Thursday, October 01, 2009

Driving in India.

BAAN has opened an office in Hyderabad and has been bringing in some of their staff from the Netherlands to work in India.

This is an extract from one of the articles written about the driving conditions in India by Coen Jeukens, who is a functional Architect for Baan Apps Distribution.

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 hints 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. Just trust your instincts, ascertain the direction, and proceed.
Adherence to road rules leads to much misery and occasional fatality. Most drivers don't drive, but just aim their vehicles in the intended direction.

Don't get discouraged or under estimate yourself. Except for a belief in re-incarnation, the other drivers are not in any better position.
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. 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.
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 over-ground traffic meets underground drainage. 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.
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 arrack he has had at the last stop, his total cerebral functions 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 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.
During the daytime, trucks are more visible, except that the drivers will never show any Signal. (And you must watch 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 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. These pilgrims go at breakneck speed, seeking contact with the almighty, often meeting with success.

Auto Rickshaw (Baby Taxi)

The result of a collision 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 those 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 Benhur, and are licensed to irritate.


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 bus 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 kg 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 mound, incidentally, 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 8pm and 11am -when the police have gone home.

The citizen then free to enjoy the 'FREEDOM OF SPEED' enshrined in our constitution. Having said all this, isn't it true that the accident
rate and related deaths are less in India compared to US or other countries!!?? "

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