A little essay about driving in India

It’s that time of year when foreign tourists flood into India. These days, many choose to drive on the roads.
Here is a little essay about driving in rural India that I’ve been working on.

Indian road safety;
I’m not going to say too much about the operation of the vehicle; I’m going to assume you already know about that.
But a couple of things about riding Enfield motorcycles;
They have the brake on the other side than most people are used to. GET USED TO IT!
I find keeping a toe on the brake pedal for the first day or two gets me straight.

Also, you will be driving on the left side of the road; for those for whom this is new, you’ll have to keep it on top of your consciousness for the first week or so.
This is your mantra, the most important thing you need to know about life and living. Repeat this in your mind as you drive; LEFT LEFT LEFT LEFT.
As you say this to yourself, concentrate on your left hand.
I’m not joking, this can save your life. 

Other vehicles;
Under Indian road rules, when 2 vehicles approach a level crossing simultaneously, the vehicle on the right has right of way.
That’s just great as long as you know that the guy approaching on your left has no idea of this.
Generally speaking, everyone just slows down and waves each other through. Make no assumptions though! Sometimes [often] cars, busses, scooters, bicycles, will just barrel ass straight on through, possibly after a brief toot on the horn to let the world know.
Reality; larger vehicle has right of way. Expect vehicles to shoot intersections.

Pedestrians; especially in the middle of the day, pedestrians can be erratic. It’s hot out there, and he/she may have been at work since dawn. Do not assume they hear you and know you’re coming; in India, it’s polite to give a short beep on the horn to be sure.
I find that the people who are likely to be walking on the roadside [i.e. poor people] have great faith in god and vehicle drivers. They usually have more faith in me than I have; I wish they would turn to look or step off the road as I pass [in a large bus]. But they usually don’t. A big horn is good for everyone.

Animals; especially dangerous to bikes, but cattle in the road will do harm to anything less than a military truck if you hit one.

Pigs are the most dangerous for bikes in my opinion. Remember this and you might keep your tires [tyres?] down; if a pig starts running parallel to you, get on your brakes as hard as you can. The swine will break suddenly and cut across your path, and if you’re not decelerating hard, it will bounce your front wheel out from under you. You’ll be sliding down the road on your fanny. Take my word for it, I learned the hard way, twice. I also avoided many.

Dogs; if a dog looks at you, you won’t hit it. If he doesn’t look at you, blow your horn. He will look and see it’s a human on a motorbike and stay out of your way. The only critter that works for. Don’t think he will know to stay to the side of the road because he hears you. I’m a dog lover, but I know [from experience] they just aren’t that smart.

Will mostly stay still as you pass by, but if you pass too close may be spooked and jump out at you while trying to avoid you. Goats are very thick.
That lesson hurt me some, and was much worse for the goat.

Cows / buffalos; singly, they’re easy. Just go around them slowly and they won’t alter their course [if walking]. They will always travel in the direction they are looking, so watch their heads, and you’ll get a couple of seconds notice of any course change. Also be careful of the horns, if they have long ones and may shake their heads...
In a herd, they are much less predictable. They like to crowd together, so you’re in good shape if they’re all on one side of the road; but if you have to split a herd, go dead slow, less than a walk. Talking to them quietly seems to help keep them calm.
If mating, they will run at full gallop in any direction. Two bovines on six legs could come out of the underbrush at any time, and I have no advice to offer on that one.

Chickens; ignore them. They usually miss you, and if they don’t then nothing will happen anyway [great cloud of feathers and a loud squawk]. They’re cheap to buy if you need to pay for one, much cheaper than an accident trying to get out of their way.

Monkeys are smart and will stay out of your way if you’re moving. If you’re parked though, they might try to steal your food.
If they try they usually succeed.
One guy I know had a monkey fall out of a tree onto him as he rode his bike below, but that was because of a fight with another monkey. The monkey was fine, my friend wasn’t. He had to get a rabies injection too.

The road itself;
Much is made of the potholes and poor surface. But remember this as well; it doesn’t rain for months after monsoon. The roads are very dirty!
This includes oily soot from diesel engines and cow shit, all dried and rolled out by the passage of many tires. 
What I’m trying to say is, grip isn’t so good.
If there is an unseasonable rain, or the first rain of the monsoon, the roads turn to grease. I’ve had to drive on the muddy shoulder as it was safer than the road. 
The old hands were all sitting in the bar, watching the first timers slide off the bend into the field one by one...
There are no roadside reflectors or lines on the sides. There can be buffalos lying in the road and your headlight is probably not very bright.

