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Old 20th March 2018, 16:32   #1
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Thumbs up Positive aspects of Indian Roads

For the longest of time, we believe, and with good strong reasons that Indian roads are fraught with dangers and death is lurking around every corner. We have our hands full dealing with lawlessness, indiscipline, morons, road rage, corrupt officials, overcrowding, filth, and bad road design everyday.

With the overwhelming number of negatives, lets try to spread some positivity about our roads. Are there any +ve points at all, which are unique to our country ? Genuine positive things I mean, ability to pay our way out of sticky situations not being one of them.

According to me, I see the following positives of Indian roads :

- Never a dull moment, even if you are not driving. I find standing around a chowk watching the heavy traffic flow by a nice way of doing the proverbial "timepass", but then, thats just me.

- An occasional indescretion or a genuine mistake by a bhpian is better tolerated than a country with a better road system and road behaviour would.

- Roads are bringing genuine development and a semblance of prosperity to far flung corners of the city/state/country, whose potential remained untapped only because of lack of connectivity. Exponential increase for each generation.

- Highway pitstops are few and far in between, the roadside is far more available, with everything from food items, blankets, water bottles, local farm produce, goggles, helmets, shirts on sale, right by the side of the road. I was once travelling with family in a rental car, when someone started experiencing acute back discomfort. Kid you not, I found a roadside fellow selling pillows off the NH9, which we promptly bought for support and were thankful for.

- But without a shadow of doubt, the biggest positive for me, every time I park my vehicle and reach my destination is : It could have been worse.

What do Bhpians think ? List away!

Last edited by Rehaan : 22nd March 2018 at 16:28. Reason: Post edited. Please do not use spaces before punctuation marks.
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Old 20th March 2018, 17:05   #2
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Default Re: Positive aspects of Indian Roads

A nice topic and of course a good thread!

The first point you have listed about standing and watching the traffic pass by, is something I am always reminded of by my mum who said each summer or winter holidays in school that we went to Pune, my maternal grandfather used to take me to the main road where I would just stand and watch the traffic and feel good about it. Needless to say, even today, I really don't mind waiting for anyone for hours together right beside the road and watch the traffic in variety pass - I notice, I admire, I get amused, I am dumbfounded but then, this is what is road all about!

The road infrastructure and traffic has evolved in our country in the last decade and to say so that it has by a huge margin is a simple fact:
  • Neatly painted lane markers

  • Reflective sign boards & reflectors

  • Swanky Toll Plazas

  • Ubercool food courts

  • Refreshing and colorful fuel stations

  • Cars of all shapes, sizes and speeds

  • The ubiquitous but distinct trucks representing color scheme of each territory

  • The next generation trucks with LED tail lamps that can do some real
    good speeds

  • The ever charming state transport buses - Tata, Ashley, Eicher, Scania and Volvos.....

  • The maze of buildings that sometimes welcome you as you enter the city or for that matter the dotted industries when you drive on some of the prosperous economic corridors of our country

  • The festive time drives and the lighting all around and celebratory atmosphere
The list could simply go on and on but apart from these materialistic aspects, there is a lot of people-centric element when it comes to our highways or roads:
  • Driving manners based on the state of registration - If we have driven around, we know where to draw a line to avoid possible road rage

  • Small little talks with the Tea vendor or the security guard of that hotel where you stop by

  • If you are interested in numbers, Talk to a toll booth operator and you will be delighted to know how their system works - I did that once by helping a booth staff on my way to Pune as I was alone and it was a very informative discussion

  • Food: One of the amazing beauties of you travel by road - There is no end to satisfy your tastebuds if you are foodie

  • Respect: Its mutual when you travel and its again a wonderful feeling when you get it from almost everyone around you - Booth staff, Fuel attendant, Guard, fellow driver, fellow trucker, Cops who flag you down etc

  • Beyond all this, it is needless to say the help one would get on roads if you are stranded or get into some situation immediately after an incident/accident - I would say the number of positive experiences easily outrun the negative experiences here

The thing that I always have in mind when behind the wheel is paranoia. The fear of being part of an accident and it is this fear that keeps me drive safer and safer, learn each time I drive and get better and better because no 2 drives are same.

In a nutshell, if you always keep thinking about the negatives then you will never be able to enjoy the positive side of traveling by road and to be able to do that one must start finding happiness in these small little things as they pass by.

Lastly, when on the road, learn to apologize if need be - It really makes the experience even better.

