[By Narendra Kaushik]
New Delhi: Since 2001 when I first sat on the wheel in Delhi I have learnt at least a few driving etiquettes.
If somebody stares at you for not immediately giving him way stare back at him. He growls, growl back at him. He swears, swear back at him. He mumbles abuses, you mumble back.
Do not bother if it causes a traffic jam there. Tell everybody you will not move till the accused pays you for the damages.
Bump and Blame
There is one more thing if you cause damage to somebody else’s vehicle on road or in parking either leave quietly or never admit your mistake.
Blame the other person for braking suddenly in the middle of the road, driving rashly or trying to overtake you from wrong side. If it does not work put the blame on some other vehicle which has already moved on.
It happened once when I was first driving a bike through a village adjacent to my native place. A woman was crossing the street holding a water bucket in her hand. Being a first time driver I became nervous, lost control, swerved left and right, forgot to apply brakes and instead pushed the accelerator. The woman tried her best to dodge my bike but I pushed the front wheel into her bucket. She started abusing and I was about to say sorry when my younger brother who was riding pillion interjected and shouted full-throttle on her.
“Are you blind? Can’t you see the bike coming?”
he admonished her much to my surprise as well as relief. He told me not to stop and keep driving leaving the hapless woman puckered up in the middle of the street.
Honk like mad
A few years later I got under the influence of no-honking drive of the government and social activists (Even a dog does not bark without a reason) and discontinued the practice. I either did not blow the horn at all or used it as an apology of a horn.
On one such day we were driving from Dilshad Garden to ISBT (Inter State Bus Terminus). An auto rickshaw driving at tortoise’s speed was leading me. It kept in the lead for over a km forcing me to drive in third gear. I made several attempts to overtake it but failed. After a while the auto swerved towards left and I thought it was allowing me to overtake. I accelerated but there was not enough space for my 800 to push through. My front left wheel hit the road divider with a boom. The rim bent at several places and I was forced to replace it with the stepney.
My son was furious with me and accused me of sticking to a wrong practice.
“What is wrong with you? Why don’t you blow horn?”
he asked. When I tried to reason with him that honking added to noise pollution, his terse counter was,
“You alone can’t cut down noise. Can you?”
I conceded and have since used horn quite frequently. I do not press it on empty roads because that might force fellow road users to conclude that I am either a semi literate driver or a rowdy out to terrorize people.
Over the years I have learnt that there are places where it helps to have wanton disregard for traffic rules.
For instance, if there is a long traffic light and you are riding a bike you must drive through cars zigzag or on pavements to reach the front.
Assert your right of way and super merge
In case you have to take a right turn and the right side of the road is chock-o-block with traffic move on extreme left and then demand first right of way from vehicles going straight. In case a vehicle going straight tries to point out your mistake warn him to mind his own business.
The Unwritten Rules
In places like Greater Noida, Noida and Ghaziabad if you do not drive on wrong side you are not a driver enough. Why should you take a long detour just to be on the right side of the traffic rules? Moreover, why should you bother about rules when there are no traffic policemen and traffic on Greater Noida roads?
Aren’t the wide empty roads like Noida-Greater Noida Expressway and Yamuna Expressway an invitation for joy rides or bike stunts? You must petition government authorities to remove CCTV cameras from these. They are a hindrance to your happiness and spirit of adventure.
In case you are a VIP and wish to flaunt your status on the road. Never stop on red lights or traffic jams. Somehow drive into the road meant for traffic coming from opposite direction and drive along the road divider on your left
“Why should it matter to the traffic coming from the other side?”
You’re driving on your side. Moreover did the traffic not move in this manner when we only had single roads?
You should also not stop on less busy red lights when no traffic policeman is in sight. If you observe traffic lights on empty roads you will end up being a thorn in the flesh of fellow drivers. You will force them to slow and make them angry. This is what B S Baswan, a former Secretary in Union Education Ministry, realized when he stopped at a traffic light between Udyog bhawan and Rail bhawan once. Baswan had just been transferred to Delhi from Mumbai.
“A car from behind me kept honking at the red light. When I ignored the car driver walked to me and knocked on my glass. Baswan told Point Blank 7 once. “Why are you not moving?”
he asked Baswan. When poor Baswan pointed towards the red light, the driver asked matter-of-factly,
“But where is the policeman?”
It is advisable to carry an iron rod, a cricket bat or a hockey stick under carpet or dickey of the car. If you can afford a fire arm nothing like it. It will be your license to bully rule-abiding drivers.
Flash them in case your opponent gives you a glare or gets abusive. There is a strong possibility that he will run away after pushing his tail between two legs.
At least this is what happened in the case of my first cousin Monu who stays in Noida. Monu recalled to me that once a fellow car driver of his started arguing with him on a busy road.
“But when I pulled hockey stick out from under the seat he simply ran away,”
Remember the thumb rule.The bigger the vehicle you drive the more you should bully others.
If two wheelers have a right to usurp pedestrian space, three wheelers have a right to ride rough against the two wheelers. It is ok if car drivers dare two and three wheelers. But they must be wary of load carriers, buses, trucks and police vehicles. The last category is the king of the roads and has a right to drive the way they want and where they want.
If your vehicle is registered in Delhi you have a right to flout traffic rules in Gurgaon, Noida, Ghaziabad, Greater Noida, Sonepat and any other place outside the national capital. Even if the police from outside send traffic challan to Delhi Police there is a strong possibility that the latter will not obliged to deliver it to you. The same applies to police outside Delhi. You are also safe if you do not reside at the place where your vehicle was registered.
In case you are caught speeding, breaking a red light, parking in a tow away zone or driving without a helmet or seat belt, pull no punches in reminding the policeman of your VIP status. If you are not sure of it try telling him that you are from staff.
The second trick works without fail provided you are tall and well-built. Remember it is once in a blue moon that somebody’s bluff is called. A relative of mine who works with a paramilitary force has successfully posed as a policeman on roads, in trains and even cinema halls for over close to four decades.