Thursday, May 04, 2006

Dispatch From India

Where do I begin? Sorry the captions were lacking, but I had a late night of meetings- until 3am, which isn't so late in contrast to Norway time. Anyway, it is very hot here, there are horns honking constantly, and I have seen things I have never seen before. For starters, pedestrians, bikes, scooters, three wheeled mini-cars, and regular cars and trucks all share the road- and the lane markers do not mean a thing. Like the UK, everyone drives on the wrong side of the road. The horns are some sort of navigational aid. In some places, trees grow out of the middle of the roads, and are painted white so you can see them. At night, it is like this is a city inside a tropical jungle. There are thick trees that almost cover the road, making it very dark. I have no idea how our driver finds his way around, and there appears to be no traffic laws. It is anarchy here.
A family of goats were eating garbage outside our building last night. There were also about a dozen dogs hanging out. I want to capture photos of some of the sacred cows that wander about the city. The cows are truly a surreal sight.
Many of the sidewalks are gone, or piled with rubble or trash, so people walk in the streets.
There are people everywhere, and little shack/shops that sell all sorts of things. Everything is dirt cheap by Norway standards. When we drove in from the airport after 1am, there were homeless people sleeping everywhere.

At the mall, there were way more scooters and motorcycles than cars. Middle class families will pile three people on these scooters. Only the rich can afford cars. Tata motors is the brand of choice.
Typical street scene.
This was abiker lugging a heap of propane tanks around. There are countless improbable vehicles on the road- including overloaded trucks that have stuff hanging off in all directions. The taxis and buses have no glass windows- except for some of the new ones. There are also minature white versions that look like the old yellow cabs of NYC that are still in service- probably from a factory that hasn't been retooled in 50 years.

Again, rubble in the street. Rich and poor collide here. There is no buffer between something like this and a five star hotel. We have mostly been eating at hotel restaurants. I am told even the locals don't drink tap water. Our car was searched for bombs as we parked at one restaurant. Most businesses have security guards stationed outside- including ours.

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