In Goa

We have road rage. In India or at least in Goa, it seems they do not. Let me clarify.

On the road, everyone is continually in the process of overtaking or of being overtaken, sometimes both at the same time. The horn is as much a part of the driver’s toolkit as, say, second gear. To the left of you may be a scooter or two: to the left of them is the ragged pavementless roadside, featuring pedestrians and a cow or two. To your right, a scooter and a taxi, both overtaking you, the taxi additionally overtaking the scooter. Ahead is a bus and a blind bend and the oncoming traffic. Of course it is now essential that you overtake the bus.

Dual carriageways are a free-for-all. In the right hand lane (India drives on the left, like the UK) may be found a bus. At the next roundabout its driver intends to turn left. He knows this, we do not- he is giving himself plenty of room in which to make his turn. We will of course try to pass him on the inside. This is normal. The preferred default travelling position on the dual carriageway is to hedge your bets along the middle line. This ensures you do not tangle with the scooters who (mostly) congregate in the left hand lane, while being in the slingshot position to overtake on whichever side of the vehicle in front looks best.

All this chaos would enrage even fairly placid UK drivers, let alone our all-important BMW-wrangling kings of the road. But the Indian cacophony of horns and dubious overtaking and pulling onto roundabouts without looking takes place in an atmosphere almost entirely lacking finger-waving, shouting or threatening behaviour. If someone pulls up beside you in a queue, looking to somehow fit his car into the space you’re already occupying, there’s no gesticulation or anger, it just gets sorted out. This lack of road rage is a saving grace.

So should we all adopt Indian standards of driving? A thousand times NO. The accident statistics are appalling of course. Anyone who drives or rides out onto those roads is a better man than I, name redacted.

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