TRAVELING IN INDIA
The following item was extracted from the travel
section of a UK daily newspaper:
Travelling in India is an almost hallucinatory
potion of sound, spectacle and experience. It is frequently heart-rending, sometimes
hilarious, mostly exhilarating, always unforgettable - and, when you are on the roads,
Most Indian road users observe a version of the
Highway Code based on an ancient text. These 12 rules of the Indian road are published for
the first time in English.
ARTICLE I The assumption of immortality is required
of all road users.
ARTICLE II 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, ie in
clearing dogs, rickshaws and pedestrians from path. Long blasts (desperate) denote
supplication, ie 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
870 million 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, viz,
"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
(insouciant). Article IV remains subject to the provision of Order of Precedence in
Article II above
ARTICLE V All manoeuvres, 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
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 centre of the road.
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 centres. 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
ARTICLE XI Reversing: no longer applicable since no
vehicle in India has reverse gear.
ARTICLE XII The 10th incarnation of God was as an