Monday, 21 December 2009

How To Ride An Indian Bus, Or...

Insanity isn’t insanity when it’s the norm


It’s a cliché I know but… looking at this driving… bonkers isn’t bonkers when it’s the norm

I mean, its your life, your body, and you’ve only got one…and there is no way you would ever, ever, try to take the risk of squeezing a big bus through that tiny gap at the very last moment on these roads of all roads … and then do the same thing again thirty seconds later… and again… and again… all day, every day, week in week out, year in year out

And there is no way you would stake your life on judging the acceleration of this old machine on these bumpy roads to get you to that shrinking gap in the nickest of time

And there is no way you would stake everything on a bus or truck not coming round that blind corner in ten seconds time when you’d be hung out to dry with nowhere to go?... course its not…

Yet this is what they do, and everyone sits and stands there, showing no reaction whatsoever to their obvious proximity to accelerating doom… while if anyone did this in Britain everyone would scream NUTTER… whereas here, it’s natural

And its even the norm that he spends half the time in the right lane, the wrong lane… cos he’s always itching for time angles moments gaps spots spaces … while if anyone bar a teenage boy-racer did this in Britain everyone would yell NUTTER…

So you sit there, as calm as everyone else, cos it’s the norm, its sanity, its allday everyday and so what…

… I bet you’ve had nightmares where you are at the wheel and the roads are just like this… I mean how can he expect to get in that gap… but he does expect to…and he does get in

It wouldn’t be possible for many, if any, westerners to drive on these roads

For a start, its bedlam and you just ain’t used to it, and you just ain’t ever up to this manically full-on Indian driving lark

And what’s more you can’t just tootle along at your own fair pace

Because some car or bus behind you will constantly be trying to overtake… and will be expecting you to slow down …so they can squeeze into the tiniest gap between you and the oncoming traffic… which is also slowing, but not enough that you don’t have to slow down too… or else it’ll be one big three-part total mash-up…

And in fact you have to pay attention cos that nutter behind you, apparently determined on dying in the next two minutes, he’s honking at you, and he’s weaving about and he’s got another bigger, longer, louder uber-horn for when he gets really truly deeply madly serious and he’s using the one then the other then the one then the other whilst dodging about like a particularly demented squirrel on a heavy overdose of base speed

By which I mean, what the other nutters are doing constantly concerns you as a driver… and you have to be watching what’s going on behind you

So you couldn’t drive like this in Britain… you would die soon… because no-one is accustomed to making allowances for such gungho riskiness from the other drivers

And you know what, if he wasn’t such a nutter, I wouldn’t be here now writing this, I’d be stuck in traffic way back on the highway… cos you have to admit one thing, they get there fast …


And so, HOW TO RIDE AN INDIAN BUS…Last time I was here … after a notably bonkers drive south into Amritsar…I decided that the best thing to do is …get on the bus and study the driver… note his age, his demeanour, his hair… and ask yourself, does this man exhibit any outward signs of craziness?... no he doesn’t, none of them do… and the big question you have to ask is, is this man going to die today?… so look at him hard, does he die today?… and you can only answer, no he does not…course, he doesn’t … no, he’s going to grow old and retire… he’s done this route dozens hundreds thousands of times and nothing’s happened to him yet and nothing’s going to happen to him today… and yes, he’s going to live a long time… and so, you don’t die today either…

and so, relax,


enjoy the road,

the existential vertigo of the constant near-misses,

the banyans

the greenery,

the waterways,

the hills,

the towns,

the signs,

the faces,

the saris,

the temples

and so, enjoy yourself

great stuff

… and then I get this thrill going, this vicarious thrill, where I’m kind of in the drivers head, I’m not in his, he’s in mine, and its kinda virtual reality style and I’m going, that’s it mate, go for it, you can do it, now now, foot down, down, DOWN, you can do it mate, go for it, gotta go for it, now now NOW, go for it, good stuff, great stuff, now look at it, too slow too slow, get past him, that’s it, now, now NOW, go for it, nice one my son, nice one, no worries, go for it, go for it, now now NOW!!!… cos I’m behind him, see, behind his ear and I’m with him, feeling the thrill the excitement the go-for-itness... thinking with exclamation marks, not question marks... NOW! NOW!! GO FOR IT!!! ... NICE ONE


1 comment:

  1. Sounds truly crazy! And I thought MY driving was bad ...

    Have a great Christmas and New Year, Jem!