07/12/2014 1:44 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:24 AM IST

Great Indian Drivers

In this Monday, Nov. 1, 2010 photo, an SUV driver, right, tries to forcefully make his way from the wrong side, amidst heavy traffic in New Delhi, India. Around 10 million cars, buses, trucks and an army of scooters and motorbikes pack into the cities potholed roads each day, causing unending traffic jams, frayed tempers and gridlock. A global road safety report by the World Health Organization says more people die in road accidents in India than anywhere else in the world, a phenomenon blamed on poor roads, speeding, and dangerous and reckless driving. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

The very thought of driving in India is enough to make any racing car driver want to shift to a less dangerous profession, like becoming a mountain climber or an independent journalist in North Korea. But that's only for the non-Indians. For the rest of us who posses an Indian driving license or rather, are possessed by it, navigating the roads here is something so simple we don't even give it a second thought.

The psyche of the Indian driver is more complicated than the car he/she drives, and the more expensive or complicated the car, the weirder the driver. A good rule of thumb would be to stay away from big expensive cars as they have a tendency to climb onto living things.

It wouldn't be wrong to say that India has the largest number of self-taught drivers. Usually they haven't even been in the vicinity of a driving school let alone a driving instructor, as these cost money and, anyway, they need to save up to buy a car and then fuel to feed it.

Most drivers start out while in their teens, stealing their absentee parent's car or depending on generous friends to let them try their hand at this wondrous achievement of technology called an automobile. This lack of fear of the unknown is what makes us Indians such great entrepreneurs, and drivers. If you think you can, you should. Drive.

Lane driving is frowned upon by most drivers as a waste of time. After all, what is the point staring at a cars backside when you can drive up alongside and check them out through the window? Also, if everyone who wants to turn right queues up in the right lane, then naturally, the left lane would be the fastest way to get to the right turn.

Parking in crowded places (read all the cities of India), is an issue solved by using the space-time algorithm. If there is space anywhere close to your destination, it must be occupied in the shortest time possible. Never mind that you may have to enter and exit you car through the windows as there is no space for the doors to open. 'No Parking' signs are a general indicator of good parking spots and places for drivers to relax in their cars with the air conditioners switched on.

'Right of way' is considered an outdated and prejudiced concept, as all things created by the Almighty are equal and whether they be pedestrians, cars, cycles, cattle or trees, each one has the same rights on Indian roads. The drivers believe that pedestrians should stay off the road as the roads were built for cars to be driven upon and not walked upon. After all, pedestrians can jump, cars can't. Pedestrians can also climb railings and trees but however much the cars try they just can't do it without hurting themselves. Some drivers have also tried to make their cars fly with disastrous results.

The nature and psyche of Indian drivers is a subject which needs a great deal of attention and to hope to do justice to it in a single blog post would be doing an insult to their spirit and the spirits some of them imbibe. In my next blog we would be shedding light on some of the finer misdemeanours of this breed known as The Great Indian Drivers.

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