Suriving Paris as a Nambian Driver

Many of us Namibians drive according to what I like to call “Mariental Rules.” That is, we are so used to our space, our uncluttered roads (those nasty five minute traffic jams in Windhoek three times a day, excepted) that we take what seems like forever to do the most simple of traffic maneuvers. In extreme cases of Mariental Rules, you don’t pull into oncoming traffic if you can see a car coming. In the desert, especially at night, this can be a problem because one sees a vehicle from many kilometers away, and you can sit at that junction for up to 15 minutes waiting for that car to pass.

In Paris, however, Mariental Rules do not work, instead one has to acquire “superior driving skills.” Once you have “superior driving skills” other drivers on the road make way in gracious acknowledgment. This is how you get around Paris. The key of course is to maintain “superior driving skills.” This is not as simple as it sounds as there are may ways to diminish those skills. For example, using the turn indicators is a sign of weakness, fellow motorists will pick up on this immediately and you will be moved to the bottom of the hierarchy. Similarly, excessive use of your rear and side view mirrors is a sure fire path to inferiority. A true master of the roads keeps his or her vision fixed squarely on that seam between vehicles that he or she wants to weave through. Never, ever, ever enter a roundabout and stay in an outside lane. This is a sign of ultimate inferiority. Instead, you must cut straight through to the inner lane with complete disdain for other traffic, then exit again with a swift slash rightward to your desired exit. Only this way will you survive. Buses and large lorries often have ‘superior driving skills” regardless of your capabilities, but not always.

One last point: scooters and motorcycle in Paris exist in a parallel and concurrent universe. They operate according to different laws of Physics. Don’t pay them much mind as they whizz past and around yours and the other cars on the road. Doing so only causes other drivers to belittle your “superior driving skills.”

Namibia Notes

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