Something that impressed me was the art on the trucks. This is all over India, though the level of detail can vary from place to place. I got a few photos when I was in Rajasthan.
Note how the back of the trucks say “Horn Please” or “Blow Horn.” Traffic works rather differently than it does in the States. There is constant horn blowing, though it is not angry or malicious; rather it is a form of communication between drivers. Sujal says most asian countries do not queue, and this would explain what Indians tend not to stay in their lanes when driving. Lesa describes it (as it was described to her), and India flows like a river (traffic, people, etc) — if something stops or gets stuck, the flow just goes around it. That is definitely the case in traffic. There are cars, trucks, bicyclists, autorickshaws, bicycle rickshaws, moped and motorbikes, and pedestrians, all trying to move along. Clearly, they move at different speeds. They all compete for places on the road, and so the horn becomes necessary to say, “I am coming up behind you on the left.” In general, I think Indian drivers are much more aware of what is happening on the road than American drivers. Since Indian drivers swerve and weave more than Americans, they need to know where other vehicles are and where open spaces are. They need to have a sense of how fast the other vehicles in traffic re traveling. Though many foreigners view this as “crazy driving,” it makes sense to me.
I also like the building as billboard approach. No space is wasted for advertising. This was also very true in Kerala.
Finally, so many times I saw overstuffed vehicles — a moped with a family of five, autorickshaws spilling over with passengers, and then there was this example, not uncommon to see on the roads:
When I went to Jaipur, my sister was nervous about Chauhan and me driving on the highway, because she said the trucks are very dangerous, that they often have inexperienced drivers. She said the highway in Haryana is particularly bad. Chauhan and I did see the aftermath of a bad accident on the Noida highway. Often I saw overturned trucks and smashed cars, but this one time, we saw a body being carried off. Chauhan said the man was dead.
Let me reassure you that Chauhan is a very skilled driver, probably the best driver I have ever encountered. But still, he can only control his own vehicle, so when a bus swerved in front of us at the last moment, our accident was inevitable. Luckily, we were moving at a low speed. When we hit the bus, we ricocheted off of it and then hit the median. Chauhan got out to talk to the bus driver, and the driver denied any wrongdoing. I’m not sure how most accidents are handled, but I get the impression that insurance information being exchanged is not the norm. Chauhan got back in the car and we drove off. I could tell that he was nervous and upset, so I suggested we pull over at the next open dhaba (roadside open air restaurant). There he told me he was so angry, he wanted to slap the bus driver, but he didn’t because I was there. (Phew!)
I jumped out of the car — did I mention we had been driving through walls of rain? — and ran to the dhaba to get us Limcas. As I was trying to pay my Rs 50 tab in much confusion, Chauhan came up and clarified for me that I was trying to hand them a Rs 5 note. That was why they initially told me 50 rupees but then were angrily saying 45, 45. After a good laugh, Chauhan and I took a bit more time to calm down and then continue on our way.
Did I mention the eclipse? We left for Jaipur the morning of the eclipse, which was a big phenomenon in India. We did not get to see it in Noida because of the cloud cover, but Chauhan saw in Delhi. Many people saw it as a very holy event. Chauhan said it was bad luck to see it. He later blamed the accident on the eclipse.