Driving in Delhi

July 28, 2009

Driving in Delhi is an experience unlike anything else. If you think you know driving, try driving in Delhi for a week. You will return with a new perspective on life.

Delhiites give a new meaning to driving. Once these people sit inside a vehicle (or on it, in some cases), they undergo a transformation. They are not human anymore. They are warriors, ready for business.

Honking Away to Glory

Horns mean different things to different people at different times. For some, a horn is a way of informing everybody that you are out and about. These people will honk whenever they do anything. They will honk when they start the car. They will honk when they stop the car. They will honk when they pass a car. They will honk when a light turns red, and honk louder when it turns green.

As soon as a traffic light turns green a thousand impatient horns go off. God forbid if you get nervous and drop the clutch necessitating a car restart. Heaven have mercy on you if your car refuses to start. You might just die from the shame of a million glares coming your way.

Lanes are a Pain

Less sophisticated societies use devices known as indicators to alert other drivers when they turn or try to change lanes. Not in Delhi. Firstly lanes are meaningless here. The misinformed and misguided government comes in and marks a three lane road. Little does it know that we the people can actually manage five lanes on such a road. It’s called sharing. A little horn here and a little nudge there, and we can achieve optimum utilization of our roads.

Anyway, back to indicators. Elsewhere, people turn on an indicator when they want to change lanes, and people following them slow down to enable them to make the change. In India we do it differently. We don’t use indicators. Our gut sense is good enough for us to make sudden and rapid changes, sometimes across multiple lanes. When some novice driver makes the mistake of using the indicator we just speed up and go past, until the sad soul realizes his naivety.

Real men don’t feel pain. They don’t cry. They also don’t use an indicator. We in Delhi - we are all khaalis mard. All Man.

Survival of the Fittest

On Delhi roads, nothing is out of bounds. We can add lanes to roads on the fly. We can drive two cars in one lane. Hell, if somebody doesn’t cooperate we can just run him down with our Tata Sumos. If we are unable to find space on our side of the road, we can borrow some from the opposite direction. The name of the game is cooperation.

Darwin talked about survival of the fittest. We proud people of Delhi have taken it to a new level. If you are not ready for it, dont dare venture out. We will hunt you down and teach you a lesson. You gotta be strong enough. You gotta be a very refined driver to survive on the streets. You ought not to leave a metre’s gap in front of your car in the cash lane of the toll plaza or we will cut across you in a superior show of skill and then show you a middle finger. We don’t want any losers on Delhi roads.

The naïve might call it all one big, painful, awful mess. Little do they know the beauty and humanity behind it all.

We are teaching our kids important lessons on how to survive in this world. They will thank us when civilization is gone, and man is back to living in jungles.

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23 Responses to “ Driving in Delhi ”

  1. Me on July 28, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    ha ha ha .. Nearly rolling on the floor.Superb piece :)

  2. kavi on July 28, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    And yes, when man is gone, the traffic lights will remain. And the horns too !

    Lovely read my friend !

  3. amlistening on July 28, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    Very nice way of weaving sarcasm and reality with ingenious play of words. You are getting better at it Man!

    Driving in Delhi….extended NCR is like JVM. You are in your own world inside the real world. All i can say is Drive safe everyone and hope that the person on the other wheel also has a well wisher to go back home to.

  4. Philip on July 28, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    i think you should try driving in Hyderabad. Easily the worst in India when it comes to road manners. Honking, cutting lanes, parking wherever they deem fit, hogging the road, using the beam lights at night, pushing two wheelers and pedestrians off the road…they are good at everything.

  5. Kiran on July 28, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    Nice post :) Practically summarizes my recent experience in Delhi :)

  6. amit on July 29, 2009 at 10:18 am

    As you said, the worse comes when the light turns green and your car suddenly stops. The honking at that point of time is enough to land anyone in a mental asylum. You just want the Earth to open up and swallow you.
    And, oh, yes, try driving in monsoons. :)

  7. ms on July 29, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    hey, that’s the gurgaon toll! and on a good day too! you have not mentioned those drivers who brush against your stationary car, then jump out to examine the damage, all the time swearing at you. and what about the fools who suddenly want to jump the queue and squeeze in 2 feet from the pay station? last week i saw a battle between 2 irate drivers at a toll. yup, one refused to let the other sneak in, both drove neck to neck till a barrier came up. you can guess what happened, there was considerable damage to both cars, big traffic jam. who gave big powerful cars to illiterates and dimwits? the man sits at the back reading a newspaper while his hired chimp drives like a maniac.
    i love your pics, man.

  8. gauri on July 30, 2009 at 11:06 am

    You mean you had unlearnt India-driving when you came to the US? I had thought driving in India was like swimming…once you get it, it’s hard to forget!

    Nice one!


  9. Reema on July 31, 2009 at 11:23 am

    I can just imagine the stress level and the blood pressure of Delhites!

  10. Vidya on August 4, 2009 at 10:26 am

    your narration is simply the best….and a very impressive grammar!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    are you married :D ???????

  11. xylene on August 14, 2009 at 4:56 am

    Well, all the metros in India are like that. Here in Bangalore its no different.
    I guess people (I mean atleast the so called educated and literate ones) should be more patient on roads and have some basic ethics.

    I have seen people overtake at turns only to stop at the next red light 50 ms away. Or honk loudly when the light turns green (I mean give the driver ahead of him a 2 second chance to press the accelerator).

    I guess its not because the drivers dont know the rules, may be because they dont care. Traffic rules can be enforeced, but patience and ethics cannot be.

    We could start by driving safely and giving everyone the right of way. I have learned(used to be a reckless driver when I was 18) that even if I drive at 80km/hr through traffic,stop at all traffic stops, drive recklessly, overtake at turns, I would reach my destination may be 5 mins earlier than if I drive defensively and smooth.

  12. A Girl From Timbuktu on September 20, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    Not to mention the harassment one receives as a female driver.
    IT remains a favorite and hackneyed joke among men that how females can’t /don’t know to drive well!!
    Having received classes in driving and driving on that dreaded mahipalpur and udyog vihar roads at peak hour, I have seen only women following the traffic rules….Men are so rude in Delhi!!! (and I am talking about those suit wearing, impeccable looking people)….the cab drivers of tata sumos are a different story altogether!!

  13. amreekandesi on September 21, 2009 at 7:41 am

    @Girl from Timbuktu - Very true. I have noticed how men will glare at a woman driver as if she doesnt have any right to be on the road. It’s a mess on the roads, be it for women drivers or men.

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  21. dinesh on May 6, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    nice post, tells really the plight of driving in delhi and so is the case with driving etiquette in NCR.GOD BLESS SANE DRIVERS

  22. Surjanu on April 8, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    loved the satire but have to say that the fact is the problem is not only because of our whole attitude towards driving but also the way it is taught to us. I mean getting a licence is prolly the easiest thing to do. Just pay :) The general apathy towards road safety and the continuous rubbish or lack of driver training is a paramount contributor to our whole lack of driving skill and the gargantuan mess. Maruti driver training type facilities should be made mandatory..(although this will never happen) Look on the bright side, the day fuel runs out will be the day all this ceases to exist..:)

  23. Doot on April 19, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Driving delhi is really a challange specially in Old Delhi ….

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