"Steven! You need beer?"March 5 in India ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C
Back in Delhi for a night before heading on to Kathmandu, here is the indulgence of a few general impressions.
Firstly, a massive shout out to Anand, the driver who has patiently ferried us over a thousand kilometres of Indian highways and back roads.
His rather stentorian voice would boom through the bus, “You need break?”, or more infamously the title quote above. He was at our disposal to go out in the evenings and was always ready with a great restaurant if we needed. Nothing was too much trouble, and he was quite unflappable.
He was stopped by the police one time, and sprang out of the bus to talk to them. “Did you get a ticket?” we asked. “No,” he said, “I just paid them some money.”
He would not only translate for us to buy drinks from some pretty dingy looking wine shops, he kept an esky in the bus topped up with ice so we could have a cold traveller in the afternoon.
We could not overstate the difference having a private driver has made to our trip.
Speaking of which, we spent a fair few hours on the road and grew quite used to the Indian traffic flow system. Slow trucks and fast cars share the right lane, no one moves over for anything, the horn is an always-on accessory and motor cycles, auto rickshaws, ox carts and the like make up the left lane of a multi lane road.
Cows, of course, have right of way everywhere and may and do use any lane they please.
The hard shoulder is reserved for slow vehicles, which could be travelling in either direction, plus pedestrians, pilgrims and roadside stalls.
The trucks, mainly slow unarticulated Tatas or Ashok Leylands, all look overloaded and are decorated to within an inch of their lives, with black rope-like streamers attached to their mirrors, colour everywhere and a most unnecessary sign on the back - “Sound Horn”.
The Indian government is working hard to sort out the traffic. For example, their speed hump technology is world class, and nothing speeds traffic better on a four lane highway than some random steel barriers across a lane or two.
The poverty in India is in your face pretty much everywhere. You will see slums, people washing themselves in the street, people going to the toilet in the street. It is so common place that no one even seems to notice.
And yes, India is in many ways filthy and polluted. The streets and even the country roads are lined with rubbish, the cities have amongst the world’s most dangerous air quality and there is a constant battle to preserve the monuments from the pollution.
But despite all that we found it one of the most amazing destinations we have ever visited. Enormous cities full of wealth and monuments, Rajasthan outposts with their ubiquitous forts-on-a-hill and of course the incomparable Taj Mahal. Go if you get a chance!Read more