Posts Tagged ‘driving’

Sunset, Bilekkal Temple, Sundaghatta (Kanakapura) Karnataka, 280214

March 2, 2014

I was with my friends, at the edge of the valley:

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February sank in a blaze of wonder.

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I’m still laughing!

August 31, 2013

Do watch till the end….I just couldn’t believe it!

, I’m sending the friend who gave me this link, my gastro-enterologist’s bill for the tummy-ache.

“My own GPS”

July 17, 2013

Perhaps a little sexist…but I still liked it!

I have a little GPS
I’ve had it all my life
It’s better than the normal ones
My GPS is my wife

It gives me full instructions
Especially how to drive
“It’s thirty miles an hour”, it says
“You’re doing thirty five”

It tells me when to stop and start
And when to use the brake
And tells me that it’s never ever
Safe to overtake

It tells me when a light is red
And when it goes to green
It seems to know instinctively
Just when to intervene

It lists the vehicles just in front
And all those to the rear
And taking this into account
It specifies my gear.

I’m sure no other driver
Has so helpful a device
For when we leave and lock the car
It still gives its advice

It fills me up with counseling
Each journey’s pretty fraught
So why don’t I exchange it
And get a quieter sort?

Ah well, you see, it cleans the house,
Makes sure I’m properly fed,
It washes all my shirts and things
And – keeps me warm in bed!

Despite all these advantages
And my tendency to scoff,
I do wish that once in a while
I could turn the damn thing off.

-anon

Driving on Indian highways….

April 28, 2011

I feel that highway driving in India has always been hazardous, and it continues to be so. Earlier, highways were single-lane roads, and it was, obviously, dangerous having the oncoming traffic, and the oncoming headlights, coming at you under all kind of conditions…night driving, rain, and so on. One slip on the part of an oncoming vehicle could mean disaster, no matter how careful one was as a driver.

Now, we have multilane highways…with grade separators, and wide dividers, too. These dividers have been planted with shrubs and even short trees so that oncoming headlights do not bother one during night driving.

But a lack of enforcment of the basic rules of highway driving continues to keep our highways dangerous…and in fact, I’d say, the danger of highway driving has actually increased, because the speeds have increased phenomenally, without commensurate increase in the safety precautions one must take at such speeds.

The first, of course, is that matter of using the safety belts. Most people (even the most educated of us) do not think it necessary to wear safety belts in their cars while travelling; this is the usual “It won’t happen to ME” attitude. In fact, I was travelling with one driver who, after turning on to the highway, quickly unbuckled his seat belt, remarking, with relief: “Now there are no police to catch me!” We had to explain to him that it was not a matter of rules, but one of safety. Of course, most buses and lorries on the road don’t possess this safety feature at all…and many commercial vans continue to overload their vehicles with passengers, and drive with the side or back doors open, with one or more people hanging out!

At long last (several years overdue!) I do see highway police…well, mostly on the elevated stretch of highway between Bangalore city and the outlying Electronics City (where a speed limit of 80 kph is posted). I did find, once, highway police in Tamil Nadu.

However, for the most part, speed limits are something that no user on the highway bothers about. Everyone speeds as much as s/he can….and I have several times watched two egotistical drivers have a speed race that endangers them and everyone else on the road.

Another major hazard factor on our highways is the very mixed traffic that, of course, is a feature on all Indian roads! It’s so normal to find a Lamborghini speeding past a bullock-cart…having decrepit old lorries struggling along the road…and that brings me to two further problems.

In the old days, highways (or “trunk roads, as they were called…I remember the historic Grand Trunk Road, but that’s another post!) were just mud and soil at the sides, which would mire the tyres, and hence trucks and buses tended to hog the crown of the road. But on today’s highways, the old practice results in slow, lumbering trucks blocking up the centre lane, which is the fast lane. When you add other trucks lumbering along on the other lanes, you get a scenario in which other vehicles have to keep weaving in and out of the lanes, in a manner that both wastes time, and adds to the dangers of driving. And when we have one old lorry trying to overtake another, the painfully protracted period while the two lorries are abreast, is one where other vehicles just have to slow down considerably, and wait.

