How to Survive on Delhi’s Roads

September 27, 2009

Here’s priceless advice from a jaded veteran. Nine ways to keep your head on the crazy Delhi roads.

Roll in Style. Get a Tank. You will never get stuck in a traffic jam ever again. Look around for an Arjun MBT. The Indian army doesn’t seem to want it, and you might just get a great deal there.

It works three ways. First, people would get intimidated out of your path. Second, you can just fire up your 120mm gola and blow up anybody holding up traffic. Last and most practical way - you can simply go over hapless cars stuck in front.

Try finding another ATV that makes your life so easy.

Of course, you might not be able to meet the speed limit on the road that you just cleared up.

A Set of Oars. The importance of a pair of oars during rainy season can not be over-emphasized. Carry a set of oars in the car, and monsoons will become a happy season for you.

Imagine you are going home after a long day of work and come across this submerged underpass. Other hapless drivers will make a sad face and just wait like silly losers, but you will take out your oars, roll down the windows, and sail away to glory like the Tom Hanks of Castaway.

Talk the talk, Cursive style. Learn as many abuses as you can. Not the English ones. Only Hindi will do.

A solid repertoire comes in handy if you get caught up in a little argument. Try for at least a dozen two pounders.  If you can manage a two kg, it will be a killer. A 5 kg, and nobody will even dare get in a confrontation with you.

Know thy Police Wala. Name throwing is what Delhiites do. Whenever a police wala catches you, you can always say tu jaanta nahi hai mai kaun hoon (you have no idea who i am). Followed by the name of the local ACP, who can be your mama/chacha (uncle) as per preference.

Of course, you need to be sure that it isnt the ACP himself hauling you up. That would be very embarrassing.

Walk. Walking can do wonders for your life.

  • You can never be stuck in a traffic jam.
  • You can get some  much needed exercise.
  • You can actually enjoy the sights and sounds of the city.
  • You save petrol money.
  • You do a good bit for the environment.

Carry along a Plucker. A plucker is a very handy device that is probably used by Jain monks somewhere to get rid of the hair on their head,  one tiny pull at a time, en route to penance.

How will this help you might wonder. The deal is that this will keep you distracted when stuck on outer ring road for multiple hours. Keep plucking away, and the temptation to bang your head on the windshield wont be an issue anymore.

As an aside, for those without any hair on the head, try the legs.

Deci-Bal . Use a regular horn at your own risk. We recommend getting one that belts out so many decibels that just the force of your sound scatters everybody blocking your path.

If a jet plane goes at 100db, find a horn that belts out 200. Use it well, and you could be the local Shaktiman protecting the innocent from the evil.

Fly Away. Ask your neighborhood mechanic to fit in a sixth gear in your car. With a sixth gear, your car would be able to fly.

Many people in Delhi think that their cars have sixth gears - they are mistaken. Make sure you go to a trustworthy mechanic, and not a fly-by-night operator. If you are unable to find one, go back to point 1.

Don’t Walk. Walking may be good and all that, but one fine day when you are navigating the traffic while crossing the road in the middle of the market, this guy in a tank rolls up and just drives over you. You will be reduced to a mere paste.

Do not walk. It is for your own safety.

There you go. Follow these rules, and life will not be the same for you. The next time you actually enjoy driving in Delhi, think of me when you get home.

(About the author: The author is a veteran on Delhi roads. He has been driving for over a decade now, and specializes in long distance commutes. He once spent 5 hours doing a commute that normally takes an hour, and ever since people have noticed how he seems to have lesser hair on his head than earlier. Over the years he has built up an impressive repertoire of 2 and 5kgs, and looks forward to an occasion to put his skills to the test. He has never been hauled up by a cop except that one time when he was a silly teenager and paid Rs 100 to a cop because he didn’t have change in his pocket, and didnt know any better.

He continues to look for a mechanic who can fit that damn sixth gear in his car.)

(Image1 - Chinese Tankman  at Tianenmen square)

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21 Responses to “ How to Survive on Delhi’s Roads ”

  1. prerna on September 27, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    When I started driving on Delhi roads, my dad advised me- imagine all the other drivers on the road are blind, deaf and dumb, you have to save them and yourself. It has worked for me so far :)

  2. Kavi on September 27, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    The author needs to drive in other cities. Like the narrow roads of Bangalore and the crowded ones of Mumbai ! Just for variety !

    Both these experiences would give a reasonable ‘width in experience’ enough perhaps to mention in a bio-data or something !

    And then the joy of hurling that cursive abuse, is multiplied manifold !


  3. Vinod Sharma on September 27, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    I will add to Prerna’s comment and say that you should also do well to believe that everyone who drives in Delhi thinks he’s no less than the President of India -above all rules and with full right of the way, the wrong way particularly!

  4. amreekandesi on September 27, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    @Prerna - That’s a very smart suggestion, though at times even that might not work. You might try hard to save them, but some people just love to try getting hit. Like some sort of disillusioned Kamikaze pilots from WWII.

