April 02, 2008

Real instructions for real Indians

The Hindustan Times (April 2 2008) carries a feature titled "Delhi Choked". It identifies and addresses traffic problems in our nation's magnificent traffic-afflicted capital. It lists five things the ordinary driver can do to "improve the traffic situation":

  • Stick to your lane.
  • Do not overtake a vehicle from its left side.
  • Follow 'right of way' rules at major intersections and roundabouts.
  • Do not speed.
  • Do not drive on the wrong side to avoid a long turn.

    And as often happens, I read this and began to wonder, what mind-altering substances have these HT writers been imbibing?

    You see, every driver in India knows that there are very specific and sacred rules for driving on Indian roads, and the HT's lame suggestions are certainly not among them.

    As a public service, I offer you a sample. You're welcome.

    While driving your car:

    1) You see an old couple standing in the middle of the road. They are waiting for a gap in the traffic on your side so they can cross. There exists such a gap between you and the car ahead. You must:

  • Immediately speed up to close the gap.
  • Honk and wave a fist as you pass them, to show that you are wise to their temerity in attempting to cross, and to show them who's boss.
  • Never ever stop or even slow down to let them cross. It produces an unnatural and unnecessary decrease in their blood pressure levels.

    2) You want to make a right turn across traffic. You must:

  • Prepare early for your turn, as much as 200 metres early, by moving into and across the lanes of traffic going in the opposite direction, so that for the last several dozen metres before you turn, you are actually driving in those lanes and bringing oncoming traffic to a complete halt, because following your lead into the turn are 67 cars behind you.
  • Never ever use your turn signal. It wastes the battery, which contributes to global warming.

    3) You see a line of white dashes down the middle of your side of the road. You must:

  • Immediately move your car so as to straddle it, and thus ensure that cars behind you cannot overtake. Few people are aware of it, but the accepted meaning of that line all over India is "Obstruct all traffic behind you."
  • Never ever drive entirely on either side of the line. It cuts fuel consumption and thus subtracts from the country's GDP.

    4) It's late at night and the car ahead has stopped at a red light. You must:

  • Nearly ram into it at the highest speed you can achieve.
  • Then swerve past at even higher speed, making sure to honk, curse and wave a fist angrily at the driver.
  • Never ever stop as well. It impedes smooth swerving for the cars behind.

    5) A lane you have to visit has a round sign at its entrance, with an upward-pointing arrow and a red line diagonally across the arrow. It may even have the English letters "N-O E-N-T-R-Y". You must:

  • Drive into the lane at the highest speed possible. For there are likely to be several pedestrians there who have the silly notion that this is a one-way street, and this impression must be corrected as quickly as possible, if necessary by causing them injury or death.
  • Say "Is this your father's road?" to anyone who questions you.
  • Never ever miss any such lane. It reduces work for any traffic constable who might happen to be in the area.

    6) You need to ask someone directions. You must:

  • Brake to a stop as suddenly as possible, in the middle of the road, and be sure to bring all traffic behind to a complete halt.
  • To anyone who shows impatience at being made to wait, make a curious gesture with the fingers of one hand, bunching and unbunching them rapidly.
  • Never ever move to the side of the road to ask your question. It lowers stress in other drivers, and thus cuts into cardiologists' business.

    7) You are the 17th car in line waiting at a red light. It turns green. You must:

  • Immediately honk, and honk some more.
  • Keep honking till the signal turns red again and you have moved up to 11th in line. But be ready to honk as soon as it turns green again in a few minutes.
  • Never ever stay silent. It detracts from the audio entertainment pedestrians and others around count on, 24/7.

    And finally, remember that you are the only good driver on the road. Everyone else is a bad driver. Consequently, nothing that happens on the road is ever your fault. In fact, that's the sign that you're a good driver: everything is someone else's fault.

    Vivek Kumar said...

    You might find this relevant:

    bad behaviour (on the road) survey

    Anonymous said...

    And this too :)

    Bombay Addict said...

    LOL! well summarised! well done Dilip, these are indeed the rules to follow.

