I’ve lived in Bangalore for close to 10 years now. When I landed at 3AM I remember driving through an empty MG road and looking at the Metro pillars thinking….oh nice…just in time. I asked my cab driver “Oh wow is Bangalore traffic always this nice?”
“Just you wait.”
Take a look at any Bangalore traffic map, or simply fire up your Google maps and notice wherever you need to go…it’s going to be at least 30 minutes.
Namma Metro (Bangalore’s metro system) was supposed to fix a lot of things.
Unfortunately, metro construction is probably the slowest in the world, with I’m assuming on average about 2KM per year being constructed.
Ironic considering Dubai metro is built by Indians too, and gets built at a rate of 10KM per year.
Yes yes, I know, things are different over there and in China.
But regardless… in 7 years of its operation I’ve taken the metro ONCE.
In fact, I once walked from Trinity Circle to Brigade road to meet someone only to realize looking up after 30 minutes of sweating..oh crap, I just walked between two metro stations.
Traffic jams are constantly on the mind of Bangalorean’s and whether it’s Silk Board or Marathahalli Bridge, it’s a daily disaster. You step outside in this day and age and when you reach your destination you just want to do a 5-minute meditation to clear your head. It’s no wonder you see a MindFit or yoga studio on pretty much every corner now.
Who can fix the congestion problem?
So what’s the real issue here? Everybody likes to blame the government. Corruption, lack of execution, red tape, bureaucracy.
For sure. I’m with you.
But in this day and age of technological innovation, engineering marvels, and any service at your finger tips (especially in India where you can get a meal, massage and Amazon in minutes) I’m going to blame another culprit.
I have this theory that’s quite simple. Bridges and trains and transportation evolved out of pressing needs. Things got done because there was no other solution.
Golden Gate Bridge, the Lincoln Tunnel, you get the idea. People are gonna have our heads…let’s build this damn bridge! *Ahem not…hey, there is already massive traffic here, lets have a parade during rush hour to celebrate my kid’s birthday or dig up this road again for who knows what*
Bangalore traffic is choking daily, but it continues to stuff its face because the majority of middle-class consumers aren’t looking ahead…they’re looking down.
Ten years ago if it took you 90 minutes to go from Whitefield to Koramangala, you would be staring out the window cursing the politician’s face you passed by on every hoarding. Often times the delay isn’t even due to a traffic accident or any construction….it just is what is. Some auto just stopped to have some chai…and that causes a big redirect of traffic. Oh well.
As you missed your kids birthday party because of a traffic signal problem or the tea break causing a pointless 40-minute delay, you’d probably scream and shout at your local government official to do something about it.
Today you watch comedy videos on your phone, listen to podcasts (ahem, check mine above) and do your grocery shopping. You chat with friends and enjoy the cheapest Internet in the world.
If you’re really, angry, you MIGHT send an email if you have the patience to look at their mySpace themed government website.
You even take a conference call when you’re not losing signal between army areas…because when you get home you need to “disconnect.”
TECHNOLOGY INCREASED REACTIONS, BUT DECREASED ACTION
Social media, YouTube and a million other distractions have given governments (and private citizens) a way to mitigate infrastructure’s problems.
We kind of just “deal with it” because it’s not like we’re not spending another 2 hours working once we get home.
We handle that in traffic while sitting in the back of an Uber. But it’s not really fixing anything, it’s just shifting the headache.
Rather than spending another 20 minutes buying veggies and cooking at home, you realize it’s already 7PM, dinner won’t be ready by 9 so you may as well just give the luxury of waiting in line to your Swiggy guy. By the time you get home, having watched a NetFlix episode of Narcos, your Swiggy food is at your security and you’re ready to chill.
You’ve had a long exhausting day after all, being driven in the back of that taxi while your headphones kept falling out.
Rather than building more parking lots, we leave our cars at home and let Uber’s roam the streets in a moving swarm.
Rather than participating in our local discussions we share a pic on social media of that one time we participate in the political process…then go back to our Netflix.
I’m not saying I have the solution, but just like somebody who constantly complains about their job being a dead end or never having any romantic interests….nothing good will happen if you just sit on your phone.
Or blog about it.
(Yes I knew you were going to type that.)
In life, you update your resume, hit the gym and learn to make metaphorical steps to change your situation.
Maybe we should all start taking real steps instead.
I doubt Elon Musk likes sitting in city council meetings with technologically ignorant politicians trying to explain how self-driving cars are going to be a real thing but he needs them to update street lights, signals, and so on.
I doubt Zucks enjoyed explaining the BASICS of Facebook to 75 year politicians who stare at their phone the way I stare at the sun.
But I mean if they’re doing it with billions of dollars in the bank, what’s our excuse? You don’t have time to walk into your local official’s office once in six months because your so busy…cursing an inanimate street light?
People in Indiranagar (a trendy area in Bangalore filled with pubs) always complain about the noise, thanks to a million pubs that open up there daily. But whether you agree with it or not, the cops shut those pubs down or keep changing rules because those people are constantly on their heads to keep it down.
And you know why that gets done?
Because as of now, there’s no app to block out the noise.