They say if you can drive in India then you can drive anywhere. I quickly found out why.
The typical drive down a street in Indian goes something like this. Pull out onto the street on the left hand side of the road (same as British). There will have been a constant stream of traffic, and so you will most likely have to cut off multiple vehicles to get onto the road. You will get beeped at several times and soon be surrounded on all four sides by motorcycles. Then, since your destination is in the opposite direction, you pull a u-turn into oncoming traffic to get going on the opposite direction on the other side of the road. Again, this is followed by multiple high pitched honks from other drivers. You drive off weaving in and out of traffic and then have to slam the breaks as an unfazed and oblivious cow lazily makes its way across the street. You continue driving until a Rickshaw, a 3-wheeled motor-scooter taxi, is coming at you in your lane. A line of unfazed Indian drivers slows down, delivering gentle beeps that seems to accomplish little more than to note the event. You finally see your destination on the opposite side of the road and so you cut over into oncoming traffic. You drive head on into the oncoming traffic for about 200 feet until you arrive at your destination.
No drive is completed in India unless you’ve delivered at least 10 to 12 beeps of the car horn. Now in India beeping doesn’t mean you’re angry at someone. While the long wailing horn on American vehicles gives out a “Waaaaaah!!!!…. You’re a bleep” blast, the horn on Indian vehicles gives out a “Babeep! – Hey friend!” high-pitched honk. Another thing to note is that in India you beep for any reason you can possibly think of.
Below is a list of the main reasons you beep your horn while driving in India:
- When you approach a scooter that is going too slow.
- When a motorcycle crosses in front of you without looking.
- When you’re about to cross in front of somebody.
- When a Riskah taxi is coming at you the wrong way down the street.
- When you are going the wrong way down the street at a Rickshaw taxi that is going the right way.
- When someone is making a u-turn and you have to slow down.
- Whenever you pass by a cow.
- Whenever herds of cows mindlessly cross the street in front of you as if they were invulnerable to fast moving cars.
- Whenever you are trying to park and pedestrians are surrounding the parking space for no particular reason.
- Whenever you get behind a slow moving truck. Slow moving trucks have “Honk Please” written in bold letters on the back of them, so give a honk when one is in your way and it will pull over to let you go.
- Whenever a popular party song that you like comes on the radio.
If none of the above has happened and you haven’t given the car a good beeping in 5 minutes or so then beep 3 or 4 times just to let everyone know you are ok.
Additionally, cargo trucks will drive down the highway beeping in unison to classic Indian songs on the radio.
Indian cows don’t go the long way around.
Ummmm…probably the coolest van ever. Road trip anyone?
I’m a slow truck. Please honk at me!
Rickshaw taxi. Locals rate: $0.40/km, Tourist rate $1.00/km
This article was written by Jesse Freda