Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Getting From Here to There

In Hyderabad, the law school is about an hour and a half away from the city center.  In Bangalore, I'm staying about an hour and a half away from the law school (more on that later).  This means long journeys by car, as non-auto public transportation is either non-existent or impossible for a short-timer to learn to use.

I know you've probably heard this, but I'll confirm it:  traffic in Indian cities is fearsome.  At least that has been my experience so far (and I don't expect Calcutta or Delhi to be better).  The roads are filled with cars, busses, motor scooters, motorcycles, taxi rickshaws (see photo), trucks, donkey carts, oxen-drawn carts, bicycles, and (surprisingly) pedestrians.

I've tried to capture the chaos in a photo, but so far haven't been able to do it justice.  This is the best I have to date:

There are traffic lanes marked on the streets, but from what I can tell they function as mere suggestions that are not taken very seriously.  Head-on collisions seem to be averted with barely a whisper between vehicles, and the scooters and motorcycles weave in and out, just barely avoiding being smashed.  Some of them have entire families riding on them, including quite young children.  Helmets?  Almost none.  And the gridlock can be endless.  To drive a vehicle here you need great patience and nerves of steel.

The volume of traffic and the amount of time spent idling in gridlock raises concerns about pollution, of course.  In Hyderabad there were roadside pollution check booths that people could use (not sure if they're required to do so).  I haven't seen those in Bangalore, but the booths do exist at gas stations.

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