Today, we will guff about driving in Kathmandu, as suggested by SKZ!
It's pretty easy to drive them 'auto' gaadis. You don't need to worry about them gear sear stuff and you can palti-cushing, drinking coffee and driving at the same tyam!
But when in comes to them stick shift, you really need to know how to multi-task.... one foot on them clutch slutch, arko ki chai brake ma ki chai accelerator ma... you only have two khuttas and there are three pedals ... ani bhaye nuh fasad!
Well, I had to go back to driving school here and learn how to be comfortable driving around in Kathmandu. After driving 'auto' for more than a decade, going back to 'manual' was a little scary at first... hehe!
And it was fun.... since all them 70s Toyota 'tourist' gaadis have been bought by the driving school wallahs and the rest chahi you can see them at our international airport hehe!
So even if you already know how to drive, just enroll at them driving school to drive an old Toyota gaadi every morning for a week... you might not learn anything new but at least you will win a good friend (your 'teacher) who also seem to know nearly every other traffic cop in and around his neighborhood!
My driving 'teacher' looked like some guy from them 80s Bollywood movie. He would be eating Paan Parag at 6 in the morning. We would drive around Ring Road ... but mostly it was guff suff than learning how to make sure that you don't run over some bike-wallah or bump into a cow or try to find out if the kid running around will land on your hood or will safely cross the road!
Driving in Kathmandu is not about speed .. it's about dodging everything, everyone and arriving safely at your destination.
Ten years ago, we had like half a million folks and maybe 40,000 motor bikes.... now we have more than 5 million New Nepal-ers and 400,000 bikes in the valley. And don't forget them Micros, cabs, school buses and them private vehicles!
The rule in Kathmandu is to only look ahead, don't even worry about checking your rear-view mirror.. you can throw it away nai! This goes for the bike wallahs but if you are driving a car sar then make sure you have a co-pilot with you to check if any bikers are not zooming in from the left and the right at the same tyam!
If you are driving them 'REVA' electric vehicles then don't worry but other than that.. make sure that you slow down and let the bikers do their 'squeezing' stunt or else they will ram into your vehicle because most of the bikes in the valley do not come with any brakes or they drive as if they don't have any brakes kya.
And then you also have to watch for our pedestrians.... they will probably wait until the last second to cross the street. So slow down and give a hand signal for them to cross or stay put or else you will hit the person and you will probably be stoned to death (and so will your vehicle) and some guy with find a jerkin of petrol, pour it on your vehicle and burn it pani.
But of course, it depends where you are ni... most of the stoning, burning and mob-bashing happens around the Ring Road area... so make sure you have you heave duty anti-riot gear with you when you drive around them places hehe.
Nepal ko so-called 'rule' anoo-saar... whoever hits from behind is to blame and whoever has the smallest ride is never to be blamed. A cycle wins over a bike, a bike wins over a car and so on.. hai!
And if you are driving a big-arse SUV then make sure that you have glued your old mattresses around your vehicle so that even if you do hit a cyclist, he will safely land on a padded hood than breaking his back kya.
Kathmandu ko traffic jam ma tuh your speed should be like 1.7 miles (km) per hour and 90% of the tyam, you will be only using them steering wheels to dodge a bike, a cow or a pedestrian or a Micro!
The funny thing about them bikers chahi... they don't use their brakes and they don't look around... ghoda jastai... so if you see a biker speeding then don't even worry... slow down and either let the biker crash into your vehicle or wait until he does a somersault over them railings or dividers!
You will see many ladies in them scooties... they drive crazy too .... and don't try to hit (side-haaning) on a lady who is driving a scootie because she is really focused on her driving... how to squeeze between them two Micros and get ahead rather than looking around and finding a guy with a mullet and and a mustache ogling at her!
So if them bikers try to over-take with you from both sides then don't blow up and start yelling.. it doesn't help and you will then drive mad and hit another biker feri.
You don't see much cows as in them 90s but you will still find them sometime and they are not like our pedestrians who freeze in the middle of the road but suddenly dart when a vehicle is 1.3 inches away kya and then you will have to face an angry mob who are more interested to burn your vehicle and bash you than taking the accident victim to the hospital.
Animals are fun... they will either stay put or run for their lives... humans are scary... tyehi nai ho lesson chahi!
And our Micro drivers never took them traffic lessons when it came to parking or stopping your vehicle hola... they will stop in the middle of the road ani tyo pani sideways blocking both them lanes... if you are a biker, you can drive around but don't try that if you are driving a car... and honking won't help either.
Let the Micro wallah show everyone his circus act and once them Khalasis get their passenger, they will then drive a few meters and show us the same trick. Either you overtake them or let them do their stuff.... they will never learn and most probably.. they just don't care hola....unless they see a traffic-wallah blowing them whistles!
So, here's the trick hai. Always carry a whistle with you and whenever you see them Micro-wallahs displaying their 'I don't give a @#$!' parking skills.. just roll your windows and start blowing them whistles. It's like them PSY 101 class ko lecture... tyo Pavlov's drooling dogs sogs theory kya!
No, I am not saying our Micro-wallahs are dogs but they are not scared of anyone and don't even care if there is an ambulance behind them ..... they are only conditioned to them 'whistles'... so instead of yelling, bitching or getting out of your vehicle and showing them your kung-fu skills... a whistle will do!
Driving in Kathmandu is not really that difficult.... most of the tyam, you will be driving at like 3-4 km/hour.... just make sure you are watching left and right (watch a 'live' tennis match to improve your skills!) and not hitting them bikers... and all is good!
And no 'Bollywood' songs or them 'electronic' stuff... tune into BBC and drive .... and if your co-pilot (or passenger) is bored then just ask him or her to count them bikes... or how many squeezed by when you were driving kya.