When I first set out behind the wheel in Lahore 2 years ago, I was incredibly, dedicatedly focused on what not to hit. Don’t hit the pedestrian! Or the hundreds of motorcycles weaving on tipped tires threw traffic! Don’t’ hit the car that just cut you off, or the one that slammed on their breaks. Don’t hit the sheep being herded across the road or the man doing the herding…and while you’re at it don’t hit that truck, or those tuk-tuks or the multiple horses, camels, donkey carts, and bicyclers. And watch out for the children riding on the back of that water buffalo! It was like playing a video game and somehow managing to avoid obstacles that cropped up oh, so suddenly. Back to my Nintendo Mario kart racing days I go! But there were no supercharging mushrooms to collect, only dangerously high numbers of slippery bananas and other racers who seemingly, don’t want to finish the game but peril somewhere on route. AND, it was all on the opposite side of the road. I still have trouble with turning on my windshield wipers instead of my turning signal.
It all seemed overwhelmingly difficult until I shifted my thinking. It still neatly occupies my Mario kart racing metaphor but rather than looking at what I don’t want to hit, I now concentrate my gaze only on where I want to go. It becomes a game of spotting openings and moving past tight spaces without glancing nervously at what I think ‘I might hit’. Your car goes where your eyes go! All of my nervous glancing at my surroundings drew me towards those obstacles instead of helping see and strategize my next move into ‘open space’. Using this strategy I only ‘tapped’ a tuk tuk once and I banished my driving nervousness.
There are not many rules with driving here. Going past red lights and being a 10 year old motorcyclist driver (with your mother seated on the back) seem to make very little impact on the traffic police, but there is a whole lot of general discontent if you disrupt the flow of traffic. So when we look where we want to go, when we don’t disrupt the flow, this whole seemingly chaotic driving thing can actually become a form of dance, well orchestrated and elegant. Well…sometimes at least. There are still incredibly high numbers of people who don’t know how to drive, they didn’t get the flow memo! These are generally the people texting while driving, or juggling 6+ people on a motorbike, or the ones sharing the back of their car or bike with squirming livestock.
You do see all sorts of things on the roads here…
I realize there are some life lesson crossovers here. Accepting things the way they are and seeing the flow in chaos can apply to many life situations not just behind the wheel. In addition, concentrating on where you want to go, not where you don’t, will always bring you closer to your target, whatever or wherever that may be. So see the spaces, the opportunities people! There are always ways past obstacles.