Sunday, February 28, 2010

Did someone say traffic jams were a thing of the past?

The city of Bangalore seems like one big cram-your-circus-suitcase challenge. You know…the game where you have to cram your suitcase with all sorts of things – clothes, shoes, stereo systems, 2-inch dia stainless steel pipes, hacksaws, insect repellant, vinyl records, drilling tools, .357 Magnum shotguns, rexin upholstery, nuclear waste disposal canisters, lamp shades etc… and the winner is the one with the most stuff packed in while passing unnoticed through the security gate of the airport. Okay, so I made up that game…but what the hell, if there were such a game, Bangalore would be the World champion’s suitcase…do you get my drift?

There is more chaos than you’ve ever seen. Buildings and bus shelters are strewn around unashamedly, like a talcum powder spill in a miniature train set. In beloved Madras, for instance if you said Café Coffee day, Nungambakkam, everyone knew exactly where you meant. There would have been no two ways of interpreting what you said. Your word was good enough and you knew what you were talking about. You were a force to be reckoned with. Not so in Bangalore. There are 8 Coffee days in a 3 square km area in Jayanagar alone. It turns out it’s a big deal, because Bangalore itself covers only about 8 square miles. Now, this may be a good thing if you are in Jayanagar and are in the mood for some coffee, but not such a hot bargain if you have an office opposite to one of the Coffee days and want to give directions to someone so they can come and give you some money before they change their mind. Not a good bargain at all. (Actually, having a dozen CCDs around is not a great idea even if you are in the mood for coffee. In Bangalore, at least. Their coffee tastes like what gets poured down the waste drain in some chemistry experiment gone terribly wrong.)

Here are some facts you will have no difficulty understanding if you’ve ever lived in Bangalore. But if you have never lived in Bangalore, I might as well be talking in whale language:-

It takes me 10 minutes to walk from home to office, a distance of about 10 minutes walking-distance…if you walk as fast as me…which is fast enough to cover the said distance in ten minutes…(I guess that is settled now.) But if I drive, it takes me 15 minutes. I am not kidding. So, if I am in a hurry to get to the office, I’d be better off walking than taking the car.

The weirdest thing about Bangalore though, that which confuses even people born and brought up here, is that no matter which route you take to reach a place from some other place, there is always another route which is shorter. Get this: There is always a shorter cut. You may join two landmarks by a straight line – a straight road or a straight street and think to yourself, “Ahaa! What can possibly be shorter than this?” Well, your attention span, for one, because you weren’t listening. Moron. I said, and read this carefully, there-is-always-a-shorter-cut. It could be another road which has lesser traffic, maybe a one-way, maybe one that passes through a residential area, maybe one that has fewer rumble strips on the road. (Yes, there are speed breakers in Bangalore, though whose speed they help break is a mystery to me. I won’t risk asking this question in public, because given their fondness for flawlessly logical retorts, I am sure the Bangaloreans will respond by producing a snow-plougher from the garage of the MG Road fire station. And expect me to understand that through the stylish process of second-order reverse-logic, my question somehow stands answered.)

So, don’t reinvent the trapezoidal wheel. Just park your scientific curiosity in a place where it is unlikely to be ever found again, maybe on the shoe-rack in the Iskon temple, and just accept this as an axiom. Do not question anything. Questioning only leads you into dark corners of logical fallacy where your mother wouldn’t want you to go, especially after dusk. Remember also that in this imperfect world, dumbass cows with large breasts and bloodsucking leeches buy turbocharged Porsche Carrera GTs, and the intellectuals get sent to jail and have their skins flayed before having their noses eaten by Nazi dobermans. So just repeat after me – There is always a shorter route.