Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Negotiating Traffic

I have never driven in India and don't plan on attempting to either. That said, I am in awe of drivers who can weave in and out of the maze that city traffic is and deliver passengers like myself to their destinations all in day's work. If they feel stressed - it is none too evident. An expat in Delhi (I have published an interview with Dave and Jenny before on this blog) writes about his experience negotiating traffic on behalf of his autorickshaw driver. The problem is all too familiar to us desis but the positive approach to solving it and the thought process is more than a little remarkable :

"I exited my auto and surveyed the situation. Possibilities materialized in my head. I mapped out moves like a game of chess—“If this car goes here, and that car goes there…”—and then I took action, standing in front of this car and pointing him that way, then standing in the hole he left until my auto driver could slip into it. Around me, other heads had appeared in the traffic, and the hole one of them created for their own car cascaded back to me. Using my gestures to move some cars and my body to block others, I worked us through the jam—me grinning, my driver grinning, other drivers staring, and still other drivers following behind my auto as he followed the path I blazed out of the jam."

The sense of joy and accomplishment is palpable. It is as if Abhimanyu had figured how to exit the Chakravyuha - sometimes even the impossible can happen. Now here is a man who has both the chops and attitude to make India his home. A lesser man would have fumed and steamed in the auto bemoaning the state of Delhi roads. Though one commenter tempers that enthusiasm with this observation :

Wow…this is very impressive Dave. Though understand, only a white boy can pull this off in Delhi. No disrespect meant. We both know that if an Indian tried that, he’d get run over within a minute.

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