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IN THE CAPITAL OF HONKING


One of the best-known stereotypes about India is related to its traffic.

And I have to admit that even after more than two months of continuous stay in the country is hard to describe what it is like. 

At the beginning whenever my relatives and friends from home asked me about it, I simply said that I don’t have yet the words that can illustrate it.

A flow of cars, bikes, rickshaws, buses and bicyclesChallenge #1:

Crossing the street


On my first day I was standing for about 5 minutes on a street corner, looking at the flow of cars, buses, rickshaws, bikes and feeling paralyzed. I was unable to cross despite the fact that I was standing at a passageway. Nobody stopped. Then a local helped me and taught me that:

here you just have to be brave enough to raise your hand, start crossing the street and stop the traffic (and maybe pray - if you are religious).


Traffic in India is indeed chaotic and hectic. There are just a few general traffic rules - like most vehicles will stop at the signaling lamp - but even for these you will witness a lot of exceptions. But when you find the order (or your peace) in the chaos, the challenge becomes normal, sometimes even funny. The best advice I can give is to keep your eyes open and your senses sharp.

And people - at least in Chennai - are helpful; once even a policeman helped me to cross the street as I was looking helpless  (cool, no?)

Challenge #2:

Taking the local bus.

For me it took around two weeks of mental preparation to do it. 💪  First I was shocked by regularly seeing people hanging dangerously from the footboard or getting off the bus on the way during peak hours.

Just as other transportation means, usually local train is also crowded.Someway I was already used to crowded buses and to their delay, so I haven't had high expectations. But I experienced for the first time in Chennai, what it is like when Google Maps is showing one information about the bus stop, and reality is completely else; meaning you always have to double-check with local people if you are at the right station (as there are stations very close to each other - like 5-10 meters) and if you are waiting for the right bus.

Bus tickets in Chennai are extremely cheap (between 5 and 10 rupees - converted to dollars between 7 and 15 cents) so it is the best way to spontaneously discover the city. If you just want to hop and hop off whenever you see something interesting you can buy a daily bus ticket, which will be still under 1 USD. However during weekday peak hours it is better to avoid using buses (you won't even get the chance to get on them 😓). Local train is also available, but connections are not the best (I only used it twice during my stay).

Challenge #3:

For a proper Indian inside-the-city traveling experience try (of course) auto rickshaw.

Yes, it is true that tuk-tuk drivers will overcharge you just because you are a foreigner - even if you bargain with them. It is better get used to the idea. And this is not the worst part. The worst part is that sometimes you have to guide them to take you to the correct location (keep your phone charged) 😓 And - at least - in Chennai in most cases you won't be able to communicate with them in a proper way (nera ponga = go straight - can be extremely useful; they will understand left and right,just say with an e at the end). What do you think how many people can fit into an auto rikshaw?
For us the record was 8.

Thanks to the digital age and to ride sharing apps like Uber or Ola, transportation become a bit less hectic in India. As a foreigner I used them a lot of times; through Ola you can even order a tuk tuk. They are cheaper and more reliable. But drivers may want to overcharge you even like this, so watch out and always check the bill on your phone.

The proof of the fact that a whole family can fit on a bike.
Family on bike

Challenge #4:

Oh, bikes 😊

If you have an international drivers license for bike, then you must try renting one (I don't have one so I must rely on my friends). It might not look safe at first, but when you get the feeling it is going to be a really nice experience - I guarantee you (yes, maybe you have to be a bit crazy 😊). It is not compulsory (yet) to wear a helmet, so I absolutely enjoy driving without it, feeling the wind or the cooling air and the freedom that it brings.

However for me the most disturbing factor about transportation is not the hectic traffic, nor the lack of rules, nor the communication problems with drivers.

The most annoying part of traffic is: honking.

In India people use honks as a signal of approach, so whenever they get close to another vehicle or to an intersection, or whenever they see somebody passing the street they will honk (and drivers sometimes use it continuously - can you imagine that?) This is the disturbing symphony of streets. 😶

You wonder what it's like?


As I travel daily (mostly by auto rickshaw and bus) I made a video of my travel-experiences.

You can check out in my video:
























Megjegyzések

  1. The honking is the same in many cities in South America. :-(

    I described it as one of the reasons why I need a break and why I will return to Europe after 16 months: https://andreasmoser.blog/2017/04/12/return-to-europe/

    VálaszTörlés

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