Last edited by paragsachania : 20th March 2018 at 17:08.
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Old 20th March 2018, 17:09   #3
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Default Re: Positive aspects of Indian Roads

Originally Posted by sajo View Post

- Never a dull moment, even if you are not driving. I find standing around a chowk watching the heavy traffic flow by a nice way of doing the proverbial "timepass", but then, thats just me.
This is definitely a big thing. Driving in India is always interesting. The variety of our immense and diverse country is so amazing. Even within a state you will find so much difference and beauty in terms of people, scenery and almost everything else. You will realize this if you go to a place like US where every small town and village is the same in terms of shops, food places and even layout etc.

Adding some other things
- Help is always nearby at hand. People are always ready to help you out of trouble. If you are stuck they will call up people they know to help you out of trouble.

- Food - In some places you may have to search little but there are lot of options on our roads. Stop on impulse and many times you will be surprised at what you get

Last edited by .anshuman : 20th March 2018 at 19:58. Reason: Fixed quote tag. Thanks
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Old 20th March 2018, 17:35   #4
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Default Re: Positive aspects of Indian Roads

As I had written facetiously on Quora once, driving in India is akin to piloting a fighter aircraft (your mind is kept busy with a manual transmission, with life-threatening adversaries galore, you're forced to make up the rules as you go and there's quite some excitement because everything's different every time).

Driving in developed countries has proved to be boring in my experience and is akin to being a commercial pilot (cruise-control, automatic transmission, orderly traffic, all vehicles in their defined lanes, information overload with a zillion sign-boards and painted signs to be read and complied, everything's the same, snoring, boring...)
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Old 20th March 2018, 17:37   #5
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Default Re: Positive aspects of Indian Roads

1. Indian roads are one of the biggest employment generators - puncture repair shops, used tyre sellers, car care centres, mechanics, tow vehicle operators..and what not.

2. Traffic makes everyone of us an escape artist. Indian drivers can navigate through anywhere. Two lane roads? there is always space for one more car, just close those damn useless ORVMs. And one more car by pushing the pedestrians out of the kerb. No space for parking? Just park your car in front of an already parked car and leave your visiting card visible on the dashboard. People will call you if they want to move their car out. Such brilliant space optimization!

3. You don't miss the missing features from your car, like cruise control. By the time you would set the cruise, some organism will flung out on the road ahead, requiring you to disengage it. Or fog lamps - anyways, every car has a set of two fog lamps in front as well as behind, all operated through a single "hazard light" button.

4. Indians have the strongest ankle joints and palms (by continuously having to exercise pressing the clutch and horn-pad).

5. Realistically speaking, driving on Indian roads is very intuitive. You don't have to rely on warning lights, signals etc. The car ahead can take a right turn, or a left turn or can simply drive in reverse if it missed the turn by a mile. You can control "your" car blindfolded, the eyes are only needed to look around and anticipate your next move basis those around you.

6. Traffic follows the basic osmosis rule of driving. "Traffic moves from an area of high concentration to the area with low concentration". If that low concentration area is the wrong side of the road, so be it. Simple!

7. We Indians are simple people, we understand only what it is. No assumptions. Like, Turn indicators are to indicate that you are turning, not to request the cars behind you to let you turn.

8. Uber is plagiarism, and far behind in terms of providing a fuss-free last mile connectivity. The best in class last mile connectivity is provided by, what we call, "shared-autos". You might be standing on the middle of the road, doesn't matter. You don't need to move an inch. Just raise your arm to gesture the auto running on the other side of the road. It will stop right there, turn and get right across the road, right in front of you to just hop in.
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Old 20th March 2018, 18:59   #6
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Default Re: Positive aspects of Indian Roads

That we have a good network of roads - rural, urban, MDR, SH & NH - is itself an achievement for a country that has only been independent for 70 years. The roads aren't uniformly good, bad or ugly; rather they are a reflection of the socioeconomic and political condition of the area.

Roads have no doubt been the harbingers of progress, connecting as they do the producer to the consumer; the patient to the doctor; the student to his school and the voter to the voted.

Just a decade ago, I had to get down at a gate and walk for nearly 4 km to reach my ancestral village. Now, the freshly laid, relaid and repeatedly repaired road takes me to my grandparents' doorstep in a jiffy.

The wood wheeled bullock carts have given way to tractors, lorries and bulldozers: bikes, cars and SUVs have become ubiquitous and useful.

An Indian road is a great teacher - of what to do and what not to. It presents sights and lessons that are rarely to be seen anywhere else on earth. While an eunuch pestering me at a toll booth makes me sad, angry and frustrated, a specially-abled trying to sell a sunshade at signals makes me look at the brighter side of life.

