Saturday, May 5, 2001
G O O D  M O T O R I N G

Pehle aap!
By H. Kishie Singh

THE Lakhnavis are reputedly the most polite and courteous people.

There was a story I heard as a child about two gentlemen from Lucknow who were extremely polite and steeped in proper etiquette. "Pehle aap (after you!)", one said to the other as they were about to board a train. "Pehle aap", replied the other, equally polite and proper. The train moved off but the two remained polite and proper, and standing on the platform!

Pehle aap! How nice if we gave way to other road-users and observed right of way and not right of might and speed.

At sea there is a law: powered craft must give way to wind-powered craft. Practise this on the road. Mechanised vehicles must give way to human-powered vehicles (cycles and rickshaws), and animal-drawn carts.

We take delight in cutting off a rickshaw or an animal-drawn cart just because it is slower and an irritant. But these have as much right to be on the roads as the cars.


Just because you paid more for your car, it does not give you more rights. Be tolerant. Animals, especially horses, shy from sudden sounds like a horn. Give the animal a wide berth and proceed cautiously around the cart.

The Dalai Lama some time ago gave a lecture on tolerance. What a wonderful place our roads would be if we practised tolerance on the road and in our driving habits. His Holiness advocates tolerance towards all beings. I am sure the list of beings includes pedestrians, cyclists, rickshawallahs and animals like horses and bulls which pull carts. Spirituality and motoring do actually go together.

There is one sign on our roads which is ignored (which one is not?). The sign, if obeyed and strictly adhered to, will help traffic move smoothly and swiftly. The sign is an inverted triangle with a red border on white background. It says yield. The Hindi translation would be "raasta dijeya".

Pehle aap! It would seem that to be a good driver we should imbibe some Lakhnavi traits! Courtesy, politeness, tolerance and patience ó thatís what makes a good driver.

For those of you who will be going abroad and driving, you would be well advised to pay heed to a yield sign and give priority to traffic on your right.

Happy motoring!