in sight. Cars weave in and out of spaces that a motorbike in the UK would think twice about. Mopeds squeeze through even smaller gaps. Everyone moves out of the way of a bus or a lorry – size really does matter! We’ve seen just a handful of accidents(if that) since we’ve been here.
That’s not to say I would ever consider driving here. There is absolutely no way I would or could. I’d have an ulcer or a heart attack by the end of the first week! I can understand why a car and a driver is considered a safety issue for international companies – it’s a whole different ball game here.