Driving in India


    This hilarious article was written by an Expert from Baan, Netherlands who spent two years in Hyderabad.

Driving in India For the benefit of every Tom, Dick and Harry visiting India and daring to drive on Indian roads, I am offering a few hints for survival. They are applicable to every place in India except Bihar, where life outside a vehicle is only marginally safer.

Indian road rules broadly operate within the domain of karma where you do your best, and leave the results to your insurance company. The hints are as follows:

Do we drive on the left or right of the road?
The answer is “both”. Basically you start on the left of the road, unless it is occupied. In that case, go to the right, unless that is also occupied. Then proceed by occupying the next available gap, as in chess. Just trust your instincts, ascertain the direction, and proceed. Adherence to road rules leads to much misery and occasional fatality. Most drivers don’t drive, but just aim their vehicles in the intended direction. Don’t you get discouraged or underestimate yourself except for a belief in reincarnation, the other drivers are not in any better position.

Don’t stop at pedestrian crossings just because some fool wants to cross the road. You may do so only if you enjoy being bumped in the back. Pedestrians have been strictly instructed to cross only when traffic is moving slowly or has come to a dead stop because some minister is in town. Still some idiot may try to wade across, but then, let us not talk ill of the dead.

Blowing your horn is not a sign of protest as in some countries. We horn to express joy, resentment, frustration, romance and bare lust (two brisk blasts), or, just mobilize a dozing cow in the middle of the bazaar.

Keep informative books in the glove compartment. You may read them during traffic jams, while awaiting the chief minister’s motorcade, or waiting for the rainwaters to recede when over ground traffic meets underground drainage.

Occasionally you might see what looks like a UFO with blinking colored lights and weird sounds emanating from within. This is an illuminated bus, full of happy pilgrims singing bhajans. These pilgrims go at breakneck speed, seeking contact with the Almighty,
often meeting with success.

Auto Rickshaw (Baby Taxi): The result of a collision between a rickshaw and an automobile, this three-wheeled vehicle works on an external combustion engine that runs on a mixture of kerosene oil and creosote. This triangular vehicle carries iron rods, gas cylinders or passengers three times its weight and dimension, at an unspecified fare. After careful geometric calculations, children are folded and packed into these auto rickshaws until some children in the periphery are not in contact with the vehicle at all. Then their school bags are pushed into the microscopic gaps all round so those minor collisions with other vehicles on the road cause no permanent damage. Of course, the peripheral children are charged half the fare and also learn Newton’s laws of motion en route to school. Auto-rickshaw drivers follow the road rules depicted in the film Ben Hur, and are licensed to irritate.

Mopeds: The moped looks like an oil tin on wheels and makes noise like an electric shaver. It runs 30 miles on a teaspoon of petrol and travels at break-bottom speed. As the sides of the road are too rough for a ride, the moped drivers tend to drive in the middle of the road; they would rather drive under heavier vehicles instead of around them and are often “mopped” off the tarmac.

Leaning Tower of Passes: Most bus passengers are given free passes and during rush hours, there is absolute mayhem. There are passengers hanging off other passengers, who in turn hang off the railings and the overloaded bus leans dangerously, defying laws of gravity but obeying laws of surface tension. As drivers get paid for overload (so many Rupees per kg of passenger), no questions are ever asked. Steer clear of these buses by a width of three passengers.

One-way Street: These boards are put up by traffic people to add jest in their otherwise drab lives. Don’t stick to the literal meaning and proceed in one direction. In metaphysical terms, it means that you cannot proceed in two directions at once. So drive, as you like, in reverse throughout, if you are the fussy type. Least I sound hypercritical; I must add a positive point also. Rash and fast driving in residential areas has been prevented by providing a “speed breaker”; two for each house.

This mound, incidentally, covers the water and drainage pipes for that residence and is left untarred for easy identification by the corporation authorities, should they want to recover the pipe for year-end accounting.

