Posts Tagged ‘highway’

Mysore, and the highway back to Bangalore, 010214

February 6, 2014


is my FB album of snaps in Mysore, and the highway to Bangalore.


Quick trip to Chennai…

May 17, 2011

Had to go to Chennai for some Orrible Essential Paperwork and got back just now. My laptop was not able to pick up on the cable internet in Chennai.

So of course…let me turn my back on LJ for just a couple of days and all you lot will post the most incredible variety of posts….I just sort of went through the posts. and in particular….enjoyed your posts…just tooooooo tired to comment…

To go one evening to a hot, humid place, spend the next morning in a government office, and drive down through the awful, no-highway-discipline traffic in the night…is NOT my idea of fun!

Actually Chennai wasn’t as bad as I expected. But in the Govt office, I was highly tickled to see a sign painted over the door….”Bribery is against the law”. I just *loved* those ironic quotation marks!

Of course an unreasonable demand was made for “services rendered” and we toned it down…but Anna Hazare would have wept.

Meanwhile…here’s the One And Only Whoever He is (I refuse to believe that a woman would put up that sticker!) on his way through the traffic…

1 and only 120511

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.


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…

Valparai Visit

January 15, 2009

Though we took an overnight train, the visit really started with the sunrise after we got out of the train and were speeding towards Valparai from Coimbatore after a quick breakfast at Annapoorna….

The chill dawn, the pilgrims on their way (most pilgrims would finish their pilgrimage by January 14th, when the sun begins its “uttarAyanam” or northward path, and the festival of Sankranti or Pongal, the harvest festival, happens), and the little lighted shrine in the gloaming, made me feel peaceful…

read on IF you have leisure

Mahatma Gandhi School, run by SEED, Sriperumbudur

July 8, 2008

My daughter and son in law volunteer for Asha For Education .

As we drove back from Chennai to Bangalore, she wanted to visit the Mahatma Gandhi School run by SEED .

We crawled through all the by-lanes of Sriperumbudur town looking for the school and went past this beautiful “chapparam” being renovated for a small local temple:

more about Sriperumbudur sights, and the SEED school


May 5, 2008

Here’s a picture I like against all the rules.

The rules are:

1. Don’t have a tree in the middle of the photograph.

2. Do not have a distracting element (like the gate-post) at one side of the photograph.

…and some others, too.

holy mendicants bandipur jlr 270408


I love that tree, and the steady stride those sadhus (religious mendicants) are keeping up, the casual curiosity of one, and the open road that lies beyond the gate of the JLR property; the gate and the wall stand for what is enclosed,known, secure; the road stands for what is open, unknown, a mystery… and those mendicants, with no worldly possessions, are off on that road…a road, hopefully, to the discovery of the universe within themselves.

On the way back, we also saw several Buddhists monks travelling. But these are Jain monks, I think, or Hindu ones…I don’t know.

Bandipur…always something to intrigue one, and make one think.

I do wish *I* could shed my worldly possessions and stride off towards the forests like these monks are doing….!

Here’s the cropped photo; no gate, only the tree, the monks, and the song of the open road:

This may not be a “distracting” photograph, but to me the unworldliness of the road and the monks lacks a counterpoint.

That’s the difference between the content of a photograph and its artistic composition!

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..

Loved this hoarding on the Chennai-Bengaluru highway…

September 4, 2007

The people who live in Tamil Nadu, obviously, love their mother tongue, which they call Tamil and I, phonetically, call Tamizh.

And what better way to proclaim that love than….

long live Tamil..written in English 030907 Chennai

…to state it in English!!!

And please do NOT miss the fact that Poonamallee is a “third grade” municipality!

I have wanted, for a long time, to capture this for one and all, but the LJ, Flickr, and the S3 had to happen first!

Yet another great day…

October 31, 2005

Can’t post photos…don’t know how, and didn’t take any…but this morning, drove back from Chennai to Blr on the really excellent (except for patches) National Highway 7, which, though not as scenic as the old Madras Road, still got us from point to point in under 6 hours. The Honda CR-V, for all that I detest the idea of using a SUV for the 2 of us, is a dream to drive, and I, who never drive by the speedometer but by the road conditions, found myself pushing 120 kmph on amazingly long stretches. The only danger on this road is that, for various reasons including the road being under construction, traffic often appears on the wrong side of the road, and one always has to be careful.

Getting the brass lamps, kolam, and eats ready for the Deepavali festival tomorrow. Feel so incredibly lucky and privileged to have everything that I could possibly want.