The thing that strikes you about everyone in Chennai (and one would assume hopefully the rest of India) is how nice, welcoming and generous everyone is (with the obvious exception of the scheming thieving tuk-tuk drivers!). People often say that Americans are full of hospitality, but compared to Tamil Nadu, they are not even close.
People are excruciatingly polite, very friendly, laid back and have the patience of a rock. Whether in the office, at home or out and about, you couldn’t ask to meet nicer people.
They are kittens.
I’m about to reveal how to turn kittens in to savage, uncompromising lions.
Some kind of superhero metamorphis takes over them the moment they sit behind the wheel of a car or the handlebars of a motorbike.
The red mist descends over them and suddenly the opposite of how I’ve described them above is true. The fires of hell are lit behind their eyes, venom drips from their teeth and they become more highly strung than a violin string [yeah, I nicked that one from a Discworld novel!].
The thing about Indian drivers is that they simply do not want to stop, ever. Until they get to where they want to go. Come hell or high water, nothing in this world can stop them as they drive from A to B.
There is often talk of the New York minute where it’s the amount of time before the guy behind you beeps his horn after the traffic light turns green. In India they are beeping while the light is still red. As I have previously discussed, traffic lights are considered suggestions, and if there is any chance of making it across without stopping, then it will be done.
I have even had detours through petrol forecourts as tuk-tuk drivers attempt to evade the traffic lights.
As I said, absolutely nothing will stop Indian drivers as they attempt to get to their destination. The motorbike drivers will pile themselves through the tiniest of gaps at 60 mph just to keep going. They will weave in and out of cars, lorries and buses to get the front of a junction and continuously edge forward.
There is no mercy on the roads. The poor guy that runs out of petrol in the middle of the road, no one will stop to let him pull over. Want to turn right at the junction? Don’t wait for the traffic to ease, one because it never will, and two because no one will stop to allow you out – and certainly don’t think that because the light is green it’s safe to go. The guy that stalls his car will not get the benefit of the doubt as a bus driver attempts to become well acquainted with his boot whilst leaning on the horn with his elbow.
Pedestrians are simply other moving targets – which makes walking down the road a challenge as there are no pavements. OK, there are, but they usually double as someone’s house.
All the politeness, easy going laid back nature is forgotten. The car becomes a weapon. Get out of my way! ROAR!