Time and again I have marveled at the astuteness of drivers on Indian roads. They are the true ‘street” magicians of modern-day world (sorry David Blaine, but they are). They drive on roads that need a microscope to be found first. So you could say I have become sort of an “Indian driver” groupie, constantly following what they do and how they do it. After 1 year of sustained analysis and state of the art spying (mostly peeking out of buses), I still have not managed to unravel their secrets.

Enigmas of Indian drivers

1) Racing against the countdown:

There is a signal flashing red. It works. There is a count down timer. It works too. It counts 50, 49, ……10, 9, 8, 7. If you can wait patiently from 50 to 7 seconds without any hurry, why do you gun your engines and drive before the signal turns green? Any particular reason? Does it improve the longevity of the vehicle? Better mileage?!

2) Distortion of spatial dimensions:

There is a bus. It is big. There is a lorry, bigger, standing “shoulder to shoulder” with the bus. There is no human way a motorbike can squeeze through the space. Hell, even an ant cannot come out alive. How do Indian drivers (usually aged between 18–23 years) manage to drive freely through nonexistent spaces and stand in front of the “STOP” line? Isn’t there like a mathematical law against such an improbable event taking place? John Nash, are you listening?

3) Blinded by colorblindness

There are a disturbingly high number of Indian drivers who are (color) blind when it comes to reading traffic signs and signals. Doesn’t red mean “Stop,” in every language of the world? You don’t have to be a genius to figure that one out! Or is it a specific genetic disease (Wontfollowtrafficrulesria) that particularly afflicts Indian drivers?

4) Role reversal

Indian drivers have discovered that bikes need not necessarily travel on roads and people need not walk necessarily on sidewalks. Vehicles can be driven over pavements too and people may as well walk in the middle of the roads. Which driver exactly had the Eureka moment? Shouldn’t he be given a Nobel Prize for ingenuity? Come on, you can’t have such a genius go unrewarded!

PS: Yes, I am sarcastic about the Indian roads and the drivers. But I am also amazed at the amount of patience that they (and their vehicles) have. Cows in the middle of the road might drive any other person crazy, but it brings only a benevolent half-smile from them! Amidst all this craziness, there are some common threads that unite Indians. Turning colorblind to signals is just one of them!


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