Indian Roads: A Biodiversity Hotspot
Driving on an Indian road is an adventure not for the faint at heart. The roads here are alive. Alive like a tropical rain forest. It is a complex biodiversity that supports different lifeforms. On a good day one can observe a number of species. To make it easier for the outsiders, I have tried to make a concise list of the most common specimens:
- Weavus Trafficus Zigzagus (The Road Snake):One of the most common species on the Indian roads. These have the ability to slither through the smallest of openings. Weaving through traffic, they care not for limb or life, their eyes fixed on the goal of being the first to stop at the next traffic signal. Usually a trait of the Motorcycle Riders, but there are many car drivers too that have followed suit. Trafficus Ninjus Blindspottum (Invisible Slither-er): A sub-category of the Slithering Snakes, they are more dangerous in the way, that you hardly notice them until it is too late. They try and overtake you from the left, entering the Blind Spot where it is almost impossible to spot them. The driver may honk before overtaking, or he/she might just zoom by. Either case, your heart jumps to your mouth. Silentum Shadowum Scooterus (Silent Striker): A new breed, these are usually found on the roads inside housing complexes and residential areas. Mostly children below the legal age on electric bikes. The Stalkers not only come in from behind at a decent rate but true to their name, they move so noiselessly that it would put an owl to shame.
- Blindus Colourus Spectrum (Traffic Mole): The characteristic feature of this species is that it is colour blind. They get a serious case of colour disorientation the moment they hit the road. In particular, their failure to distinguish between the colours Red, Green and Yellow ensures that there is always a turmoil at the crossroads.
- Startum Firstum (Hyperactive Hare): Usually on Two or Three wheels, they have this inherent desire to get the pole position at the traffic light. Wherever they are, they manage to squeeze in and hoard the first row…and the second and the third. The engines rev up and they start moving 10 seconds before the signal turns Green.
- Hoggerus Rightum Turnus (Road Hog): Left turn is free in India and sometimes the green signal for going straight is on for a bit longer than the one for the right turn. Technically the ones turning right, should wait behind the front car in the right hand land. But this species usually occupies the front row of the column alongside the first car. And in a short span of 5 seconds, the whole road gets blocked as more Road Hogs arrive. While the ones wishing to go straight or left, are left cursing in a rage and looking at the green signal for them with 120 seconds remaining doesn’t help.
- Bullishum Cacophonous (Horn-y Bull): The bus drivers usually come in this category but others are not far behind. Somehow they view the world as one big game console. An aggressive specie, it makes a lot of noise to get it’s way. Moving fast while blaring such raucous cacophonies that would put the entire race of crows to shame. Some say, it might be a mating ritual, but studies are still going on. Bullishum Turtulus (Shelled Turtle): A unique sub specie of the Horn-y Bull. The tempos usually don’t go beyond 30 kmph. Heaven have mercy on you if you are stuck behind one. These things don’t move and don’t give way. If there are more than one then I would suggest a cocktail of anti-anxiety and antidepressant drugs. You can’t do much at this moment, since they will all be trying to outrun each other, and as they all travel at 30 kmph and 10 if loaded……you do the maths.
- Directionous Retardus (Bumbling Crab): The members of this specie keeps driving on the wrong lane unless they suddenly realise that they have to take a turn. And then move to the correct lane without any prior notification. They are also known to drive on the wrong side of the road, into the oncoming traffic to save 50 metres of driving distance.
- Foolium Shortsishtius (Humming Birds): These will keep honking to get a pass, then fly by you while flipping you the bird in disgust, and then get stuck behind a truck. This specie has only one aim in life and that is to irritate you. What is the point of accelerating, only to decelerate a second later behind a slow moving traffic? It beats me. But then I guess some questions have no answers.
- Tehzeebi Lukhnowus (Dumb Dodo): Not all on the road are trying to push forward. This specie comes under this category. They have the sense to let everyone in the other lines to pass through them. While at a crossroad, they will give way to the traffic from the other directions, with a smile. If you are stuck behind one, then the only way you can move forward is either by killing it or by committing seppuku
- The Unzebra Crossers (Normal Pedestrians): Pedestrians in India jaywalk. There will be a Zebra Crossing 20 metres ahead. An overhead bridge and an underpass within another 20 metres, but they will jaywalk. It is something in our genes and it cannot be altered. And if their daredevilry was not proof enough of how bad-ass they are, they also have a superpower. They can stop traffic by raising their hand (or they think they can).
- Discus Jockium (Apes): This specie needs to share everything with the world around it. Even it’s pathetic taste in music. And it ensure this by blaring music on full volume. Well, it is either that or it is stone deaf. Nightus Apus (Vampire Ape): A subcategory of the Discus Jockium. It can not stand the sun rays and therefore gets the side windows and the front and rear wind-shield painted black. Yes! Not a film tint, but a black blacker than a black hole. And a deep base will be playing from the car that can usually be heard and/or felt within a kilometre radius. Though I have never entered such a vehicle ever, but I think that it is an abyss. A portal to another dimension and the deep base is the natural sound a wormhole makes when the space time field ceases to exist. Politicus VVIPus (No One Knows) : They make noise but of a different kind. A common spectacle in Delhi, I am not sure if it is so common in other places. Their cars have Red or Blue beacons, announcing their arrival. It doesn’t matter that the beacon is being used to drop the misses who is late for her Fish Spa appointment, or the kids who are late for school.
Though there are many more species out there, I have taken a quick review of those that are the most prominent. Driving in India can give any action movie a run for it’s money. It is like being in the Matrix. There are no laws except the law of survival and at each point your wit and reflexes are tested. The jungle law prevails.