Night driving on Indian roads can be an exhilarating experience (for those with the mental makeup of Chenghis Khan). In a way, it is like playing Russian roulette, because you do not know who amongst the drivers is loaded. What looks like premature dawn on the horizon turns out to be a truck attempting a speed record. On encountering it, just pull partly into the field adjoining the road until the phenomenon passes. Our roads do not have shoulders, but occasional boulders. Do not blink your lights expecting reciprocation. The only dim thing in the truck is the driver, and with the peg of illicit arrack (alcohol) he has had at the last stop, his total cerebral functions add up to little more than a naught. Truck drivers are the James Bonds of India, and are licensed to kill. Often you may encounter a single powerful beam of light about six feet above the ground. This is not a super motorbike, but a truck approaching you with a single light on, usually the left one. It could be the right one, but never get too close to investigate. You may prove your point posthumously. Of course, all this occurs at night, on the trunk roads. During the daytime, trucks are more visible, except that the drivers will never show any Signal. (And you must watch for the absent signals; they are the greater threat). Only, you will often observe that the cleaner who sits next to the driver, will project his hand and wave hysterically.

This is definitely not to be construed as a signal for a left turn. The waving is just a statement of physical relief on a hot day.
If, after all this, you still want to drive in India, have your lessons between 8 pm and 11 am-when the police have gone home and The citizen is then free to enjoy the ‘FREEDOM OF SPEED’ enshrined in our constitution.

Jordon vs gates

A very long post… but the end is worth it.

What if God was one of us….

What if God was one of us,
Just a slob like one of us.
Just a stranger on the bus,
What if God was one of us ?

— Lyrics of Song from Joan Osbome . Watch the song on You Tube here

As uncanny and as thought provoking the song may be, imagine another thought provoking scenario-  Among all of us on this earth, YOU are given the privilege to be GOD?

Lucky You!! Or so it seems at the first instant. For however exciting the opportunity sounds, it comes with its set of unique dilemmas. For starters, there are so many Gods in this world, .so which God to be?  Without a doubt you deserve the best (after all , you are God). So why be any other God and why not be the best God?

So the dilemma now reshapes itself into – To find which God is the best? Your dilemma is made even more difficult when you realize that you cannot approach anyone for advice. After all, every person would claim that the God he/she follows is the best God.

After realizing that your Social Network will not be able to help you out on this one, you decide to try your hands at History only to discover that human history is tainted with the loss of countless lives in an attempt to put one God better than the other. But amidst all this bloodshed, History still fails to point toward a Supreme God among other Gods.

Keeping History books into history, you decide to research a modern text. Maybe modern analysis can solve your dilemma .You get hold of the book, If world were a Village. The book tells you that if on this earth there were only 100 people — 33 would be Christians, 18 Muslims, 14 Hindus, 16 Non Religious, 6 Buddhists and 13 followers of other religions.

Aha! This gives some pointers. Should you become the God which most people follow? But does this line of thought not imply that the lesser followed Gods are the lesser Gods? Doubtful of this hypothesis, you lunge into the field of Sales expecting to see some light. But alas, as you feared, Sales teaches you that there is no definite relationship pattern between the numbers of consumers of a product and the quality of that product. There are many other parameters which collectively affect the end users choice. So you realize that the parameter ‘Number of followers of a God ‘ is not a sufficient one to choose The God among Gods. (I told you at the start, it won’t be an easy problem solve)

Perplexed by your dilemma, you come up with an exhaustive solution – Study about each God that there is and then decide which God is the Numero Uno!. As comprehensive as  the idea sounds ,let me warn you  it is not a practical one. Just to give you the reason behind my apprehension , when you would reach Buddhism in your study, you will find the Buddha has 32 avatars. So you have to 32 avatars to understand the Buddha.  Oh! What do you say – 32 is not such a big number. You can study the 32 avatars. Okay, But thrn let me tell you about Hinduism, The total Gods in Hinduism is 330000. By the time you would complete the study of their life, your life would be completed.. Case closed!

You seem to be a bit lost now with all these approaches failing to give you an answer. Let me suggest you a compromise – Instead of choosing the best God , let us only decide to choose the best religion. It seems a more manageable prospect. It is also very closely related to the initial dilemma – after all , it was God only who gave religion to men and women ( Or was it  the other way round ? Let’s not dwell into it , we have work to do ).

And on top of other things, your decision would  also help the whole human race. The whole race has been fighting among themselves for ages  to prove their religion as supreme, May you can decide for them and settle the issue once and for all, And they are sure to agree with your decision ( after all  you are God 1 )So let us work together and try to list down the major teachings of the various religions of the world. Then we will try to categorize the teaching into some categories so that we can analyse them in detail.

So let’s get to work ………………………..

And there!!, we have the table ready below. Now all we need to do is analyse and pick out the best religion.

