There are no dead ends in Bangalore

Dead End Image
“When you reach a dead end, turn right” was the baffling instruction I got, when I asked for directions to some place in Jayanagar. We had just moved to Bangalore (from Delhi) in mid-2004, and I was trying to get used to the roads and places in Bangalore.

To me a ‘dead end’ meant an end (as of a street) without an exit, a cul-de-sac, or a blind alley, so how could I turn right?

Eventually as I drove to the alleged ‘dead end’, I figured that I was approaching a T-junction (where I could turn right or left). In the next few weeks, it became clear to me that T-junctions are also called ‘dead ends’ in Bangalore.

Over time I realized that ‘dead ends’ in Bangalore lingo mean many more things – like a sharp right or a left turn, or bend in the road or an intesection (Bangalore has many of them with 5, 6, and sometimes 7 roads). So, ‘dead end’ in Bangalore could mean any of them.

Dead End All Image

I thought I had figured out all possible versions of ‘dead ends’. So, I was stumped when last year (2012), someone gave me directions on New BEL Road – “go straight for 100 meters, at the dead end turn right, and the buiding is the first tall one…”. Well, I knew that the new BEL Road was straight for the next kilometer and I could not remember any ‘dead end’ for a while, at least not the kind of ‘dead ends’ that I was now familiar with.

Dead End New Image After I walked the 100 meters, I did come across a new kind of ‘dead end’ – a small road meeting the main New BEL Road. Well, one lives and learns.

Since my initial encounter with Bangalorean ‘dead end’ I have come to know that others too have been baffled with the usage of this term in Bangalore. Here is a post Rickshaw Drivers and Vampires by Anand Ramachandran. I reproduce a relevant excerpt from the post:

“Give up, fool. This is a dead end, there is no way out. I have you know.”, said Gangrel.

The human smiled. “Nope. You forget – this is Bengaluru.” he shot back, before suddenly taking a left turn and vanishing.

– from Rickshaw Drivers and Vampires by Anand Ramachandran

Maybe ‘Dead End, Right’ is a new metaphor for ‘there is always a way out of tight corners’ 🙂

[There is also a horror movie titled a Dead End. I have not yet seen it, but have put it in my long ‘maybe someday’ list. In case you have seen it, please the comments below this post.]

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I'm Rajesh Naik, and this is my personal website If you are interested in contacting me professionally, I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. You may also check out my professional website, Alignmentor.com.

6 thoughts on “There are no dead ends in Bangalore”

  1. My house is on a road that is an actual dead end…Not the Bangalore variety. Here is the conversion with the taxi drivers who after dropping me ask for instructions to reach Outer Ring Road near Hosekerahalli.

    Me – This road is a dead end. So, you please go back, take a U turn and go on the next road. At the T-junction, take a left and go straight.

    Driver – I should go on the parallel road and at the dead end take left…Is that correct ?

    Me – Bang Head ! Face Palm !! Yes that is correct.

    BTW, have you figured out what is a “straight” road in Bangalore ? Several times it is a road with a number of lefts, rights and bends but with a number of vehicles flowing through them. So, straightness is less of geometry and more of flow. While I have become a true “Bangalorean” in dealing with straight, there are many others who develop convulsions.

  2. I have also weaved in this “dead end” lingo from a multitude of auto and cab drivers, into my direction setting conversations. Have found that people tend to stare at you with a confused expression when you use words like T junction, road intersections etc. And are quite content when given the dead end.

    I feel taking turns at the dead end is more a philosophical thrust than a linguistic do. This approach may be a useful technique in negotiations and consulting engagements. Many accounts and Leads that reach a cul-de-sac can be revived, if one looks at possible right and left turns. Some times dead ends can be mere mental blocks and mirages construed by negativity.

    The art of being able to make one’s way when seemingly reaching dead-ends may perhaps be indicative of a Bangalorean’s optimistic take on life.

    Who says there is no life (and traffic) beyond a dead end?

    Cheers

    Prakash

  3. Fun read this :-).
    This ‘dead end’ has always had me in splits (unintentional pun) so have a few other things that are so typically Bangalore such as being ‘struck up’ in traffic, ‘solid’ juice, ‘ don’t worry maadkol bedi’, to bury the hatchet with someone by ‘doing compro’ and so on. Thanks for bringing some laughter, I look forward to reading more from you.
    – Rajesh Vorkady

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