Not Exactly Driving Miss Daisy………
You might remember the 1989 film in which Morgan Freeman plays a driver for an old stubborn Jewish woman in Atlanta. It takes a long time for the woman to be convinced that having a driver is a good thing and there are several scenes where they are shown slowly driving down unattended roads with few distractions. Ha. My riding in the car experience is not exactly “Driving Miss Daisy”.
Driving (or in my case “riding”) in Delhi is a unique experience. There is always a lot to see. It is never, ever boring. The first thing I noticed was the noise. It is VERY noisy. People honk their horns constantly. It means “move over, I am behind you and want to pass” or “hey, I was here first” or “it’s been too quiet for the last 5 seconds, I think I will honk my horn.” Some of the trucks even have signs on the back that say “honk, please”. This lets them know you are there. Even though it is a pretty good bet that someone is there – apparently, it’s good for them to know it’s you. There are some billboard signs that say “if you love Peace, don’t honk.”
The one thing I have not seen yet is road rage. People just seem to accept that it is crowded. Right of way is earned by the car that inches the furthest ahead. There are lines in the road – but I am not sure why. We have counted up to 7 vehicles across on a two-lane road. No, that is not really a great idea. Bikes, scooters, motorcycles, carts, tractors, pedestrians, cars, trucks, and buses all share the same roads. Sometimes there are beggars and animals in the middle of the road too – just to keep it interesting.
This is an auto rickshaw. It has a motor and three wheels. They have horns and certainly are not afraid to use them. They are smaller than a car but slightly more substantial than a motorcycle – so they are more nimble than the cars. They weave and bob through traffic with the best of them. I have counted up to 10 people in one of these – it’s not uncommon and no, I am not kidding.
More than one person can ride on a bike.
This is a rickshaw powered the old-fashioned way – with hard work. My Dad would say that it builds character. But, I do not hope to grow up to be a rickshaw driver. Many of them are barefoot.
Usually more than one person is riding in them. And it’s not necessarily that I am a horrible photographer – but it is often very hazy here. Okay, maybe the slightly blurry part was operator error.
Delhi is expanding its metro transportation system – so there is a lot of construction.
Your car will be side-swiped at some point. At least once. So far, we have had three traffic incidents. I consider it preparation for having teenaged drivers.
There are animals everywhere. Some of them are working – some are just wandering. This guy needs a hug.
This guy is delivering eggs somewhere. Did you know that eggs do not have to be refrigerated? Don’t worry – we still keep ours in the fridge. But they don’t have to be. I am just not willing to risk it. Hmmm.
Motorcycles can transport entire families.
Just maybe a scarf should not be worn on a motorcycle. But that is the way it is done here. Yes, this always makes me nervous.
Besides the poverty – this is one of the things that is the hardest for Western women to understand. Yes, you are seeing that right – she does not have a helmet on, her scarf is draping, and she is sitting side-saddled. And no, she is not holding on to him.
Indians seem to make the most of everything. A lot of people can fit in one car. I am always surprised when I see these cars so full of people and I always have to peek in. I never see children fighting over who is touching whom or parents drawing imaginary lines in the seat. I would love to know how they make that work.
Sometimes people will drive the wrong way down the road.
Sometimes trucks are overloaded. Would you like to buy a sweater?
Sometimes people just hitch a ride. Going my way?
Sometimes people walk down the side of the road with bundles of sticks on their heads.
Sometimes it’s baskets.
This is just a little teaser of all the things you can see while driving in India. I will share more later – but right now, I think your boss, wife, and/or kids might be calling. 😎 I know mine are!