An Indian road is a home for some, a market for many. It symbolises the peaks and gorges of our society.

The roadside peti shop selling a sumptuous cup of tea for five bucks coexists with the CCDs and A2Bs that make us wonder whether the Indian rupee really has some value (or not).

From the friendly cop - who is such an endangered species on the road these days - to the oft-seen puncture wallah who is at times the cause and the solution for our troubles; from the tired but ebullient padayatris in search of God's abode to the occasional drunkard who (to the best of his understanding) essays terribly unstable dance moves and stage performances; from the Nano driving family happily enjoying their time together to the bully in one of the biggies who firmly believes that the road is indeed his father's, we have seen them all.

With due apologies to emperor Jehangir of the yore, I may go to the extent of borrowing his words and say of the Indian roads that:

Gar firdaus bar-rue zamin ast,
hami asto, hamin asto, hamin ast.

If you can't find something here, you may as well conclude that it doesn't exist at all.

Last edited by aah78 : 20th March 2018 at 21:27. Reason: Post fixed on request.
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Old 20th March 2018, 19:53   #7
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Default Re: Positive aspects of Indian Roads

The ability to stop and ask for directions anywhere anytime. No need for GPS or a satellite signal. This is something that I sorely miss driving in US.
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Old 20th March 2018, 21:57   #8
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Default Re: Positive aspects of Indian Roads

I have never driven outside India, so can't draw a comparison here.

1. Our roads, rather the implementation of rules are usually forgiving in nature. We all have managed to unintentionally overshoot a zebra crossing, a red light, or enter an unmarked one-way lane and yet come out unscathed.

2.Park it and forget it (of-course not everywhere).

3.Got no GPS, no problem!! I've had over excited people enter my car and offering to drop me to the location I asked directions for.

4.A lot of content, if you're a youtuber (Daily observation videos).

5.A lot of entertainment, if you're not.

6.The ultimate simulator. One can sharpen his/her skills and the learning process is never ending. Everyday the roads throw some surprise (read idiot) at you, so you keep learning the survival code.

Eventually, It's not the road as much as the users which make them good or bad to use.
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Old 20th March 2018, 23:34   #9
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Default Re: Positive aspects of Indian Roads

Well, we blame our authorities for lawlessness which does create chaos on the highways. However, at times this aspect comes as a blessing in disguise. One of the features I love about our roads is the innumerable waterfall formations that crop up beside the road (or at places even on the road itself for eg., Malshej Ghat) during monsoons. This coupled with freedom where we can park our cars on the shoulder of the pavement and enjoy playing in any of these waterfalls without worrying for being penalized by authorities.

Although way side eateries/ food courts are integral part of the highway infrastructure what makes our highways unique are the vendors who sell farm fresh vegetables, fruits and artistry along the way side giving the travellers a flavour of the local countryside farm delicacies and workmanship at very reasonable price. Just ask any regular traveller between Kolhapur and Pune who is pampered by fresh radish, strawberries, mint etc or even along the Bangalore and Mysore where one get soaked in the beauty of the wooden toys and crafts of Channapatna. Another feature of our highways are the innumerable dhabas serving mouth watering and piping hot food whose native taste cannot be replicated even in the most expensive of the star hotels. Ask anyone familiar to the Delhi Chandigarh highway who vouch by the yummy taste of the parathas and butter served at dhabas.
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Old 21st March 2018, 00:14   #10
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Default Re: Positive aspects of Indian Roads

Having stayed in the US for over two years now, here are the things I miss about driving on Indian roads (inside the city as well as highways):

1. On highways: ability to stop by the side of the road any time I wish, be it for that small pee/water break or to click pictures. One can simply not stop on a US highway except for those scattered rest-areas.

2. On highways: Some of the restaurants on our highways are really good, especially the Dhabas in North India, they serve such good food. I really miss that in the US where one can only get chocolate bars or chips at rest areas.

3. On highways: I am not in constant fear of getting pulled over by a cop if I stretch my car's legs a bit on a good stretch of road.

4. On highways as well as in cities: One does not need to be oh-so-reliant on one's GPS for directions. Asking at a Chaai Tapri by the side of the road is more than enough

5. Cities: Public transport! Most of our cities and towns have excellent connectivity in terms of public transport, rickshaws, buses, cabs etc.

6. Cities: There is constant entertainment while driving/riding around the city! I remember having a ball of a time when I used to ride my bike in Mumbai and just observe people while waiting at a stop light; it was just so much fun!

