Hand-of-god and more concepts of Indian city traffic

Read these blogs to learn a few important things about traffic in cities of India. I will keep your learning slow paced, and will keep it down to 3 or 4 lessons per post till I run out of them!

I hit into the “hand of god” phenomenon at least twice a day. You are doing 60 kmph and you suddenly see a pedestrian jump on the road. You have the momentum, and right of way as well, so you assume the ped will try get out of the way. But no. Out pops a hand. Stop! One hand this direction, second hand in another. This is called the hand of god way of crossing an Indian street.

inching wallAnother India pedestrian specialty is “inching walls“. It goes like this. A few folks decide to do this road crossing business together. They form a wall, you know, like the soccer free kick wall. And then, as one car passes by, they move one inch forward. Another car, another inch. And eventually, about 50 cars later, the wall is through the road! I like being part of these inching walls. Gives you a real democratic feeling – you can do anything with numbers on your side. And you really get to see the inside of passing cars. Was that Kenwood or Alpine? Saw that – an auto transmission car! However, If you dont have tidy toenails, I will not advise doing this inching wall thing. Car tires dont make good toenail clippers.

[Note: Not intending to poke fun at pedestrians here, these are mere observations and nothing more than that]

deadlock2My favorite Indian traffic thing – I named it “the classic Indian deadlock“. Can also name it “whining drivers problem” on the lines of “dining philosophers problem”. Tough to describe it without pictures, here is a simplistic one. A classic indian deadlock is a rectangle with each line made of a three or four wheeled vehicle, and is always accompanied by continuous loud honks. It is formed when each soon-to-be deadlocked vehicle decides to make a right turn at precisely the same time. Eventually, none of them can complete their rights, and the stream of vehicles flowing around ensures they stay deadlocked till a Good Samaritan offers them space to back-out. After it is formed, a deadlock then becomes a roundabout around which the traffic flows smoother than before. How to detect them? If you see traffic smooth but real slow and no traffic lights visible ahead, you have one!

Last term for the day is “three legged auto race“. This event happens at roads wide enough for two or three auto-rickshaws (short: auto) at a time. It starts when an auto driver gets fed up of the slow paced auto ahead of him. He swerves right to overtake the hare. The hare driver doesn’t like it and tries to smoke ahead full throttle. The race has begun! By-products of this race are, one, a lot of smoke, two, a lot of noise, from the honking cars stuck behind trying to pep the racers up, and from the racing auto engines that guzzle kerosene as they race! Soon, this type of race becomes the face of traffic. A sea of vehicles, buses, cars, trucks – all flowing behind this “wall” of two or three auto racers – and an all empty road ahead (aha!). How to detect this phenomenon? If you see an unexpectedly empty road in the downtown area – make way – the autos are coming!

PS: Trapped behind the autos (link to www.poorbuthappy.com. I shall soon have some original snaps)


7 Responses

  1. […] Hand of god and more concepts of Indian city traffic […]

  2. […] So this bus had blocked oncoming traffic, and oncoming traffic was in turn blocking the guys trying to make a right. And I was stuck behind – yes – the “classic Indian deadlock“! […]

  3. […] The "inching wall" is crossing the road! […]

  4. New post in the traffic terms series

  5. my auto is like my lover!

  6. i love my new honda too!

  7. […] before it clubs you! The chaos called Indian traffic has patterns if you spot them (see lessons 1, 2, 3 etc), and several groups, call them clubs, if you observe the group dynamisms on […]

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