about travel

9 Nov

Something is dreadfully wrong. Having traveled over one thousand and five hundred miles through India we are beginning to understand how people move about. It is actually starting to make sense. This scares me.

Moving over one billion people about is not an easy thing and with poor roads and such it isn’t pretty. When we first arrived it was cars going in every direction, dodging bicycles, rickshaws, trucks, motorbikes, pedestrians, dogs, camels and cows. It seemed that everyone had their own road. But it looks all different now.

We no longer shut our eyes when buses and trucks come barreling right at us only to gracefully slip out of the way just before the moment of impact. Travel in India is actually an acrobatic ballet of movement by things of all shapes, sizes and velocities which are so attuned to one another that the entire system of bodies acts as one.

While the lorries weave to the left, the motorbikes with women in full colorful sari effortlessly sitting sidesaddle ease to the right. When a slight gap begins to develop in a long line of traffic a rickshaw moves to fill it. A father pilots a motorbike with his wife, two children, and mother aboard calmly past our van. They seem unfazed at a cargo truck forty feet dead ahead because it then slides a bit to let them pass.

Overstuffed buses speed along motorways pitted with potholes as if on a slalom course. And all the while people are on the roof and hanging off the sides, oblivious to the dangers our western eyes avert.

And they pack themselves into spaces that we cannot imagine. Just yesterday we were told about a twelve per on jeep that was stopped by the police for having fifty two people on it.

And then the train. Grace is what you witness as hundreds of families traveling from their Diwali visits making way toward an arriving train at the station. Thousands off thousands on. No one pushes. No one shoves. The choreography of the movement of the people, each an element in a single organism, communicating throughout itself, is perfectly balanced to make this massive exchange of humanity in three minutes flat.

And throughout it all, a cow looks at us from his spot on the tracks unmoved by it all.

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One Response to “about travel”

  1. richard cohen November 9, 2010 at 6:08 am #

    michael & Marci

    Sounds good to me and the dialogue sounds like the yankee traveller in India Some change from skiing from boating and new england living Keep going now you can be called beautiful people
    Love You
    Dad & MJ

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