I went to India with my brother, mother and father during winter break, February 2008. The flight was exhausting, but as soon as we got there, I was already almost obsessed with seeing everything and learning new things about the culture.
Right after we stepped out into the airport parking lot, I noticed the huge traffic-difference between India and Finland. It was chaotic! Cars were driving everywhere and people ride bikes among them like crazy. And the cows. Don’t know what to say. It was a shock to see them wandering there free and wild. That is beyond my comprehension, and in Finland that kind of traffic would be unacceptable.
It took me a while to grasp the fact, that you can’t across the street with your eyes shut. Also, those holy cows were one thing I wouldn’t probably get used to.
But don’t think it was all that dangerous, even tough it may sound like it . In busses they, have an extra ‘driver’ on the other side making sure that the driver won’t hit somebody on the road. And because everybody was used to driving like that, there was no panic. You just had to forget the traffic rules and drive with others, even tough I may not consider renting vehicle. Not since I would be a panicked tourist.
The trip was great, and quite funny, because my experiences there were so different than from other holiday! The funniest things came from comparing Indian people’s behaviour to Finnish people’s. As an example, in India you, your brother, mother, sister and father could all travel on the same scooter. Not forgetting the family’s dog and luggage. Once, I saw a man riding the scooter with a little boy, little girl and aquarium! It was something I may never see again. Anyway, I hope you get my point about the Indian traffic. Messy, insane, absurd… Just crazy.
Here’s a few tips I collect to make sure you can drive in India.
1. Understand that India, just like the U.K., has a right hand/left side drive. If you are from the US (or countries in which cars have a left-hand drive), this can be confusing for you.
2. Be careful while driving in any city. India is no exception.
3. Stay alert at all times. In most Indian cities, though there are lanes, people don’t use them and may cut in front of you without warning. Animals or children may come in your way. Whenever your foot is not on the accelerator, it should be resting on the brake.
4. Be aware that it is not uncommon to find drunk drivers after 10 PM, so be extra careful at nights.
5. Learn that a marriage party, minister or religious processions are regular and can hold up traffic. Don’t be shy in taking alternative routes in such situations, like driving on the side unpaved road (if it’s there) or cutting the traffic like others.