…The Wrong Side of the Road

So, in Dhaka, we do drive on the left, as they do in England. You’d think that’s what my post title refers to, but then, you’ve not been in Dhaka traffic.

A couple of days ago, I drove the 15 blocks to the little American store to stock up on heavy groceries. I could go more often and walk there to save the resources, yes, but ferrying a whole frozen chicken and a 12 pack of soda while walking through Dhaka isn’t very fun. Anyway, the drive there took about 30 minutes. 15 blocks. 30 minutes.

And, these blocks are only 2 houses deep, not big city blocks, tiny little blocks.

When the traffic gets like this, probably about every other day or so, people try to get creative with their solutions. The most common solution is to honk. But, of course, honking doesn’t really resolve gridlock, it just adds to the chaos.

The solution that a few clever souls come up with is one that you can’t fully appreciate without actually being in the car, but I’ll share it with you anyway: Drive the wrong way down the street, preferably in the same area as pedestrians are walking, but occasionally right in the middle. Let oncoming traffic flow around you as you fight your way, salmon-like, in the other direction.

This technique is also useful when traffic is at Dhaka-normal level:

i.e. if you’re a moto-scooter, then anywhere is fine to drive, even backwards…
or a delivery vehicle, or a rickshaw, or a bicycle-truck carrying 20 meter long bamboo poles, or a bus. That’s what amuses me the most, seeing a big ol’ city bus doing the salmon-swim up through traffic, the frantic would-be passengers dashing across the mess of traffic on the other side, and over the 4 foot tall median covered in barbed wire to make it to the wrong-way bus.

Luckily, since there is SOOO much traffic, the average speed of anyone is about 4mph, so even a head-on collision isn’t going to do much more than aesthetic damage.

2 thoughts on “…The Wrong Side of the Road

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