Tuesday, 12 May 2009

In the Driver's seat

“Sir, when you know you are in control of things, you will not feel as afraid”

This was what my cab driver said when asked why he drove so recklessly so as to cause a fear to every passenger in the cab each time he was behind the steering wheel. Driving in the city with traffic in its full glory requires guts. It can suck every bit of patience out of you leaving you irritated and exhausted. As drivers are presented this tough challenge every day, they adapt to the extreme conditions in their own way, depending upon their character. I have been observing the drivers in city for some time now and have been able to come up with the following four different categories of city-drivers:

1. The “I rule the road; I don’t care a damn” types:
The signal is turning from green to red. And the vehicle is a good 300 meters away from the post. The chances of making it through are very slim… and yet, you find these types accelerating the vehicles in such a fury only to get it to sudden, grinding halt at the signal.

These are the ones who belong to the first type. They always drive recklessly, honk endlessly, overtake dangerously, yell mercilessly and most of the times, get injured fatally. They always stay on the right most lane of the road and try to squeeze their big cabs/buses in the smallest of spaces. Traffic rules, one-ways, peak hour traffic – they don’t care a damn about all these. They are forced to follow the traffic only because of the cops or the rest of the traffic. Most of the IT office cab drivers, the auto wallahs and the impulsive youth with flashy sport bikes fall under this category. If you are a passenger in one of such cabs, all you can do is close your eyes and listen to prayers on your music device (Vodafone ZooZoo ishtyle!). You can count yourself lucky each time you get down from these cabs after a journey full of AJMs and unbearable honking and third degree yelling.

Most of these drivers hail from the poor or lower middle class. They would have experienced too many failures in life and always have a frustrated look on their faces. Hence they tend to take out their frustration on the fellow road users. In most cases, the vehicle will not be their own and the pain of damaging the vehicle is not felt by them. If you are at the crossroads with such vehicles approaching from other side, you definitely give way to them.

2. The “Salpa adjust madi; ellaru win madi” types:
This is how most of the aam aadmis drive in Bangalore. Most of us would belong to this category. They understand the road situation and drive accordingly. If the traffic demands that they need to drive slow and follow the right lane, they do so. And when the roads are free, they freely test the maximum speeds of their vehicles. They follow the traffic rules most of the times but ignore the traffic signals when it does not make sense. For example, jumping a red during late night when you can clearly see the roads are empty. They don’t need cops to control them. And unlike the category one drivers, they dont drive rash even when full control is given to them. They are their own decision makers in life. If you find yourself in a vehicle driven by these people, relax and have a nice chat with them. You will end up having a nice time.

This category is the educated and/or well-to-do ones and usually drives its own vehicles. Life has treated them fairly and they expect and exhibit the same on roads. They hate the first category drivers and sometimes help the ones in lower categories.

3. The “Better late than never; play it safe” types:
This category is the exact opposite of the category one types. These people get into a fierce fight with the category one drivers almost each time they get into the streets. They carve for ideal situations and hate it when the rash ones upset their driving day. They drive slow most of the times, follow the traffic signals always and keep complaining about everyone. They get frustrated very soon as they are impatient. If you are a young person reading this post, in most cases you can picture your uncles/aunts in this category. If you are stuck with these people in a vehicle, please be on your guard – you never know when they lose their calm and start yelling at you. Just keep calming them down with soft music on radio or sweet talk of the good ol’ days.

These people are usually the older generation ones who drive because of compulsion and not for the love of it. Probably they would have driven most of their lives in those good old days of traffic free, tree lined, cool roads of Bangalore lament the loss of every good thing that our city once had. Hence, when they come out on the roads, all their emotions come gushing out.

4. The “Oh, I don’t know how to drive; I am confused” types:
These category is a minority in today’s roads but nevertheless more significant. In a way, even the category one people don’t know how to drive but they make up for it with their aggression. But these people are so confused in life and serve the purpose of providing the much needed comic relief on roads. Sometimes, they are stuck in a busy road with heavy traffic not knowing what to do and panic by waving hands; sometimes they are on a slope and their vehicle refuses to move forward causing a pain to others; and most of the times they are struggling in the parking lots struggling to fit in their vehicle in that elusive parking space.

