Another country, another driving experience.
Any expat in Brussels will inevitably raise the issue of the unique mix of laissez-faire and 27+ driving styles that charaterises the traffic here at some point during an introductory conversation. Having driven in India I initially felt fine about driving here, afterall it is far less chaotic and crowded and there are fewer sacred animals to deal with. I have found myself with a driving instructor who is, in equal measure, also a one man vigilante as far as the Belgian Highway Code is concerned.
Cars that cut me off inevitably set him off in a flurry of flashing headlights (he has controls to do this) or leaning over to beep the horn at the unfortunate offender or, in particularly enraging circumstances, to roll down the window to give the finger.
We’ve already got into an altercation at the traffic lights with a bus driver on who had the right of way at a roundabout (me but he said I lost priority when I stopped which I don’t) and I am also learning driving instructors strong views on the fact that neither the French nor Italians are to be trusted on the road and anyone in a car with central or eastern European plates should be avoided. Passing through Molenbeek he educated me on this country’s faulty immigration policy (of which he is a beneficiary BTW) by pointing out there was not a single Belgian in sight and that the failure of the authorities to force integration was a huge mistake.
Who knew driving lessons could be quite so instructive?
Yesterday we were in a 30 zone in Ixelles when a police car overtook us at a junction without his lights or siren on. Driving instructor threw his hands in the air and sat open-mouthed (while I laughed) but strangely didn’t attempt to impose any retaliatory measures….