Roaring toward certain death, I don’t flinch. Hitting the semi head-on will turn the car into a burning pile of metal, plastic and roasted flesh.
But I’m not afraid.
Not because I’m some kind of tough guy. No, I don’t fear death because (a) this happens every five minutes when we make the kamikaze decision to pass other cars and (b) my driver could dodge killer semis in his sleep.
The driver has a crewcut, a manly mustache and scars on his chin and cheek. He looks like an ex-Special Forces vet who got into a knife fight in the mountains of Kashmir, and he drives with supreme confidence and insane skill.
He’s the Indian version of Jason Statham in THE TRANSPORTER.
Our driver changes lane at 120 kilometers per hour without glancing left or right. A sixth-sense, like radar, lets him know where all the mopeds, cars and trucks are on the road, which has painted lines on the asphalt that you’d look at and say, “lanes,” but in India, lanes, seatbelts and airbags are for nancypants.
Are there driving rules? Oh, yes. There are two clear rules that everyone follows:
Rule No. 1: If something is bigger than you, and you want to live, MOVE OUT OF THE WAY.
Rule No. 2: Use your horn to (a) tell pedestrians and smaller vehicles to move or die and (b) inform buses and trucks you’re nearby so they don’t smoosh you into a twisted metal cube of death.
People use their horn all the time, maybe because they want to live, and every Indian driver on the road is incredibly skilled, maybe because bad drivers have a shorter shelf life than a box of Twinkies in Rush Limbaugh‘s pantry.
Coming in PART TWO: Leading a mob into battle against the Drums of Doom.
Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.
Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.