sirisa clark

the things I do and the words I choose

Ben’s Guest Blog #4: A Glossary of Indian Roads

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The Indian road user has a number of quirks and habits setting him or her aside from what a Westerner might expect from a typical motorist. As such, the following glossary, gleaned over the past few months, maybe of use to those planning a visit.

  • Horn: A device for making your car run more efficiently, even when stationary. Remember – the more you press, the further your tank of petrol will go!
  • Lane: Decorative paint markings on wider roads.
  • Motorcycle: A vehicle for transporting up to five people. (Two up front and three in the back.)
  • Pavement: The name given to the three inches of road directly adjoining the buildings on either side. It is, on occasion, considered polite to scan this area for pedestrians, though not if this is likely to impede or slow your journey, mobile phone call, or hair-combing.
  • Pedestrian: Pedestrians are to the motorist as those flexible poles are to downhill slalom skiers. As long as they’re still just about standing after you’ve passed, don’t worry too much.
  • Rickshaw or Tuk-tuk: A thrilling three-wheeled fairground roller-coaster, found in most cities and many towns. A ride costs 20-50 rupees and can last anything up to 15 minutes. Please keep your head and arms inside the vehicle!
  • Roundabout: A chance for normally level-headed motorists to set aside the strictures of highway codes and common sense for a short period and indulge in some relaxed, chaotic road-based fun. Sort of like a free-for-all dodgem ride.
  • Speed Limit: A theoretical upper bound on allowed velocity. Generally irrelevant as before you can reach a speed of more than 30mph, you will have reached the next traffic jam.
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