Monday, June 4, 2012
A lot of the stuff mentioned on this blog has been about my positive experiences here in Bangalore. But I know when we were trying to decide whether an Indian adventure was the right choice for us, I tried to find information on all of the "deal-breakers" as well, so I wouldn't be surprised by something I just couldn't handle. So, in the spirit of full disclosure, I thought I'd try to sum up some of the not-so-exciting things we had to get used to (or at least try). Like Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart, these issues seem small on the surface, but might drive you mad in the long run! I'm calling these posts "Be Sure You Can Handle" and adding a separate tag (BSYCH).

After my first week in India, I'm surprised I can still use my hands. I'd "white knuckled" them so much, I was afraid I might have lost circulation forever.

Compared to the United States, traffic here is much more of a free-for-all. Most roads have lane dividers painted on them, but I've never seen the lanes actually used. Want to cross the median? Sure, go ahead. Red light? Depending on the time of day, feel free to breeze right on through. Cow? Jerk that steering wheel to the left but whatever you do, don't use the brake.

We do the majority of our travel in an auto-rickshaw, and I'll admit, it only took me a few weeks to get used to the traffic. Even though there are almost no discernible rules, the drivers in general seem to handle the craziness with ease. In fact, I'll go out on a limb and say that driving in India (notice I did not say walking) is safer than the United States, because everyone here is forced to pay attention at all times.

But I have to admit, I'm still having quite a bit of trouble adjusting to the sheer number of people here. Back in Tulsa, Oklahoma, our population is nothing compared to larger US cities (NY, LA, Chicago), and it's rare to see traffic jams except during large road construction projects and the hour or so before and after work. If you plan right, these are all easily avoidable.

But here in Bangalore, there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the traffic jams.  Most of the time, you'll sit in traffic at least a small portion of your day. Jams are everywhere, and then one day, you'll drive the same street on the same day and time you did last week, and breeze through with no traffic issues at all. But this is rare.

The annoying part is the opposite. Here in HSR Layout, it takes approximately 20 minutes to get from our flat to the Forum Mall in Koramangala. Well, one morning, I told the kids we could go watch a movie during the 10:30 matinee showing of The Lorax. We decided to leave at the same time dad does for work: 9:30 AM.

Bad idea. We walked in to the theater and the movie was already playing.

Another thing that's very different from my country home...smog. There's tons of it here. The auto-rickshaws belch exhaust like nobody's business. And let me tell you - it's incredibly difficult to hold your breath for a full 45 minute traffic jam!


Mark Pearce said...

Is it strange that I can't help but imagine Snoop Dogg saying your "BSYCH" acronym?

Lorenda said...

I know - once I typed it, I realized it was odd. I do stats at the hospital, and my brain always reads it as B-Psych, or Behavioral Psychology.

Chance said...

I've actually heard some people argue against stop lights - I forget the exact alternative, but it was something like you said, just paying really close attention.

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