Monday 20 March 2017

You stop for the exhibitionists.

Ah, the joys of driving in India. Once upon a time, I had no compunction jumping in and out of buses, sometimes even when they were moving. In fact, I spent half my life on the City Bus Number 5, first going to school, then pre-university, then college. Bus stops are for wimps and hanging out of dangerously swerving buses is the life.

Man, how things have changed. The last few times I've been to India, all I've been doing is stomping my foot on an imaginary brake. And wearing seat belts. How the mighty have fallen! And I told the conductor on City Bus Number 5 to stop, hold it, come to a FULL STOP dammit, then gingerly wiggled my way down. At a BUS STOP. Shame on me.

This time around, I took a road trip with my family. Oh the joys of a road trip with an Indian family. Everything from packed tiffins to constant arguments to toilet stops in random places. Yup, I missed that. The experience was so profound that I was moved to write these tips for driving in India. You know, as you would.

Please to stop for the cows and related bovines.

Driving in India Tip Number 1: 
You shall not drive in India (okay, sorry, that was a bit too Fight Club, but I couldn't resist.) But really. Hire a driver. Ride an autorickshaw. Get your dad to weave dangerously in and out of traffic on his bag of bolts motorbike.

Driving in India Tip Number 2: 
Indian drivers (men) REFUSE to take directions and will second guess a GPS! Ergo, prepare for twice the journey time. Google maps? Google schmoogle, what do those Google people know about India anyway?

Driving in India Tip Number 3: 
The following are suggestions -
- Lane markers.
- Seatbelts (If there is a cop, loosely drape belt over shoulder. Do not clip in holder. Remove the seatbelt clips from backseats as they will poke people's butts)
- Speed limits.
- Traffic lights.
- The 'No Talking on Mobile Phones' signs.
- Left hand turn lanes.
- Turn signals.

Driving in India Tip Number 4: 
The middle of road is the only place to be. Move over left or right depending on how the other driver honks.

Driving in India Tip Number 5: 
Car seats for kids? What? Didn't we keep you alive this long without this car seat, car shmeet business? Note: If baby cries, remove said baby from the car seat in the middle of a four lane highway at highway speed. If Canadian mother of said baby objects, use Indian mother guilt. If she still objects, pull over to the side of a highway and then take baby out.

Driving in India Tip Number 6: 
If in doubt about directions (see #1) go straight then left. Straight, straight, straight... then left. If you do ASK a passerby (by pulling over dangerously on a highway {yes, there will be a passerby on the edge of a highway too} of course) for directions... they will always be go straight and to the left. No no, correct, madam!

Driving in India Tip Number 7: 
Pedestrians and cows (and some goats) are always welcome on gorgeous four lane highways! See previous tip. Also... perfectly acceptable to drive the wrong way down a double highway. Especially if you're a motorbike!

Driving in India Tip Number 8: 
The side of the road is a toilet! Tree or bush optional.

Driving in India Tip Number 9: 
Say hello by honking. Swerve around a car? Say sorry by honking. Oh hey, look a monkey. Honk. No honking sign. Honk. Honk at the lorries, how dare they take up the whole road? Oh look, Mr. D'Souza's nephews wife's sister's maidservant. Honk. Pretty woman? Honk. Pretty man? Honk. Cute baby? Honk honk (chooo chweet that baby, hanging out in between daddy, mommy, and three siblings on a bag of bolts motorcycle).

Driving in India Tip Number 10: 
Traffic cops are friends not fish (sorry, that was too Finding Nemo). But really, cops are friends, with benefits. Benefits to them, I mean. Carry a handy stash of hundred rupee notes, and they won't eat you (sorry, sorry, more Finding Nemo).

A truck full of ginger. Yep! 

Bonus Tip: If, when driving along, you see a tractor full of ginger (or any vegetables, mind!) swerve in front of said truck, honk until he stops. Then, bargain for very reasonably priced vegetables (or fruit. Or ginger). Oy vey!


  1. Ha! Michelle, this post made me laugh so hard! I've never been to India, but I've been to Egypt and this is exactly 'how to drive in Egypt' as well. Lanes are suggestions, left turns are always u turns, there's always a donkey/goat/truckload of camel feed/manure on the side of the road and the HONKING!! You describe it so well. I'm not one to get travel sickness but on our ride from Cairo to Alexandria (3 hours on the most dangerous highway in the world, so they say) and was so ill. And the only 'Western' music he had was Shahkira, for 3 hours. Still, it was an experience I'll never forget.

  2. what an amazing adventure!

  3. Looks great, love this sharing so much, thanks!

  4. Oh, Michelle, you did make me laugh out loud! Our roads are absolutely BORING in contrast. It sounds like driving in India is a lot more exciting than going to the movies - your own action-adventure. Would love to visit there one day (I'll leave the driving to someone else!)

  5. oh my god.. just enjoyed this post.. lmao.. phew.. experienced almost all of these except I guess the ginger lorry part.. hehe.. good one.. makes me wanna go back home asap

  6. Loving this post too! And another request if you could share where those white beaded edged plates are from? So love them!!


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