Welcome to my blog… There is no pattern to what I’ll write here, just sharing some of my experiences in India with those of you who wish to tag along. I’ll try to update at least once a week but hopefully most times it will be more often than that.
My first impression of India was mayhem!
We drove out of the airport into the middle of what looked like seven lanes of bumper to bumper traffic on a road meant for two lanes. Cars, minivans, rickshaws, motorbikes and pedestrians all fighting to claim their spot on the road. vehicles were passing so close I could stick my hand through the window and touch them on either side of the car. I thought there was no way we are going to get to the hotel without having a serious accident!
Miraculously,our driver navigated his way through this sea, many times missing other vehicles by mere inches and giving me a series of small strokes on each occasion. I noticed that the side mirrors and horns were heavily relied upon… with an occasional flashing of the headlamps and sticking of head through the window to yell and gesticulate at other drivers. Many vehicles had signs painted ont he back that said “HORN OK PLEASE”… I was puzzled… what could it mean? Our driver explained that it meant they are asking other drivers to toot their horns upon approaching so they can know not to move to that side of the road…apparently they take this very seriously as I have NEVER in my life heard so many horns beeping simultaneously. (And that includes New York City). I would say that having a loud functioning horn is a prerequisite for driving in Mumbai. Also be sure to familiarize yourself with the hand gestures that accompany the beeping of the horn.
Bikes are an essential mode of transportation… I saw a family of five on one bike… baby in front, then father riding, two small children behind him and the mother at the end. Hey if you can get safely from point A to point B without major harm – it beats walking. It was of some concern however, to note that none of the passengers wore helmets except for the father *EEK*. A lot of women also ride sidesaddle – in their sari’s – I’d say that takes a considerable amount of skill!
It can take sometimes up to three hours to make a journey that ordinarily would take half an hour – just because of traffic. You learn to schedule activities around the major rush hour times and try to bundle activities so you don;t have to travel from one side of town to the other on the same day. I also learned the hard way that you ALWAYS use the bathroom before you leave your destination. No guarantee how long it will take you to get to your destination and there are no rest stops, forget about using a gas station bathroom or a facility at any other place… you cross your legs and pray and hold it in… \o/ – but more about that later.
I have dedicated an entire blog post to Mumbai traffic and it is a subject I will probably return to, mainly because it is a major topic of conversation here, and because I have to tell you of my experience being chased by the Mumbai police!
For now I’ll leave you with a new appreciation for the New Jersey Turnpike and this thought :
“Road rage is the expression of the amateur sociopath in all of us, easily cured by running into a professional.” ~Robert Brault