After not having left India since September 2011, I now find myself again in my ‘native village’ in California for the second time in two months. This second trip I even stopped in Hong Kong for two days to explore the city because I had never been so far east before.
Needless to say the culture shock between Bangalore – the place that I now call home in my heart – and Hong Kong or California is tremendous. I experienced my first blissful sense of invisibility in two years in both places, which was wonderful. No one stared at me, I didn’t have to wrap up or cover up … and I can’t begin to say how relaxing that is … but the truth is I miss Bangalore!
I miss my friends and my team and chaat and fresh juice stands. It also turns out that there is also something else quite shocking from my new home that I miss when I’m far away … the traffic! Well, not traffic so much as the gracious nature of Indian drivers, and I have to say I never thought I’d be saying that. It’s true though.
Watch this really quick! This is still my favourite video of ALL TIME when it comes to driving in India. It shows the almost poetic grace and the organic and fluid movement of traffic. Sure there’s a ton of horn honking, but the whole thing looks like a synchronised dance number!!
My California driver license expired years ago because I moved away from California the last time back in 2003, so I find myself at the mercy of my friends and family to transport me around from point A to point B. Irrespective of how good a driver they are or not, it’s interesting to report that so far everyone I’ve driven with, except my little brother, has had some fit of road rage while we were driving, annoyed by other drivers to the point of being outwardly upset about it for a moment or for several seconds – telling them off from within the car and maybe making some kind of hand gesture … and it is just mind boggling to me. Honestly, what are they so upset about? Some of the drivers that have been kind enough to transport me about are saying they get angry because they feel Californian drivers are useless, and need to spend some time at an Oakland traffic school or somewhere similar, not having been in California for quite some time, I don’t yet have an opinion on how bad they are.
After living in India for 2 ½ years, and having my amazingly Zen-like driver Shiva never lose his temper once, I just don’t see what riles them up to be honest! In California there are no crazy rickshaws or motorbikes trying to cut them off. There are certainly not dozens of people at any time trying to cross the street away from the zebra crossing. On top of that, they have BIG wide lanes and the orderly drivers there use one car per lane instead of converting any 2 lane road into a 5-laner!
When I see the road rage rear its ugly head, I just look at my Mom or friends and slowly shake my head and hold up my hands “meditation style” and softly say ‘it’s all gonna be okay, we will arrive in one piece just the same.’ … and then I throw in a ‘this is nothing!’ and giggle! Because once you’ve experienced Indian traffic, the orderly traffic in other countries is easy peasy lemon squeezy!
I don’t know the secret to the patience of so many Indian drivers but one theory I have is that they simply have the big picture of life in mind so they know that they will reach their destination just the same, even in the event that someone makes a wonky U-turn in front of them or moves across their lane. Of course, this Zen does come – oddly enough – with a heavy dose of horn honking but that’s a topic for another blog post altogether.
© 2013 Angela Carson. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce any part of this article without the author’s permission.