All cities have unique identifiers. Those of Beijing include waves of surging bicycles and no memory of Saigon would be complete without a recollection of cable webs that crisscross streets in spider-like fashion. These are visual memories. Those of Delhi are aural. India's infrastructure simply cannot handle its love affair with the automobile. In cities there are more cars than space in which to drive them and traffic laws, if they exist at all, appear to be ignored. The ensuing traffic makes precise scheduling of appointments impossible and leads to an atonal symphony of constantly blaring horns. Delhi is, hands down, the noisiest place I've ever visited. Residents love their cars and horns and use both with abandon. "Traveling on Indian roads is an almost hallucinatory mix 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." Over the years a unique highway code, tongue-in-cheek of course, has been developed to assist those brave enough to drive in India. I think you'll enjoy reading it.
Rules Of The Road, Indian Style
- ARTICLE I:
The assumption of immortality is required of all road users.
- ARTICLE II:
Indian traffic, like Indian society,is structured on a strict caste system. 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, i.e., 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 1.15 billion 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, namely: "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.
Article IV remains subject to the provision of Order of Precedence in Article II above.
- Cars (IV,1,a-c):
- ARTICLE V:
All maneuvers, 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 center of the road.
- Rights of way:
- 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 centers. 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 an articulated tanker.