Most of these kinds are learners and are always at the receiving end of the category one drivers’ wrath. But eventually they mature either into category two or category three drivers. They are helped most of the times by good Samaritans of category two. If you are stuck in the crossroads with these kinds of drivers, don’t wait for them to make judgment- they always make the wrong one. Just speed away and you will be all right.

So these were the four categories of drivers as perceived by me. If you feel there are more categories or have something more to add to these, feel free to leave a comment. I wish that more and more people start to follow the category two drivers so that the city roads become a pleasure to drive. I will come back with more interesting categories of occupations next time. Till then, happy driving! :)

1. Salpa Adjust madi - famous Bangalore slang used when you want other people to let you have your way
2. AJM – another famous kannada slang for describing “near-misses”


Saravanan said...

Oh even you have started categorizing eh.. you have started with drivers.. i know from where you got the inspiration to write about drivers.. BTW, there is one category, Sharath's Driver Category. I see no mention of that.. :)

BTW, category 2 drivers, do they exist or have you cooked up that ??? These days i see everyone in one category, Hurry category.. Everyone seems to be in a hurry to go to their destination. They don't care for others.

Brutally Selfish - Hurried Drivers are all around Bangalore.. :). Exceptions are there like you and me but guys like us are less than 1% so we can safely ignore such drivers to be existent.

Shashia said...


It is not a very strict categorization as in every one who drives has to fall into one of these. It is just based on my observation of people on the roads.

If category two did not exist, which one would you fall into? I agree their number is less. But surely, it is not too sparse that you feel it is a cooked up category.

Sharath's driver?? - the answer to this question might evoke controversies if given on a publishing site and will be taken offline :)

Anonymous said...

I liked the four categories of Bangalore drivers you have come up with:)... hey BTW there can be one more category of drivers not knowing the routes and driving...they will be slow and confused all the time...you know whom I am talking about ;)

Karthik Kashyap said...

good post.. btw as an ethical rider, i would like to add that all people with flashy sportbikes do not always fall into category 1 :-) however it is sad that most riders of bikes are adrenaline-charged college kids trying to show off that their machines can go fast... They do this as soon as they see some girl riding a puny Scooty (no offense intended to women whatsoever) or driving a car.. probably just to grab attention..

In fact being an owner of a p200 myself, I would observe very frequently this situation- pulsar 150 riders would get threatened for some strange reason, whenever i was about to overtake them.. As soon as i passed them, they would suddenly go on the offensive and start competing with me.. lol.. I am sure Saravanan will have experienced this on his R15 too... it happens all the while on city roads with college kids... Although we never have any intention of racing them and just want to go about doing our own business, these guys suddenly go crazy when they see you..

Conclusion - add 1 more category to those 4 - a bunch of maniacs who are either college kids or local roadside mechanics:-

1. Either of them have driving licenses only because of an idiotic RTO inspector who never looked in their direction or because they bribed him a 1000 bucks to grant that license without looking in their direction.

2. The rascals dont know the difference between a city road and a MotoGP race track.. they think they are Valentino Rossi(s), taking sweeping turns bending the vehicle like a superbike and doing wheelies on residential crossroads (mostly on lightweight Yamaha RX100s)

3. They light up at the sight of the nearest girl on a Scooty or Activa or some good looking lady driving a car. They suddenly start revving the engine loudly and passing the car.

4. If a more powerful vehicle overtakes them, they are suddenly possessed by their mysterious anger and josh, and they will find pleasure in overtaking you and reclaiming their lost glory.

I have observed that most riders of the powerful bikes in India such as the R15 or pulsar 220 or Karizma (lets forget the R1s and hayabusas for now), do not behave cheap on the roads. Even the riders of 125cc/135cc bikes seem to mind their own business. It is these nasty Pulsar 150 and Apache guys that are a menace and a shame to biking (Sorry to offend you if you are an owner of any of these 2 bikes)

Shashia said...

I think I know whom you are hinting at. But I feel even they belong to category four itself for easy categorization :)

My God!
Your comment is as big as the post itself man. Thanks for the lovely insight you have provided about a sub-category in the category one riders. :) Maybe they are so worse so that they dont even qualify as road users anymore. Theya re just troublesome pests on the streets like many other obstacles. Right?