INDIAN ROAD RULES
1. 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.
2. Just trust your instincts, ascertain the direction, and proceed.
Adherence to road rules leads to much misery and occasional fatality.
3. 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
4. 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 had 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
5. 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 mobilize a dozing cow in the middle of the bazaar.
6. 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 overground traffic meets
7. 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.
8. 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 attack he has had at the last stop, his
total cerebral functions add up to little more than a nought. Truck
drivers are the James Bonds of India, and are licensed to kill.
9. Often you may encounter a single powerful beam of light about six feet
above the ground. This is not a super motor-bike, 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.
10. During the daytime, trucks are more visible, except that the drivers
will never show any signal. (And you much watch our 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
11. 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. This pilgrims go
at breakneck speed, seeking contact with the Almighty, often meeting with
Unique to Indian traffic:
Auto Rickshaw (Baby Taxi) - the result of a collusion 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 that 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 buss passengers are given free passes and
during rush hours, there is absolute mayhem. 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 kilogram 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
covers the water and drainage pipes for that residence and is left
untarred 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.