Is mandatory in India. I STRONGLY advise you to be sure you’re insured.
They don’t actually pay, but if you have an accident and you’re not insured, you are in DEEP shit; at the mercy of the police.

Get an international license from the auto club where you live. It’s an amendment to your home state license that says it’s legal everywhere. Valid for 1 year.

Attitude; this is important...
You’re on vacation, mom is far away, no one is watching what you do.
There are few if any speed traps, fines are only a few bucks anyway. There are no breathalyzers, everyone’s having a good time, No one else seems to be paying any attention to traffic rules... it’s a blast to ride fast.
TAKE IT EASY! Shit happens, but it doesn’t have to happen to you. Just because you left all that’s serious on another continent doesn’t mean it’s ok to drive like there’s no tomorrow. There are other people on the roads, including children.
Having a bike accident is no fun anywhere, but even less fun when you’re in a place where it can take so long to get help.

Accidents; no one likes to talk about this subject, but it would be good to be prepared if it happens.
Each situation is unique, so what to do will always be a judgment call.
If you hit an animal, it’s your fault. Best to just apologize and pay for it if the poor creature is dead or badly injured, even though you may be in a state of discomfort yourself. If necessary, go back later and find the owner. 
It’s up to you to keep everyone calm; people get excited and angry when nasty things happen, especially if there is human injury. Don’t raise your voice, make eye contact, and be sympathetic even if it’s not your fault.
If you’ve hurt someone, you will likely be charged with “rash and negligent driving”. That will be expensive and time consuming.
If it’s only property damage, consider paying on the spot. You are insured [right?], but who needs the hassle?
If anger is brewing and a crowd is gathering, flee if you can. This is legal in India [leaving the scene of an accident if you have fear for your personal safety due to riot]. But you have to report to the nearest police station immediately. This won’t be fun, but sure beats a riot with your name on it. If your vehicle is too damaged to drive, jump into someone else’s and shut the door. Tell him to drive; he probably will.
If you are injured yourself, people will almost surely be sympathetic, but you’ll still have to take charge if you can. Ask if anyone has a mobile phone, ask him or her to call someone for you, a doctor or hospital or the police. There is still no central alarm number for India. 
If you’re in north Goa, keep this number handy; Vrindavan Hospital - Tel: 250022 / 250033

My qualifications; driving in India since 1971 [on a bicycle for the first few years], I have a reputation [no longer deserved] for being excessively exuberant on the road. I’ve hit most of the animals mentioned above, and maybe you don’t have to.
II hope this writing will help someone sometime. Have fun!

From the user "anjuna mark" on IndiaMike forums


World in 2000 as Predicted in 1910

Illustrations by French artist Villemard in 1910 of how he imagined the future to be in the year 2000.

In the 21st century, in order to control traffic jams in the air,
there will be more and more flying policemen.

Firemen will be equipped with “bat wings” to be able to easily access top floors and roofs.

Just one for the road…

Wars will be fought by “combat cars”.

Schools will be equipped with audio books.

Horses will be so rare that people will pay to see them.

You’ll be able to send mail just by dictating it into loudspeaker.

Heating with Radium.

Building sites will be equipped with automatic devices and machines.

Makeup will be applied just by pressing few buttons.

Hair salon.

Electric train from Paris to Beijing.

Rescue plane.


Airship. Literally.

Motorized roller skates.


Police will use armored bicycles (motorcycles?) to chase down criminals.

Listening to an audio-newspaper.

Spy helicopters.

The avenue of the Opera, Paris. Year 2000.

Personal favorite - Videoconference

The Eloquent Sounds of Silence by Iyer Pico (via @cmuravi)

We have to earn silence, then, to work for it: to make it not an absence but a presence; not emptiness but repletion. Silence is something more than just a pause; it is that enchanted place where space is cleared and time is stayed and the horizon itself expands. In silence, we often say, we can hear ourselves think; but what is truer to say is that in silence we can hear ourselves not think, and so sink below our selves into a place far deeper than mere thought allows. In silence, we might better say, we can hear someone else think.