    @Kavi - Thanks for the suggestions, Kavi. But then, the author has driven in the narrowest of Delhi roads, and even in other cities like Hyd and Mumbai. Nobody comes close to Delhi.

    If you conquer Delhi roads, you have seen it all ;)

    @Vinod - How very true!

  5. prerna on September 28, 2009 at 8:38 am

    AD, try driving on Delhi roads early in the morning, drive in Chanakya puri, near Tuglakabad fort, Purana qila or even Chandni Chowk on a Sunday, trust me you will love it. The monuments, green patches, Mazaars, small makeshift temples under a peepul tree, you will enjoy the beauty of it all and they nothing will irritate you. You have to be in love with the city to feel the beauty of it.

  6. Puneet on September 28, 2009 at 8:53 am

    I agree with Prerna. Also, try driving on the stretch of Nelson Mandela Road that connects Vasant Vihar to Vasant Kunj. Ignore the random malls being built on your right. Turn up the music, take in your surroundings and have fun :)

  7. ms on September 28, 2009 at 9:19 am

    #11 wait for the minster’s directive (to all delhiites to acquire manners and courteous behaviour before the commonwealth games) to be enforced!
    the govt can save so much money if they stop painting the median lines on the roads, no one follows them and a three lane freeway (NH8) is always a six-lane traffic jam. my driver thinks i am demented since he is not allowed to jump lanes at the toll, has to stick to his lane for the entire route (gurgaon to noida), not use the honk more than once per hour (during a 3 hour drive, one way) because, “sahab gets a migraine”. also, he can only glare manfully from behind the tinted window, at idiots who daily scrape paint off the front/rear/sides. once, someone took off the side view mirror. i have not had it replaced. what’s the point?
    and this is for prerna: agree with you 100%. the most pleasant trip to chandni chowk was at 7am one tuesday, all quiet on the shopfront!!

  8. Amisax on September 28, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Delhi roads are a great classroom for 10-pounders.
    If you want to learn some, then just stop on a crossing when the light is amber.
    If you want to learn a 20 pounder, then stop on a green light.

  9. amreekandesi on September 28, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Prerna - Thanks for the suggestion. I agree. The Chanakyapuri area is beautiful. It’s so beautiful that it’s like a different city altogether.

    As for driving in the early morning, i drove through south Delhi at 4 am recently, and it was awesome. That day i came back home thinking how pretty Delhi looks if you take out those millions of vehicles.

    Anyway, there is nothing wrong with the city. It’s the people who are screwing it up.

    @MS: Good one. And kudos to you for reigning in your driver. Most often it is the drivers who are the worst of the lot.

    @Amisax: haha…great pointers.

  10. amreekandesi on September 28, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Guys, do read this account by Puneet Sandhu. This is a consummate Delhi driver, who doesnt need any driving tips!

  11. Smitha on September 28, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    Wow! That must satisfy everyone with a taste of adventure :) I am more terrified of crossing streets, walking, in India :) It takes me ages and not one driver feels the need to slow down :)

  12. Mahendra on September 29, 2009 at 8:20 am


    To get your Ph.D. in driving, the final exam is only conducted in Pune. It is, after all, the Oxford of the East, isn’t it? :)

  13. amlistening on September 29, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    I hope with rains gone and the self-driving to ggn reducing you are a happier soul.

  14. Easy Drive Forum on September 29, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    easydriveforum(dot) com More on Road Safety

  15. The Quirky Indian on October 1, 2009 at 11:09 am


    I did like the Tank idea…..lekin, sirjee, average kyaa degi? What will your three-state commute cost in the Arjun?


    Quirky Indian

  16. 25BAR on October 1, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    I’ll hire a tank next time I’m in your neck of the woods.

  17. amreekandesi on October 2, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    @Smitha - :)

    @Mahendra - Then i guess its time i came over to Pune to get my doctorate ;)

    @Amlistening - Yea…never thought i would say this, but i am happy it is not raining anymore!

    @QI - Yaar, with a tank you wouldn’t have to worry about paying at a petrol pump. Just rotate that funky turret in the direction of the office, and ask the attendant to fill it up!

    @25BAR- Sure. Should be fun. My neck of the woods is fine, just please keep it away from my neck ;)

  18. Made in china on March 19, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    What will your three-state commute cost in the Arjun?

  19. Navin on April 19, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Here is how I have survived and got away without helmet several times- I work near Mandi house and the official dress in my office is a black suit and sometimes my colleague or me is without the helmet……but we get away because the police wala thinks that I am an advocate that too from the supreme court so they don’t mess with us and we get away :)

  20. online tutoring on June 8, 2010 at 8:13 am

    Great post mate! Where’s the subscribe button? Haha :)

  21. Doot on April 19, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    Surviouval is more important then driving :)

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