So! You’ve heard. The Great Indian Driving Experience
Foreigners, overseas visitors, expats, the list just grows; you come to India, and make it your home either by choice or chance. And now that you are here, yes, agreed, there is a culture shock, a lot of getting used to and somewhere in the long list of to-dos, to-try, is Driving in India. Again, here you would want to test the waters and attempt driving in India, or you are not so gutsy and you would never, ever try something as extreme as that. And you have heard the many stories and encounters of driving here! Read blogs, first-hand experiences that just seem to be sending out warning signals and shooing you away from even attempting driving in the first place! And even if you have wanton moments, or you muster up some courage to even let the thought filter through your mind, you are in denial immediately.
Yes. It is a mixed bag feeling. It is absolutely understandable. And therefore, just to understand, gauge and even comprehend what a Foreigner thinks or his/her perspective on what is it like to or what do you feel like to drive in India or to be driven on Indian roads? Observations, viewpoints, notes, annotations, experiences, it is a complete package no doubt. Definitely makes for an anecdotal bestseller or it could give way to a humorous cartoon strip series sometime in future.
Well, is it that bad or is it only chaos on Indian roads, let’s read on to find out more!
Here’s a collection of viewpoints, some shocking, hilarious, humorous, side-splitting, comical, amusing, thoughtful, surprised, shaken, and even traumatized captured in its very essence here:
The baby steps- Initiation
- If you want to drive in India, throw out the rulebook that you have grown up with, unconsciously followed, and even adapted to. It is nothing like it here. Because here in India, you just drive! Hit the gas pedal and just drive!
- And if you think you know how to drive, well you know just the half of it. Think again. Are you sure? Are you really sure?
- Organized chaos is how most of you relate to the Great Indian traffic scene. Add to that randomness, unpredictability, unforeseen, and of course the unexpected.
- There is no real, established logic, or judgment when it comes to driving, it is just based on the situation, the time of day, and where you are. The rest follows; the plot unfolding on the roads is how you perceive it.
- As you drive, you only have to see what is in front of you not your side, or even rearview mirrors. And keep moving and you don’t have to stop unless you have to.
- If you are driving a manual transmission vehicle, you will constantly be playing footsy between the accelerator, clutch, and brakes, especially when you are stuck in teeming traffic. And to top it all, you have two-wheelers, bicycles, and even 4-wheelers to keep you company on the road.
- When steering through traffic, you have to be aware of the room around you, the size of your vehicle so that you will be able to squeeze through at most.
- If you are driving, then you have the right of way. Simple! That is all. Case closed. Unless, of course, you encounter an animal, procession, a heavy vehicle, or an ambulance maybe.
Use the Headlights
If you want to just have a right of way, you are tired want to overtake, just resort to the high beams, flashing, dazzling lights practice. You use the lights as often as you can. You blindside all and move. It just works.
What Lanes? What about Traffic Signals?
Ah, Ha! Now you are talking. Who’s talking? About lanes is it? What lanes? Yes. You have seen the distinct lane markings on the road, but that is just there, it serves no real life purpose. And you think it is your moral duty to overtake, break it, or even crisscross it.
Did you notice the traffic signals? Well, yes, pretty much, on busy roads, you abide by the traffic signals. But if you are in a lonely stretch of road, or if there are no cops in the vicinity, late nights, early mornings, you just drive through flashing traffic signals. What issues? No problem.
Learn the Power of Honking
By the way, what are horns for again? Honking is a way of life here in India. Yes. You will hear honking for just about anything. It could be irritation; someone in a tearing hurry, wanting to jump the signal, road rage, honking to get your attention, asking people to move and just about any conceivable or implausible reason that you can think of.
How are you perceived?
Anywhere you go, prying, curious eyes will follow you, the bemused, curious, wondering what is a foreigner doing behind the wheels? And if ever you make a mistake, then be prepared for ‘you are an alien’ culture attack!
You will definitely encounter an accident, a scrape, a nick, a banging into or even more a serious accident because such is the chaos on the roads. Well, this is what you the visitor, perceives Indian roads are to be in general.
A must-learn language - Aids Driving
Sign language or hand signaling is very much an unspoken lingo used by most drivers on the Indian roads. It can indicate just about anything. Asking someone to move, give right of way, irritation, anger, turning, overtaking, yes it is the works. And it will take time for you to understand and follow it and even master it maybe and before long you may be ahead of the pack speaking and indicating in sign language! Now that we have to see shouldn’t we? Because by this time you have been tamed by the Great Indian roads!
And So? Wrap up?
Yes. As you learn a thing or two, or a lot of that you can write a user’s manual, publish the next online blog about what it is to drive on Indian roads, and slowly getting used to the anarchy on the roads. Well, that is what you had referred to it at first. Isn’t it? Anarchy! Chaos! And now that you have learnt, driven, adapted, and absorbed and now you are one among the many seasoned Indian drivers! What a makeover! And have you become more accepting or do you feel it is fine to drive here, and it may be time for you to go back.
Will you miss the Indian roads, when you get back home? Secretly long for it maybe? Want to come back and just experience the random madness? Yeah! Someday! Who knows!