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Old 26th February 2024, 22:04   #1
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Humour: A guide to traffic in India

Disclaimer: This thread is for humour only. Driving advice presented here may be used at your own risk.

A quick start guide about road traffic in India

One of my colleagues from the Netherlands was visiting India for a month long tour of our country. He made up his mind to rent a car and drive, of all the places, in Kerala. Having never driven in a country with left hand drive system and having heard about the traffic conditions in our country, he asked me for advice to stay safe on the road during his drive.

Based on my own observations from driving in the Netherlands and in India (mostly in KL, KA and MH), I presented him the following, which I thought of sharing for the benefit of this forum.

Towards the end of the third post of this thread, is a question any self respecting BHP'ian needs to answer with your true conscience , so here we go

The types of road users present on Indian roads

We'll only discuss traffic with wheels and an engine, hence skipping pedestrians, bicycles, handcarts and anything similar.

Two wheelers

Vehicles piloted by those who consider Issac Newton as their slow learning intern. Physics & traffic rules for them are just books by J.K.Rowling and they consider their safety to be other's responsibility. Don't get me wrong as they are kind souls, who help advance humanity by reminding people of their law & duty towards society.

Wondering how?
  1. They keep your brakes and reaction time in top shape. You'll frequently find them hiding in small by-lanes leading to a main road, ready to jump in front of you at the last moment, to check your brakes and your reaction time. If you pass, you'll be rewarded with an approving nod and at best, a sheepish smile. Beware if you fail as you'll be subjected to capital punishment by mob justice, some of whom are above the law.

  2. Some of them are excellent therapists for free! If you're driving with either rage or ego; no matter how much you honk or try to squeeze through, they'll waltz in front of you in a zig zag pattern at speeds not exceeding 30 kmph. You'll eventually get tired, give up, having left your ego and rage by just ambling behind them with your newfound sense of peace/humility.

  3. Some of them are experts at fluid mechanics and they provide live demonstration of turbulent flow by standing in the middle of a busy single carriageway and having vehicles flow around them.


Three Wheelers

A natural evolution of the two wheeled folks, these people have Albert Einstein as their slow learning intern. Since they disown his works about time and space. How else do you explain them squeezing through space that you thought didn't exist on the road? Look at how impatient they are with their turbo charged, direct injection, 200cc machines, thinking they'll probably arrive at their destination earlier than they departed their source.

A little known secret- impressed by how they manage to take a (u) turns in the middle of a busy road while travelling at their top speed and still manage to be alive, the top management of BMW has hired them as consultants to hone the handling characteristics of their cars. As a token of thanks, the BMW management dedicated a car to these autorickshaw folks.

What else do you think inspired the design of the BMW i3?

Last edited by govindremesh : 29th February 2024 at 13:48.
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Old 26th February 2024, 22:59   #2
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Re: A guide to traffic in India

Four wheelers excluding heavy vehicles

This is going to be the most elaborate section.

Cars & small goods carriers

There's a saying- there are no bad cars, only bad drivers. Let's explore the types of drivers we meet on Indian roads:
  1. The Learner

    The easiest kind to spot on the road, sometimes identified by a large red L sticker on their cars. These are the people who want to change their status of "I have a license but I don't know to drive" and use that piece of paper/plastic to good use. Some of them probably got their license by signing few forms at the driving school.

    They are mostly harmless, only testing your patience at times by being overly cautious or making some moves that might make you question your own sanity. Hang in there, as letting them take that extra few moments to make a U turn or pass through narrow lanes will go a long way in helping traffic flow, than trying to block them and ending up creating a traffic jam.

  2. The entitled kind

    The ones that inspired the CEAT tyres commercials titled "The roads are filled with idiots". These folks will always appear right in front of you and literally so.

    Remember the time you were driving on a narrow single carriageway road and saw an overloaded 800cc Alto adamantly trying to overtake a fast moving Volvo bus, coming right at you without a care in the world? The cold sweat as you realised that there's no space to move to the left and if you didn't suddenly brake to a complete stop or worse, go off the road, the only outcome would be a head on collision? Did you also notice the Volvo driver braking, hoping that the Alto driver and their poor judgement skills will pass by them and avoid an accident?

