“Horn pease” trucks, overflowing buses,speeding tourist coaches, cars ( a few), no helmet motorbikes carrying up to four people, fume ridden auto -ricks haws, old- fashioned cycle rickshaws, rickety bicycles, tinsel adorned tractors, camels, goats, buffalo, elephants, sleeping dogs…… Oh, yeah, and me and John. I think that just about sums it up.
There are a few rules on the Indian roads. In order of importance I offer you the following:
1) the biggest vehicle wins
2) the loudest horn comes a close second
3) keep going no matter what.
While driving on the left is very much the norm, unlike back in the UK, this is not an absolute. You can in fact chose either side, the direction you’re travelling makes little difference.
On our journey from Agra to Jaipur every, yes, every road junction noted it was an accident prone zone. Well, what do you expect with the rules listed above and you just keep moving. Being a master of weaving in and out of all the above mentioned road users is an art in itself. Just chose a route and stick to it. There is no surrender. While no serious incident occurred John and I did catch bikes at one of these junctions, sending a rear pannier flying to the middle of the road.
Think this is fun, add into the equation two Westerners on fancy bikes with fancy bags, Lycra, helmets etc and it gets even more interestinG. Then, the blond hair, ample bosoms, legs on show and very soon you start to get the picture. Via India – what a laugh! You just have to love it.
The astute among you will have noted one missing road user. There is one notable exception to biggest is best – the Indian equivalent of mirror, signal manoeuvre. In Nepal we saw, much to our amusement a hen bring a bus to a halt. Refusing to move, finally picked up by one of the passengers to allow the bus to continue. In India of course this role is taken by the cow – sacred and protected by law. It’s the only thing a bus stops for other than passengers!
To date we have travelled around 550 km (330 miles) and as we hit Jaipur we reached the extremes of Indian thoroughfares – dodging through hectic roads then suddenly traffic lights with cameras. That said, the route in also involved a view of a young boy depositing his personal waste among the debris lying at the side of the road. Still at least we’ve found Tarmac again. Bliss.
I hope that’s given you the picture…. Here goes!
Since writing this blog the captain had to make a visit to bike shop. As we were heading out of Jaipur to Tonk the rear tyre became torn in roadworks we assume. We stopped opposite one of the many road tyre fixers shops on the main highway and with a patch in place and wheels swapped over thought we were set to go. However, as tyres were pumped the valve clamp snapped and that was that. The same then happened on our second pump and there we were with flat tubes and 15 miles from our destination. Quick thinking and the inquisitive truck that had been watching our antics and was about to set off was quickly commandeered . We needed a lift. While I again made the locals and boys in the truck laugh as I tried to climb the great heights into the cab we were soon on our way and it was here where hospitality came to the fore. While many travellers will talk of hassle, beggars and people wanted money to help you do tasks you were fine doing anyway all around India our guys wanted nothing in return for taking us, our luggage and our bikes to the bike store in Tonk. A genuine welcome and saviours of the day. We were back on track. India I love you.