In this post I want to talk about my positive and negative driving experiences in Pakistan and how it was totally different from driving in Germany. I had a bumpy start with ups and downs but as they say practice makes man perfect. I am learning something new with every drive. Before coming to Pakistan I have had my driving license for 5 years, but once I started driving here it seemed like everything I had learned in driving school and my experience of the past 5 years were useless.
So here is a list of some pleasant and unpleasant things:
Changing from left hand driving to right hand driving
As per habit Little o me walked straight to the left side of the car to get behind the steering wheel but when I opened the door I remembered that the steering wheel is on the other side. Once I sat down on the right side of the car (behind the steering wheel) the next confusion was on its way. Once I started the car and went in to put the car in the first gear I slammed my right hand into the door because I was used to changing the gear with my right hand but realized I had to use the other hand now. The left right confusion didn’t stop there I had the same problem with giving an indicator. Every time I wanted to turn and set the indicator the wipers turned on and the other way around. It took me a few days but after that I got used to it.
Everyone is driving the way they want to
Most people in Pakistan learn driving from their father, older brother or older cousin, which is why they just learn how to drive but no traffic rules and regulations like you learn in driving school. That’s why everyone drives the way they want and doesn’t follow traffic rules. They make their own rules which most of the time means I am going first the other one has to wait. And in addition to that everyone seems to be in a hurry and doesn’t stop for anything or anyone which cause risky overtake maneuvers. These takeovers end well most of the times but sometimes they also result in horrible accidents.
Too much honking
As I mentioned before people here have made their own rules. This includes honking. In Europe when someone honks at you it means you have made a mistake and they are making you aware of that or mostly when people are annoyed by someone they honk at them. But here in Pakistan people honk to let you know “hey I am going to overtake you now” or “I am coming around the corner”. Keeping that in mind there is a lot of honking on the streets as there is a lot of overtaking. I still can’t get used to the honking because every time someone honks the first thing that pops up in my head is ‘What did I do? Why is he honking at me?’ even though they are not pointing out any mistake but giving a warning. It is very annoying and makes the whole driving experience so much more stressful.
Traffic is a disaster
The traffic here is a disaster because as a car driver you are sharing the road with motorbikes, cycles, rikshas (also called tuk tuk), trucks, buses and donkey carts. Now image all these vehicles on the same road. Yes you guessed it right it means you can’t drive in a constant speed because you have to slow down because of the different speeds of the other vehicles. The whole overtaking thingy makes it all just worse. And the most annoying driver as the motorbike drivers because they don’t indicate which way they are going and all of the sudden just turn left or right or show up unexpectedly on your right or left. It’s like they are driving with a tunnel vision. They don’t look left or right and just go straight expecting the other one to take care and stop if necessary.
Everything is overloaded
Because there are no traffic rules and regulations and everyone does whatever they want there is no limit on how many people can sit in a car or on a motorbike which leads to overloading. I have seen a whole Family of 5 (Parents and 3 kids) on a motorbike and even more than that. I have also been in a small car, with 6 – 7 other people, which is meant for max. 5 people and if you have little kids you can fit even more in it. And if people don`t fit into the bus or van they also tend to sit on top of it which is totally crazy. Well that was quite an experience which is unimaginable in Germany.
Driving as a woman and everything is a drive in
When you are a woman and driving a car especially in the conservative areas of Pakistan, you tend to get some weird looks. But it also has its advantages to be a female driver for example you don’t need to get out of the car to get some stuff done. For example when you drive up to a small shop or a small take away place you just need to honk and someone will come to your car take your order and bring it to you. How awesome is that? I was really amazed by this. In Germany you have to get in and out of your car to do the smallest things which can be pretty annoying. But this whole getting service inside your car makes the whole going out thing much more relaxed.
Refuel without getting out of the car
In Germany, like in most European countries you have to get out of the car refuel it and then got to the cash register and do the payment. But here in Pakistan you just pull over tell the petrol pump guy how much you need and he does the work for you and you pay him all from sitting in your car. I liked this concept so much. For me personally getting my car refueled was the most annoying part about driving in Germany but here it’s so easy.
After driving here I can say it is quite adventures and a unique experience when you come from a well organized traffic and then drive in such a chaos. But I think once you are in the chaos you become a part of the chaos and it doesn’t feel that chaotic anymore.