Tuesday, 29 September 2009
Rules of the Iranian Road
Rule 1: Be in a lorry. If you cannot be in a lorry, be in a blue pickup. If you are in either of these vehicles, not only are you impervious to all Earthly laws, but more complex ones like physics and relativity as well. Be advised that colour selection will not be a problem as all Iranian pickups are blue, for reasons that are probably significant but not immediately apparent.
Rule 2: If you cannot be in a lorry or blue pickup, ensure you are in either a Peugeot 405, a Kia Pride or a Paykan, which is sort of like a stretch Lada, with similar build quality. Disregard for these two simple rules will see you riding a Honda 250 motorbike, which is an unattractive prospect (see below).
Rule 3: Ensure that a novelty horn is fitted. The standard horn on your vehicle, even if it is a sodding great truck, simply will not do. Length of tone and volume are the key factors to bear in mind here. Standard badging, too, should be removed wherever possible, and replaced with items which indicate that, against all empirical evidence, your Kia Pride is actually an Audi A6 with FEUL INJECTION and a TURBO.
Rule 4: If you are in a lorry or a blue pickup, fill your vehicle with as many goods as is physically impossible. Extra points are gained for sheer improbable height of your stacked goods. If you are in a car, replace 'goods' with 'people', but keep the bit about improbable height. Seven passengers should be considered an absolute, baseline minimum for passage on the Iranian road.
Rule 5: Having chosen and correctly populated your vehicle, it is time to venture out onto the road. To do this, you must first pick a piece of road on which to drive. Don't worry if somebody else has already chosen this piece of road - they will vacate it, somehow, or you can share. Ensure you change both road positioning and speed at least every five seconds to ensure maximum disruption to the free flow of traffic. For tips on successful road positioning, visit your local funfair and spend an evening studying the way dodgems 'interact'.
Rule 6: Right of way: there is no such thing. Priority, therefore, goes to the pushiest bastard, or certainly to whoever is in the largest, most solid looking vehicle (see Rule 1). If you find yourself in a vehicle which is somewhat lower down the food chain, you can temporarily elevate yourself by making liberal use of your novelty horn (see Rule 3).
Rule 7: Generally speaking, you should at least attempt to drive in the same direction as other traffic on your side of the road. Exceptions are made for Honda 250 motorcycles, lorries and blue pickups (see Rule 1) and those prepared to make liberal use of their novelty horn (see Rules 3 and 6).
Rule 8: Speed limits. These are generally as fast as your vehicle can travel, even if in so doing your lorry or blue pickup belches out enough carcinogenic fog to suffocate the whole of Rasht, and granny has to cling on to the haystack that you have balanced on the load bay (see Rule 4). However, these speeds must only be maintained for short periods of time, and should be followed by sudden, unexpected and violent bouts of deceleration. Swerving should accompany these wherever possible. This is to ensure that the driver of the Paykan next to you is awake, and will give the seventeen people on the rear bench something to point at.
Rule 9: If you do see a police radar trap, don't worry: although these are numerous, your speed, road position and general sanity are of no concern to the Iranian constabulary. These checkpoints are for the bored policeman occasionally to practice his English by admonishing foreigners for driving slightly over what could, in theory, be the speed limit.
Rule 10: Don't queue for anything.