This is a 4 year old post of mine in a now-abandoned blog! I’m reviving it with minor edits only because I had a lovely Gandhigiri-style fracas this morning and I simply used one of the tactics mentioned below to change that driver’s attitude!

The idea is to use creativity/imagination to overcome the sheer annoyance of driving on Bangalore roads. And, bring some emotion, while we’re at it! In other terms, courting courtesy is ‘Gandhigiri on Roads’!

Here’s an 8 point list that shows how YOU can help?

01. Stop treating pedestrians like pests
Yes, they can be pretty annoying most of the times and take undue advantage with their free movements on the road. But, instead of blowing your top, try slowing down your car and with a smile and simple sweep of your hand, let that motley crowd cross the road. Chances are that they have been waiting for the traffic to clear for quite some time. And you have consciously initiated the break in the flow, only to allow them to cross! Notice the immensely thankful look on their faces? That’s exactly what a small sign of courtesy can do! Of course, make sure you stop ONLY after looking who is behind you and at what speed. And yes, if you’re an ambulance driver, don’t do this at all.

02. The Honker Overtaker
Stalked by a perennial honker desperate to overtake you – despite the fact that you’re caught up in a serpentine queue of cars? Consciously move your car to the left (as much as possible) and with a friendly smile, let the guy overtake you. Don’t do this looking like you’re going to answer a call…do it so visibly and if possible, dramatically, that our friend is left wondering why you’re leaving your vantage position. But that’s the point! Chances are, he might not continue honking others out, at least till you’re in sight.

03. Horn Havoc
Side by side with a compulsive honker out of wreck havoc on your aural nerves? Let him overtake you, with a smile and sweep of hand and then tell him go easy on the horn, again politely, with a smile. The tone is always, ‘Could you please try not to…”. The fact that someone takes the effort to roll down windows and tell him/ her something, that too with a smile makes a huge difference!

04. The Sign on The Road!
Follow road signs/traffic rules – not out of compulsion, but for the belief that they really help make roads a better place. If you’re stuck in the head of a traffic signal, with a possibility to move ahead since there’s no vehicle coming on the other sides, chances are that you’d be honked & egged to make a move. Do not move and turn back and politely point the signal – do not let their annoyance bother you. Also, let the world pass you/ overtake you, but be an example and move only after the signal indicates you to. There’s a reason why a traffic signal exists, right? This is all the more relevant in the late nights.

05. No Kidding!
Stop/slow down your car and let children/elders cross, pass by. Always smile politely at them to indicate that you’re consciously letting them pass by/cross and not just because they’re pushy. Again, be the first one to break the non-stop traffic chain and set an example.

06. Hidden Intentions
Use indicators even for simple lane change/overtakes to clearly indicate your intention. That’s what being road-educated is all about.

07. Drive with a smile!
I really love it when I see someone driving with a smile – and it’s rather strange that such a sight is so rare! So, if need be, force a smile in your face at least while driving. This may sound ridiculous and simple, but don’t underestimate its power. Try it, its bound to change the way you drive. Good music can help you naturally wear a smile, incidentally.

08. Wish cops!
Yes, wish them. Good morning, good afternoon, good evening or even good night. Or it could be a slightly difficult, ‘Officer, you’re doing a great job!’…this one takes practice and overcoming inhibitions! Show the cops you genuinely appreciate the job they’re doing…it’s bound to have a ripple effect on overall traffic management.

These are just a few suggestions that I’ve found to be extraordinarily useful in driving more peacefully and following the ‘drive-and-let-others-exist’ policy. I practice them as and when feasible and do it diligently. Particularly when it comes to dramatics, I do it with all heart – dramatically moving out of the way of a compulsive honker, slow down on the left and let him move with a animated sweep of my hands and the all-important smile!

The most important point is the awareness that you do not become a wimp by letting someone overtake or having pedestrians cross in front of you. It’s as wimpish as Sanjay Dutt not fighting back Boman Irani with his fists and choosing flowers instead. If you liked and appreciated that idea, I’m sure you’d understand what I’m suggesting here!

Pic courtesy PDXdj via Flickr.