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Sunday
Jun102012

Offensive Driving

I've decided Bangalorians' version of safety in driving school revolves around "offensive" driving versus "defensive" driving. Let's say Car 1 is ahead of Car 2. In the U.S., Car 1 usually checks to see that it's not going to hit Car 2 behind it. Sometimes, it may signal its indication to turn via a lever on the side of the steering wheel which makes a light start blinking on the tail light of the direction it wants to move. Still, it is up to Car 2 to maintain a defensive posture to avoid crashing.

It's a little different in India. In India, Car 1 has no absolutely no responsibility to tell Car 2 its intentions. It's a free-for-all. It's understood that Car 1 will be going wherever the hell it wants to go- slipping through cracks between two buses, veering into oncoming traffic, slicing into the gravel of the non-existent road shoulder... Car 2's only responsibility appears to be honking. If Car 2 is coming up on Car 1, it has to honk, repeatedly. In fact, the horn may be the most necessary component of the entire vehicle. That's why I'm calling it offensive driving. Car 2 honks and slips ahead wherever it can.

Lanes? You want LANES?! There are no LANES in INDIA!!! If two cars, two rickshaws and four motorcycles can fit across what in the U.S. would be considered a two-lane road, than that's how many vehicles will be there. If there's space, something will fill it.

It's kind of like salmon swimming up a river- each fish climbing over the top of the other to get upstream.

And from what chariot are we privy to this experience? Enter the three-wheeled, diesel-spewing auto rickshaw-- our prime mode of transportation:

Rickshaws like this are EVERYWHERE. Which is good, because they're cheap and they cut through traffic remarkably well, so long as you don't mind feeling like you're going to get sideswiped every 30 seconds or so.

 

 

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