India’s technology epicentre, Bengaluru, claims many distinctions. Now it has the additional, somewhat dubious, honour of having several of its infamous traffic jams on Twitter, tweeting fake updates on the sad state of the city’s traffic. The first to make its Twitter debut was the notorious traffic snarl at Silk Board Junction, which started tweeting this week with the handle @Silk_Board saying it will provide “timely and detailed traffic updates from India’s largest parking lot”.
The @Silk_Board, a parody account managed by an anonymous commuter — apparently a tech professional, does not actually provide traffic updates. Instead, it resorts to wit and wry humour to vent about the insufferable state of traffic in the city. Its latest tweet — “Three IIT-IIM grads sharing an Uber Pool stuck at BTM water tank have started a food-tech company” — was re-tweeted 868 times.
The Silk Board Junction is a key intersection in south Bengaluru where traffic to and from the city’s two main technology hubs — Electronic City, where Infosys and Biocon are headquartered, and Sarjapur Road, where Wipro is based — pours in. Commuters, many of them techies, take up to 20 minutes to just clear the Silk Board traffic light.
Even @Silk_Board’s earlier updates — “RMZ Ecospace flyover has received Series A funding from SoftBank after registering 20% QoQ growth”, “Intolerance is rising near Indian Oil Petrol pump at 19th Main” and, “Hot singles near your area are stuck at Agara junction” — went viral soon after being tweeted.
While the Silk Board gridlock may be the city’s most intense, it is hardly unique. It parallels similar daily logjams in many other parts of the city, which are now joining the social media hilarity with eponymous Twitter handles such as @Tin_Factory and @Hebbal Flyover. One such handle, @SonyWorldJn, tweeted on Thursday, “Switching off lights for a short nap, don’t honk, OK?”. The @Tin_Factory updated, “Flipkart and Amazon delivering couriers at Tin Factory Junction as most people spend more time here than in their houses.”
The traffic-jams-on-Twitter trend successfully combines three of Bengaluru’s top obsessions: traffic, startups and social media. “Police are incapable of regulating traffic in the city, so what else can we do? To hold on to our sanity, we have to resort to humour,” said Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairman and managing director of Biocon.
The city’s traffic is already the stuff of lore. Recently, a cricket team reportedly commandeered an ambulance through traffic to reach the airport. On a rainy day last week in the Whitefield area, school buses ferrying young children just 6-7 km to their homes were stuck in a 5-hour jam.