You know, living abroad spoils you, and the chaos we Indians take for granted – well you are just not used to it anymore. So now that you are back from the great abroad land where life is boring, no power cuts and everyone queuing up decently at stores and obeying traffic rules (gasp, so boring!), and want to drive on Indian roads, let me re-educate you on the glorious, colourful chaos that thrives on Indian roads.
DESI STYLE TRAFFIC RULES
Mandatory precaution : Check, not only for your driving licence but also for the expiry date of your health and life insurance. Better still, get an add on accidental insurance. These are more useful than the seat belt. Kya? Vohi, seat wala pheeta ….. (I kid you not, that is what a cop called it while reprimanding me on not wearing it)
Now that you have the paper work in order, let the sermon begin
You are immortal, no not only the soul part of you. Unless you have absolute unshakable belief in your own immortality, the driver’s seat is not meant for you. Of course it helps boosting your own notion of immortality if you have the bigger vehicle. All other itty bitty ones will give you the right of way. What? Havent you noticed the way trucks blithely speed past lesser mortals in insignificant vehicles. The bigger the truck the mightier! Almost makes one want to become a truck driver -Oh the power!
The only sad part is that if you meet with an accident, the rule gets reversed. The person with the bigger vehicle gets thrashed by passer bys dispensing summary vigilante style justice. Traffic cops? Police? Courts? Voh kya hai? Why disturb them if justice can be dispensed immediately on the road side? Oh and if cops come to check out, why they can be paid to stay away.
All the chaos, the Teri Maa *&^ and Bhen@#@$ notwithstanding we are the most orderly race. We even have strict hierarchies, the four ashrams that denote our lives and the great Indian caste system. Ahhh such order! As a learner driver, you are on the lowest rung in the heirarchy on our great Indian roads. Get thee behind an experienced driver. No, not the yuppie driving a Tavera or those Innovas carrying unfortunate souls to their call centers at weird times in the day or night. Get thee behind a mild looking aged man driving at a sedate pace. He is in no hurry to meet the Maker, so he should be safe. Follow him and do whatever the shit he does. If he swerves, do so. If he brakes do so.
Lesson in humility : Give way, to anything in front of you. Cows, dogs, elephants, autorickshaws, thelas (hand driven goods carts) etc. Special mention must be accorded to pedal rickshaws and cyclists who seem to have complete faith in rule no. one. They know they are immortal and hence will not signal at a turn. Oh, and always assume that the vehicle in front of you is a Guru. Follow his guidance.
Jo darr gaya samajho marr gaya (The one who gives in to fear is dead)
Similarly if you slow down, stop or even brake or falter, you are dead or you wish you were. You will be subjected to rude gestures, honking, and even the unofficial national slogan of Teri Maa *&^ and Bhen@#@$.
Never mind, once you have gained proficiency in driving you shall do the same. So keep your brakes, your horn and your vocabulary of invective polished at all times.
The Morse Code vis a vis horns
1. Honk Honk Honk (short pause) Honk Honk Honk … Repeat
This means Get Out Of My Way : Urgent! Used to tell cyclists, rickshaws and dogs to clear the road. What? Of course they can see you, but they wont move until you honk.
2. HOOOONK HOOOONK
You see a truck coming towards you, your brakes are not that good and you know you cant stop in time. With this code you first salaam the truck and tell him you acknowledge his supremacy and then convey your inability to stop in time and humbly request him to move out of the way unless he wants you both to die.
Just means Hi there. It also means you havent honked for a while and were missing it.
4. TOOOOT TOOOT TOOOT TOOOT
Used by cabbies, professional drivers and such like. They just wanna show off. It means “I aint gonna give way, I am so gonna overtake and speed and you cant do a thing about it Nyah Nyah!”
Idols of deities are important, and take precedence on wearing a seat belt. It always helps to have multiple idols of gods and demi gods. Oh and seat belts have to be fastened only if there is a traffic cop around. The gods are going to protect you so seat belts are not that necessary
Some ground rules : You see the white paint in the middle of the road? That is meant to center your vehicle on the road. If someone is coming at you similarly aligned, you shall play the “Who Blinks First” game with the approaching vehicle. Remember if you lose, the other driver will drive you off the road into the ditch, so do not swerve until the last moment. Chances are that he may blink first …
Don’t bet on it though!
It is your mandatory duty to slow down and gawk at a brawl or accident on the road. You shall not get down from your vehicle, unless you know the people involved. If you do recognize the people, you shall jump out and lend them support by thrashing the other person. Oh, in such situations, it is okay to park in the middle of the road. Since all traffic will slow down and weave their way through, you arent inconveniencing anyone.
We have no speed limits. Our Powers That Be have ensured that we can not speed by maintaining potholes on roads. Do you know how much it costs the national exchequer to keep these in pristine conditions?
Have vehicle will overtake
Have vehicle will overload
Have vehicle, will not let any other vehicle, even an ambulance overtake
Our roads reflect our true Indian spirit. We are polytheistic and have over 1008 Gods and Demi Gods and yet also have strong monotheistic beliefs. So organized chaos is our way of life. We are brave – we truly manage to thrive in our chaotic traffic conditions and come home and say the drive was uneventful. We love our freedom – even more than our laws. We can survive just about anything. And we can adjust and adapt – to any conditions – given the decibel levels of the noise on the roads – noisily. Oh and we truly love our music : It may be our boisterous songs or the noisy honking of our horns.