Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Let's talk about driving

I think the difference between countries can be summed up in one word: driving. Every country has its style.

We spent a considerable amount of time driving from one area to another on a variety of roads. Many of them looked like this one, out in the country.

This is actually an unfinished sketch. My intention was to fill it with the many vehicles and creatures that one encounters on a given road. Here, one sees a public bus, a woman carrying a load, a bicycle loaded with plastic pots for sale, a motorcycle and a somewhat strange checkerboard on a tree trunk. Frequently many other types of vehicles shared the road with us besides what's here.

The strange checkerboard pattern is a variation of the tree decor indicated below. Every tree along every road we traveled had red & white paint on it. Paint is cheaper than reflectors, and, in the dark, India doesn't want drivers wrapping themselves around trees any more than we do.

Drivers in India are in a continual game of passing each other. To do so, they use their horns as signals. The passing car approaches the vehicle to be passed until it is very close on his/her tail. Then the passer honks. He keeps peeking to the right (India drives on the left) to check oncoming traffic; if it seems clear, he pulls out and offers two big honks. As he's actually passing, he honks one very long honk. The vehicle being passed courteously slows slightly, or at least does not speed up, while the passing vehicle is moving ahead.

Needless to say, heavy traffic leads to a LOT of honking.

As this sign indicates, however, honking is outlawed in some areas.

Or, possibly, some neighborhoods don't like horn quartets.

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