I had been to Bangalore…err…Bengaluru (let me correct it, before the fanatics kill me for getting it wrong) last week on my usual bi-monthly trip home. This time for a change, I got this opportunity to go by my colleagues car. Started on a friday noon around 12:00pm (yes, I did take permission to leave early…Thank you for the concerns! :)), we took the route via Vellore…had our late lunch (around 3:00pm) some place after Vellore and then chose the route that would go via Hosur into Bengaluru. The other route would have gone through Chitoor (spell check needed!!) into Kolar and finally to Bengaluru. Our thought approach was that the Chitoor route would be crowded with buses and hence would be crowded whereas the route via Hosur would be free to reach quicker. On getting into that route we got to know as to why the buses chose the route via Chitoor. On this route, there were FIVE toll gates and they charged us in a good numbering sequence – Rs. 25, Rs. 35, Rs. 45, Rs. 35, Rs. 25 – yes typical to the inverted bell curve!! Phew…Our only job was to ask, “How many more toll gates ahead?” at every toll gate irrespective of knowing there were 4 more at the first toll gate! 😉
We reached Hosur by 6:00pm and we were happy to have reached that early inspite of taking over an hour of break for lunch and beverage. We didn’t know what was in store ahead. 6:15pm we entered the Hosur road – Electronic City road junction and to cover the next 12-13 kms we took 2 hours…during which time both our morale and the car’s mileage took a beating! 😦
My colleague who was driving (for the first time on Bengaluru roads) complained of not being able to get past the first gear…I told him “This is how we drive in Bengaluru”…For those 2 hours he didn’t touch the gears…it was always on the first and all he had to do was manage the accelerator and brakes! The traffic situation was terrible. There were motorists all over the place and the only way they didn’t prefer to take was over us. They even resorted to the footpaths to reach their destination faster. Bengaluru drivers have this habit of overtaking from the left (I sometimes tend to do it while driving here in Chennai only to realize that this is not a place to do that!) without honking which would take anyone new to the Bengaluru roads by surprise, shock and possibly even lead to an accident. There’s no use talking about traffic management in Bengaluru…its been long since its gone to the dogs.
The sigh of relief coming from him on crossing the Hosur Road and entering the Residency road was shortcome when a fellow driver waved his hand at me shouting “The back tyre on the driver side is completely flat!”. It was 8:30pm and our hopes of reaching home at least by 9:00pm seemed to be fading away. Since I had the experience of changing the tyres of my dad’s old Maruthi 800, I told him that I could do it in flat 10 minutes time. The look on his face said two different shades. One seemed to say, “you are very overconfident about it” while the other said, “Since there’s no other go, I have to take your word”! Phew…thankfully he said ok to me, when I told him “we’ll get even late if we wait for some mechanic…its already late”! He parked the car at the side of Residency Road and he helped me change the tyre…we were ready to leave in 10 mins. I got down a little ahead as his house was on a different route and took an auto.
“Nandini Layout?” I asked the auto driver in Kannada (I know those 2 words are English, but we can use it as if its in Kannada).
“Hmmm…do you know the route sir?” he interviewed.
“Yes, don’t you know?” I politely asked.
“It would be One and half on meter” he demanded, ignoring my ‘don’t you know?’ part of the query. Kalla.
“One and half?? Its just 8:45pm” I retorted.
“Yes sir, one and half. It may rain anytime and there’s no surety that I would get a passenger for my return journey” he smiled with a “gotcha” look on his face.
My mom had warned me about the incessant rains in Bengaluru and when the auto driver reminded me of it, I just got into the auto and said “Ok, lets go. I am sure you know the way”.
He started the engine and like any typical auto geek in the messed-up-traffic city of Bengaluru would do, sped through every nook and corner of the available space on road and yet took about an hour to reach my home which was just 10kms away from where I took the auto. 110 bucks at 7 bucks per Km and at One-and-Half times the meter!! Talk about inflation and my screwed up bank balance! They go right in the opposite direction!! 😦
Finally I reached my destination…home sweet home…mom, dad and granny were waiting with yummy Chicken tikka masala which I savoured as I narrated the above experience to them with all the expressions, of course! 😀