Words by Aninda Sardar
At my last outing at the Buddh International Circuit one of the Mercedes-AMG driving instructors told me that he found it fascinating how chaos worked like a system in India. “If you drove in Germany like you do here, you’d be killed, or jailed or branded a moron at the least.” That was his parting shot and that’s what got me thinking. Some of the stuff we do on our roads, just to be able to get through it mind you, would qualify as absolute off-the-charts kind of lunacy, don’t you think?
- You’ve got to be horny – Now I’ve tried this and my wife is witness. One short and polite honk to let someone know that he is in your way doesn’t even register. Only after a long and loud blast of the horn do people start taking notice that they’re about to be mown down. Also, remember that the louder the horn the quicker people move out of the way. So if you don’t want to be a silent killer or you actually want to make it to your destination on time, make your presence felt. Or shall I say, heard?
- The right side or the wrong side, you always have right of way – It doesn’t matter which side of the road you’re on, where you’ve approached the roundabout from or if you’re joining a main road from a lane. You have right of way. It’s a right that’s watermarked on your driving licence, and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. Sure, the other guy’s got it watermarked on his licence too but then that’s for him to think about.
- Never stop for a pedestrian – Tit for tat is how the saying goes. They seem to be in no hurry to stop for an approaching vehicle, then why exactly should you have to stop? In any case you risk being hit from the rear if you suddenly stop to let that frail old man cross the road.
- Only an idiot stops at the stop line – The world is an illusion and that’s laid down in one of the oldest books penned by humankind. Who are you to argue with that? So if you see the stop line, it’s merely an illusion. Don’t pay attention to it. Go as far into the crossing as you can when you stop. If you’ve stopped by mistake at the stop line, redemption can be found by crawling ahead.
- Red lights only work when cops are around – Where the mind is without fear, wrote Tagore. He was right, whenever the mind is without fear, you should be able to hold your head high and break the law. If there are no cops at the red light it basically means that there is no need to follow any colour coding. Red, amber (it’s not orange) or green, what does it matter? Remember, it’s your right of way…always!
- The footpath is a shortcut to the head of the line at the red light – If the footpath is wide enough for a car, then by all means use it to get ahead. How long and why should you be waiting at the end of a line? Did the folks back home not teach you to “get ahead in life”?
- The bigger the car the more liberties you can take – From the days of the Mahabharata, might has always been right. That’s the very basis of power structures in society. And the road is but a microcosm of that same society. Therefore if you have the bigger (and usually more expensive) car then you automatically have the right to get ahead.
- You’ve got to believe in prayers – Everyone on the road, other than yourself, is a certified idiot. Therefore you must always pray that they shouldn’t get in your way and risk being hit.
- Overtaking from the left, is right – Actually, it doesn’t matter which side you overtake from as long as it’s the empty side. So if you see an empty lane on the left, go ahead, it’s ok to drive past that truck that has just indicated that it wants to move in to the left lane.
- Use the hazard, you are one and it’s ok to announce it – The hazard warning lamp has been provided so that you can warn people of what a hazard you might be on the road. So use it liberally, in the rains, in tunnels, in fog, because your favourite team won the IPL, because your community is celebrating its biggest festival or simply because it’s your birthday and you want to feel special. It’s all good because the beauty of our country lies in the fact that in India … “sab kuchh chalta hai” (anything goes).