Madam - Bangalore trafficYou know you’ve acclimatised when… an ongoing series.

It no longer seems strange.

In fact, I don’t even notice it, unless I really concentrate.

But here in India, only the driver of ‘two wheelers’ needs to wear a helmet by law – the pillion doesn’t.

Or lets face it – the pillions.

As quite often there is more than one. Or even more than two.

When I first moved here it seemed so very strange, and horribly dangerous, to see the front person nicely cocooned in a helmet and everyone else just smiling and chatting away on their phones or clutching a baby, or reading, or holding a ladder. Though to be fair in the case of the ladder, there are issues more dangerous than who’s wearing a helmet.

In Kerala you often see young men ferrying their mothers about on a motorbike. The matriarch sitting side saddle resplendent in a saree. Her son, diligently driving her somewhere encased in safety gear – her with nothing.

Madam - helmets optionalAnd all over country you see whole families squashed on the two wheeler, dad in his helmet, mother holding a baby and a couple of small children jammed in between them.

All seems fairly normal to me now – though I do still actually notice more than two people on a motorbike. Just not the helmet thing so much.

But I do notice ladies wrapped up in scarves. Like the two at the top. That’s not a head protective thing – or indeed a proto terrorist. That’s a sensible soul not wanting to ingest car fumes. You see it all the time, and as traffic is thick and slow, it more than makes sense.

Sadly it is, of course, no use if your head hits the tarmac at speed, but at least you’re cutting down on carbon monoxide, eh?


I’ve been lightly following my own acclimatisation for the last few years. Read the earlier posts here:

You know you’re acclimatised when….
You’re not really Indian at all
You’re half way to being a local…

Have you ever ridden a motorbike? How would you/do you feel not wearing a helmet? Please let me know in the comments below