Its been a long time for me in Pune (India) now to get myself, yet again, familiarized with the surroundings here and hopefully I can now proceed to post few of my experiences during this time !!
One of the most annoying thing that you do and can not avoid here is to “drive your vehicle”. The traffic system & the traffic habits of the crowd (no people plz… they are crowd!) is absolutely amazing and makes you believe that the GOD does exist and runs this whole world ! Including the traffic here in Pune.
Driving in Pune on busy streets is NOT easy and is definitely a challenge even if you are to go to the next door or cross the road !
Things have changed since last time I actually took efforts to drive on roads few years ago for good, but unfortunately so are the number of drivers and in most metros and urban cities, the infrastructure is getting stretched to cope with the demands.
The following 10 commandments are supposed to make you understand how things work here and why you thank GOD each evening after you reach home safely !!
So here I go ..
Rules – What rules? – Apparently the traffic rules have been listed so the commuters can ensure they break them one by one. No one follows the traffic rules and signals so in case you are interested to stick to the rules, be prepared to be a victim of swearing & honking by fellow commuters and the ones who are queuing behind you !
Understand traffic signals – Forget your traditional knowledge of the Green / Amber & Red signals.
Here, the Green signal light of course means you go on and cross the signal. The Amber signal light means you should drive faster to cross the signal and the Red signal light means you honk for fellow drivers and try to push forward inviting accidents, noises & arguments ! If you stick to the actual rules, then read Rule # 1 !
Understand positioning of traffic signal ! – I guess in most countries the traffic signals are present and active where the commuters should STOP waiting for road clearance for moving ahead. However, in my dear city the traffic signals are positioned where you are supposed to GO !This eventually ensures there is a bottleneck at on the road causing traffic chaos !
Stop right on the zebra crossings – Who says the zebra crossings at signals are meant for pedestrian crossing ! They are supposed to be the last point where the commuters with vehicles should stop (if you see a policeman watching) and if ever a pedestrian tries to cross the road, ensure you scare him by raising your accelerator or honking continuously !
Be ready for race, who says F1 is not in India as yet? – If you are waiting at signal (if at all you do), then you are expected to move on the millisecond the light turns green. Someone who is 10 rows behind you and honking continuously is supposedly in more hurry to reach somewhere ! Often the road leading to the signal is wider than the road after the signal where you go, thus ensure you are first in the race !! The signal waiting is a pit-stop & rest of your driving is a race !!
The traffic police are supposed to be more interested in taking money from offenders than controlling the traffic. Do not ever be surprised to see a brand new road dug up by telephone or electricity officials the next day it was built and apparently the roads are supposed to be built with a “pothole” facility all over !
Do not ever follow lanes ! – Apparently the wise men in traffic office devised the road lanes to make sure the traffic flows properly. However, if you are driving in Pune or probably anywhere in India do not ever try to follow lanes. If you eventually do, then be ready to wait indefinitely to move on !
Turn right / Turn left – If you want to take right turn, ensure you are first on the leftmost lane and park your vehicle horizontal to the road and take right turn. This is supposedly easier method than staying in the right lane and waiting for your turn to be in the queue. For the left turn, exactly opposite.
While you are doing all this, just ensure you are constantly pressing the horn & weaving the hands asking rest of the traffic to stop and allow you go !
Be ready to be surrounded by Matrix 3 kind of viruses .. aka bikers ! – Remember the war scene in The Matrix 3, where the viruses enter the men’s world in thousands via a small hole ?? Its exactly the same happens each minute, each hour & each day on the roads here. Apparently the space between two cars, buses or other big vehicles is supposedly to be filled in by bikers, auto rickshaws & cyclists. So if you are patiently waiting for your turn on the signals & suddenly feel surrounded by 10-15 bikers around you from all possible directions, do not be scared ! This is meant to happen.
Expect the unexpected ! – If you think you are driving decently in a flowing traffic, you are seriously mistaken ! Expect all the bikers & auto rickshaws to land up in front of you and cross your vehicle in all possible directions anytime causing your vehicle a scratch or making you wonder what is he / she doing? Apparently they have all right to drive left right centre on any road overtaking any vehicle without any warning or following any rules.
Also, be prepared for a long fight including assault in case some biker or rickshaw touches your car (without your fault) and causes themselves a dash or so !
The double blinking of your headlight supposedly means “let me go first” rather than “please go”. Don’t wonder if you have to wait for 1 hour to turn right on a road where there are no signals !!
Your ego size is the size of your vehicle ! – If you are driving a bus or a big truck, you are supposed to be the king of the road. You can drive anywhere anyhow and you would not be questioned. The bigger the vehicle, the bigger is your ego and bigger are your rights to drive.
Apparently bikers have full right to drive their bikes on footpath & pedestrians have no right to exist on the roads ! If you are pedestrian then you carry no value on the road !
No wonder, you thank GOD each day you reach home safely and do a prayer before venturing out !!
In case you want to drive in Bangalore, visit the Bangalore specific 10 commandments here !!
All the best !!