I come to you today with yet another column containing an update on the latest traffic rules in Kathmandu. To those of you who are muttering under your breath, “Oh no, not another article with silly driving tips!” let me just say that you have no choice. Take it or leave it.
In this day and age you can never have enough pointers on how to negotiate traffic on our streets, because the rules keep changing. So, without much ado about nothing, it is time for another periodic update with answers to frequently asked questions about driving in Nepal:
Q: On which side of the road does one drive in Nepal?
A: Those of you who thought that in Nepal we drive on the left side of the road are wrong. That rule has just been changed, and all motorcycles are henceforth required to drive on the right side (which used to be the wrong side) of the street at all times and weave suicidally in and out, dodging oncoming trucks and buses.
The left side of the road will now only be used to park bricks, cement, steel rods and other construction material.
Q: What is the latest on helmets?
A: As we go to press at 1900 hrs UTC on Thursday, you are not required to wear a helmet if you are a pillion rider who is the wife of the driver, but please check back with us in an hour because the rules may change. Kids sitting on the fuel tank are required by law not to wear a helmet, but they can wear Daddy’s shades and a silly cap if they so wish.
Q: What are the rules on overtaking?
A: The first thing to remember is that we never over take in Nepal, we always take over. We are very territorial about the 10m radius of asphalt around us on the street, and woe betide anyone who deigns to trespass this space. And that includes you over there, yes, you on the wheelchair with two children on the zebra crossing.
Q: Are there any specific things I need to know about VIP movements?
A: Yes, I’m glad you asked that question because an incorrect answer could land you in jail.
Q: Besides chickens, are there any other things crossing the road that we need to watch out for?
A: Buffaloes, goats, ducks and other livestock have right of way and can cross the road at any time, anywhere and without warning. It is up to the driver behind the wheel to use telepathy to figure out what their intentions are. Dogs, on the other hand, don’t cross the road but will race you while barking their heads off. Don’t worry about them, unless they are wearing helmets.