The TOI run campaign on the 7 wonders of Bangalore inspired me to take a look beyond those edifices to find out what makes Bangalore's character so different.
So, here's my not-so-humorous list of the 7 real wonders of Bangalore.
Wonder #7. Dog Menace
Canines in Bangalore have no reason to be entirely happy if you go by the numbers killed by vehicles on our ring roads. But dogs chasing you and your vehicle at night is not a wonderful thing for our family members. So is the once-a-while unfortunate news about dogs biting, sometimes fatally, our dear little children. There must be something legally as well as morally right that we should be able to do about dog menace.
Wonder #6. Traffic Policemen
At number 6, is the plight of those men in uniform on the roads. It's pathetic that a city that boasts to be the IT capital of India still relies on manual labour (it's not just about scavenging) for controlling its haphazard vehicular movements. And isn't it another wonder that our cops love to switch off automated signals and takeover the job. Is traffic control so satisfying a profession?
You might have often realized that the reason for an abnormally long wait at the traffic signal is just a lonely, confused, horn-battered, sun-tanned little cop! I'm sure that the government can install more intelligent and traffic-sensitive signals with the monthly salary of the 3 or 4 officers often found manning a single signal. Let's spare our traffic guys for more interesting pursuits that they love best - catching signal jumpers and helmet haters.
Wonder #5. 'Bump'galore!
Square, round, trapezium, triangle.... road humps in Bangalore come in all shapes and sizes. Official, unofficial, local, global, standardized, bottom-scraping... they are multi-faceted. Shouldn't we be proud that our city aspires to be the hump-capital of the world! And then we should have debate whether the Old Airport Road section between HAL and Marathhalli or whether the Kasavanahalli main road wins the battle for highest hump density (of course, measured as number of humps per kilometre of road).
Did you know that cars with lower ground clearance like Honda City entail a higher insurance premium?
Wonder #4. Garden City or Barren City
Perhaps it's no more a wonder but an you-don't-need-Amartya-Sen-to-tell-you-side-effect of urbanisation and modernisation. Ever-decreasing tree cover and its substitution by malls, apartments, office space, roads and metro doesn't isn't great news for us or our children. And gone are the days landscaping was about greenery and nature - it's become more about covering up man-made eye-sores now!
Wonder #3. Reckless Driving
Just today morning on ITPL main road I saw a driver ram his Ford Fiesta willfully into a mini-bus - as he desperately tried and tried and tried to squeeze in at the cost of damaging his side mirror.
My fave annoying driving habits are (in any order of your preference):
- Overtaking on the inside during a right angle curve.
- Side-mirror fights (like in Ben Hur!)
- Beep-Beep-Beep-Beep-Beep-Beep-Beep-Beep-Beep-Beep honking.
- The guy behind you trying to squeeze out the air between your rear bumper and his front.
And I'm sure you will have much more to add to this.
Now, here's my favourite traffic joke (something I made up a few years back):
B: How do you know a true Bangalorean?
B: He/she looks at the opposite side of oncoming traffic while crossing the road!
It took me a another year to understand the reason. And so, later, I extended my joke (and spoil it, in the process) like this.
N: But why?
B: Because he's looking out for wrong-side drivers!
Wonder #2. Corruption
Bangalore has the highest cost of living among all the major South Indian cities. Fuel, meat and vegetables, public transport like auto and bus - in this city, everything costs more. And the most important reason for this is that a good percentage of every spending goes to corruption (apart from higher VAT and other taxes). Were you ever surprised that more than 40% of bribes reported on www.ipaidabribe.com are from Bangalore.
Wonder #1. Apathy
A city where you hardly know your neighbour. A city where onlookers stop to view accidents and are hardly bothered to help them. A city where people don't think twice before putting up a shamiana on the main road. A city where people extend their gardens to the sidewalks. A city where people are happy to give more alms to eunuchs than beggars. A city where shops increases prices based on demand - try buying a rose on valentines day or a flower garland on a festival day or plain 'yelakki' during pooja season. We ought to be proud of heartlessness, our ruthlessness and our soullessness? Just like we are proud of our only guiding value - adjust maadi.
I guess we can change our city if we just become sensitive to and interested in things around us - like trees, traffic, corruption and urban poverty. That's why it is #1 on my list.
There ends my list. You might start arguing with me -- in true Bangalore fashion -- that I've got the order all wrong and that I've missed many things and that I am obsessed with driving. I can only tell you... guro, swalpa adjust maadi.