End of torture!

[An edited version of this post was published in bangalore.citizenmatters.in here. This is the unedited version sent over to them.]

I moved back to Bangalore at the start of 2011 from Seattle. I was conscious that the moving back was not to the city I was born in, grew up in or the one where I took my first steps in the professional world. For starters, I was moving to a part of the city that I needed getting used to. There were Chamarajpet and Srinagar, bang in the middle of the city, just 10-15 minutes away from everything that mattered, that I had spent all my Bangalore life around. Around the time I left Bangalore, my parents had moved to a place in Mallathahalli, near Nagarabhavi (which gets increasingly confused with the more famous Marathahalli) and unfortunately for me, lay on the wrong side of Mysore Road and far off from anything and everything that mattered.

Around 2005-2007 there was a road being constructed to link Tumkur Road to Mysore Road, right from the point where the Outer Ring Road from Banashankari met Mysore Road. During the turn of the Millennium commuting from R.V. College this used to be a T-junction with a ‘major’ signal that used to last a good 2-3 minutes before we headed out to the relatively smaller BHEL junction, smelling of biscuits from the Kwality’s factory and then to my stop at Timber Yard Layout and the long trek home from there to Srinagar. By the time I returned, this road was well in commission and there was now the huge mess of Nayandahalli.

View of Nayandahalli circle from the top of the tunnel perpendicular to Mysore road looking towards Banashankari

There was the flyover(s) being constructed and the Metro hovering above. It was a gigantic battlefield of work, tall cranes, noisy trucks, angry buses, potholes, dust, gravel and smoke. There were days BMTC played truant and I had to hitch on to whatever was available and try to somehow get home – the somehow increasingly vague and far away as I waited – song after song on the iPod and bus after going-elsewhere bus, before one eventually turned up but was too full for my US-returned self to step in. Once you got into something you’d climb up the slope from the signal after PESIT praying that the bus would not stop anywhere before the petrol pump on the way down. It invariably would. Sometimes you could see the traffic piled up right near the entrance to the NICE road clover leaf. The wait would last anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes. Painful time considering that you’d be hungry and tired after a long day’s work and still far way from home as the ‘somehow’ to get to home would still need to be resolved. While passing, you would see a brightly lit minefield of activity with the metro above, the flyovers’ construction below, sweating, stressed policemen directing traffic and lines of angry trucks and buses already piling up and stretching out till the horizon waiting for the cop to signal their turn, and the mad rush to get past his whistle and the red light when he did.

There were days when no bus would turn up and the family auto driver Siddha would have to be called up to pick me up at Hosakerehalli. We’d do the mandatory 30 minutes at Nayandahalli cursing the state of roads and the time they were taking for the flyover to be finished. There was also that day I rode my bike down to the signal trying to catch the last few seconds of the green and the bus in front of me changed his mind and direction forcing me to brake on the gravel, skid and fall down in a crash, the sympathetic cop and other passersby helping me up. It took me 3 weeks of pain before I could head back to work and resume life normally again.

The flyovers across Mysore road are a marvel by themselves. It is an 18-ft high construction from the road across Mysore road linking the ring roads and there is going to be another 36-ft high one built over it along Mysore Road, with the metro hovering above all of them. The other marvel is that it is an assembled construction where over the four pillars they assembled it in 4 weeks flat. The biggest marvel is that in spite of this efficiency it has taken them more than a year to get to where they are now. Anxious and longing days where I would gaze out predicting that they can finish the ramp in a month and open traffic by March, and then April, and then May and then June. August finished and midway it looked like they might finish it by the end of that month. After much delays, and me wondering why they had to start working on the connection from the road only after all the ramps were done, it opened mid-September. Let’s not even talk of the higher one along the other direction. They built pillars, one after the other until the Metro beat them to the spot and put up their own pillars where the flyover should have descended. Funny to read in fiction. Can’t decide whether to laugh or cry in real.

Of all the flyovers, grade separators that have been sanctioned, built or being constructed this is the one that was most necessary and it should have happened when the link road was connected to Mysore road. The flyover over Magadi road was planned with that road and was completed 3-4 years earlier. It speaks volumes about the lack of planning or vision that neither the BDA nor BBMP foresaw this state of extreme congestion at the Nayandahalli junction and finished the job years back!

Anyway, here’s hoping that the whole mess gets cleared off soon and there can be some peace and respite along Mysore road. But then, I haven’t even come to the other flyover near Bapujinagar or the road-widening mess. God save Mysore Road!


The how-tos of braking and not skidding

So it was that I found myself coming down from Outer Ring Road towards Mysore Road and the busy, dusty Nayandahalli junction. There were two buses in front and beyond that Mysore Road. I probably had some 10 seconds to get past the signal or otherwise it would be another 5 minutes’ wait. There was no need to speed and the bus in front also meant that I couldn’t. The bus took a hurried left, suddenly liberated from the choke-hold of Nayandahalli traffic. The other bus was on the right and like a righteous US-returned desi, I expected it to go straight. Wrong! At the very last minute he started an elaborate left turn.

Thankfully I hadn’t committed to overtaking him from the left or zooming by. I was still in the teens speed-wise and I braked. Once a compulsive back-brake hitter, the bike had taught me over close skiddy experiences to go front-brake first and then rein in the rear after the speed comes down. There was a reason why they put all those fancy disk brakes on the front. So it was the front brake that went first. Wrong again!
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