I must have been feeling adventurous. Riding my Scooty, somewhere along the busy narrow streets of Bangalore South, I find myself at a very crowded intersection. A narrow bridge of about 10 ft wide connects two intersections of two roads each! The traffic from all four roads wants their way on to the bridge and beyond. There are cars, SUVs, a ton of two-wheelers like myself and a few daredevil pedestrians.
The two-wheelers are of course, high risk-high reward. I cut in between the cars once I see couple feet of space and then I cut a feet of width from the opposite side’s imaginary ‘lane’ to move faster. Cars pass just a couple inches from me and a wrong tilt or sudden surge of a few inches could cause a casualty. Yet, there is hardly a grumble.
In this chaos, a car decides it has come the wrong way and wants to make a U-turn! He starts his painful journey of trying to achieve this inch-by-inch. It probably will take him several minutes to complete. The traffic around him fluidly adjusts to this. No one seems upset at this disruption. Everyone just focused on getting to where they have to: That’s all. Zen, must be it!
Homo Sapiens did not get to where they are today without communication, verbal or non-verbal. A car is headed in the same direction as you and you would tell the driver of the car you will cut across in front of the car just with an eye-contact. You will pass the mini-truck in front of you from the wrong side with just the sound of a horn and yet a midst hundreds of other horn blaring, the mini-truck driver understands its you and what you are trying to do.
But the traffic is not all about two or four wheels. There are quadrupeds in the mix too. The stray dogs have gotten smart. They just scurry when they see a gap. The bovines must have come from another planet. They think they own the road and the vehicles are just stuff floating around them. They turn when they want to and only a brave few try to heckle them to the sides.
At the point where the two roads meet just before the bridge there is another fascinating phenomenon happening. Traffic from Street-x is ruthlessly turning right to join the bridge where the Street-y seems to be at a stop. In reality, Street-y is constantly moving inch-by-inch making a steady dent into street-x’s space trying to turn left. The front line of Street y suddenly found a foot of gap in the flow of Street-x and charges ahead mercilessly. Now, street-x suddenly stops and and reverts to the mode of moving inch-by-inch.
I am finally on top of the bridge. It’s about 10 ft in width crossing over storm drain. The wall is around a foot high. I am wondering how much weight the bridge was designed to withhold. I am sure we have at least double that weight at this exact moment. But that’s a worry for a later day. At the moment I am already calculating the optimal path for exiting the crossing on the other side.
Exit happened smoother than I expected. Mainly because I found some remnants of a sidewalk (or footpath as its called here) and glide over it. Never mind the pedestrians. Freedom at last!!! Well, not so soon. I still have 4 more kilometers to go. But that’s just in plain normal weekday evening traffic. I’ll survive that too!!
– Sudatta G