    These are the people who interpret their lifetime road tax receipts to be an ownership certificate. They are unapologetic and will come head on at you while screaming/honking/flashing at you with all of their full confidence, demanding you to back off and give them the non existent space, which they think they rightfully deserve.

    The best course of action is to have those folks have their right of way, as if they crash into you, they'll also come right at you on their way to hell as you hopefully make your way to heaven.

  3. The class topper

    Successors to Max Verstappen in the next season of Formula 1, the front bench class toppers are hard to spot because at first glance they seem to be law abiding, decent drivers. Things change when you try to overtake them.

    Remember the time when you were driving fast and upon overtaking a car, you suddenly noticed an increase of revvs from the car you just overtook, followed by incessant honking, flashing and tailgating to eventually (dangerously) overtaking you to the horror of you and your surrounding traffic? If you thought it ended there, you're wrong. The class topper will keep blocking your overtaking attempts to keep their front bench position till another soul makes the mistake of overtaking them.

    It's not worth your time fighting those class toppers, so let them enjoy their front bench and when you get an opportunity in slow moving traffic, pass by them as they watch in anger, stuck behind a bus that abruptly braked in front of them, blocking their way.

  4. The Strategist

    The strategists are very hard to spot on the road. You'll find them ambling along at leisurely speeds in, almost always, the rightmost lane. Any amount of honking and flashing does not bother them, since they're so busy strategising that they cannot be distracted by anything around them. Being stuck behind a strategist is the worst when you're climbing a narrow yet steep gradient, as their relentless focus on strategic planning makes them forget to downshift, resulting them lugging their engines and creeping past the already huffing and puffing heavy vehicles.

    The good thing about strategists is that you can pass them on the left or overtake them with ease when the opportunity arises. The strategist are best left undisturbed and a bit of patience with them is all that's required.

  5. The Optimizer

    The category that yours truly belongs to. The ones who optimise for travel time, mileage and route kilometers. The easiest way to spot them is that they will always zig-zag through the traffic and pass the so called strategists using the left lane. They'll also overtake traffic by leaving just millimeters worth of clearance on the sides rather than slow down or stop, as the optimizers prefer maintaining momentum over touching the B pedal, unless absolutely necessary.

    These are the ones that will let the toppers pass them, but also will overtake a long, slow moving traffic train by stepping on the gas in a, sometimes aggressive, overtaking manoeuvre. Anyone who presents a threat to their efficiency is rewarded with honks, angry stares and sometimes, the choiciest of cuss words, with the "entitled ones" being their majority audience for the latter.

    Being one of them, I can't comment on how to deal with us, so please feel free to add your comments.

  6. The "I'm rich and..." category

    The constantly increasing population of this kind is attributed to the growth of purchasing & political power in India. They have 3 subcategories:

    1. I know to drive

      These folks are easy to spot, as they will be driving a hard-to-miss, expensive car. The capability of their machines and political contacts will far exceed anything most people can dream of having. On an expressway, they'll zoom past you so quickly that you probably wouldn't be able to identify the make of their car.

      They're usually harmless as long as you let them enjoy their limelight. Stay one car length away from them and if you don't challenge their ego, you might be rewarded with an offer to overtake them.

    2. I don't know to drive

      The rarest of the rare and the most harmless of the lot. These are usually people who either have saved up for the big purchase, to showcase their status more than their driving skills or don't have the time to be bothered about driving. They're usually the most docile road users, as they want to protect their car from scratches, are blissfully unaware of the capabilities of their machine (or don't want to explore it). The wealthy ones amongst them will always be chauffeured.

      The ones who do drive can be identified by the fact that their BMW 330i is taking a corner at 30 kmph when a Honda City with upsized tires is going through the same corner at over twice that speed.