The design of exits and entrances to the highway is another hazard factor. Though the entrance/exit on the highway, and the break in the median, are kept at a distance from each other for safety reasons, in real life, most vehicles try to go from the entrance to the median (often the wrong way on the highway) instead on going onwards and taking a “U” turn. This results in a major danger to oncoming traffic. On the Bargur stretch of the Bangalore-Chennai highway, there are hardly any breaks in the median, and so, to avoid going round a long way, vehicles (and motorcyclists) tend to just go along on the wrong side…a truly horrific sight to see as one travels at highway speeds.

Posting plentiful signs on the highway, reminding users of the rules, cannot, alone, result in better driving and highway practices. There has to be an active highway police force..which enforces the rules impartially, does not take bribes to let offenders go, and also makes sure jaywalkers do not cross over the highway by climbing the medians. With the political will to enforce our laws, we could have far safer highways than we do at present.

Differences….

May 7, 2009

Systems work differently in the US and in India, and when one gets used to them,life becomes easier. A simple point of illustration is driving in both countries.

Everywhere, one must have information for driving…how do I get to where I am going? What’s the best route to take?

In India, information is almost always oral. Yes, perhaps Google maps has now covered many cities, but still, most drivers use their window for information…by putting their hands out of it, waving down passers-by, and asking for information. Of course, very often, this information could be wrong…but in the absence of signposting or reliable maps, this is the only kind of information source that one relies on as one drives to a new destination.But this also allows one to take off for totally unknown destinations quite blithely! “Alli kEL bhavuthu” or “ange kEttukkalAm” (we can ask there)is our refrain!

In the US, however, a lot of information (accurate) is there…but it needs tremendous discipline and alertness to be able to get it. If one casually drives off the way one would do in India, finding one’s way to the destination would be impossible. But of course, one would usually look up one’s destination, or get a set of navigation instructions from the person-at-the-destination

But even with this information, it can be quite daunting to find one’s way. A little inattention, and one can miss the correct exit, and will have to loop back for miles, wasting a lot of time, instead of the convenient U-turn one can often take in India! (Well,that’s happening less these days, with the new highways.)

Even as one drives, there is a lot of information that has to be picked up and followed on, on the road….speed limit signs, “yield” signs, lane closure signs….the locals are totally used to doing this, but it requires a fair amount of training for someone newly driving here.

But when one HAS got used to the fact that there will be NO “asking the passerby”, and starts picking up the information, one realizes what an extraordinarily good sytem is in place. Exits, merging lanes, signposting…these are all very good.

In India, we certainly need to take our signposting more seriously….we tend to assume that someone, somewhere, will have the information we need to guide us to our destination; or that everyone knows the route!

In Bangalore, at one point, on Bannerghatta Road, there are signs to “Koramangala” or “Banashankari” etc, but no detailed signposting at all, no information on closed or dug up roads, no indication of approaching speed bumps….it’s so chaotic that some of my American friends have asked me HOW I drive there!

What tickles me the most is the sign, when we are driving in south India, from Chennai to Bangalore, that says, “Ahmedabad” (in the state of Gujarat) and gives the distance..over 1100 km! 🙂

Getting information is a very different process in the two largest democracies in the world…and it’s good that we are comfortable with both!

Thoughts, because we are driving to Indianapolis today to fetch a Bangalore friend. Now even this, I would say, was an impulsive decision by KM. It’s a 4.5 to 5 hour drive each way, and we are coming back the same day…not a great idea on these monotonous highways…particularly when there is an excellent bus service from Indianapolis to St Louis!

