Thursday, March 3, 2011

Indian Roads a Russian Roulette

The other day I sent my office boy to pick up an important application from Margao. This was his first ever experience of riding on a highway [he lives in Panjim & had never been outside the city on his own]. After he came back, he told me he had a small accident with somebody bumping his bike from behind while he was changing his lane. Upon my enquiry, I found that it was entirely his folly.

After chastising him, I asked him how he didn’t see the approaching vehicle in his rear view mirror? To that he replied saying he didn’t have any. Upon me asking “Why?” His twin word answer was “Isshtylle, sir”.

FLASHBCK: Circa 2002 I had asked the same question about rear view mirror or rather absence of it to my friend Rohan Subhedar [note the relation of his surname to military nomenclature is entirely perfunctory]. And his answer was “dude it spoils the aerodynamics of my bike”

Gob smacked, Tizzy, Mind F@#$%D….

On the brighter side it acted as an inspiration for this blog of mine.

Travelling on Our Roads is an almost hallucinatory potion of sound, spectacle and experience. It is frequently heart-rending, sometimes hilarious, mostly exhilarating, and always unforgettable— and, when you are on the roads, extremely dangerous

Here is my humble attempt to script a charter based on my observations of traffic in India


The assumption of immortality is required of all road users.

Our traffic, like Our society, is structured on a strict caste system. The following precedence must be accorded at all times. In descending order, give way to:

Cows, heavy trucks, buses, official cars, dogs, light trucks, buffalo, jeeps, ox-carts, private cars, motorcycles, scooters, auto-rickshaws, pigs, goats, bicycles (goods-carrying), handcarts, bicycles (passenger-carrying), pedestrians.

All vehicles shall be driven in accordance with the maxim: to slow is to falter, to brake is to fail, to stop is defeat. This is our drivers’ mantra.

Use of horn:

Cars (4, 1, a-c):
Short blasts (urgent) indicate supremacy, IE in clearing dogs, rickshaws and pedestrians from path.

Long blasts (desperate) denote supplication, I.E. to oncoming truck: “I am going too fast to stop, so unless you slow down we shall both die”. In extreme cases this may be accompanied by flashing of headlights (frantic).

Single blast (casual) means: “I have seen someone out of India’s 1 billion whom I recognise”, “There is a bird in the road (which at this speed could go through my windscreen)” or “I have not blown my horn for several minutes” or while passing across a place of worship “Hieeee!!! God fellow, yo!!!”

Trucks and buses (4,2,a):
All horn signals have the same meaning, viz: “I have an all-up weight of approximately 12.5 tons and have no intention of stopping, even if I could.” This signal may be emphasised by the use of headlamps.

All manoeuvres, use of horn and evasive action shall be left until the last possible moment

Rights of way:
Traffic entering a road from the left has priority. So has traffic from the right, and also traffic in the middle. We need to personify the legendary words of our super star Amitabh Bachchan “hum jahaa Khade hote hai, line wahi se shuru hoti hai”


Lane discipline:
All Our traffic at all times and irrespective of direction of travel shall occupy the centre of the road.

Roundabouts/traffic circles: India has no roundabouts. Apparent traffic islands in the middle of crossroads have no traffic management function. Any other impression should be ignored.

Overtaking is mandatory. Every moving vehicle is required to overtake every other moving vehicle, irrespective of whether it has just overtaken you.

Overtaking should only be undertaken in suitable conditions, such as in the face of oncoming traffic, on blind bends, at junctions and in the middle of villages/city centres. No more than two inches should be allowed between your vehicle and the one you are passing — and one inch in the case of bicycles or pedestrians.

RULE 10:

Night Driving: Should always be done at full beam after all , as the golden old melody says “sir katta sakte hai lekin, sir jhuka sakte nahin”. So “DIPPER”-WTF is that?

RULE 11:

Indicators: Showing light to channel another individuals direction is best left to Gurus, Pandits, Maulvis and other god men. Normal individual shall refrain from this blasphemous act.

RULE 12: Crossing the road without checking in both directions is akin to committing suicide. Mind you: I am taking about a – “One Way Road”.

RULE 13: It’s baffling to know why India doesn’t have world class sprinters, especially when you see people running across the road just when a vehicle is about to cross. What better form of practice then to give death a near miss.

RULE 14: Kindly note that the most important conversations in person as well as telephonic happen on the middle of our roads. So if you have somebody glaring at you, it’s because you are being a nuisance to their discussions

RULE 15:
Nirvana may be obtained through the head-on crash, hence sacrilegious act of wearing a helmet or a seat belt be best avoided [unless of course, you want to wear your helmet on your hand for decorative purposes].


Our Professor Sundaram used to always say "life in India is a matter of chance". Well, travelling on our roads does nothing to contradict that premise.

These are my observations I am pretty sure a lot of you will have many more to add to my 15 rules. Feel free to do so…


TITUNI said...

hahahahah....super duper like bro...

Obstinate Thinker said...

Hahaha!!! Awesome!! Brilliantly written!

SAMtugga "The Heretic Soul" said...

thank you guys!!! it's the appreciation 4m u guys that spurs me on :)

megzamazing said...

LOL! Very well put in. I have two things to add:

One, I went to Ahmedabad once, and was observing one of the crossings. I promise, by the way the traffic went, I would have died if I tried to follow any of the set traffic rules!

Two, India makes me believe in God. 'Coz only God can run a country like her.

PS: I still love it!

SAMtugga "The Heretic Soul" said...

@megzamazing- Ahmedabad???? i thought that was one of the better cities, And thanks a lot 4 the appreciation. Aplologies for such a late respomse