I began driving in Pakistan a few months ago. For a long time, I avoided it. I told myself it was better for my mental health not to drive. And then, I got married and actually have a car with my husband. After a certain point, I felt bad asking him to take me everywhere like a teenager without a license. I swallowed my fear and just did it.
1. You must honk your horn to let people know you exist on the road
Forget about that indicator because you will barely use it. Nobody knows to stay out of your lane unless you remind them that you are there. Want to make your point to the man or women who decide to use the non-turn lane to turn? Honk it up! See a pigeon that is in your way? Honk at him too. Let him know who’s boss. Your horn talks and that is final.
[bctt tweet=”You must honk your horn to let people know you exist on the road” username=”wearethetempest”]
2. You feel like you are in a game of MarioKart
Think it’s just other cars you have to worry about? No, no. You have motorbike drivers strolling along the highway lane in pairs just catching up on their daily gossip. Couple that with pedestrians using the wave of their hands to slow you down followed by donkey carts and trucks overloaded beyond capacity with construction cargo. You have plenty of things to dodge, so being anywhere near your phone is ACTUALLY scary (even though you should NEVER text or talk and drive).
[bctt tweet=”You have motorbike drivers strolling along the highway lane in pairs just catching up on their daily gossip.” username=”wearethetempest”]
3. You will one day go blind because people are either blinking or flashing you with their high beams
Hey, douchebag! Do you not see the streetlights on? Hey douchebag number two, I already get that you want me to get out of this lane because you are tailing me with your ridiculously bright lights. Seriously, my peripheral vision already has issues, which is why I am pretty sure I will become legally blind one day.
4. When you thought there was no space to fit your car in a space or lane, you were wrong
This one is still taking me forever to get used to, and probably my highest source of anxiety. Think that that three-lane road is meant for three lanes? It probably turns into five, including the motorcycle lane. Think your car will not fit in that parking spot? Well, do not even doubt it. A guy standing somewhere in the parking lot will make sure it fits. Just follow his directions. Or do what I do, leave the car, hand him the keys and ask him to make sense of it.
5. When the traffic lights stop working, all hell breaks loose
Common courtesy and common sense? Out the window! It is one man (or woman) for himself (or herself). There is a saying in Urdu that goes something like this: “If you keep saying ‘you first,’ you miss the train.” Nevermind, that sounds horrible when translated into English. You have to scoot yourself in if you are to get past that intersection. Otherwise, you may be lucky and traffic police may come and keep things moving.
[bctt tweet=”Common courtesy and common sense? Out the window!” username=”wearethetempest”]
6. Traffic circles/roundabouts are a hot mess
Mostly because nobody actually enters the circle properly and cuts in front of you while in the circle to where you just have to drive slowly and hope you make it into your exit. As an American, I am still getting used to the concept of a roundabout in general. My Australian husband is still taking the piss out of me (Australian for making fun of me) for using the term “traffic circle.”
7. Get used to seeing children driving or dangerously hanging out windows
This one was tough for me. One day, when I looked over I could have sworn I saw a teen boy driving. He was barely able to see above the steering wheel. On many occasions I have seen boys with their full body sticking out of the window, seated on top of it. I get it. We all like the opportunity to present our swagger in cars, but this takes the cake.
8. If you are a woman, men actually try to teach you driving while on the road
All. The. Time. While Pakistan is no Saudi Arabia and I have seen more women drivers here than I ever used to in my childhood, there are headaches. While almost every Pakistani drives with a notion of complete savagery, women get more heat when they make a mistake. I suppose that is no surprise globally, but come on, at least keep your stereotypes to yourself while on the actual road!
[bctt tweet=”If you are a woman, men actually try to teach you driving while on the road ” username=”wearethetempest”]
9. When an accident happens, expect a mob of mostly dudes standing around watching
Maybe they are witnesses. Maybe they will call the police or an ambulance. Nope. They are there to see a spectacle, block traffic, and hey, a fight may even break out. What an exciting and eventful day for everyone involved.
10. You secretly want to run over motorbike drivers – all of them
Just kidding (not really). Motorcycle drivers are nimble. They are quick. And they squeeze into areas that you never thought could ever be squeezed by a motorcycle. Sometimes through parked cars, and through fast-moving cars too. With families of four riding behind them. No helmets. It is pure genius.
Pakistan is a colorful place on the road, for a lack of better words. Remember these ten things while driving and you will be a boss on the road!