January 5th, 2009


I've been in India now for a week with my whole family and most of my wife's family too. It's my first time visiting, and it's quite exciting. We arrived in Delhi with about 5ft visibility on the ground, had a whirlwind tour of Delhi, Udaipur, Jaipur, Ranthambhore, and Agra. Of course we saw all the staples: Qutub Minar, Humayun's tomb, Udaipur City Palace, Amer Fort, Janthur Manthur (quite an amazing Astronomical Observatory), went on a tiger safari (but didn't see any tigers), and of course saw the Taj Mahal.

They were all really neat and fun to visit, but I'm not going to write about all that standard touristy stuff. Instead, I'll note a few things that intrigued me.

In the following, it may be useful to keep in mind that Rs 50 (INR) is approximately $1 (USD), So, Rs 1000 is $20.

Firstly, the driving. It is crazy. The roads are one-and-a-half lanes wide, and we are in a small bus, barreling down the road honking every few minutes to let vehicles know we are going to pass or to tell oncoming vehicles not to hit us. And I use the term vehicles rather loosely. This covers anything from dogs, donkeys, cows, horses, camels, humans, bicycles, motorcycles, rickshaws, cars, busses, trucks, and in some places, even 18-wheelers. All sharing a narrow road passing eachother frequently.

Depending on the city, traffic lights seem to be entirely advisory. In Delhi, they were followed, but in Agra, I can't say I could figure out how to tell which lights were to be stopped at and which were to be ignored.