Saturday, August 18, 2012

It's Not Driving, Not Really

I was born and raised in New York, lived in New Jersey, Manhattan, Los Angeles, Buenos Aires and Mexico, and I thought that I encountered some pretty extreme drivers. In Los Angles, even though they usually obeyed all the traffic laws, they were just plain bad. We used to sit at a cafe on Sunset and take bets on how long it would take to see or hear the next crunch up. As opposed to NYC and Buenos Aires where they can drive, but traffic rules there are interpreted by drivers to be more of suggestions than actual laws -- as they zigzag along. But ...

But in all the organized chaos I've encountered to date, the Indians make them all look like amateurs. There isn't even an attempt to pretend you're following the rules: it's a free for all.

Yet, what astounds me is that in the six weeks that I've been here, I have not seen or heard not even one bang up; nothing, nada, zip!

It is common-place to see 3 and sometimes -- if there are kids -- as many as four people on a motorbike (whether motorcycle or scooter) at a time; its common to to see women in Saris sitting side-saddle on back racing along without a helmet (Only the driver is required to wear one, and around the city few do).

Its hard to describe the madness of everyday traffic here; people slow down as they approach big intersections, but rarely stop: they just merge in, swerving and  twisting their way through the chaos that seems to have a rhythm all its own.

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