Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A special on driving in India

Driving in India is, as I have mentioned, quite psycho and completely different from anything in America. I must say although most everything that I will say is going to sound critical, I really have a great affection for the way that the driving works here. When I get back, the United States will be boring by comparison.
Firstly, the vehicles. There are more motorbikes than auto rickshaws, and there are more auto rickshaws than actual cars. Most of my experience has been on motorbike rides with Akshey and Pratik. These are extremely fun for me - I've never really been on motorcycles before, and the fact that they go way too quickly and steer very sharply makes them a lot of fun. I was worried at first, but I haven't come anywhere close to falling off. Auto rickshaws are basically taxis. They are very small, compact little automated carts that seem to pack like a dozen people into them. The cars that are driven are mostly little sedans, or they are cars as small as those Smart for 2 things. None of those hulking trucks and SUVs that occupy our streets.
Secondly, the traffic laws that they don't obey. The only one that they seem to obey is which side of the road to drive on. But speed limits are completely optional. There are sometimes stoplights, but absolutely nobody even considers adhering to their orders. It would be far more dangerous to be stopped obeying the rules of the stoplight than to be disobeying them. The police are a nonfactor. Akshey told me that if he were to be caught driving his motorbike without a license, the fine would be 50 rupees. That's like, a buck. They don't follow lane lines at all. They pass each other like Bob Jacobel on steroids.
Thirdly, the honking. Some of the cars have built-in honking devices that change their intonation every other honk. These are very amusing. I also have come to tell the difference between a polite "get out of my way" honk and a "What are you doing you idiot!?" honk. It's incredible to me how melodic some of these honks can become though.

It's a good thing that no driving is one of the 5 D's...I would get killed instantly if I attempted it. As a passenger, though, being driven around on motorbikes has become one of my favorite experiences.


  1. Ted, this makes me so nostalgic for India! I remember all the driving just like you describe it. It sounds like you're having a wonderful time and I'm sure you'll continue having such exciting experiences. P.S. the autorickshaws get really fun in 8" deep mud! keep up the adventures and blogs about them!

  2. "like Bob Jacobel on steroids." I nearly fell off my chair laughing. excellent post.

    I'm curious, I figured driving, drinking, drugs, dating... what's the 5th D?

  3. Debt. They just don't want me owing a shit ton of money to people over here when I leave.