BANGALORE, September 18: It’s 3.30 p.m. on a Thursday; the wide roads around ITPL wear a deserted look. The giant buildings that house thousands of IT workers stare blankly at the empty roads. Once every few minutes a lovelorn cuckoo breaches the silence. Vehicles are a rare sighting on these roads that shoot straight ahead for kilometres without as much as a curve.
The pace picks up as the clock inches toward 4.30 p.m. The buses become more frequent and shoals of cars dart out of the buildings and zip away without any obstacles. These are the early birds rushing to nest before rush-hour.
It’s 5 p.m.; the last bubbles of peace have burst. In giant heaves, the buildings unleash thousands of men and women onto the road. Buses, cabs, sedans, hatchbacks, SUVs, autorickshaws, motorbikes — screaming horns and revving engines. The cuckoo’s tweet is a distant memory.
A 3,000-cc, four-cylinder, 168-horsepower engine, which cost more than Rs. 20 lakh, idles in the company of more of its kind on the blocked road. The men and women inside look like they are on the verge of tearing their hair apart. Most of these “dream machines” have only one passenger.
Just then a security guard on a bicycle zips past the stationary vehicles. He’s taken the high road: the pavement. The only sound he makes is a gentle ting-a-ling.
Soon, more bicycles appear on the pavement. Men in neckties and women in business suits. Laptop bags slung across their shoulders, biking helmets on their crowns. They are riding the latest in bicycle technology. Some frames are made of carbon graphite others high-tensile steel.
Horsepower versus man/womanpower; the scene is comic, almost satirical.
It’s 5.11 p.m. and we decide to join the rat race on a motorcycle to see how long it takes to get to Trinity Circle from ITPL during rush hour. Getting to the Varthur Main Road from ITPL on the Pattandur Aggrahara Main Road takes 48 minutes. It’s a distance of seven km.
Our motorcycle reaches Kempfort on the HAL Airport Road at 7.04 p.m. The journey so far has taken an hour and 53 minutes. Distance covered: 15 km. Just then, it begins to rain heavily and we take shelter in a bus-stop. The journey starts again at 7.46 p.m.
The rush-hour traffic has receded considerably. However, there are still hundreds of vehicles on the road. They all stick to right shoulder of the road because the left is brimming with water. Some motorcycles plunge into the water to get ahead. But they don’t get far. We catch up with the pack at the next traffic junction near the Manipal Hospital.
There’s more water on the road near the Command Hospital and the traffic once again sticks to a narrow stretch on the right. When we turn left into Victoria Road, there is bumper-to-bumper traffic. Those on motorbikes break the law and get onto the pavement. We meet the lawbreakers at the next junction. The time is 8.19 p.m. and our destination is within touching distance.
However, traffic is at its heaviest here. It takes four signals for us to get past. Finally, we reach Trinity Circle. The time is 8.38 p.m.
Subtract the 42 minutes we stopped for the rain and it took us two hours and 45 minutes to complete the 20-km journey. That’s 8.8 kmph on a motorcycle that can touch 120 kmph. It must have taken much longer on SUVs that can do 160-180 kmph. The bicycles must have taken much less.