My Thoughts on India, Part 1

I’m often a little unsure of what to blog about, especially since interesting things don’t happen to us every day. I was thinking about it today and realised that living in a foreign country is a topic that would interest people, so I’ve decided that every so often I’ll post something about India, from my point of view of course. There are so many things that are different here from anywhere else I’ve lived.

(For those of you who don’t know, I’ve traveled extensively, beginning with my first overseas trip at the age of 10 months. I’ve lived in 8 different countries and have visited many more. For interests sake I’ll list them here.

Countries lived in:
Canada
USA
Mexico
Colombia
Equador
Spain
Romania
India

Countries visited, for visa purposes or passing through during transatlantic flights:
Venezuela
England
Germany
Nepal
Sri Lanka
Hungary)

I’ve been in India for 6 1/2 years now. There are many things that I’ve grown accustomed to and many more that I just can’t get used to. So for today’s post on India, I’m going to write about something I am still adjusting to: traffic and how people drive.

Ok, I have to say that this is one of the things that took me the longest to get used to – the way people drive here. The easiest way to discribe it is like a race of every man for himself, getting to the finish line in any way he wants, as long as he makes it. If you can’t stand insane driving, don’t come here.
When on the road in a car, be aware that traffic rules aren’t meant to be obeyed. No one obeys them. You will always find someone who is cutting you off, crossing lanes without using lights, turing left from the right-hand lane and vice versa. Hand signals are used extensively, by anyone, not just someone on a bike. You will see a huge truck coming and instead of using his signal lights, he will stick out his hand to let you know which way he is turning. You have to be watching at all times, for you never know when someone will show up where they shouldn’t and you will have to break quickly.
Remember that on the road here, you don’t just have cars and trucks and a few motorcycles. Here, a scooter is one of the most common vehicles, next to the auto rickshaw. You will also see on any given day a person on a regular bicycle pedaling to keep up with the speed of the traffic while in the middle of the road. The don’t stay to the side – they have to be in the thick of it. Then there are the ox carts, bicycle carts, people pushing carts by hand, and THOUSANDS of motorcycles and scooters. Pretty much everyone who can own one does. And they can cause the most trouble because they never stay in one lane. They fill every gap in between the other vehicles. As soon as there is an empty space, if a motorcycle can get into it, it will. I’ve often thought Indian traffic is like water looking to fill empty spaces. Most of the time, traffic will be bumper to bumper, even when it isn’t rush hour. They don’t leave any space inbetween vehicles.
If you are a pedestrian here, the first thing you should know is that you DO NOT have the right of way. Crosswalks are rare here. Most everyone crosses the street when they want, where ever they want. It is really the only way to get across the street, unless a cop is there. They usually make it possible for me to get across if there is no other way. Other than that, I have learned to cross the Indian way with my kids in tow. I have to look back and forth several times to make sure there is a big enough gap before the next vehicle gets to where I am, then I tell Logan “run” and I hold his hand and push the stroller across. Most people won’t slow down when they see you crossing; they keep coming at the same speed. Some people do slow down or even stop, but it isn’t common.
If you do find a crosswalk that is functional, remember that usually you can only cross one side of the street at a time. For some reason, the lights aren’t set for pedestrians to cross with the straight traffic. It can be confusing until you get used to it.
It really isn’t easy to explain all this in just words, so I’m going to Google for a minute to look for some pictures. Hold on, be right back.

Ok, that took a while. Internet is slow tonight. So here we go.

First up is a common sight on the back streets.

What did I tell you about those motorcycles?

This is an example of bad road planning, but isn’t the worst by far.

Yes, that is a whole family on a bicycle rickshaw.

Basket seller. You can get just about anything from these “bicycle vendors”.

More motorcycles.

Traffic jam.

Busy road.

That is an overcrowded motorcycle. Most of the time the mother is also holding a small baby or toddler or both.

Now can you see why I never want to learn how to drive here?

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9 Comments

  1. My goodness…I can't even imagine.I thought traffic was bad in DC.And I think it's very intersting that you have lived in so many countries. Definitely a great source of blog topics.

    Reply
  2. It might just be my warped sense of humour, or totally fascination, but I can't believe all those people on one bike! That must be the "Family Transport", the single bike is at home!I would hate to live there, and that sign saying Cleaner, Greener, was just a laugh!Talk about driving…that would drive me insane!

    Reply
  3. Another thing I forgot to mention is that no one looks when turning or crossing the street. They just go. I've actually watched drivers do that. They expect everyone else to watch out for them.I'll be sure to do more of these posts so keep your eyes open.

    Reply
  4. Wow, Mercy, I was a truck driver here in the states for 5 years, & they are super strict here as far as rules of the road goes. I could never drive in India as I would be pissed at everyone. Ha! Reminds me of what it was like in Colombia, South America. If I lived in India, I would have a good dirt bike, so I could sip up on the sidewalks and get around all the traffic. Wow. What insanity. You guys must have a ton of angels watching over you. I will pray for you safe keeping everyday. Love ya tons,Dad

    Reply
  5. Dad, you can forget about getting on the sidewalk – there usually isn't one.

    Reply
  6. When I visited China it was like that, too. It’s an amazing thing to watch.

    Reply
  7. momchalant

     /  May 17, 2013

    Oh my goodness how was living in Spain? It’s my dream to visit.

    Reply

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