Thursday, September 19, 2013

Driving Insane!

It has been a while since I penned my thoughts.  But this experience is surely worth a few words.  Two weeks ago, I enrolled in a Driving School.  Yes, I  have a drivers license and I drove accident free for 14 years in our very own Detroit.  Many of you may not know this, but I drove a stick shift in India before moving to the US (1998) and I have a drivers license from that era and is valid up to 2016.  So why Driving School?

Driving in India is a cross between bedlam and mayhem.  Vehicles of all kinds are on the roads at all times.  Bicycles, mopeds, autos (the three wheeled tuk-tuks so unique to India), cars, trucks and the king of the road:  Buses.  Now, imagine all of these jostling for space on a single lane road along with the ever bustling crowd of pedestrians who seem to have no fear for their lives as they criss cross with gay abandon as and when they please. 

And if you think this is crazy, wait till you hear that there is the occasional cow who is sublimely sunning herself in the middle of the road turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the vehicular traffic all around and the cacophony of honks filling the air.  The stray dogs and pigs and once in a while a trio of camels traversing majestically down the road completes the picture that is the Indian road.

 So I decided I need to learn the intricate art of weaving my car through this maze, much like Tetris, one of my favorite video games.  My first day on the training, I was pretty impressed with myself at not freaking out and stalling the engine.  Of course, the fact that the teacher has a clutch and brake at his disposal helps to assuage the fear.  The verdict from my coach after the first few days was that I drove well but I was a scaredy cat.  Now, you see folks driving in India is a serious psychological game. 

There are four varieties of drivers:
Nervous/new drivers :  Like me, they are new to the roads and terribly afraid of everyone and are over cautious, over whelmed and insecure.  So, of course, they are driving in second gear throughout, coming to a standstill at every intersection and restarting with a chug before moving again.
Righteous Drivers:  These would be the good citizens, following every rule and road sign, giving the right of way to those that it rightfully belongs to and driving as the rulebook says.  (I like to think I fall in this category)

Aggressive Drivers:  They can't stop honking their horns, are waiting about 2 meters ahead of the signal line, stepping on the gas the moment the light turns green. 
Kings of the road:  Yes, these are the bus drivers and nobody messes with them!  God help you if you get on the wrong side of these road monarchs.  Everybody knows this and keeps their distance.

So, the choice here is very clear.  If you are in the number 1 or number 2 category, your survival odds are slim to none.  The goal to reach is number 3 when you intimidate everyone else by honking the loudest and being brazenly bold in claiming your right on the road even when you know you are soooooooooooo wrong.  I finished my classes yesterday.  Unfortunately, I did not graduate to the number 3 level.  So now, I need to practice with my own car.  Hubby is a bit worried that our dent free car is now going to get decorated.  But one has to start somewhere, right??  Wish me luck, dear reader as I brave these roads and go where no expat dares to go......................

PS:  I still have my driver!



  1. Good read. Look forward to the next piece...Keep them coming...

  2. Very good one!! When you think of it you will be in number 2. Take on the steering wheel and when your feet are on the accelerator, automatically you will find yourself in number 3!!!!!!!! Good Luck.... :)

  3. Thanks, Anonymous. You are so right about when your feet on the accelerator..

  4. Good blog - nice to read. Besides camels there are elephants too! Last year drivers in Gurgaon near Delhi killed an elephant on the highway!
    Keep up your blogs -they are sooooooooo good!

  5. enjoed your blog! i am sure you will be a seasoned driver within the next few wheels! A few dents will give your car Character:)