Sharing The Peapod's Travel Adventures...

Driving in Chaos-stan, India

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This entry was posted on 3/1/2008 6:48 PM and is filed under India.

Driving in India is not for the faint of heart.  Here's a little movie of what it looks like.  A clear example of ordered chaos.

We made the mistake of lingering at the Ellora Caves too long which made our drive back to Meherabad happen during dusk, then nighttime.  If we thought daylight driving was crazy and risky, this kind of driving was absolutely insane.  Drivers don't turn their lights on until it is pitch dark black so before then the cars are just a haze in the distance.  It was a 3 crash day -– we saw 2 truck crashes and one overturned car.  We were often driving on the wrong side of the highway which was being repaired and we had to do lots of mantra repetition to stay safe.  Evelyn dealt with it by falling asleep while in the front seat and Mindy worked at the computer.  Joss was in his own zone.  We did anything but watch the absurd driving that was going on around us.  Thank Goodness for the steady driving of Adi.  Watch these trucks coming at us from the wrong lane without any headlights on.  Yikes!  One photo to represent the countless times this happened...

Wonder why traffic is slow?  Look who's in the fast lane...

This sign says it all...we think...

Traveling in India is an almost hallucinatory potion of sound, spectacle and experience. It is frequently heart-rending, sometimes hilarious, mostly exhilarating, always unforgettable - and, when you are on the roads, extremely dangerous.Most Indian road users observe a version of the Highway Code based on an ancient text. These 12 rules of the Indian road are published for the first time in English.

  • ARTICLE I : The assumption of immortality is required of all road users.
  • ARTICLE II : The following precedence must be accorded at all times. In descending order, give way to: cows, elephants, heavy trucks, buses, official cars, camels, light trucks, buffalo, Jeeps, ox-carts, private cars, motorcycles, scooters, auto-rickshaws, pigs, pedal rickshaws, goats, bicycles (goods- carrying), handcarts, bicycles (passenger-carrying), dogs, pedestrians.
  • ARTICLE III : All wheeled 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 the Indian drivers' mantra.
  • ARTICLE IV : Use of horn (also known as the sonic fender or aural amulet): Cars (IV,1,a-c): Short blasts (urgent) indicate supremacy, ie in clearing dogs, rickshaws and pedestrians from path. Long blasts (desperate) denote supplication, ie 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 870 million whom I recognize", "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." Trucks and buses (IV,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 emphasized by the use of headlamps (insouciant). Article IV remains subject to the provision of Order of Precedence in Article II above
  • ARTICLE V : All manoeuvres, use of horn and evasive action shall be left until the last possible moment.
  • ARTICLE VI : In the absence of seat belts (which there is), car occupants shall wear garlands of marigolds. These should be kept fastened at all times.
  • ARTICLE VII : Rights of way: Traffic entering a road from the left has priority. So has traffic from the right, and also traffic in the middle. Lane discipline (VII,1): All Indian traffic at all times and irrespective of direction of travel shall occupy the centre of the road.
  • ARTICLE VIII : Roundabouts: India has no roundabouts. Apparent traffic islands in the middle of crossroads have no traffic management function. Any other impression should be ignored.
  • ARTICLE IX : 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.
  • ARTICLE X : Nirvana may be obtained through the head-on crash.
  • ARTICLE XI : Reversing: no longer applicable since no vehicle in India has reverse gear.
  • ARTICLE XII : The 10th incarnation of God was as an articulated tanker.

Typical road congestion as seen through our windshield...

Pollution spewing in the air...

Here's a load of something green heading to the market...

Horn OK Please...That means it's OK to honk your horn to let them know that you're there.

This is why it's hard to sit in the front seat...

Here's a bull that leisurely crossed the road knowing that everyone would stop for him.... (See Article II)

When we arrived in Varanasi, we couldn't drive by car all the way to our hotel, so we had to transfer to individual rickshaws and be bicycled the remaining way.  It made quite an impression on us!  Watch this and you'll see why:

Everyone seems to have equal right to be in the road - like this gentleman...

Ever seen anything like this????...


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    • 3/17/2008 5:11 AM cousin david wrote:
      I have to say, you look like you are embrassing Indian traffic to the fullest.. and the only thing to rememeber, on the way home, is that of all the US cars imported currently, only the Nissan Altima GS has a permanent mount for the hand operated Aural Amulet, something which is of great service when trying to disperse the crowds of goats on the road in Sonoma?
      Honk Honk..

      David B (I SOOOOO miss india, driving an' all)
      Reply to this
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