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Lotusflower

Driving in India

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Driving in India

 

I visited Mumbai recently and agree with the observations about driving. For the benefit of every Tom, Dick and Harry visiting India and daring to drive on Indian roads, I am offering a few hints for survival. They are applicable to every place in India except Bihar, where life outside a vehicle is only marginally safer.

 

Indian road rules broadly operate within the domain of karma where you do your best and leave the results to your insurance company.

 

The hints are as follows:

 

Do we drive on the left or right of the road? The answer is "both". Basically you start on the left of the road, unless it is occupied. In that case, go to the right, unless that is also occupied. Then proceed by occupying the next available gap, as in chess. :smash::eek::eek3::crazy::eek2:

 

Just trust your instincts, ascertain the direction, and proceed. Adherence to road rules leads to much misery and occasional fatality.

 

Most drivers don't drive, but just aim their vehicles in the intended direction. Don't you get discouraged or underestimate yourself. Except for a belief in reincarnation, the other drivers are not in any better position.

 

Don't stop at pedestrian crossings just because some fool wants to cross the road. You may do so only if you enjoy being bumped in the back. Pedestrians have been strictly instructed to cross only when traffic is moving slowly or has come to a dead stop because some minister is in town. Still some idiot may try to wade across, but then, let us not talk ill of the dead.

 

Blowing your horn is not a sign of protest as in some countries. We horn to express joy, resentment, frustration, romance and bare lust (two brisk blasts) or just to mobilize a dozing cow in the middle of the bazaar.

 

Keep informative books in the glove compartment. You may read them during traffic jams, while awaiting the chief minister's motorcade, or waiting for the rain waters to recede when over-ground traffic meets underground drainage.

Night driving on Indian roads can be an exhilarating experience (for those with the mental makeup of Genghis Khan). In a way, it is like playing Russian roulette, because you do not know who amongst the drivers is loaded. What looks like premature dawn on the horizon turns out to be a truck attempting a speed record. On encountering it, just pull partly into the field adjoining the road until the phenomenon passes. Our roads do not have shoulders, but occasional boulders. Do not blink your lights expecting reciprocation. The only dim thing in the truck is the driver and the peg of illicit arrack he has had at the last stop; his total cerebral functions add up to little more than a naught. Truck drivers are the James Bonds of India and are licensed to kill. Often you may encounter a single powerful beam of light about six feet above the ground. This is not a super motorbike, but a truck approaching you with a single light on, usually the left one. It could be the right one, but never get too close to investigate. You may prove your point posthumously. Of course, all this occurs at night, on the trunk roads.

 

During the daytime, trucks are more visible, except that the drivers will never show any signal. (And you must watch for the absent signals; they are a greater threat.) Only, you will often observe that the cleaner that sits next to the driver will project his hand and wave hysterically. This is definitely not to be construed as a signal for a left turn. The waving is just an expression of physical relief on a hot day.

 

Occasionally you might see what looks like an UFO with blinking colored lights and weird sounds emanating from within. This is an illuminated bus, full of happy pilgrims singing bhajans. These pilgrim buses go at breakneck speed, seeking contact with the Almighty, often meeting with success.

 

Unique to Indian traffic:

 

Auto Rickshaw (Baby Taxi)

 

The result of a collision between a rickshaw and an automobile, this three-wheeled vehicle works on an external combustion engine that runs on a mixture of kerosene oil and creosote. This triangular vehicle carries iron rods, gas cylinders or passengers three times its weight and dimension, at an unspecified fare.

 

After careful geometric calculations, children are folded and packed into these auto rickshaws until some children in the periphery are not in contact with the vehicle at all. Then their school bags are pushed into the microscopic gaps all round so those minor collisions with other vehicles on the road cause no permanent damage. Of course, the peripheral children are charged half the fare and also learn Newton's laws of motion en route to school. Auto-rickshaw drivers follow the road rules depicted in the film Ben Hur and are licensed to irritate.