      They're the hardest to identify as these also be could be "I know to drive" folks who have ,on that day, either their kids on board or are getting an earful from their significant other while driving.

      No special advice to deal with them since they won't bother you.

    3. I think I know to drive

      The easiest to spot due to their reckless driving and the most dangerous one on the roads. Identified by over-revving their blingy machines with questionable mods, or normal machines decorated with stickers implying links to powerful administrators or cringy quotes, they will show off their questionable driving skills by abusing the capabilities of their machine.

      If luck favours other road users then they'll end up in the obituary column of leading newspapers instead of their destination. Stay 3 car lengths away from these people in all dimensions, as it's not worth risking your time, money and safety to challenge these people. Let karma do it's job.



Last edited by govindremesh : 29th February 2024 at 14:09.
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Old 28th February 2024, 17:41   #3
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Re: A guide to traffic in India

Heavy vehicles

The backbone of our economy, they carry people and goods across the country. Love them or hate them, you (literally) cannot live without them. Classifying them into three categories:

  1. The load-bearers

    Whoever said that the Indian automotive engineering has a long way to go in the area of reliability has to see those vehicles. Look at that 6 litre 180 bhp TATA truck with a gross vehicle weight of 18 tonnes, hauling a payload of 20 tonnes, ambling along at a leisurely speeds.

    Not only do they flatten the poorly laid out roads better than a road roller can, but they also serve as a "mobile speed checkposts", since everyone will have to slow down behind them. If you're fortunate enough to find two of them side by side on a two lane road, congratulations! you've got yourself a more challenging experience as you can do nothing but honk and pray for either one of them to increase their speeds by 0.03 kmph or for the carriageway divider to end.

  2. The hustlers

    Driven by people who retired from rally racing and now drive trucks for a living. The way they drive their heavy vehicle makes you think if your car is the bigger & heavier vehicle on the road. By exploiting their higher power to weight ratio to zig zag on the road, blissfully unaware of the laws of physics, the hustlers are the one that'll make you wonder if what you see is exceptional driving skills or plain ignorance combined with stupidity.

    The hustlers combined with the entitled kind are the perfect combination for a deadly road disaster. You can use your common sense to not challenge a hustler and not cut in front of them and pray that there's none of the entitled kind around you when you're sharing the road with a hustler, or vice versa

  3. The transport bus

    I'll speak specifically about the Kerala State road transport buses.

    Easily identifiable, they come in dual tone paint shades of red-cream or blue-white or the centenary anniversary
    special edition, green-cream. Being built on a Leyland or Tata chassis which were gifted to the king of Travancore by the British as farewell present ,they are hardly illuminated and come with some part protruding to the side, reminding you to maintain enough clearance from them.

    The rules around them are simple:

    See them in the rear view mirror? Let 'em pass
    See them in front of you, driving in the same direction? Don't overtake.
    See them in front of you, coming towards you? Do everything possible to ensure they pass without crushing you.

    You may ask what's the big deal, and there are countless solus who have asked the same. Some challengers were brave enough to check what happens in the real world. Unfortunately, we'll never know the outcome since those challengers didn't survive to tell the tale.

    The following one for the private bus operators who own one of those European built buses.

    Do remember that for them, "with great power, comes greater entitlement to violate traffic rules." . The people at Volvo/Scania/Merc would be questioning their decision to put those high power buses in pursuit of "refining the coach industry" in India.


Borrowing from the recent social media trend: Driving in India is not for beginners. One needs to have a high level of emotional maturity and self control alongwith expert driving skills. Small acts of kindness and consideration for other road users go a long way in making the roads better for everyone, including the pedestrians and cyclists.

Now be honest and post- which category do you belong to?

Last edited by govindremesh : 29th February 2024 at 14:08.
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Old 29th February 2024, 17:22   #4
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Re: Humour: A guide to traffic in India

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 29th February 2024, 18:17   #5
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Re: Humour: A guide to traffic in India

A vote button would have been great. Great write up. I hope I remember these categories next time I’m driving so when I’m angry at another road user I could instead smile. Good luck to your friend from NL.
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Old 1st March 2024, 10:48   #6
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Re: Humour: A guide to traffic in India

By default, one will be an "Optimiser" in the narrow dreaded roads of KL .

