In India, we all have a common excuse when we are late. We say 'Oh come on, its 'Indian Standard' Time. We have 'Indian Standards' for everything. Right from time to travel. Money to market. You name it and we have the classic 'Indian Standard' for the matter.
Travelling on road in India is always a tough task. Narrow roads, oblivious crowd, stray animals all seem to choose the exact time to be at the road when you drive. Its really hard 'NOT to HIT' while driving and also 'NOT to get HIT'. These are the two basic unwritten rules while driving on Indian roads.
Straightforward, isn't it? But as the Japanese say, the reverse side also has a reverse side. Beneath these simple concept lie several conventions that are indeed unwitten which allow for traffic to function 'normally'.
Following are some of the 'Indian Standard Rules' for driving (Never mind the government!):
1. In a road accident, the one with the cheaper vehicle wins by default. If a BMW hits a rickshaw, it must be the fault of the rich brat most likely on cocaine.
2. It is perfectly acceptable to suddenly go across 3 lanes if you suddenly remember that you need to take a right turn. What else will you do?
3. Drunk driving is fine, as long as you have the connections.
4. If at an intersection you fail to move within a second of the light turning green, the person behind has the right to shoot you.
5. Backing down halfway from flyovers is acceptable.
6. If going wrong side saves you anything more than 200m worth of distance, then it is allowed. Rickshaws are exempted from this limit.
7. No rules apply to motorbikes. Really. Overtake from any side. Drive on the road. On the pavement. Over people. It is all ok.
8. Cyclists must pray to their respective gods before leaving the home. No other way out.
9. When in doubt, use the horn. [Which truly must be the best human invention since the mobile phone.]
10. Work like you don’t need money, Love like you’ve never been hurt, dance like no one’s watching, and drive like no one’s waiting back home.
11. Its completely legal if you carry more than 2 people of your family on your motorbike. Who cares about rulebook?
12.Drivers only see what's in front of them.
Indian drivers are forward-looking people in one very literal way. Under no circumstances should you assume that anyone will check their mirrors, if they have them. Drivers of cars and transport trucks alike will brake and swerve willy-nilly like a Camaro in a car chase. Anything behind their peripheral vision is not pertinent, and for all practical purposes, doesn't exist. If you cream someone who swerves into your lane at the last minute, that's your fault, bucko.
Corollary 12.1: All mirrors are vanity mirrors.
Corollary 12.2: Whoever is behind, even by an inch, is always at fault in a crash.
Corollary 12.3: Don't assume that vehicles have the same safety features as yours, like mirrors, airbags or working brakes.
13: Be ready to brake.
On the road in India, remember the Boy Scout motto. Never assume that a gap in front of you will stay clear, or that there won't be an impromptu cricket match after a blind turn on a mountain road. Be prepared. As I was driving on the four-lane divided highway from Agra to Varanasi, I rounded a long bend to find two extremely drowsy cows blocking both lanes. I hauled the car down from 70 mph to 0 with inches to spare. The cows were unperturbed by my horn and I had to slowly creep forward until a light kiss from my bull bars made them get up and move, like a couple of unimpressed teenagers.
14.Use your horn at all times.
Timid foreigners driving in India are at first reticent to use the horn, which back home is deployed only in extreme cases of grievance or impending danger. Since every minute on the road in India is an extreme case of grievance or impending danger, it's imperative to use the horn liberally and confidently. In addition to establishing dominance, you'll learn a horn has many other uses, among them relieving boredom, filling awkward silences, breaking up cricket matches and waking cows.
Corollary 14.1: The louder the horn, the more important you are. Bonus if it plays a melody.
Corollary 14.2: False flag operations, where tiny hatchbacks use foghorns to part traffic, are not unheard of.
15. Small vehicles make way for large vehicles (Might Makes Right).
Philosophers and historians agree: when Thrasymachus contended that justice remains the domain of the strongest in "The Republic," he was auguring modern traffic dynamics on the subcontinent. Drivers these days have adopted this ancient maxim. More practically put, that 10-ton truck is going to merge into your lane whether you like it or not.
Corollary 15.1: Position yourself next to a smaller vehicle for an escape route.
Corollary 15.2: Upon a meeting of vehicles of equivalent size, inch forward until one driver yields.
16.Signage isn't relevant.
Speed limit? That's when your car can't go any faster. Stop sign? Invisibly located behind a tree. Red light? Shmed light. Don't get hung up on the details like lane markings or "one-way" streets. These are merely road decorations. If you attempt to stop at a red light when everyone is flying through at 40 mph, things will end poorly.
Corollary 16.1: Go with the flow.
Corollary 16.2: For every sign restricting the weight of a vehicle there will be a smaller vehicle carrying a load as heavy or heavier than the restricted vehicle.
And the Best one
Indian roads are not the place to freak out on somebody. If you get all road rage-y on someone who cuts you off, you're going to get bashed up.