02.08.2008 - 02.08.2008 24 °C
None of the rally rules or Autorickshaw facts seem to matter when we are finally sitting behind the steering handle of our partially equipped vehicle for a crash course at the Institute of Road Transport in Chennai. The driving lesson consist of 5 minutes instruction in Tamil before the pull handles are yanked hungrily to fire up the engines, engulfing bystanders in the toxic fumes of 18 very brightly coloured rickshaws.
We must learn our new driving skills very, very fast if we are to survive the 1st terrifying hurdle of finding our way back to the hotel, in the dark, with no lights or wing mirrors, in Chennai rush hour! For the first time we start to realistically consider the odds of making the gruelling dash from Chennai to Mumbai in one piece. Our vehicle is noisy and uncomfortable but hopefully indestructible.
Quote from Wikitravel
"Driving in India can be very stressful. Use of the horn is mandatory in all situations (no one uses turn signals!). Lane splitting is the rule, not the exception. And games of chicken, combined with razor thin passing margins are common. One ride in a taxi will most likely convince you that driving yourself is not worth the risk..."
I often enjoy a little exaggeration myself but was there ever a bigger understatement from a quote?!!!
We take our lives into our hands and head onto the open, crowded and terrifying road. Our loud exclamations, punctuated by swear words not often used, are drowned out by the noise of the traffic that seemingly gathers around us at an alarming rate. Words of encouragement from the back seat are welcome but I feel sure the words of praise are not earned when I am driving. We swerve, panic and stall our way along the roads as we embark on one of most exciting driving experiences of our lives.