FW: Thinking of Driving in India?

Ernest N. Prabhakar (ernest@drernie.com)
Fri, 20 Aug 1999 11:23:59 -0700

An amusing analysis forwarded by my new 'Aunt Amini'.
-- Ernie P.

From: Amini Abraham <abraham2@apple.com>
Date: 1999-08-19 10:32:30 -0700
To: Shelia Mae Annis <annis.shelia@apple.com>,David Baker
<david_baker@apple.com>, Ken Bereskin <bereskin@apple.com>,Christopher
Bourdon <bourdon@apple.com>, Allen Denison <adenison@apple.com>,William
Hall <b.hall@apple.com>, Ernie Prabhakar <prabhaka@apple.com>,Sal Soghoian
Subject: Thinking of Driving in India?
X-Sender: abraham2@mail.apple.com
X-Mailer: Claris Emailer 1.1

<< Driving in India

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
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.

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

2. 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.

3. 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 the dead.

4. 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.

5. 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 rainwaters to recede when overground traffic meets
underground drainage.

6. 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
the phenomenon passes. Our roads do not have shoulders, but occasional
boulders. Do not blink your lights expecting reciprocation. The only
thing in the truck is the driver, and with the peg of illicit arrack
(local liqour) he has had at the last stop, his total cerebral
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
you with a single light on, usually the leftt one. It could be the
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
never show any Signal. (And you must watch for the absent signals; they

are a greater threat). 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 (devotional songs). These
pilgrims go at breakneck speed, seeking contact with the Almighty, often

meeting with success.