We arrived in Bangalore last night. After an hour spent tracking down Dr. Tony’s missing bag, we met Sheila (GenNext Education) outside the airport and loaded up onto the shuttle bus for a captivating 45 minute drive to our home for 6 weeks, Casa Cottages. The twelve of us looked out the windows, comparing our first impressions to our expectations. Of all the absurdity, the most striking was the distance at which cars and bikes moved past eachother on the freeway. I have yet to determine if this is due to narrower lanes or wider vehicles. Either way, I’m convinced these vehicles have the ability to shrink on command. At one point several bikes managed to pass between our and another bus separated by no more than half a meter¹. The madness of the freeway is apparently justified by a sophisticated system of communication involving honking your horn every time you pass somebody. A honk here doesn’t have malicious intent as it does in the US but is more of a friendly “Hey, I’m over here.” I couldn’t help but wonder if it wasn’t more dangerous to continually take a hand off the steering wheel and honk the horn than it would be to just use your mirrors, and trust that others are using theirs. That being said, it seems to work alright and I personally appreciate the chaos². The number of road fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants per year ranges from just 2.8 in Sweden to a wopping 73.4 in Libya, but Thailand places second on that list with 36.2 so I don’t know what’s going on with Libya. India ranks roughly average on the list with 16.6 deaths and the US just above average with 10.6³. Considering the amount of money saved by forgoing stoplights and other luxuries, I’d say they’re doing alright.
We were also struck by the number of stray dogs here. I was woken this morning by a few barking and last night we saw several on the side of the road. There are monkeys too. I think I heard some this morning. While this is cool, I’ve heard some of them are rabbid, which is not very cool.
Before I shut up, I want to say how awesome it is that I’m able to do something like this. It’s hard to believe I actually made it to India. While I like to think I worked hard to accomplish this, I hardly did it alone. From Gabrielle Malfatti organizing the program to Collin McMichael giving me a sweet camera, I have a lot of people to thank. If you’re reading this, you are probably one of those people.
1. About 1.5 feet. I should probably get used to this.
2. That is, until I’m negatively affected by it.