On driving in different countries. . .

I’ve been lucky and privileged to see some pretty fantastic places and taken various forms of transportation.

In Belize, I was on a bus driving 70 miles an hour on a tiny road built into the side of a mountain that theoretically was a single lane but when cars passed each other going at incredibly fast speeds the outerlying car essentially had 2 wheels on the ground–I have no idea how we stayed alive. In Kenya I took a mutatu, which is for all intensive purposes the craziest local bus ever. They are minivans that realistically could hold 9 people comfortably driving at breakneck speeds blasting 2 year old hip hop (but mostly Akon at the time) that had between 20-25 people hopping in and out while the van barely stops. The sliding door is perpetually open and people are holding onto each other to keep them from falling out. They drive on mostly dirt road without signs or speed limits basically creating a free for all as far as rules of the road go.

But I don’t think I’ve seen anything like traffic in Delhi. There are legitimate speed limits, paved roads and rules but because of the prevalence of bikes, rickshaws (both bicycle powered and motorized) trucks, busses, cars and motorcycles, animals and walkers, the rules of the road are apparently optional.

Folks drive on the left side of the road and of course that is how the cars are built–which takes a minute to acclimate to. There are traffic circles everywhere and the roads are all angled so it makes it a bit difficult to remember how you got from point A to point B. I have never seen driving quite like this–the dashed line is not adhered to people are constantly using their horn to let you know they are 2 inches from hitting you, in a 3 lane road you would have 7 cars, 3 motorcycles and 2 rickshaws all in a row with the rickshaw at the very right turning left and the bus at the very left turning right and a donkey in the middle piled with 3 times his weight in stuff just trying to move forward. It’s like an insane symphony where every instrument is playing crazily but all together it works. Words cannot do it justice. I thought we used horns a bit more generously in Chicago than other places but you haven’t heard horns blaring until you hear the cacophony of a Delhi street. Probably in any given second you’ll hear at minimum 3 horns. The funny thing is they are not the horns of angry drivers they are the horns of “I’m next to you cutting you off so I can turn right in 2 feet let me in now.” It’s insanity but it sort of works. In one day driving around the city I only saw one accident between a car and a motorbike though I did see a guy on a bicycle loaded down with about 30 car bumpers–but I didn’t ask because I honestly didn’t want to know.


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