Nov. 5, 2008 — Over the course of the last several days in India, Brad and I had a driver who transported us to our destinations and within cities. For those who have never traveled in India, driving a vehicle requires the power of suggestion. While signs and signals might suggest you do something, an Indian driver basically does what he wants.

 

When we arrived in Kolkata, I would get started and shriek when a car was headed for us or  we almost ran over a group of school boys but now I am remarkably calm driving in a car, tuk-tuk, or pedi-cab…because the unwritten law in India, is “don’t hit anything” and they do a pretty good damn job.  While we’ve seen the remnants of accidents on the side of the road we haven’t seen one. Despite the fact you have farm and zoo animals on the roads (think lots of cows, goats, donkeys, monkeys, camels, elephants, dogs, pigs and an occasional cat), people swerve, stop, come within centimeters and yet avoid colliding. The roads are narrow and when there are lines in the road, they are merely suggestions. Indians use about 6 lanes on a two-lane road and pass on the right, left…ditch… heck, they even drive the wrong way down a one-way.  It’s nearly impossible to rent a car here – although I’m not sure what non-Indian tourist would. CRAZY!!

 

Crossing the street as pedestrian is a also fun challenge…as a former Manhattan resident I know how to move quick and avoid oncoming traffic…but I’ve never seen oncoming traffic quite like this…cars, vans, buses, animals, motorcabs, pedicaps, mopeds, etc. from all angles… you have to move fast and people swerve to avoid you. Brad got a good laugh the other day when he left me stranded in the center divider her and started talking with a local man, explaining to him that I was afraid to cross the street. As they pointed and laughed, I finally made it.

 

While there is incessant honking…it’s not NYC hostile…it’s almost as if drivers are saying “hey, I’m here, move aside.” Not once did we ever see yelling of any kind. Everyone is in the same boat… too many people trying to go in the same direction. When cars or bikes stall no one screams…people help move along.

 

The photos here show some of the landscape, views and incredible sights we’ve seen from our trip thus far in India from the vantage of the car.  In a place where “anything goes,” you quickly become immune to what might be traditionally “out-of-the ordinary” as in India, I assure you, its quite ordinary.

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