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09 April 2007

The Blessing called Bangalore Traffic

I have been travelling between Whitefield and Bangalore for the last 6 months or so. If you are anyone like me, you would have read ad nauseum about the traffic snarls / jams / breads etc of Bangalore. Even in Bangalore, if there is a route which takes the cake, it is the Whitefield - Bangalore road via Marathahalli Bridge

You haven't travelled thru that route, have you?

Most of the people who travel on Bangalore roads claim that they are the most inhospitable roads in the whole world. They talk of the wasted time, the lower back pain, aches and pains in various parts of the anatomy, the productivity loss, the profitability loss, the stress, the road rage,... What have you?

Wrong perspective is what I say when I hear these guys cribbing. Entirely wrong note. Misdirected. They see the glass as half empty.

Ask me why I am saying this? Do I not agree with most of the above points mentioned? Don't I feel strongly about all those losses? Am I insensitive to common opinion?......

No sir, most definitely not. I am very much sensitive to these points. All I am saying is let the man who has committed no sins cast the first stone. In other words, show me something that do not have any blemishes

You may well ask, what are the good points of Bangalore traffic that I can point out. If I am so 'Pro' traffic snarls, give sufficient reason for my favouritism. The gist of your argument is that I should 'walk the talk' or 'show money where the mouth is'.

Don't simper, let me tell you. I may as well take it upon me to hold candle to Bangalore traffic. In fact I will.....

Below, I am jotting down a few points that I see are in favour of these misnamed monsters known as 'Traffic Jams'.

1. They teach you to be patient.

This one is a no brainer. Traffic jams have their life cycles. They have an initiation phase, a growth phase, a maturity phase and a decline phase. (It is a different fact that the above cycle more often than not will cover your entire working day). Once you are in a jam in its growth phase, no amout of raving and ranting will get you out of this till the cycle is completed. You will quickly learn that patience is a virtue in a Bangalore Traffic Jam.

2. They teach you optimism.

This is something I strongly believe. I also strongly believe that the above statement can raise the heckles of most of my fellow country men. But look at it this way. Have you ever been in a traffic jam which did not clear? All of them do clear inevitably. Once you are in a traffic jam it is smartness to keep a positive mental attitude. Get stuck in 3 to 4 jams and see your overflowing positivity and optimism.

3. They teach you negotiation skills

This stuck me like a lightning. I was in the middle of a highly delayed project (behind schedule, time overrun, cost overrun, livid customer are some of the terms that come to mind...) and was having a scheduled meeting with the customer that day. And I was stuck in a monster of a jam and did not know what to do about it.

Fortunately (you will soon see why), I had also planned an evening movie with my wife the same day. Now that the jam was sure to delay my evening plan, I decided to call her up.

"Darling", I initiate the conv. Of course this is not the way I address her normally ('Listen' is her name and that is how I usually address her). But when you are writing in english, you have to follow their nomenclature. They always start a conv.with the betterhalf with 'Darling', 'Honey' or some such rot.

"What?, Why did you call me? Felt like talking to me, didn't you? Wanted to hear my voice?" Questions, questions and more questions.....

"Listen, regarding today's movie..." I got some word edgeways.

"What about it? What time are you coming home? Should I cook dinner? Or shall we go out? What should I 
wear?" again the torrential downpour of questions.

" We won't be able to go for the 6 O Clock show. I am getting delayed" I got it out very quickly.

"Haven't we been planning this for the last one week? Cant you finish the meeting quickly and come? What will I tell my friends tomorrow when they ask me about the movie? What do we do?" My wife has a knack of conveying all her ideas thru questions. One would almost think that she is a defence lawyer or something.

"Why dont we go for the night show?" I suggested.

"OK. You won't be late for that also, na?" She fitted a question there also.

"Of course I won't" I assured.

As soon as I switched off the phone after that torturous conversation, this idea stuck me. I called the customer from my mobile phone.

"Good morning Mr.Dell" I opened the gambit unleashing all my charm and chutzpah. We have rough work ahead.

"Good morning, what is the status of the project?" Dell was off the block like a TGV or something.

" You know, well, we were having some resource crunch, and the product developed some bugs, and, well, 
the project manager ran away with the team lead. All this has led to a delay in the schedule." I informed him. Effusive I was, darn effusive, like that radio jockey in the breakfast show. It failed to charm him though.

"I don't know if we will ever complete this project. The way it is going on even a snail running with weight on its back can clear the 1 mile target before this project can complete (Mr.Dell was at his scathing best). The time overrun has been so much that my daughter who was being conceived along with this project (technically, of course, the statement was overdone. I mean you have to be present for both conceptions and it is impossible to be at both places at the same time, if you see what I mean), completed her 10th birthday recently. Now you come and tell me that it will be again delayed." It was explosion at its best and I found silence to be the best alley.

"Now what do we do?" he asked at width

"We have two weeks of buffer planned in our project plan. We could utilize that. Only we should be on time for the remaining activities of this project." assured him with will all the tone of seriousness that I could conjure up with.

"Big fat chance for that" opined Mr.Dell after what seemed to be an eternity.

See the modus operandi that I learned from the traffic jam? First give him the bad news, real bad. Then top it up with hope and expectation. The nego skills that the traffic jam taught me while talking to my wife being put to good use in another context.

A classic case of asset reuse, as any.

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