Incredible India

Crowded traffic in IndiaThe title of this article is the official slogan of Indian touristic agency. It’s seems to me that the author of slogan and graphic symbol is the same person that did the work for Spanish publicity. Probably, the most of visitors find this country really incredible. Before this experience, I visited a lot of country, in Europe, Africa, Central America and Africa, and I saw lot of strange and unbelievable places, things and peoples, so Indian’s imprint to me was not so impressive. However, I had some new experiences that I will take with me into the future. Probably the most impressive thing is the traffic.

I moved between various cities and places with car; I had my personal driver (in each place I had a local guide for the visits). The traffic may easily enter in the term incredible. India is one of the countries with left-hand traffic; as many other British colonies, they maintained this rule. But, this is not a problem. They don’t respect any rule. The streets in the cities are crowded with pedestrians, cows, motorcycles, tuk-tuk, and motor vehicles. Left-hand traffic appears to be an optional, because a lot of vehicle don’t respect this rule: it’s normal to find somebody that drives in the opposite direction. The most clamorous case I saw in a highway. My driver went in the overtake lane and we saw a tractor that went in our direction. Incredible! My driver pressed the claxon, changed the lane (the tractor is more power, and it won), and everything continued normally. I was looking my driver with a surprised face; he only made a little smile. It’s normal here, in India, he said.

He explained me that, to drive in India, one must have: good brakes, good claxon and good luck. The last one seems to be most important and seems that Indians have a good luck. I did thousands of kilometers and I didn’t see neither one incident. The Indians admire to drive out of lanes, following the lines that demarcate the lanes. In the highway you can see the slogan for drivers: lane drive – safe drive. To use the highway, you must pay, but the near houses have direct and unprotect access to the road. In the cities the traffic is so crowded that seems incredible that there are not neither touches between traffic participants. Few times I walked the streets, following other pedestrians and cars in the road lane; the sidewalks are very rare. I had a serious problem to cross the street. Nobody stopped, and one must conquer the pass with the own courage. Often, I was looking for a near semaphore and walked some hundred meters more to feel myself safer.

My first 3 guides were Hindu. The most monuments that I saw seems to be linked to the story of Muslims in India. From some phrases told by my guides, it was easy to conclude that Hindu and Muslims are not very friendly. The guides were underlining violence and brutality of Muslims from Afghanistan and Mongolia that came to occupied India and slaved the people. However, the mode that my guides expressed their lack of sympathy was not offensive. My fourth guide was Muslim. He was much less politically correct. He was directly offending the Hindu people. They are dirty and drop garbage to the street (I don’t know who drops the garbage, but the streets are really very dirty), they make a bath in the river Gang that are one of more polluted river of the world, they have hundreds of Gods and it is not normal (Muslims have only one), and so on, and so on. I didn’t appreciate his offensive style, but it’s helped me to understand better Indian’s social conflicts.

One castle in indiaAt the end, something about cows. Everybody know the cow in India is considered sacred animal. The streets and squares are crowded by cows. I asked my driver what they eat, while there is only asphalt. He answered that people buy grass and other food on the market and offer it to cows. The male cows, the bulls are free, and nobody own them. The female cows are properties of somebody because they are useful for the milk. During the day they walk freely by the streets. To be sure that the cow will come back to her owner, the owner keeps at home the cow’s calf, so the cows will be back to her home during the night.