Part I – 10 weirdos on Indian city roads

Snapshot – There’s an oft repeated saying about driving/riding in India. “If you can manage to drive on Indian city roads, you can just about drive anywhere.” A melting pot of chaos, organized and unorganized, if chaos can be termed that, city roads in India throw up surprise at every corner. While objects lying on the road are one side of the story, the other involves the kinds of characters who drive cars and motorcycles on Indian roads, making the roads what they are. CarToq takes a look at 10 kinds of characters you’ll find on your everyday drives on city roads in India. To keep it civil, we’ll call these kinds of characters, jerks, and leave it at that.

The one with the wing mirrors permanently folded

From drivers of the humble Maruti 800s to one who pilot Mercedes Benz luxury saloons, the wing mirrors in a permanently folded position is a distinct and common sign on Indian roads. Why do some drivers do this? To protect the wing mirrors from being sheared off by other errant drivers.

For this set of gentlemen and women, it doesn’t matter that not keeping the wing mirrors open can cause more serious mishaps than a broken wing mirror. If you spot one such character with her or his car’s wing mirrors folded, ensure that you maintain enough distance while passing them.

Cell phone sandwiched between the neck and shoulder, and driving on the fast lane at 20 Kph

If you have to take that call while driving, you should just pull over and do so. But then again,  some folks have more pressing things to take care of. Ergo, you have the cell phone sandwiched between the driver’s neck and the shoulder, with the driver struggling to maintain speed as the mental bandwidth is already taken by the cell phone conversations.

Watch out for a car being driven in the fast lane at about 20 Kph, blocking a big line of traffic behind. Sluggish direction changes and jerky braking are two other signs that will help you identify such characters. If you spot one, keep as much distance as you possibly can.

The tail-gater cab who is in a perennial hurry

Cabbies are a harried lot across the world, more so in India, where they work multiple shifts to make ends meet. Picture this. You’re driving at a steady 40 Kph, on the left lane of a road with the right lanes being used by folks to overtake. Suddenly, you see sporadic headlamps flashes and then a white Tata Sumo charging menacingly at your car from behind. All you see is a white mass of metal and headlamps looming large in your mirrors and some shrill honking to accompany. You’ve just experienced the classic cabbie tail-gater, who seems to be in a perennial hurry.

What do you do?

Hold your ground and just keep driving. The cabbie will eventually find a way to pass you from the right lane and while passing, he might just make a rude gesture or two, which is best ignored.

The one who drives between two lanes

If there are four lanes on a road, two are meant for overtaking. Some people simply don’t seem to get it. They feel safest when the hog half of each lane, and then some others are undecided on whether they want to overtake or simple carry on driving in the left lane.

These kind of drivers end up slowing the traffic flow and some frayed nerves from those who struggle to overtake them. When you do come across such drivers, be liberal with the loud button and make sure you flash enough for them to give way.

The obsessive honker

Indian roads have many hidden obstacles and you can never use the loud button sparingly, at least if you don’t want nasty surprises heading into your path. So, you honk liberally. There’s a thin line between liberal and obsessive and when this line blurs, you have folks honking for no apparent reason. School and hospital zones get blurred for the obsessing honker, whose horn is more of a tool to express joy and frustration than signal to other traffic. Unfortunately, you can’t do much than to grin and bear such characters.

More weird characters on Indian roads, coming soon in our Part II!