I’ve developed a deep affection for driving in Bangalore. It’s nothing less than a chaotic, orderless game of Chicken, but there’s something paradoxically peaceful about it. Perhaps it’s my host mom’s calm demeanor as she weaves her tiny, bright red Suzuki between caravans, autos, cows, packed busses, semi trucks, and men, women and children equipped with nothing more than an outstretched arm. Perhaps it’s the lack of road rage, despite the utter madness. But most likely, it’s the more straightforward fact that the hyper-awareness required to maneuver the streets of Bangalore actually seems a bit safer than mindlessly following traffic rules and expecting everyone around you to do the same.
To drive and survive in Bangalore is to be both skilled and fearless. It’s honestly an art, as mesmerizing as Van Gogh’s Sunflowers on a cool, spring day. Though an anger-filled, startling nuisance in the States, the car horn is a source of consolation in Bangalore. Instead of “come on, you idiot!” it becomes” “watch out, friend!”, and instead of shrinking shamefully at its use, one grows wary of the driver who remains horn-shy amongst such disarray.
Ally absolutely loves it. She’s a young girl on the autism spectrum, my host sister, and the most amazing kid I’ve ever met. Her absolute thrill over near-death experiences in the family automobile is both terrifying and heartening… “Up-down papa, up-down!” she yells as we dodge over-ambitious two-wheelers, hop over stray speed bumps and dip into meteor-sized potholes. Makes you wonder whether or not it’s really worth it to worry so much about that which remains completely out of your control.