Yes, my friend, I am as shocked as you are — All the religions teach the exact same things via their respective Gods and via their own respective means ??!!
But why then have humans been fighting among themselves since time immemorial l to prove that their religion and their God is better than the religion and God of others? Apologies my friend, I have no idea how to answer this new dilemma. But I have a feeling that the day every human starts taking the trouble to ponder over this question, the world would be a better place. Do you share the same feeling my friend?

What if god was one of us
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home
Just trying to make his way home
Like a holy rolling stone
Back up to heaven all alone
Just trying to make his way home
Nobody calling on the phone
Except for the Pope maybe in Rome

Yeh hai Mumbai Meri Jam !

In India, Traffic jams are a procedure of everyday life. The saying goes around here – If you are not consistently stuck up in traffic, then you are not really moving around a lot. In fact , in India , one requires to dedicate specific time slots daily for meeting traffic jams. Only once in a blue moon it so happens that the roads are sparsely populated.
However a blue moon is a rare thing. And if one is living in Mumbai – the most densely populated city in the world, then the blue moon simply does not exist. In Mumbai, just like in any other city in the world, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west but the traffic always rises in the north , south , east , west , up (air space congestion) , down and in any other direction that you can come up with.

Mumbai Traffic

Living three years in Mumbai has helped me accumulate some  observations which can be of aid when it comes to Mumbai traffic.—

1 . While in Mumbai , one should always carry a hygrometer(a device which measures moisture content in the air around us) with him/her. The intensity of Mumbai Traffic is directly proportional to the moisture content in the air.
As absurd as it may sound, the claim for hygrometer is well supported with data –When there is moisture or worse a slight drizzle in the air, people drive a fraction slower than their usual speed just to be careful to avoid any slippery incidents (Indian roads are supportive of the idea of driving fast). This reduction in speed is cascaded to the traffic behind and eventually brings the traffic to a complete halt. Some fools worsen their speed and hence the traffic by getting all romantic while admiring  the clouds and the rains while driving.
In fact with time and experience, you can deduce from the hygrometer reading the amount of time that you have to be stuck standstill in the traffic. A reading of 60 % (slightly above normal moisture) means that you are to be standstill for 18 minutes. So why not leave the car amidst the traffic and grab a few eatables from the roadside shop? A reading about 80% gives you ample time to catch a good 40 minutes power nap in the car. Anything about 95% should be seen as an opportunity to catch a 2 hour movie in the nearby theatre.

2. Many inexperienced with Mumbai traffic rules make the fundamental mistake of thinking that a queue in Mumbai means standing one behind the other.In Mumbai , a queue means standing one besides the others  and if there is less space then the definition of queue is extended to mean pushing others away and then standing one beside the other.
You don’t want to me more late than you already are to reach home, do you? Then you need to adapt your concepts regarding the queue.

3. Regularly play carom , snooker or billiards .You should gain expertise on one of these games  before you hit the Mumbai roads with your vehicle. These games develop your idea of tricky angles and deviations. This knowledge is critical while driving – you never know when you may need to squeeze in between a few cars to move ahead. Or worse you may have to deflect yourself at an angle when some novice is trying the same squeeze with may end up in his somersault.

4.Always carry good quality ear plugs with you.  For even though the traffic is jammed for the next 5 kms ahead of you, the person just behind you is always convinced that he/she is stuck in this traffic only because of you and if somehow you get out of the way ,  he /she  would whizz to home in 5 seconds . Hence this person keep honking the horns of his/her car ceaselessly.After the few minutes , the ceaseless honking with be accompanies by ceaseless cursing and swearing. Without a nice pair of ear plugs, you will be distracted with all this noise while you are busy swearing at the person ahead of you.

Happy Driving !!!!

Someone Stop that Commercial !

The context of this article refers to advertisements broadcast-ed in India.It may not appeal so much to the International Audience.

A saint once told me that – “Son, none of us are alone! All of us have Cosmic Energy Waves around us which surround us at each and every moment of our existence”. I don’t know about cosmic waves , but one thing that I know of is that – I am surrounded by stupid commercials around me at each and every moment of my existence. Hoardings, TV, Radios, SMS,Internet, Sales call – they are everywhere.
And so deeply have these ads affected me , that nowadays , I cannot even dream without commercial breaks in between.
Spending a lot of time analyzing these commercials , I have discovered that their behavior is not as stupid and random as it seems , albeit it is governed by well defined laws.

So ladies and gentlemen, let me present before you the Three Laws of Commercials.