So, I decided that I would also go along, and spell KM with the driving (navigating is no big deal, it’s a single highway all the way.) I only wish highway driving was like India, where there’s always something interesting and unexpected to see…the freeways here are sooooo monotonous, with cars and trucks speeding past, and the added danger of one’s being lulled into a moment of drowsiness, that could be deadly dangerous….

OK, I better go to catch some sleep now…

K sera sera…

March 9, 2009

When I went to the Malleswaram Heritage Walk, my beloved MLC fell to the ground, and though it was in a bag, it still broke…and the camera guy told me that it would cost “more than 3K” (that more-than sounds ominous!)….

Yesterday we went to attend the wedding of fellow NTP-er, sainath (can you imagine, I can’t post a pic of him and his very beautiful bride, as there is no MLC!)…and, a very rare occurrence for me, I had decided to take the car.

So naturally, an autorickshaw (I don’t know WHERE the driver was looking, he could not have hit me if he had been looking ahead) hit the car broadside on, on the left-hand-side, and when we stopped to look at the damage, he ran away. We spent a lot of time trying to see how we could file an FIR at the nearest police station….

It turned out that if the damages were anything less than 7K,it doesn’t make sense to claim insurance, as we would lose the no-claim bonus for the next two years, and that would amount to a loss of 5K….so today, the tinker-job garage told me that it would be done for 6.5K…and we are not claiming insurance, which is anyway a big pain…

That flapping noise that you hear is all those K’s flying out of our pockets quite quickly….! That’s why I feel that worrying about money is futile…K sera sera….whatever (expenses) will be, will be!

We still managed a lovely weekend, though!

One of those days….

December 29, 2008

Ran a temperature through yesterday evening,which prevented me from leaving on time for Chennai this morning; lousy argument with spouse; on arrival, very bad decision by spouse to go to Grand Sweets to pick up stuff.

Grand Sweets has become an awful travesty of what it once was. It took us an hour and twenty minutes to get something. That, perhaps, we were prepared for. But in the meanwhile, I ordered an “adai avial” and asked that not too much of oil should be poured on. The lady making it pulled a face but didn’t say anything…until a meek thAthA (grandfatherly person) behind me heard me, and made the same request.

The adai lady then tore into him. “What do you mean?” she yelled. “If all of you ask for adai without oil how am I to make it? It won’t cook properly!” Having had a bad day myself, I glared right back at her. “We are not asking for anything ‘extra’,”I said, “only to leave out something. It is such crap to say it is difficult for you.” She kept quiet after that…but harassed the old man by delaying the cooking of his adai on the griddle. But even after I got my adai, I waited..and waited…until the old man finally got his adai. I was quite mad with the lady.

Meanwhile, a gentleman (I use this term advisedly, read on and you will know why) accidentally brushed against both me and another young lady as he went past. I *know*, having had the contact, that it was truly accidental. The guy immediately started apologizing…but the young lady went up in smoke. She hit the guy across the face, and said she knew all about the Lotharios in India. “In America, we don’t behave like this,” she yelled.

Someone stepped in and asked her to keep her voice down and was berated for his trouble. “Who are you to interfere?” she asked loudly. “I suppose even touching a woman by chance is a sin,” said the “guilty” gentleman sadly. “But more than the fact that she slapped me like that, the fact that so many people around me are giving me dirty looks now hurts very much.” It was obvious that he was very miserable; he tore up his order coupon and went off.

Ah, Grand Sweets….spreads cheer and happiness everywhere.

We drove to my brother’s apartment building; this is the second time I am visiting since he died six months ago. And…..there is, right now, a hearse standing outside, someone has died in the ground floor apartment…..Will go later to find out who. My sis in law has still not come home so she will not know the news either….these things happen!

What a visit, it can only get better from now on. I wanted to go to a nice concert, but….

night driving on the BLr-Chennai highway..

September 22, 2007

too tired to think…but must jot down points about fluorescent paint, divided highway, toll gates, excellent road, no trees, no lane discipline, wrong way traffic,

just got back, off at 5 am tomrrow for plastic clean up with clean and green..