After last week’s love fest with Kathmandu, I am back to grumbling. Specifically, I’m grumpy about driving in the Doo, which I recently started to do after an almost 20 year hiatus of car ownership.
That’s not to say that I am unfamiliar with the ignored-rules of the road here in Nepal, as I have been riding a Royal Enfield and various other two-wheelers in the capital for quite a while. But having purchased a car just before the fuel shortage began, and using it to get my wife to work daily since, I do feel qualified to register my outrage in regards to the way that people drive here – to the point where I am almost screaming obscenities out the window.
Now for those who know me, they would be shocked by my 180-turn from being the mild mannered Clark Kent-type, to the road-raging super maniac that I am starting to become.
So, here is a short list of dos and don’ts that I hope every driver in our over-crowded, ‘over-vehicled’ city should heed (before I sputter out of control).
To all taxi drivers
Stop parking on the very edge of the corner at every intersection! You are driving everyone that has to make a left-hand turn nuts. Not only are you making that turn more difficult for us conscientious and otherwise safe drivers, you are encouraging me to go out and build the Nepali version of Uber just to get your silly asses off the road. Trolling for customers by stopping midstream in traffic would be eliminated by this bold move, as would the need to incoherently park in obstructive places along the roadways. So take heed taxi drivers, I know how to build a website, and I am willing to do so.
To all electric Tuk-Tuks drivers
Understanding that you are running on over sized iPhone batteries, could you perhaps speed it up a bit? Suggestion: eliminating the two dudes hanging out the back door, with their rear ends jutting out in my face would give you more juice to plow along a bit faster than a turtle. I know, those two extra butts give you a bit of softer bumper, but not only is this practice unsafe, it is unsightly.
To all micro bus drivers
You guys are vicious, and remind me of sharks swimming in the sea looking for smaller prey to bash into. Your incessant darting left and right, and accelerating from 0 to 60 in just three feet, is getting on my nerves; it reminds me of how a school of fish radically changes direction during a barracuda attack. There is a logical ebb and flow to KTM traffic, and you are doing nothing but disrupting that graceful but insane flow with your neurotic fish-brained behavior.
To all large & battered truck drivers
I understand your plight: you have to navigate a whale through a keyhole every minute of the day, and I am sure you must be as haggard as I am while you are on the road. But can you please get your rear-lights and brake lights fixed? All those inspiring safety warnings meticulously painted on your back bumpers (Speed Control, See You, Blow Horn) are all beautifully done, but do no good if we all plow into your rear-ends in the middle of the night because you have failed to keep your light bulbs burning. Understood you have to brake suddenly because the barracuda mini-bus has just darted across your front grill, but without your brake lights working, how are we supposed to go from 60 to 0 before we smash into you?
To all school bus drivers
You are in charge of shuttling the future of our nation back and forth on a daily basis, I commend you. As from what I see you are cut above most drivers, and are charged with a critical mission: protecting the minds and bodies of our future, even if doing so in a dilapidated bus with bald tires and questionable brakes. May the gods be with you. To all other bus drivers, now that the petrol crisis is over, it’s time you get passengers off the roof please, and please consider installing barf bags behind every seat so we are no longer spattered by either bodies – or bodily fluids – while cruising down the highway.
To all GoN & Diplomatic-plated drivers
We get it. You are very important in your huge oversized SUV, and considering that some tax payer somewhere on the planet paid for your giant Chevy or Toyota that seats 12 and has a 9” YouTube console in the dash, please try not to wreck your paint job by driving like you are the King of the Road, and you are rushing to save the city from nuclear destruction (when in fact, you are driving to the cold store for bananas). This is a democracy now, so get off your thrones and drive safely like a peasant.
To all red-plated drivers
Great! We are all in this together. And considering the road conditions (deplorable) and the road obstacles that we face every day (holy cows, sick dogs, old Amas, young children, scared chickens, etc.) we are all doing a pretty good job in my opinion.
In general, within the aforementioned ebb and flow, while defying physics and traffic laws, we all get from point A to point B in relative safety. I suspect much of this can be attributed to the army of professional drivers hired by the populace just for this reason. You are professional, and as an ex-professional driver for the US Army, I appreciate that skill very much. Helping other drivers during parking navigation is also a courtesy to be hailed, although I would recommend a rear-view camera be mandatory on every vehicle sold – they are great for keeping you from bashing into the scooter that parks six inches from your rear bumper when there is no one else there to assist.
To all pedestrians
We all applaud your effort to go green, or otherwise not use a petroleum-based product to get where you need to be. But now that the petrol crisis is over, it’s time to return to sidewalks and otherwise reasonable areas of the road. True, during the petrol crisis when 99% of KTM vehicles were parked in long lines along the curb, you were righteous in taking over the middle of the road as your domain – I understand that – but that territory was temporary. It’s time you now move over to the side, or you will be hit.
(Jigs Gaton is a quirky kinda-expat happily living in Dhobighat with family and friends, and is currently seeking an anger-management specialist with a good driving record.)