Law number I
For our protection first there is God, second there is …….Pepsodent and Dettol

You don’t believe me ? Let me explain.
Just have a look at the Pepsodent Commercial–24 hour security, 24 hour defense, dishum dishum and what not! You are forced to wonder how humans survived all those prehistoric ages without the protection of Pepsodent.”

Now onto to Dettol -Unfortunately, I came to know about the powers of dettol quite late in my childhood.
You see, when I was a little boy , I used to fall sick before every school exam and my teacher used to scold me , ”You dumb head .You stupid boy. Exams make you fret so much that you fall sick.”
Well…., Medical Science was not so advanced in my childhood days. Little did my teacher know that the cause of sickness was not my dumbness but the fact that I do not take bathe in Dettol Soap.

Leaving my sad childhood behind, let me move on to the next law.

Law number II Where ever you go, our network follows

As I already mentioned, these ads will never leave you.
On weekdays, my primary activities in office consist of answering emails, typing some code and convincing sales guys on my cell phone that I am in no need of pre approved car and home loans.
Imagine, after 5 days of such hard work you are enjoying a deserving, peaceful Saturday afternoon sleep and as you are about to fall into deep slumber ,it at this precise moment that your mobile gives an SMS blast. Sleepy and tired, you somehow reach out to your mobile –– Whoosh – “SMS on 54545 to know your Class X th result.”Tell me , why the hell would I want to know my 10th board result at this age ??!!!!
Actually if I reflect upon my marks, I probably did not want to know about them even at that time.

I mentioned about this SMS problem to my friend Sanjeev, and he is like –“What’s the big problem, dude ? Keep your mobile on silent mode while sleeping! ”.
Life …my friends, alas, is not so simple. You see, Sanjeev does not have a girlfriend .But I have. And she calls me every 5 minutes questioning me , “Where are you , what are you doing ? What are you not doing ? What took you 20sec to receive the call ?”


Believe me my friends , the only thing more dangerous in this world than a GPS tracking enabled girlfriend is the Internet Pop UP ads . The Devil could not be everywhere – so he made them. These Internet pop ups have a tendency to pop up at the wrong place, at the wrong time and with the wrong content. (Boys would know all about it : ) )
For instance ,when I surf the net and no one is around , the pop-up will always try to find the perfect bride for me. It has been trying the same for the past 5 years. But when I surf the net and my father is around, the ‘Matrimonial Pop Up’ is always replaced by the ‘Get Blind Date with Hot Mumbai Girls PopUp’.
One of two more of these Pop Up incidents ,and I am sure to thrown out of the house by my father.

Anyways , popping on to
Law Number IIIImpossible is Nothing.

Impossible is nothing for the ad makers. For them, the sun rises in the west. You have no idea what they will end up teaching you in their ads.
Let me give you an example,

Remember the surf excel ad ?
A young chap comes up in a cap and says “Stains are good ?”.
Young chap, you say stains are good!! . Obviously you have not met my mother!

HDFC Child investment plan
Remember , 4 year old, giving investment advice to parents ? “Papa grow up I want to be an astronaut. So do some investment” I wish I was so intelligent as a 5 year old. My family would have been so rich, and, I would have been an astronaut. Better to be on Mars than in this Mumbai traffic. Any day .

One more instance –
Radios are at another level. Before following cricket commentary on radio I used to believe that Sachin Tendulkar is the best batsman that India has. But now after following cricket on radio , I have realized that it is actually BSNL. Sachin only takes 1s and 2s , it is BSNL who hits all the 4’s and 6 ‘s.
”Aur ek laga ek aur BSNL Chauka ”

Those were the three laws, ladies and gentlemen.

I have figured out the laws that govern these commercials but I am yet to figure out how to escape these commercials. It does not seem like happening during my lifetime, In fact, I fear that even after death when I ask the Almighty upstairs -”God , am I going to get heaven or hell. What are my chances.? “ The Almighty would just stand there eating a Britannia biscuit and smile “Son , its 50/50”


