Terrifying experience driving in a large city after a long time

The city has changed so much. Credit where it is due, no one touched my car, but I was certain someone or the other would definitely scrape by.

BHPian pareekvirendra recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

I have lived in Pune for about 8 years and even learned to drive a car there, however, I had to move out to Aurangabad due to a transfer and have been living here for the last 4 years.

Last week, an opportunity presented itself to go to Pune for about 3 days. I thought it will be a good opportunity for a long drive and hence made plans accordingly. This was my first visit to Pune in three years and little did I know what I was getting into. The usual time taken to go from Aurangabad to Pune is about 5.5 to 6 hours, whereas I took 8. As soon as I reached Pune city limits, it was as if I had forgotten how to drive. People around me were zooming past me, going so close to my car that I was scared for my car and my life. I still remember the drive from Wagholi to Deccan in Pune. It was really terrifying. It’s not as if I have not driven in Pune before. But this trip was entirely different. I was completely scared of the traffic.

In the end, I did manage to complete my trip and drove around the city for the entire 3 days, but it was a terrifying experience. The traffic there was completely different to what I am used to here in Aurangabad. People squeezing past you where you can’t see any space, oncoming traffic hurtling towards you at a very high pace and stopping just short of your bonnet.

Pune city has changed so much. The entire flyover on the university road was gone as if it never existed. There is so much construction work going on everywhere. Credit where it is due, no one touched my car, but I was certain someone or the other would definitely scrape by.

What is this feeling called, where you go to a big city and are suddenly gripped by panic? I have driven across several highways and several cities and never faced this before (I usually go to Rajasthan through MP or Gujarat by car)

Is this usual? Or do I need to do something about it?

Here’s what BHPian SS-Traveller had to say on the matter:

If I understand your driving style correctly, you are a slow and overtly careful driver, and you are not mindful about keeping up your rate of progress with the general traffic flow, whether on the highways or in the city. Your problem is not about driving in a big city, but about being surrounded by dense, fast-moving traffic, mistrusting the skill level of the faster driver, and being frightened about keeping pace while maintaining space.

Affirming my assumption, I’ve found many drivers who have driven all their lives in one big city (Kolkata) initially finding it difficult to drive and feeling intimidated in another big city (Delhi-NCR). Or Indian drivers feel intimidated when driving in disciplined high-speed traffic on an undivided 2-lane highway with an 80-km/h speed limit in another country (Australia) (watch the video below).

Here’s what BHPian Kosfactor had to say on the matter:

It can happen in reverse too.

If you are driving like a champ in crowded cities and then you reach places where the roads are barely wide enough for two auto rickshaws to pass and has no median, no visibility around the bends either.

The locals will be coming at you in a tearing hurry that too in vehicles that aren’t meant to go fast. Soon you’d be looking for an eject button next to your seat.

It is called driving, enjoy it.

Here’s what BHPian DicKy had to say on the matter:

As weird as it may seem like, each Indian city may have a different driving style that would have been moulded by various factors. When did motor vehicles first appear, when did ordinary people start using motor vehicles, the infrastructure, whether it was a former kingdom or colonial city, whether the cops are strict or not, what is the migrant: native population ratio, does it have more of a floating population, how is the 2 wheeler: 3 wheeler: 4 wheeler: 4+ wheeler ratios, et al.

Also, the native population may know the places more than the outsider, they may have a tighter time schedule than the visitor and they may be more verse with the particular nuances of a junction (given that the only standard we follow in India is to drive on the left)

Just take your time slowly and make defensive driving your best buddy.

Offtopic. Reminds me of the time when I had an outing with my buddy and his classmate. The classmate was not an enthusiast per se, but comes from a well-to-do family. (read good vehicles at his disposal). He had a Q3 that day and the way he drove inside the city made us go He was darting through traffic with little margin to spare, the push accelerator, push brake, push accelerator…driving style. In Jeremy Clarskon’s words, “a Maniac!!!”. We went to a go-karting facility nearby. Me and my buddy were chasing each other around the track and having fun, while the classmate was crawling along with us passing him a couple of times. On asking he said, “I felt so vulnerable and low to the ground. How did you guys drive so fast?” Needless to say he was not amused with the whole go-karty thing but was more than eager to pose for racer poses for social media. If you are reading this, Sorry dude.

Here’s what BHPian MaheshY1 had to say on the matter:

It’s normal. We need time to recalibrate our senses, reactions, and distance around the vehicle. Some adjust to this in less than an hour while some take a few days. I witness this all the time when people on the highways are driving at 50-60kmph as if they are in the city. I sometimes forget that they aren’t as familiar with highway driving. The same people are much more agile when we run into a traffic situation on the highways since they are in the ‘city driving’ mode.

On the flip side, I need half an hour to recalibrate myself when entering Delhi. On the highways, the cars maintain a bigger cushion around but in Delhi, everything is so jam-packed. Thankfully, Gurgaon helps me gradually get into that rhythm and also eases me out of it when exiting Delhi and jumping onto the highway. If I have to enter Mumbai, then it might take me a few days as it’s a completely new territory.

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