Magic Kingdom: Is Qatar Too Good To Be True? - Global Spin - TIME.com

If there ever were a country that resembled a fairytale kingdom as imagined by Disney, it would be Qatar: A benevolent monarch and his beautiful queen rule over a peaceful populace, untroubled by the revolutions in neighboring lands even as they support those revolutions financially and through the modern-day equivalent of a magic wand: the government backed satellite news channel al Jazeera. They spend the country's wealth on the arts and sciences. They have built not one, but seven temples to education in what was once barren desert. The ever-blooming skyline of the capital Doha reflects a 2010 growth rate of 19 percent and the second highest per-capita GDP in the world. Unlike other insta-cities whose crystalline growth effaces cultural identity, thoughtful architecture negotiates the constant preoccupation of the Arab world: how to be modern without losing identity.

There's a reason i've always loved the place

Steve Jobs last words: Oh wow! That was a clever way to go...

When Voltaire was on his deathbed, a priest asked him to renounce the Devil. He replied: ‘This is no time for making new enemies.’ And then, with perfect timing, he died. But, with such a good witticism under his belt, what if he had struggled on for another few days? The same goes for Oscar Wilde, who is always meant to have looked at the vulgar curtains of his cheap hotel, and then to have said: ‘Either those curtains go or I do,’ before dying.

some of the smartest people in the indeed!

Making Friends in Mumbai | Mumbai Boss

Hothouse friends, he called them. Like exotic flowers suddenly in full bloom, there’s no telling how long they’ll last. And the hothouse was Zenzi. This was six years ago, and I’d come to the city more or less alone. For people like me, it was a living room. You’d expect to see everybody you knew; anyone you didn’t know, well, you’d know soon enough.

That kind of awkward, desperate manoeuvre, the flurry of uninvited text messages, felt somehow beneath me. Shouldn’t friends just, y’know, happen? Develop organically, like in a garden? And, wait a sec—didn’t these people already have a life? Their own friends, family? Where were they all week?

Love the other parts of the write up too. Also love how the article doesnt really try to achieve anything or really make a point. Its just thoughts.

How to Read More: A Lover’s Guide :zenhabits

1. Don’t read because you should — read for joy. Find books about exciting stories, about people who fascinate you, about new worlds that you’d love to visit. Forget the classics, unless they fit this prescription.

2. Carve out the time. We have no time to read anymore, mostly because we work too much, we overschedule our time, we’re on the Internet all the time (which does have some good reading, but can also suck our attention endlessly), and we watch too much TV. Pick a time, and make it your reading time. Start with just 10 minutes if it’s hard to find time — even 10 minutes is lovely. Try 20 or 30 if you can drop a couple things from your schedule.

3. Do nothing but read. Clear all distractions. Find a quiet, peaceful space. It’s just your book, and you. Notice but let go of the urges to do other things instead of read. If you must do something else, have some tea.

4. Love the hell out of it. You’re not doing this to better yourself. You’re doing it for joy. Reading is magic, and the magic will change everything else in your life. Love the experience, and you’ll look forward to it daily.

5. Make it social. Find friends who love to read, or find them online. There’s a world of readers on the Internet, and they’d be happy to make recommendations and talk about the books you’re all reading. Try a book club as well. Reading is solitary, but is also a social act.

6. Make it a habit. Pick a trigger in your daily routine, and consistently read exactly after that trigger each day. Even if it’s just for 5-10 minutes. The more consistent you are, and the longer you keep the streak going, the stronger the habit will become.

7. Don’t make it a chore. Don’t make it something on your todo list or schedule that you have to check off. It’s not part of your self-improvement plan. It’s a part of your Make Life More Awesome Plan.

8. Give up on a book if it’s boring. Reading isn’t something you do because it’s good for you — it’s not like taking your vitamins. You’re reading because it’s fun. So if a book isn’t fun, dump it. Give it a try for at least a chapter, but if you still don’t love it, move on.

9. Discover amazing books. I talk to other people who are passionate about books, and I’ll read reviews, or just explore an old-fashioned bookstore. Supporting your local bookstores is a great thing, and it’s incredibly fun. Libraries are also amazing places that are underused — get a card today.

10. Don’t worry about speed. Speed reading is fine for some, but slow reading is great too. The number of books, and the rate of reading them, matters not a whit. It’s not a competition. You’re reading to enjoy the books, so take your time. It’s like enjoying good food, or good sex: better savored, not rushed.