Sound OK Horn

Bangaloretraffic2

“All things rush on, they stop not,
they look not behind; no power can
hold them back, they rush on…”
-Tagore

Having spent a good part of the day today traveling by bus from Bangalore to Mysore, I thought sharing my ruminations on Indian traffic might be fitting for my first blog post. When I visited India for the first time several years ago I found the traffic to be rather alarming. (If you do not read this as an understatement, I will tell you now that it is an understatement.) On this trip, however, I find that it is instead inspiring in me great awe and a dawning (albeit limited) understanding and appreciation. Traffic customs in America seem rote and mechanical compared to the organic rush and flow of vehicles on Indian roads. Here all vehicles and people and animals weave themselves into a blended flow of movers: fast and slow, motorized and unmotorized, large and small, the entire intricate dance affording infinite opportunities for anyone to demonstrate his (or her!) ingenuity, dexterity, skill, and courage. Traffic laws are really more like traffic suggestions. To analogize to running, which much to the irritation of those who know me well I am wont to do, it is a little bit like a road race. Everyone sets off in a mass and the implicit and single rule is that you glance ever so quickly back over your shoulder before darting into any available space ahead. Repeat until you reach the finish. Special consideration shown only for children and animals.

The lasting image for me from today’s journey was of a small boy riding on top of a load of melons. It was a small truck and the truckbed extended over the cab of the vehicle. The boy was perched there on that ledge by himself, atop the melons and right over the driver, his hair streaming back.

 

Clare (Karuna Trust, Mysore)

2 thoughts on “Sound OK Horn

  1. I always think driving in India is like being in a video game. Lovely to hear your appreciation for the organic nature of the roadways.

  2. Your description of Indian traffic/driving patterns is absolutely beautiful and incredibly accurate! Its something I am in awe of every day here in Delhi. There is certainly a beauty to the traffic here (until you hear of some of the horrendous accidents that do actually occur). I really enjoyed reading your experience!

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About clareleinweber

Clare Leinweber holds a BA in anthropology and an MA in human development from the University of Chicago. She also has a graduate certificate in management from the Wharton School. Clare is a part-time student in the MPH program (global health track) at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Clare aims to integrate her experience developing and managing educational programs with her interest in the impact of education on public health in developing countries.