Lessons from Driving in India
Today, driving 50km on a moped in India from Varkala to Kollam and back, I learned a lot. If you can drive on an Indian road, you can do just about anything. It requires such an ability to adapt to everything and everyone around you that it becomes like a strange dance. Weaving and flowing, speeding and slowing, as the other vehicles do unpredictable things.
The flow of traffic at first seems to be completely unruly and chaotic, the road filled with pot-holes, animals, and random unmarked speed bumps. However, the quicker you adapt and forget everything you thought you knew about road etiquette, the easier and more joyful everything becomes.
Sarah Macdonald writes in her hilarious travel memoir Holy Cow! that Indian roads have a "strict species pecking order: pedestrians are on the bottom and run out of the way of everything, bicycles make way to cycle-rickshaws, which give way to auto-rickshaws, which stop for cars, which are subservient only to trucks. Buses stop for one thing and one thing only. Not customers- they jump on while the bus is still moving. The only thing that can stop a bus is the king of the road, the lord of the jungle and the top dog. The holy cow."
Indian drivers use their horns more than any other nation in the world. Each type of vehicle has a different tone and note, the louder and deeper the horn, the bigger the vehicle that made it. The multitude of assorted modes of transport pass each other noisily, as though they are all jabbering and beeping away, talking and interacting with one another. The same horn is used to say:
Get out of the way!
Anyone round that corner?
I'm turning left
I'm turning right
I'm not overtaking
I'm slowing down
Just as the horn adapts to mean anything and everything, as the drivers adapt to each new challenge the road presents them with an easy carefree nature. No road, no problem. Halfway through our journey driving the coastal route home, there was a whole piece of road missing. It was just a beach with sand midway where once there was tarmac. Instead of someone telling us to go round or find a diversion, everyone pulled in together to help us push our moped across the sand dunes and up to the next viable piece of road, with friendly smiles.
In the UK I am almost certain we would have turned around, tried to find another road, but here, it didn't matter in the slightest. The way they think so out of the box that it almost is the most obvious solution. Not fixed by regulations, rules and health and safety. But listening to their own intuition and adapting to what feels natural. This freedom to do what feels right is liberating. In learning to adapt to whatever life throws at me, rather than resisting change or trying to blindly follow rules, instructions or someone else's expectations I think we could all take a little inspiration from Indian drivers every once in a while.
Be free, be fearless, be ready to adapt to whatever comes your way.
Day 2/365 days of personal development
ॐ Shanti x