I was in India for the first 19 years of my life and it was the most fascinating time of my life. At the age of two, I was given a tricycle for a birthday present.
Looking at me ride the thing around the house, my folks immediately knew that I was going to grow up to be rash driver; every turn I took on my little tricycle was at a whooping 100 km/h, and every slope I jumped was like I was riding a dirt bike. As for the people who tried to come in my way, I would punish them well by running over their feet. Soon, I found, the people in India don't really drive any differently on the real roads than I rode my bike, and as a result, I had no problems getting attuned to driving on the India roads.
From my discrete experience from driving in India, I am offering a few hints for survival for the benefit of every Billy, Bob or Bubba visiting India and daring to drive on the Indian roads. They are applicable to every place in India except Bihar, where life outside a vehicle is only marginally safer. Indian road rules mainly operate within the domain of 'Karma': no matter how well you drive, you faith remains in the hands of your past deeds. You crash if you've ever cheated on your wife or you've gone on a shoplifting spree.
If you ask me, " Do you drive on the left or the right of the road?" I would say - "Both!!" Basically you start from the left side of the road, unless it is occupied. In that case, go to the right and if that is occupied too, proceed by occupying the next available pedestrian footpath. Its real simple you know!! Just trust your instincts,
Night driving in India can be an
exhilarating experience (specially for those with the mental makeup of Genghis
Khan). In a way, its like playing Russian roulette because you don't know who
among the driver on the road is loaded with overflowing extra-wide load. What
looks like premature dawn on the horizon turns out to be a truck attempting to
break the sound barrier. On encountering it, just pull partly out into the
fields adjoining the road until the phenomenon has passed. Our roads don't have
shoulders but occasional boulders. Don't blink your lights expecting
reciprocation. The only dim thing in that truck approaching you is the driver's
brain and the peg of illicit booze he'd had at the last stop and his total
cerebral functions add up to a little more than a naught.
"One Way Street" -
These boards are put up by traffic police to add zest in their otherwise drab
lives. Don't stick to the literal meaning of the phrase and proceed in any one
direction. In metaphysical terms, it means that you cannot proceed in two
directions at once anyways! If, after all this, you still want to drive in
India, have your lessons between 8 pm and 11 am when the police have gone home.
The citizens are free to practice their 'Freedom of Speed' (somebody misspelt
'Speech') enshrined in our constitution.