You also made me realise that I have a split personality , I.e I hate people in Innova Crysta's and the like, who love to adorn your RVM with nothing but that huge Toyota logo. They have an entitled feeling that they are driving Bugatti and everyone must make way. I play the "Class Topper" with them. What they end up realising is that an old clunker (if I borrow from Initial D) like my Ritz diesel will be hot on their tail and eventually they mellow down (on most instances lol). I think I must've amazed and shocked aplenty of cars passing in the MC road strech, on what this little stinker called DDIS can do (of course, within legal limits and no rash driving non sense).

Then on the other end of spectrum when there are well driven cars, I appreciate them and let them be merry. This lot is quite rare, but my faith in humanity (temporarily) will be restored on seeing them

Last edited by subie_socal : 1st March 2024 at 10:54. Reason: Grammar oopsie
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Old 1st March 2024, 10:58   #7
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Re: Humour: A guide to traffic in India

Quick question, what exactly are the strategists planning for?
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Old 1st March 2024, 12:15   #8
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Re: Humour: A guide to traffic in India

That is really a great write-up..

I would like to state that I would be an "Optimizer" while driving on my most driven road - Mumbai Ahmedabad Highway with near steady speeds of 80-90 on empty stretches too.

But for city driving, try to avoid the first 2 categories - 2 and 3 wheelers so as to protect my beloved car.
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Old 1st March 2024, 14:54   #9
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Re: A guide to traffic in India

Quote:
Originally Posted by govindremesh View Post
[*]The transport bus

See them in the rear view mirror? Let 'em pass
Move to the left to the extent possible and slow down, he will push you off the road with his tail end like he does the truck in the video below.

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Old 1st March 2024, 15:03   #10
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Re: Humour: A guide to traffic in India

Quote:
Originally Posted by subie_socal View Post
You also made me realise that I have a split personality , I.e I hate people in Innova Crysta's and the like, who love to adorn your RVM with nothing but that huge Toyota logo. They have an entitled feeling that they are driving Bugatti and everyone must make way. I play the "Class Topper" with them. What they end up realising is that an old clunker (if I borrow from Initial D) like my Ritz diesel will be hot on their tail and eventually they mellow down (on most instances lol). I think I must've amazed and shocked aplenty of cars passing in the MC road strech, on what this little stinker called DDIS can do (of course, within legal limits and no rash driving non sense).

Then on the other end of spectrum when there are well driven cars, I appreciate them and let them be merry. This lot is quite rare, but my faith in humanity (temporarily) will be restored on seeing them
Feels as if its written by myself, line by line, including the fun with Ritz D which I drive currently

Last edited by KarthikK : 1st March 2024 at 15:15. Reason: Fixed the broken quote tags
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Old 1st March 2024, 15:29   #11
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Re: Humour: A guide to traffic in India

A great piece of advice that I got from, perhaps fittingly, an auto driver in Chennai, is what I believe to be all you need to know. He said:

"Evanum vootla soltu varala nu nenachinu ottu"

Translation: "Assume no one said (that they'll be back) in their home before leaving and ride/drive"

Context for the uninitiated: It's a superstition that if one leaves home without informing that they'll be back, something bad might happen to them.
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Old 1st March 2024, 15:51   #12
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Re: A guide to traffic in India

Quote:
Originally Posted by ike View Post
Move to the left to the extent possible and slow down, he will push you off the road with his tail end like he does the truck in the video below.

Youtu.be/EA3_SglpGp8?si=Ok2tRylaVw6mQd3h
That bike guy at the end

Thanks for the funny take on Indian traffic and drivers.

I would encourage you to write about the cities you have lived in and the type of drivers there.

