03.02.2015 - 27.02.2015 30 °C
In Canada, rules are pretty clear; either something is a rule that most people follow or it isn't and you are fine. We all break rules now and then (unless you're my aunt Donna) but we know we are stepping across a line; you just might get a j-walking ticket if you cross the street illegall or that tailwind pushes you a little over the speed limit. When you look around India and Sri Lanka, there are things that are rules that are rules and rules that are more flexible. Even the rules that are rules tend to be a bit flexible.
One of the first things you notice as soon as you hit the road, is that the lane markings on the road are really just guidelines. In the western world, if you are in a lane it is yours and not to be tampered with. When you go to pass someone, it is your job to make sure you have enough room in front to safely pass and get back into your lane. Here in India, lanes are more guidelines or suggestions as to where cars might drive. When you need to pass, you honk and change lanes. The car you are passing pulls over and any oncoming traffic also slides over to make room for you. Generally it all seems to work out, cars make room for each other when they can.
We have also noticed that when we order beer at restaurants it shows up as "pop" on the bill which confused us; we had to ask the first time what the $4 "pop" charge was for. It turns out that there are very few establishments that actually have a liquor license and that despite alcohol being freely available at all the restaurants they are not actually supposed to be serving. It was explained to us that in a perverse round about way this helps everyone. The unlicensed restaurants are making money, the bars that are
licensed wholesale to those that are not and therefore make money and the police are happy with their payoffs that grease the wheels of corruption. It's a very different world view from mine to say that a system setup to breed corruption is actually in some way "good". If you want to add to the list of those that are happy you could also say that the people against alcohol consumption are pleased that, on paper at least, the laws are very restrictive.
An advertisement for Kingfisher water. You didn't think it was a beer ad, did you?
Saying that India has no rules or that they are all flexible would, of course, be an overstatement. I have heard stories of drivers being brutally beaten up for causing accidents. Overstay your visa at your peril and we need to fill out extensive forms for all 5 of us at each hotel we check into. I still find it amazing how often other things that are brought forward as rules are really just guidelines.