WOE – India, Part 1

  1. Chaotic, cacophonous streets: No such thing as traffic lights, road signs, speed limits, crossing guards, or common courtesy on the streets. Roads are narrow, cramped, and bumpy, and hence the small cars and rickshaw taxis! With little traffic regulation, how are people to drive and walk safely? Vehicles speed and honk without hesitation, as there are no signs limiting speed and obnoxious honks. People also never stay in their lanes; they cross cross back and forth, without signaling most times. At times, I even find 5 vehicles driving alongside each other! Drivers are merciless and reckless. Motorcycles wind around precariously, cutting between cars and large buses. Motorcyclists usually do not wear helmets and they zip right past you. Rickshaw drivers get annoying too. Pedestrians are in clear danger, but no one seems frazzled whatsoever. I walked considerably to places, so much so that I’ve suffered through two broken flip-flops in a month trekking the broken roads and rocky paths. The thing is, people here do not seem to have a care in the world. Kids, students, men, and women – they don’t get fazed by the onslaught of vehicles. They go right on ahead and cross like it’s a leisurely walk through Central Park. They’re not afraid of getting steamrolled by honking, crazy cars! Take women and children for example; they ride the motorcycles behind husbands or fathers, comfortable and calm. Women sit sideways with their sarees and children nestle between their parents, looking giddy and happy-go-lucky. Sometimes, I see women driving motorcycles! I don’t know how they do it, but they are brave souls.

    Holy Sidewalks

  2. Vehicles are everywhere: Rickshaws, cars, buses, motorcycles, and trucks clog the streets. It’s not only the busy city streets; they also infiltrate where vehicles are not allowed, like parks and markets! It pissed me off whenever vehicles honked for meto move aside, when they should not even be ruining nature’s serenity at Neyyar Dam and the bustling nightmarkets! You would venture to think drivers were going to be more civil, but no no, they were just as impatient and mean. Seriously, they did not belong there, and still, they put others in danger. I thought I’d get away from the hellish streets at a park. Nope, those noisy bastards disturbed the harmony of the natural world. Markets were small and cramped as they were, with shoppers and stores. Still, stupid cars weaved their way in and drove poor pedestrians like myself aside, ruining the pleasant and safe shopping experience!

    Busy Pattom Road

  3. Cannot Drive for Life in India, and Never Will:  First, I’m too nice to use the horn. I tend to forget I have a horn to honk at stupid people. Second, I’d perpetually drive on the wrong side of the road. That’s because India follows the European model. Drivers are seated on the right and cars drive on the left side of the road. Everything is flip-flopped from what I’ve been trained to do in the states. Without even realizing, I’ll end up on the wrong side of traffic and that’s a grand disaster.
  4. Professional Jaywalkers:  Like I’ve said many times already, drivers are not afraid to hit you. That’s the feeling I get when I have to cross a street. Intersections are like battlegrounds. When I’m attempting to cross, I feel like I’m stuck amidst a crossfire, flanked by opposing traffic. Mad scary… Because there are few lights or signs, walkers really need to be extra careful. Looking both ways before crossing was never more important and life-saving! There’s a method to crossing busy streets. First, never run like a mad chicken, like me. It drew more unnecessary attention to me. I worried I’d get squashed into a pancake, but then I realized these cars cannot drive more than 20 mph anyway with the busy traffic and lack of road regulation. Cars were not going to hit me. Second, you cross smartly by inching forward until you’re in the way of cars and they must slow down to stop. Rickshaws did that, and so did humans.

    Medical College Junction... 5 Way Crossroad

  5. “Honk if you love my driving” =) This should be the bumper sticker on every rickshaw and motor vehicle. That’s how much noise pollution there was blasting my ear drums. Most of the time, they were excessive, honking at detonating decibels when I was literally fingerbreaths from them. Come on! Seriously, I hear you loud and clear. Thanks for busting my tympanic membrane jerk!
  6. Public Transportation = Roller Coaster Fun:  I’m talking about the hot buses. The moving metal boxes with punched out holes for windows. The buses felt unstable and ready to collapse if they run over another pothole. It was like a wild roller coaster ride where I needed to hang on for dear life. I thought NYU buses were crazy rides for my tuition, but these public buses in India were dizzying and heart-racing. They were old, rickety, and muggy. People squeezed in and crowded around, standing or sitting. There was no such thing as personal space; it was like a right lost in India. During rush hours, peoples heads and body parts were hanging out of windows and doors. The cheap bus ride experience was what you paid for…

Ketchup and Mustard Bus

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