    Anonymous said...

    truly funny. and there is a last one.... drive with your hand on the horn... else the car will stop :)

    The Unadorned said...

    I know a professional driver who does everything you've pointed out. It's demeaning to take long run leaving the short run open (closed?) on the wrong side--he's even argued with me till I chose to be silent.

    Last month I had been to Hyderabad. The taxi I took was running at a break-neck speed and I was at the edge of my seat. This is not all he did; he was talking to somebody or the other on his mobile all through the journey--sometimes unctuous love words; sometimes angry reprimands; sometimes words of friendly conviviality. I was just praying god to keep me alive. The funny thing is that God in India listens to such distress calls--Yes, truly so!



    Mayuresh Gaikwad said...

    Some more, especially for Mumbai:

    1. Cars: You have every right to cut into someone else's lane and abuse him if he does not allow you to cut him. However, if someone tries to cut into your lane, You should not give him even an inch of space before a fight. By doing so, you ensure that Force india will win the Indian-GP in 2010

    2. If you are an auto-rickshaw driver, it is your duty to occupy the innermost lane (closest to the divider). If you do not have passengers, you should drive at less than 20 kmph on the innermost lane while looking for passengers on the side of the road. If you notice a passenger, swirve your vehicle to the left immediately. It is the duty of the person in the other lane to slow down. Also, being overtaken by a car that can go at 60kmph while you are at 20kmph is a personal insult, akin to what Harbhajan actually said to Symonds. Never allow any car to overtake you

    3. If you are an able-bodied pedestrian, you can cross the road anytime you wish. Just show your hand to the on-coming traffic. It is their duty to stop. If they stop too close to you, hurl abuses at them.

    4. If you are a private bus driver, you own the road. Drive like Alonso and do not bother about any vehicle. Cars and autos will never try to overtake you. Also, it is your duty to race with the BEST bus drivers

    humbl devil said...

    this was funny...

    one more you might consider and this one falls in the serious category..

    never try and overtake an st bus on bombay roads...do it only iof the guy in the driver's seat asks you to...

    Anonymous said...

    TOI has launched an Unlock Bangalore campaign. And disappointingly, their ideas and suggestions are the same lame ones as the HT ones pointed by you. Not sure why these media houses think they are doing a great service, when at the end of the day they are not doing anything worth talking about. Are they really as sense-less as they purport out to be?

    Arjuna Studio said...

    maybe we can make bus tournament to choose the best bus driver : P


    km said...

    See, since you didn't insert sarcasm tags, I am not sure if you are joking or serious.

    Arvind Iyer said...

    I agree with 'km'.

    You sound peeved, though we don't know what your real intention was.

    I'll try the other articles now.

    Ajeya said...

    "To anyone who shows impatience at being made to wait, make a curious gesture with the fingers of one hand, bunching and unbunching them rapidly." - LOLOL! I love it!!! As a fellow driver on Mumbai roads, I completely identify with your post :) But I still love driving.

    Anonymous said...

    Yesterday was a 'no honk day' on Mumbai roads... and today's papers are full of encouraging figures of people who were fined.. but it was a disaster.. and I caught two police jeeps honking away.. to clear the way.. in the wrong lane! There is just no hope for Indian motorists.

    Anonymous said...

    follow up to humbl devil, serious tip:

    Dont attempt to pass an autorickshaw unless both the driver and the *passenger* in the auto allow you to.

    Not kidding. The driver will turn left or right or U or stop, at the passenger's command, and with frightening alacrity.

    He will then, on completion, look into incidental aspects like whether there *was* a slot in time and in space for the maneuver executed.


    NANDKISHORE said...

    I am not sure about your intentions

    . said...

    >>Never ever use your turn signal. It wastes the battery, which contributes to global warming.

    hahaha...BEAUTIFUL! :-D

    Anonymous said...

    ur right but there are lot to be done by indians apart from following the traffic rules....

    my blog is all about that.if u can contribute towards that it will be a great help.


    Anonymous said...

    Goes to show the Boston drivers have a lot to learn about impatience yet. They seriously need some lessons in advanced driving techniques from Mumbai.