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Tags: BangaLore
April 17, 2009

BangaLore #19: Why did the Bangalorean cross the road?

by Sonalee Rau, Online Staff Writer
Beats me, but it probably took him half an hour to get to the other side.
Bangaloreans running evening errands attempt to make their way across a crowded road. Sonalee Rau
Bangaloreans running evening errands attempt to make their way across a crowded road.

I don't know if you've ever played the video game "Frogger," in which a frog has to hop across a road and avoid cars and trucks in order to reach a river which, after the frog traverses it, will lead it to its goal. Crossing the street in India is pretty much the same game, except it's real life. So instead of getting five lives or so, you get one. If you lose on your first try, it's game over, and you can't just restart your computer.

(To think that I once thought University Boulevard was the most congested road I would ever have to cross.)

That's what was running through my head yesterday as I attempted to cross the street. Streets in Bangalore are, by the way, too hardcore for traffic lights. So the cars, trucks, buses, rickshaws, motorcycles, mopeds, scooters, horse-drawn carriages and miscellaneous stray animals overlap lanes and crowd together, forming one amorphous blob, interlocking like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. The "traffic policeman" on the curbside will then blow his whistle halfheartedly, as if it will help restore order. ThinkFun Games should model their next game after the type of gridlock in this city. I can see it now - "Rush Hour: Bangalore Edition."

Where are pedestrians left in all of this? Well, on the side of the road. As you stand there watching and waiting for your turn to walk, a passing bus will inevitably spurt a blast of hot exhaust into your face, blinding you and forcing you to wait for another five minutes. Once you reach the lane divider in the middle of the street, you have to climb over it; for some reason, it's several feet high, like an Olympic hurdle. (Actually, why isn't crossing Bangalorean streets an Olympic event?)

I'm not hyperbolizing. And to those who are skeptical, I can offer no better analogy than this: crossing a street in Bangalore makes navigating your way out of the SAC between 5A and 5B lunch look like a cakewalk.

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  • NK (View Email) on April 17, 2009 at 4:26 PM
    I don't know about Bangalore, but when I was in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta, in West Bengal, India), the streets are too "hardcore" for lane divisions, or sometimes even for a center line of any sort. (Whenever there is a physical center divider, someone has almost always bent a hole into it for climbing through, as a public service.) Vehicles follow along no regular paths, swerving all over the place, and the motorcycles are even worse than they are here. When you're driving, you're expected to honk if you want to be noticed by vehicles larger than your own. No, really: all of the trucks have signs saying "Awaz karo" on the back, phoneticized Bengali literally meaning "Make noise." The complete lack of any order on the streets combined with continuous honking from all sides makes it just as harrowing an experience to be riding in a car as trying to dodge through them.

    Oh, and by the way, nice blog!
  • i know what ur saying on April 18, 2009 at 12:21 AM
    it takes some serious skill to get to the other side of a road in india...and its prty much impossible to get across w/out getting honked at like 5 times
  • hahaaaa on April 19, 2009 at 10:32 AM
    SONAAA you're hilarious
  • Tasnia on April 19, 2009 at 5:47 PM
    Only Sonalee could make a blog about crossing the street so interesting, funny, witty, and amazing.

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