Not a car owner in Bengaluru
Three years ago, had someone told me that I would not only survive, but also lead a comfortable life without owning a car or any other vehicle in India, I would have called them crazy.
I am a person who loves being autonomous and independent. Associating the picture of driving a car with power was quite natural to me. When I was in the USA, I struggled a lot with my ex, just to get a driving license. For some reason, he managed to postpone stuff that meant giving me control over things – cars and finances included. It took me four years to get a license to drive in the USA. Four long years. Finally when I smiled for my driving license picture, it was an elevating, powerful feeling.
I drove for the next couple of years in warm sunny weather and cold snowed-in roads. I drove wearing flat shoes and high heels. I drove using a GPS and without one. I lost my way a few times, and drove in circles on new roads. I got my share of parking tickets as well. It was sheer pleasure to drive a car.
After I separated from my ex, and moved to India, at first I was scared to see the traffic and the knack with which drivers calculate the distance between their vehicle and the surrounding ones. I would clench my teeth and close my eyes several times thinking “Oh my God! That thing is going to crash into my car”, and that was when I started using public transportation solely.
After about a year I started marveling at how a Bangalore driver’s brain works, avoiding accidents and pedestrians, but still managing to reach the destination. The most common excuse, one that 90% of the people use in Bengaluru, is “STUCK IN TRAFFIC”. I have used it a million times, and I wouldn’t even driving then.
Still I did not feel as if I had to get my own car or two wheeler, because of two simple reasons:
1. I was scared whether I would survive the Bengaluru traffic rules. Now I know there ARE no rules.
2. Buses, Autos, Ola and Uber.
It also helps that I work mostly from home. But for other times, I plug in my earphones, and take the public transportation.
I have created a simple if-else scenario (or state machine for those who know and can smile at this term), to decide which mode of transport to take.
If I have ample amount of time
Take the bus, plug in earphones and listen to something enjoyable like music or podcasts.
If I do not have time,
Try Ola or Uber (Yeah I use both)
Take a cab, praying that the AC works.
Else (any other month in Bengaluru has fine weather)
Take an auto or a cab, whichever is available first, and if the cab does not have prime rates. See, in 2016, cab and auto fares are more or less the same, give or take few tens.
If Ola not available
Get out, negotiate the guts out of the autowala, and take the auto.
I have a few other minor rules, like when I take my parents, when I go with my son, or when I go alone, but I am sure you get the idea.
My son asks sometimes “Why can’t we get a car like my friend” or “I want to go on a bike/scooty” or “Do you know how to drive?”
“If I drive, I would have to focus 100% on the road, and you cannot talk to me like this, freely. Also if our vehicle breaks down in the middle of the road at any point of time, we would have to know and get a good mechanic, one we do not have currently.”
“Huh?” he would continue.
I tell him honestly “Well you can lie on my lap and I can tell you stories in a cab or auto. We cannot do that if we get a car and I drive you around”