 

Mopeds

 

The moped looks like an oil tin on wheels and makes noise like an electric shaver. It runs 30 miles on a teaspoon of petrol and travels at break-bottom speed. As the sides of the road are too rough for a ride, the moped drivers tend to drive in the middle of the road; they would rather drive under heavier vehicles instead of around them and are often "mopped" off the tarmac.

 

Leaning Tower of Passes

 

Most bus passengers are given free passes and during rush hours, there is absolute mayhem (hell). There are passengers hanging off other passengers, who in turn hang off the railings and the overloaded bus leans dangerously, defying laws of gravity but obeying laws of surface tension. As drivers get paid for overload (so many Rupees per kg of passenger), no questions are ever asked. Steer clear of these buses by a width of three passengers.

 

One-way Street

 

These boards are put up by traffic people to add jest in their otherwise drab lives. Don't stick to the literal meaning and proceed in one direction. In metaphysical terms, it means that you cannot proceed in two directions at once. So drive as you like, in reverse throughout, if you are the fussy type.

 

Lest I sound hypercritical, I must add a positive point also.

 

Rash and fast driving in residential areas has been prevented by providing a "speed breaker"; two for each house. This mound, incidentally, covers the water and drainage pipes for that residence

and is left un-tarred for easy identification by the corporation authorities, should they want to recover the pipe for year-end accounting.

 

If, after all this, you still want to drive in India, have your lessons between 8 pm and 11 am - when the police have gone home. The citizen is then free to enjoy the 'FREEDOM OF SPEED' enshrined in our constitution.

 

Having said all this, isn't it true that the accident rate and related deaths are less in India compared to US or other countries ?

 

Source of the article is Unknown.

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Do not blink your lights expecting reciprocation. The only dim thing in the truck is the driver and the peg of illicit arrack he has had at the last stop; his total cerebral functions add up to little more than a naught. Truck drivers are the James Bonds of India and are licensed to kill. Often you may encounter a single powerful beam of light about six feet above the ground. This is not a super motorbike, but a truck approaching you with a single light on, usually the left one. It could be the right one, but never get too close to investigate. You may prove your point posthumously. Of course, all this occurs at night, on the trunk roads.

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There is yet another angle. The joke was about driving only. what next?

In Hyderabad particularly, when a wrong way driver, or a signal jumper hits an approaching car or truck, the first words that come out of him are" Kya nahi dikhte?" meaning " don't you see?

 

It is a convenient defence. why this fellow cooly overlooked the traffic rules, could not see the traffic coming in the right direction,are to be answered only by the almighty.

 

More over, traffic stuck-up behind your vehicle, -they won't come to your defence. They are all in a hurry. wish to get away from this. lest, the traffic cop will involve them as witness. So you end up paying tips to the wrong doer and to the traffic cop as well for letting you go without further embarrassment. That's Hyderabad!

-Prasad.

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Hahaha! I was continuously terrified for the entire first week there.

After that one week, I'm sure, you certainly felt equipoise even while seeing their most unconventional way of driving.

The funniest thing is it always seem they'll make the accident but they never do.

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In response to the initiator of this thread,

 

Dear Lotusflower ( hope you have seen one ), why is that the drivers drivers in UK take even a small chance to smash their 8-10 yr old cars onto yours to claim huge damages in personal injury and car write off, is that why they scream and sign off with their 'dirty' middle fingers at the smallest, trivial mistake like a new driver doing 30 mph in a 30mph zone, is that why a family of 4 ( 2 adults & 2 kids ) perished on the M6 in July 2008, nearly a 10 people die on an average on British roads ( the Motorways!! trying to make similar expressways in India ).

At least from the differences mentioned above, Indians are tolerant and not greedy, know the limitations and pluses of the system they are living in. It a shame indians started aping the West, just they are 'Rich' should not make them right. We Indians also forget how rich we are in our 'Character', 'Culture' and Heritage.

Looking at the demographics, GB would be a mad house if they had the same population density, ask the British themselves, they are amazed how well India is able to flourish with such a massive population, and agree Britain will be torn apart with such populace.

 

Now please do not make a joke of Indian population, as mortals like we cannot decide births/ deaths.

 

Hope to meet you.

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