Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Driving (Me Crazy)

In which the blogger is thankful for lanes, speed limits, and rights of way

One of the most striking things about my trip so far is the chaos of driving in Chennai. There are no lanes (just streets with cars everywhere), one-way streets aren't always regarded as one-way by everyone, and cars and trucks and buses and motorcycles and auto-rickshaws and cyclists and pedestrians and stray dogs and cows and carts pulled by cows all weave into the great, crazy tapestry of the streets of Chennai. Like this:

It's nuts.

The other day when we were on our way to Vellore to visit Renu's sister and brother-in-law, two kind gentlemen had the opportunity to crash into each other right in front of us, so I could see what goes on when that happens. It was a very, very minor fender-bender, as we were all going slowly and the guy in front just happened to slow down more than the guy right behind him. (And I mean RIGHT behind him -- there is no such thing as "tail-gating" here...you're pretty much always six inches behind the guy in front of you.)

Anyway, when they crashed, they both stopped and got out, looked to see the damage ("Yep, there's a dent."), talked angrily for about fifteen seconds, talked calmly for about fifteen seconds and then got back in their vehicles and went on their way.
I'm just glad I don't have to drive here!


Nat said...

Or near a merging school bus in Chicago. :)

SSS said...

Haha, no kidding. Driving here is a lot like that, except it's at higher speeds and about a thousand times denser, traffic-wise.

In fact, some people drive with their sideview mirrors folded in, to decrease the chance of a mirrorectomy.

Although I actually did decode a right-of-way system. The dude that's about to get run into has the right of way. I'm not sure how that works out in all the various traffic permutations, but I have figured out that much.