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The Backside Rule - SATIRICAL PIECE by Capt. Sanjiv Kocharla

The following SATIRICAL PIECE has been contributed by a fan of, a long time resident of Vizag - Capt. Sanjiv Kocharla (not written with one hand on the steering wheel, we hope)

"The Backside Rule" or Life on the road in the City of Destiny.

A road is a flat hard surface provided by the local authority for various purposes such as walking, erecting tea stalls, unrestricted parking, drying food, raising cattle, sleeping, constructing dwellings and last but not the least, as a toilet. So when driving, be kind to other legitimate users.

Road widening generally means removing the pavement that was in any case used for all kinds of small shops so be kind to those who walk in the middle of the road. If you have ever walked at the side of the road without holding your nose you will know why. Once the pavements are removed the stalls of various vendors return since they are a source of mamool. The result is that the usable road width remains the same.

A "Dual Carriageway" means a divided road as in most countries but with a subtle difference. Here, each road carries traffic moving in both directions so beware. This is especially so if one intends to turn right before the next gap in the median.

If you use the Main Road in the City you will know that One-Way-Streets are rarely so. Dont argue with the driver of the vehicle going the wrong way. A road is public property to be abused by all.

Drive as closely as possible to the centre of the road. A yellow line is just a guide. If you must, move as little as possible to the left of the road centre. If you cannot use the full area of the road you obviously have not been reading closely so far.

At traffic lights:
A red light means stop, but only if enforced by a policeman.
An amber light means increase speed to beat the red light.

A green light means be careful, the other traffic that is ignoring the red light or beating the amber light might cause some problems.

At intersections:

If turning right, start moving to the right side of the road about 100 metres earlier. Any objections from oncoming traffic can be answered by flashing the headlights.
When passing through, liberal flashing of the headlights will warn oncoming or joining traffic not to come in the way. In all other countries a flashing light is a sign of courtesy giving the other vehicle the right of way.
To warn all traffic that you have no intention of giving way switch on your hazard lights. You are indeed a hazard.
If none of the above are suitable just look away and the "Backside" rule comes into effect.

A roundabout is a free-for-all:
Generally go around clockwise except when in a hurry or you consider yourself above the law. You will be surprised to know how many of the latter there are.
Be prepared for traffic moving in an anti-clockwise direction.
First vehicle to reach the circle has right of way. Also see the "Backside Rule".
Size of the vehicle matters. Buses and lorries give way to no one.

If you see the vehicle in front indicate by a flashing light that it is about to turn this only means that the indicator working. The vehicle may do what it indicates, may turn in the opposite direction or may not turn at all.

If you see the vehicle in front indicate by a hand signal that it is about to turn this may mean that the vehicle may turn. It could also mean that a very attractive billboard has just been put up or indicate the direction Indian politics is taking.

If a vehicle moves to the left, especially if it is a large vehicle or an older version of car with a larger turning radius, it may actually be preparing to turn right in which case it will turn across your path. Since at the time that driver started his turn he could not see you, the "Backside Rule" applies.

Just because you are stopped and waiting to turn right does not mean that traffic behind you passes to your left. Vehicles, especially two wheelers, are allowed to pass on either side. In case of accident see "Backside Rule".

If you see a bus stopped in the middle of the road it could be picking up and dropping passengers or is broken down. Remember roadsides are reserved for other purposes and bus shelters make ideal toilets and shelters for cattle.

Displaying lights on moving vehicles is optional. In the case of pedal powered vehicles it is not necessary. Politicians have decided that the lives of cyclists are not valuable enough to need protection. Do not dip your headlights, it is taken as a sign of weakness and an invitation for the vehicle moving in the opposite direction to drive you off the road.

If you see a group of people in the middle of the road they could be participating in a dharna. They could also be having a chat in which case the extent of blockage of the road is directly proportionate to the size of their collective ego.

"Backside Rule" - If you cannot see another vehicle because it is not in your field of vision then in any accident involving that vehicle you are not responsible. Field of vision does not include rear-view mirrors that are never used.

"Might" may be "right" as the saying goes but in a road accident the larger vehicle is always wrong. "Ability to pay" is also a prime consideration in determining fault.

Lastly, if you have ever seen a copy of the traffic rules it must have been in your dreams. Wake up to reality.

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