Here's a poor attempt at Bangalore

IIT / IIM / IDC - I don't care. These are the folks with expensive cars and can't be told to have any road sense. They will stop in the middle of the road, put on their blinkers and go shopping at the nearby roadside vendor. If it's too much traffic, they will strategically place an old person or their better half in the passenger seat with a permanent scowl plastered that says "The driver of this car is rich enough to create this disturbance and so y'all drive around now." And after said stop, the same person shall proceed to write petitions on Twitter blaming government about Bangalore's pathetic traffic condition.


The Innovator - The Innovator is usually the Bangalore hotel cabbie or the company transport driver driving the lovely Toyota Innova with a plethora of stickers in the back announcing their heritage, favorite movie star or the lender of the money ("my mother is my god"). They possess immense knowledge in orchestrating a cacophony of orchestrated chaos. Be it the Orchestra of Horns or their constant camel-nose maneuvers, they have the right of way for ALL traffic. The poor employees or guests hold on for dear life as they race towards their intended target.. er.. destination.

The V-Leg Scooty hottie - The hottie in that Scooty has taken exactly one lesson from her frenemy last week. Now she is in possession of a scooter and she is in HSR layout or BTM layout to try her luck. Her face is covered, her ears are jammed with her airpods and her legs splayed wide on either side in alert position to balance herself, she drags her heels as she navigates traffic at a terrifying 5kmph. If you get too close, she will ever so gently caress your paint with her handle bar and then give you a look of derision. And of course, if she falls, the Bromeos of Bangalore will back her and hand you a good thrashing.

Let's hear from other cities!
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Old 1st March 2024, 16:41   #13
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Re: Humour: A guide to traffic in India

Appropriate thread, well researched and written/executed.

In UP, particularly in Kanpur, no amount of honking will make the cycle rikshaw/now E-rickshaw, auto budge, the proverbial trick, get close and say, BHAIYA JI, bingo your way is clear for the next 100 meter dash.

Last edited by Vinod_nair : 1st March 2024 at 16:51.
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Old 1st March 2024, 20:52   #14
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Re: Humour: A guide to traffic in India

Since my childhood days were in Kerala and recent drives in Kerala, I found the KSRTC specific part as most interesting. Loved your sense of putting those ideas on a note which will make others to laugh and most importantly think next time when they drive.
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Old 1st March 2024, 22:57   #15
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Re: Humour: A guide to traffic in India

Brilliant write up! I'm pretty sure most of us have encountered all of the species of drivers therein. I think I do fall within the Optimizer category, as I think a large majority of people would identify with too, given the constraints of driving in busy cities with little leeway for the vehicle to stretch its legs. Sometimes on roads that I frequent every day, and when in moderate or low traffic, I would play a little game that centers around trying to use the brake pedal as minimally as possible by observing the traffic and modulating the accelerator to keep up with it. The entire experience is a lot less jarring than over speeding and then having to be break heavy, which means you're making it less predictable for other drivers around you. The more predictable you are the better it is for others.

The KSRTC buses are a different sort of menace. As a kid who spent a few years in Kerala, I am guilty of finding their reckless driving fun, as it was thrilling to sit in those buses and see them do that. Especially those super fast express buses that ply on the longer routes. The Limited Stop buses are pretty much the same in terms of big vehicle entitlement. It's only when you drive on the same road as these morons that you realise how utterly reckless and dangerous it is for everyone else around them and themselves.

Also, since we are on the topic, just wanted to check with the Kerala folks whether taking a self driven rental car in Kerala (specifically, Kochi, and I'm planning to go to Thrissur as well as Varkala side) is a good idea? How are the roads and traffic and associated things as on date, especially the travel between the above mentioned places? It's been five years since I went there and I've heard a lot has changed for good in terms of infrastructure and roads. I plan to be there for about two weeks, so I reckon a self driven car would be the best option. I drive regularly around Mumbai and Navi Mumbai.

Secondly, I'd be very grateful for any recommendations for a reliable and good self driven car agency/people in Kochi! I do have an old contact but I'd prefer to be have an alternative in case it doesn't work out with them for whatever reason! Cheers all!
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