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Old 21st March 2018, 09:45   #11
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Default Re: Positive aspects of Indian Roads

Fantastic thread, Sajo! Thanks for sharing. Throwing in my two paise:

1. I've done many road-trips in the USA and they were BORING. Arrow straight roads, cruise control, a standard view on the side and most traffic moving along at the same speed. While it is undoubtedly safer + faster, it was.....dreadfully boring.

On the other hand, road-trips in India are full of joy! Different scenes & scenery, beautiful greens just 30 km out of the city, highway dhabas & pitstops, curvy tarmac roads...the list is endless. Indian road-trips are simply a lot more interesting.

2. No speed limits. Now, I'm not advocating driving at dangerous speeds, but in the USA, you always have one eye on the speedometer. In India, you can drive a little faster, but still remain within the safe limits of your driving talent & car capability.

3. Food, food, food. Some of the best meals I've had have been at unknown highway joints, be it a dhaba in North India or a family-run restaurant in Maharashtra. And give me a strong highway tea over any brand-name coffee of the USA.

I look forward to road-trips in India in a way that I never did in America.
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Old 21st March 2018, 10:01   #12
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Default Re: Positive aspects of Indian Roads

Interesting thread, Sajo.

Here are few positives which I observed/experienced on our roads:

1. Information sharing by locals and other road users. Surprisingly people are often helpful on the roads and will go extra mile to provide directions as well as info on hotels, eateries, etc.

2. Roadside mechanics. There will rarely be a patch where one can not find a mechanic on Indian roads. And even if it is middle of night, you can wake them up and they will get to solving your problem. Have experienced this multiple times.

3. Our country is diverse, not only the landscape, but also food, language, culture, architecture and whole of other stuff. Which makes riding our roads so interesting.

4. Traffic jams on highways. Yes, it is a plus here as the traffic jams on some well used highways in western countries can be much more horrible than what we have here. Cities, is a different matter altogether.

5. Lastly, no snow (except our beautiful northern most roads)

That being said, our Govt really needs to improve the surface quality of all the roads. Some of them are much better now in some specific states but it has to happen all over the country.

The road infrastructure has definitely much improved in last 20 years or so.
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Old 21st March 2018, 10:33   #13
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Default Re: Positive aspects of Indian Roads

The people you meet when on a long ride are amazing. By and large, when we are not in 'survival' or 'me first' mode (and that's mainly in cities), our Indian junta are the best!

I can't count how many times I've been amazed and humbled by the kindness shown to me by total strangers on the road.
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Old 21st March 2018, 10:35   #14
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Default Re: Positive aspects of Indian Roads

What a wonderful thread. Many thanks for the positive-ness. We Indians don't appreciate what we've got. My missus and I are going for a trip to Himachal in a few days - only the two of us. She has planned what food she will pack; I have decided which dhabas we will eat aloo ka parantha; she wants to stop at a wayside village where some one sells baby flower saplings; there is a canal enroute and I will go for a dip - beats a swimming pool. We drive at a leisurely 80 kmph so it reduces the stress of driving from all those happy intrusions that pop out with 5 milliseconds of warning. Of course there is the risk of a car on the other side of the road jumping over the divider and rolling on top of us - only in hamara India. But hey what's life without risk. Route - what's that. At every tea stall & dhaba all we need to do is ask the way!
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Old 21st March 2018, 10:37   #15
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Default Re: Positive aspects of Indian Roads

I think its a myth that the unruly traffic is a time killer. We tend to overplay the traffic issue on Indian roads. Grass always seems greener on the other side.
Don't shoot me yet.

I will share my thought from my two experiences.

1. 101 Freeway in California - I have been driving in this highway since last 10+ years probably 2-3 weeks every year. Traffic is horrible and degrading every year. 1 hr for 10 miles at least in peak traffic for the usual stretch. All roads are top notch, good lane discipline. Empty spaces for emergency services etc. I believe in Indian way of travel we can probably move 2X traffic at 10% more time. I am talking this purely from my experience and no stats to back it up. So I tend to think we make the best use of the resources.

2. Thailand (Bangkok, Pataya) - Very similar scarcity of roads. Too many vehicles and too less road but its very disciplined. No honking or lane change magic and no chaos at all.
What I have observed the average traffic speed is much slower than that of India. Once I missed a flight.

Last edited by Ohh!Oxygen : 21st March 2018 at 10:43. Reason: spelling mistakes
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