Monday, April 30, 2012

Bangalore Traffic survival guide

Everybody has heard about the pains of driving in Bangalore traffic. For few of us who are Bangaloreans we face it everyday. For me, it has been about two months of driving and i can positively say that i am no longer as bothered as i was when i started driving. Here are my tips to survive the traffic woes -

Tips about driving -
1. The time slice rule: Leave to office early, leave for home early. Beat the traffic, beat the weather. Life is good!
2. Drive in the right lane. In Bangalore, on a road with two lanes, there exists a middle lane. I didn't knew this fact when i started. If you know you are going straight, drive on the right lane. It may take little more time as compared to if you optimized switching lanes but it will definitely be more peaceful.
3. Leave space for a two wheeler to pass on your right. Do not drive just next to the divider.  Leave some space so that bikes can overtake from right. Left overtaking bikes are very difficult to spot. A space on right makes them happy which makes you happy.
4. Use indicators while changing lanes. Bike-wallahs are very careful about indicators, they always respect it. And indicator is always a good defense if you get into trouble.

Tips about car -
1. Buy automatic car. I cant stress this enough. Mankind invented anesthesia so that there is no pain when you go to dentist/surgery. Similarly automatic transmission was invented to take the pain of stick-shift away. It is worth the extra money before car buying and it is worth the extra mileage cost that it brings.
2. Make sure that your car has a music system - fm/am, cd player and an aux port.
3. Invest in a good cell phone charger.
4. If you have money, buy a car which has steering mounted audio controls. (Mine doesnt has and i am regretting it now)
5. The car should have cup holders (two is better than one)

Now, comes the main part, what to do while the traffic is moving slow.  This is the breeding ground for pain, frustration, anger etc etc. Here are things that will keep your cool -

1. You must have a smart phone or smart device (ipad/ipod). Without this, you are screwed.
2. Download apps that can download podcasts. Apple devices have iTunes. Android has Listen (and many more but i am happy with listen)
3.  Always have 10 hrs of podcast handy when travelling. Here is sample of a list that i follow -
(a) Planet Money
(b) This American Life
(c) Moth
(d) Prairie home companion
(e) Educational podcasts from law schools.
(f) All Music considered and any good music podcast.
(g) Any other NPR show that you liked :)
With the above in hand, listening to them is a joy and soon, you are no longer stuck in traffic, you are listening to podcast. Driving becomes secondary, podcast is primary and then everything fells into place.
4. Good radio is important. I hate almost all bangalore radio channels, they are horrible RJs talking great things about horrible songs. But then there is 106.4 FM which has a show called EarthBeats  which is aired from Netherlands and that has total NPR appeal.  Love the show, it comes from either 5-6 pm or 6-7 pm.
5. Have good cds. Indian ocean, swarathma, ennio morricone, dylan, kabir etc etc. I need to buy a good cd box in car.
6. Audio books - I have not tried it yet (podcasts keep me busy all the time) but audio books is soon going to be an experiment.
7. Coffee mug - Life is good whenever you have coffee in your coffee mug. Those cup holders were made only for one reason - to hold delicious coffee in coffee mugs.

Spiritual tips -
(Advisory note - Although these have been tried but they have failed to work on me.)
1. The Zen approach - There is no traffic. It sounds great in theory but when you see the clock and realize that you have only travelled 4 kms in 40 mins, the zen goes outside the window.
2.  The Denial approach - The traffic is not slow, infact it is quite fast. Doesn't work -  Period
3. The "Its not you, its me" approach -  It may work while breaking up relationships but doesn't work when the taxi driver will persistently honk you knowing full that there is no space ahead to take advantage off.

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