Tuesday, January 5, 2010

India: getting from here to there

We walked on the mountain, through the bazaar, dodging puddles and mud, avoiding cows parked between motorbikes in the cities, alongside traffic that seems to move faster and more chaotically than it really does. But we also took these to get around:
Taxis. There were fleets of white 1950s cars with racks on top to shuttle people from the train station in Dehradun. This rather cranky man took us up the mountain when we first arrived.
In Dehli, we hopped in rickshaws to navigate the city. A rickshaw ride is like all of your nerves firing at once and you have to look everywhere right now because you might miss something. The split second you see something - two kids whispering to each other on the back of a bicycle rickshaw, the flash of color of a woman's sari, an old man with no legs - you are past, blinking.
We all fit in a big rickshaw, with Joie and her sister Eleanor sitting in back. Last year I read a book about an MIT graduate who decided to live on as little modern technology as possible; when he and his wife settled back in the land of electricity, he bought a bicycle rickshaw to carry people around his new town. Since I don't bike, I volunteer my husband to do that.
This is our bus driver on our trip from Agra to a fort about an hour and a half away. Check out the wires. He knew how to wrench the shift too.
I rather enjoyed the train rides. We had two bench seats facing each other, two upper bunks and two more bunks that we could make if we needed. We had enough room - especially if one or two of us were on a top bunk with a sleeping kid - but our "enough room" was a call to any cramped passenger to sit with us. For an hour or so of one ride, a boy joined us and just stared at Will, Annie, and Claire, making little noises and faces to amuse them. Nate found out the boy had a ticket and told him to return to his seat; he told the same to another woman who was parked on our bench. A couple, likely riding on only one ticket, squashed together in a seat at the end of our bench, eating a meal and saying nothing.
Trains offer different classes of passenger travel. The class we were in was upper, but a couple removed from first. We were "non AC" which meant that we felt whatever the weather was outside; during this cool season, we just bundled up in hats and blankets during early morning and evening, but I don't think it'd be much fun to ride "non AC" in the heat of summer. Our class also allowed men, women and children to walk the aisles loudly selling food and drink, toys, shawls and socks. Above, Nate shares a samosa he bought with Will.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

looks like you had a lot of fun!
i hope you had much fun.
Love, MaryGrace