I’d watched Jeremy Clarkson’s two hour special about driving in India, but that didn’t prepare me for this real life experience… A three lane freeway, was more of a guideline than a rule! If you can fit a minimum of 5 modes of transport across those lanes then you did, if not more…
Their driving style on first appearance seems to be a free for all, in fact, whilst on the equivalent of a highway, driving at 60 km/h, a motorcyclist would drive directly at you as they were (in my apparently wrong opinion) clearly driving on the wrong side of the road.
I asked my driver about this (At the same time bracing my self for impact, and when I say ask, maybe in a high pitched voice!), he explained, that since building the roads, villagers no longer had a direct access to either the neighbouring village, or a conveniently placed exit road, and were allowed to take the shortest path to where they needed to go. Dangerous? Absolutely and that explains why road deaths are quite significant in India.
An hour into the journey, and just when I thought I’d seen every rule of the road broken, was a villager riding a pair of Oxen looking like a head on collision with my car! Yikes…. If only I got my camera out in time!
The driver explained, that if you learn to drive in India, you can drive anywhere in the world. Having seen first hand what he meant, I was inclined to agree, yet I recall my time in Cairo (Egypt), the drivers there didn’t use their horns!
Ah, so, you will notice that a lot (use of vehicle horns), they use them almost constantly, back home this is grounds for road rage, but again in India, they have an answer for everything. My driver explained, we have indicators for left and right, flash your headlights for ahead and brake lights behind, but there’s no indicator to say someone is at the side of you, and hence they use their horns to alert motorists that they are coming up their side. Ingenious… Yet if I did this at home, you can guarantee a motorist will either stick two fingers up, or play silly beggars!
So I’m currently on a 4 hour drive from Mumbai International Airport to Hinjewadi, Pune, it gives me an opportunity to reflect on my thoughts, exhaust my reserves of adrenaline, and wait… there’s a goat wandering at the side of the road eating black plastic refuse bags. Something that I’ve seen a lot, in fact it’s common that there’s refuse littered over the streets and roads, there seems to be no street cleaning or collections…
Any hoo… I’ll get to meet my team in person for the first time in real life, that didn’t involve a Cisco Telepresence Room, Webex or other video conferencing facility. This is really exciting, and yet did I mention how tired I’m feeling right now?