Thoughts about India

June 1, 2009

I have writers block when it comes to descibing India. I’m going to try my best but some aspects are nearly indescribable.

Entering the country is just like entering any other country…customs, visa checks, luggage gathering, etc… Except this time people kept pinching my little ones cheeks. But once you step outside, chaos begins. Organization at the airport doesn’t exist, in fact, organization in general is not a dominant characteristic. People are yelling at you to see if you need a hotel or a cab or anything. Amongst this chaos you have people pulling at your luggage because they want to help and get tipped a few ruppees. We found our driver because the plan was to arrive in India at 11:00pm local time and drive immediately northward from Delhi to Dehra Dun…a 7 hour drive. We followed our driver through a maze of people and cars for about 15 minutes before getting to the parking lot…with me swatting misquitoes all the way…Delhi is in the malaria zone. Some random person jumped on top of the vehicle to help tie down luggage even though he is not associated with us in hopes of getting a few ruppees.

The driving. My tactic to avoid having a heart attack while riding is avoidance and I refuse to sit in the front seat. I will do anything except pay attention to other vehicles and how the driver is driving. This goes for all of Asia. DO NOT PAY ATTENTION. Driving is one part NASCAR, one part grand prix, and another part slamming the brakes as hard as possible and swerving. Lanes are meaningless, most road don’t bother with lanes. And even when there are two lanes going one way and two lanes going another way, cars still go the wrong direction down the street. In Dehli there are traffic lights but in most cities and villages there are absolutely no traffic lights or traffic police. Which cars go depends on which driver has enough balls to go.

Passing is one of those issues that leaves me wordless because they pass on blind curves while accelerating, they will pass with a huge dump truck coming in the other lane and hope that the dump truck will go off the road. They pass anytime. Remember: AVOIDANCE. Don’t pay attention. Talk with the other passangers.

Objects in the road include: people, cows, goats, horse carts, trees, trash, well you get the picture, almost everything. One day a herd of 200 water buffalo’s came up the road. If you have ever seen a water buffalo you know that they are huge! Vehicles can not move in a herd of water buffalo …and buffalo are ornary [another post]. In Nepal, I saw a collision between a water buffalo, a bike, and a motorbike. The only thing that got out of that accident was the buffalo.

Driving and riding in a vehicle is probably considered a sport in this country. There are subtle driver rules that totally baffle me. It depends if you are on the inside or outside of a cliff with a 2 km sheer drop as to which person has to back up. I’ll post pictures [if I can figure it out] of the roads blasted out of sheer cliffs. The amount of work and labor that went into making these roads is stunning. Some of the road are works of art.

Speed limit signs are duly ignored as well as any road sign. Drivers yell as each other and use hand gestures. And HONKING….all…the….time. They honk for everything. In fact, I know why they honk now because after awhile, the bystander starts to ignore the honks, so the vehicle must honk even more. I would tune out there honks while doing geology and not realize it until a bus was a foot away from me. HONK. In fact, our drivers horn went out on him he honked so much. This was cause for much consternation and immediate fixing. One can not do anything without a horn. The little one learned to sleep through it all.

Chaos I tell you. Stop, HONK,Go, HONK, slam on brakes, HONK, slam the accelerator, HONK, start out in 2nd gear, HONK, grind the gears, HONK, swerve, HONK. The little one grew so accustomed to this that to put her to sleep not in a vehicle I had to simulate the stopping and going and swerving while she was in a wrap. I hope she is over that now. I look like an idiot doing it.


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