We’re driving from Rishikesh back to Delhi, when the traffic in the highway starts slowing down. More than the usual, I mean. Cars start stopping and, in a few minutes, considering the density of traffic in North India, there are already several kilometres of cars stopped. We don’t know what’s happening, but decide to “pull an Indian move” and go back where we came from, even though the traffic is supposed to flow only in one direction.
We cross to the other side of the national highway, drive against the flow for a few kilometres but notice there are almost no cars. Finally we reached the point where everyone was stopped at again and notice there is a group of young men doing a blockade. A bunch of students were denied to do their entrance exams for a given university so they cut the traffic as a form of protest.
We roll down the window and ask a couple of guys siting on top of a bike what’s going on. They explain the situation and suggest we look sick as maybe then they’d let us go through.
A: Baby, pretend you’re sick. But REALLY sick!
Z: I’m on it!
I place one hand covering my mouth and other on my forehead. Intermittently I’d switch to embrace my stomach as I pretend I’m retching and having spasms. I don’t know what is my sickness, but it looks serious. Ashray rolls down the window a little ahead and asks a student to let us go:
A: We need to go through urgently. My wife is really sick… she’s been vomiting blood!
In the middle of the confusion other student tries to grab the key from the ignition but doesn’t succeed. Other guys from my side of the car demand Ashray to roll down the window so that they can examine me. I open my eyes in the middle of the pretend agony to realize we’re absolutely surrounded my a mob and things could get ugly. I grab a bottle of water from the car floor but I drop it while trying to drink – I’m really weak and they must let us go! A guy grabs a big rock earlier used to block the road and threatens to smash our car. But eventually their compassion comes to the surface and this poor sick couple goes through.
We drive away and after a few metres laugh like kids. ** HIGH FIVE! **
Indian road trip tip #1: be ready to improvise!
It can indeed be very frustrating to drive in India. It’s interesting, because there is always something to see, but the ride tends to be anything but smooth.
That’s why we’ve compiled these useful tips to keep in mind when cruising the roads of India:
- Ladies! If you are a cup C or above, wear a sports bra. Indian roads are dotted for extra pleasure!
- Do not trust the time Google Maps says you’ll approximately take to reach your destination. Google doesn’t know shit about cows, bicycles, tractors and pedestrians.
- Feel privileged if you manage to make an average higher than 35Km/hr.
- Get comfortable with the great outdoors: using nature as a loo is safer and cleaner than most bathrooms you’ll find in road side stops.
- Keep 2 bottles of water with you: one to drink and another one to clean your butt with when you poo in the fields.
- Get used to see men peeing. And not away in the fields: right there, in front of everyone!
- Whenever you come across a fairly decent bathroom, do EVERYTHING in there. Don’t hold it in… let it all out!
- Don’t be naive: direction boards are not to be trusted.
- Don’t expect to take great landscape shots: there’s always going to be a manscape in front. Example? The man in the photo above that covered the lower board right when I clicked!
- Whatever happens, don’t worry… you’ll never be alone! If your car breaks down or something happens, you’ll find that there’s always someone around. Love thy neighbor!
- There is no such thing as lanes in most Indian roads or in the drivers’ mentalities. Whenever there’s an opening, overtake.. c’mon don’t be a pussy! Your good manners won’t take you anywhere. Literally.
- AC/DC songs do not fit the Indian highways. Considering this is what the highway looks like in North India, create your playlist accordingly:
- Last, but not least: if you have a rear-view mirror… cherish it!
If you think road tripping is not for you,
taking the train is always an option!