Driving in India

As I sat on a bus, making my way from one Indian city to the next and letting myself get lost in my own thoughts while watching the scenery blur by, I was snapped back to the here and now when our bus slammed on its breaks and swerved back into its own lane. What happened this time? I wondered, as I peered out the window to observe the culprit for our disruption: a young Indian man going through driver’s training. Our bus had been trying to overtake him while driving through a tunnel, only to come upon cows blocking us in the lane ahead…

  

Now, I don’t know one thing about the actual rules and regulations of driving in India, and I dare to guess that many of the people actually driving here don’t either. It’s really a “make it up as you go” kind of situation here, and to help give you an idea of what the roads are like in India, let me paint you a picture… 
First, take the busiest road you know and erase the lanes. Insert cars, busses, tractors, motorcycles, rickshaws, carts, camels and elephants going whichever way they want. 
  

Next, take every stray animal imaginable – dog, cow, monkey, whatever- and allow them to roam freely on said lane-less road. 
  

Then, take every (nonexistent) trashcan and turn it upside-down, spreading the contents everywhere. If you are so inclined, scoop some of these contents together in a pile and light them on fire. 

Now add in a homeless population who will bang on your windows, peddling for money. Some will be selling food, some will be pushing you to buy useless toys or souvenirs, and some will be carrying around babies and children to tug at your heartstrings. 

As a final touch, add in the incessant honking of horns. Think one horn-blow for every breath of every driver. 
If you’re coming from the Western World, it sounds chaotic, right? We are used to an organized flow of how things should go, but at the same time it’s kind of fun and exhilarating. You can do whatever you want. Sure there are rules, but they are made to be broken. 

Surprisingly enough, during my time in India I did not witness too many accidents, just a lot of little fender-bender bumps. Obviously severe crashes do occur, and when they do they are often fatal. Afterall, it’s not like an ambulance can make its way through the traffic any faster than everyone else! However, over the course of the years, I think the Indian drivers have developed approximately six eyes in their head to be able to see and sense whatever is coming their way. It is impressive! 

So next time you’re driving along, lamenting over a few bumps in the road, remember this post on driving in India, and think about your situation again… 

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