The Curse of English Phrases

The English language is flooded with axioms, proverbs, and metaphors. These English expressions have the special gift of causing confusion – What these expressions read is never what these expressions mean.
And just when you start thinking that you have got a hang of the language, someone would put up an expression in front of you which would leave you blank. You would be at your wits end to try and deduce the meaning of the phrase in the current context; but of course you cannot. Next you would push all the triggers of your old faithful brain , just in case it might have heard the expression somewhere. But , as our brain usually does in tricky situations , it responds with a safe blank.
And all this time , the person who used the expression would observe your internal struggle and apologize – I’m sorry .I did not know you were unaware of this phrase”. But you can see the chuckle in his voice and you can’t miss the look of amusement in his eyes. And the next thing you know is that every next sentence coming from this persons’ mouth is loaded with a weird English expression. And standing there , you start feeling that if you could get a chance to live your life all over again, the only thing you would do is to learn all the English phrases that exist so that you do not get into such a situation again.
Next chance in life is a matter of uncertainty , but at this moment, in this ordinary avatar of my life, I would like to grab this opportunity to express my complaints against some of these English expressions and against the people(phrase-throwers) who use these expressions all the time throwing caution to the winds. (I know I could have done without the phrase, but never mind).I have even named these complaints as English phrases – serves these phrases and the phrase – throwers right!
1 . My first complaint is called – Early to bed and early to rise, keeps a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

This expression is very close to the heart of those phrase – throwers who apart from shooting phrases have another nagging habit – Morning Walk. These early risers are under the impression that just because they get up at 4 AM , mother nature has nothing better to do than unravel all its secret to them. Anything which they see or observer is Mother Nature’s message to them and it is their utter responsibility to capture that event in a quizzical English phrase. For instance, they would see a bird chewing a worm in the morning and conclude – The early bird gets the worm .
I want to question my early riser Friend – “My dear , early riser , Have you ever taken an afternoon walk – I have taken –you see, I get up late and I am not ashamed of it and I can swear to Dear Lord that at even 12 in the noon; when the sun is at the highest point above our head , I have seen birds catching and eating worms with considerable ease.”

Another favourite of these early risers – ‘it’s a small world out there’.
Of course my friend, the world would seem small to you when you keep meeting the same 3 people every day at 4AM .After all, not many are as crazy as you to get up at 4AM for a casual stroll. And of course, when all you do is walk the same 400 meters everyday with no one around – your world is bound to be a small one . By the way, just for the records, the world seems fairly large to me when I am stuck in traffic daily for 4 hours while commuting between office and home.

2.My second complaint is called – A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

This complaint is against those phrase- throwers who are under the false impression that they know all. They pass phrases that provide incorrect advice. And the ’Not so know it all ‘ people like me tend to believe them and get into trouble. Let me share a few phrases which these Shakespeare kins have blessed me with.
The worst phrase I have ever got is – “If you love someone set them free. If they come back to you, they are yours. Else they never were”. I heard this and said – “Very well – seems good “. So I did all the preparations and proposed to seven girls, one on each day of the week and came back. I said to me – “What’s the harm? As per the phrase, if none of them love me, then the worse that can happen is that none of them will come back.” Well , not only did all of them come back , all of them came back at the same time with their boyfriends and while I was lying in the hospital bed with all the Get Well Soon flowers around me, life certainly did not feel like a bed of roses.

Another piece of gem from these saviours of Queens English – ‘It is a blessing in disguise ‘ . I don’t want to get into the details but I can assure you from my experience – that it not important to be in disguise when you are blessing someone; but on the contrary, disguise is important when you are cursing someone. And the bigger the person you’re planning to curse – the better your disguise needs to be.

3.Last but not the least, My third complaint is called – We cannot spell success without “U”.

This complaint is dedicated to those phrase – throwers, who just for the sake of acting smart, play around with alphabets and numbers in their conversations.Again, let me give you a few enriching examples. But before we proceed, I want to inform the phrase throwers of one more interesting fact which they seem to have missed – “Without U , we cannot spell “Stupid “ also.”
An apple a day keeps a doctor away. This phrase itself brings tears to my eyes and fills me with anger. You see, as a child I hated my family doctor because his only ambition in life seemed to be to give me more and more vaccination injections. He wanted to protect me against the diseases which existed and against the diseases which may come into existence in the near or far future. Boy, did he believe in “Prevention is better than cure “.
Naturally .a s a child ,I hated doctors. So when I heard – An apple a day keeps a doctor away; I was overjoyed. And as a child I used to be quite intelligent also (I still am). So I quickly calculated – “Eating an apple every 8 hours will keep 3 doctors away”.
Today, I suffer from Haemochromatosis – excessive iron content in the blood. And I have to visit the doctor every second day. All thank to the English phrases and the damned phrase-throwers.

In the end , I know I cannot expect the barrage of these phrase-throwers to scale down , but to all of you out there waiting to bombard your pearls of Queen’s English ,before you open your guns , I would like to remind you of one more old is gold phrase – ‘Silence is Golden’