Friday, June 18, 2010

Drive My Car

I bitch plenty about idiots on the road but it gets tiring after a while. Plus, after nearly getting t-boned at a 4 way stop due mostly my oversight, I decided I'd be nice for a change.

Driving in India is a low speed nightmare. While typical speeds are under 30 miles an hour, the roads are a clusterfuck of cars, buses, rickshaws, and motorcycles. Given that we're such a crowded country, competing for limited resources creeps into every aspect of our daily lives - including road space. Lanes are non-existent, lights are mere suggestions. We're impatient. Very impatient. I was too, when I drove there and I'm not sure what the hurry was.

While Denver is known to have shitty traffic and irate drivers ranking among the worst in the country, I find my daily commute to be a joy ride compared to my life from 5 years ago. There are several rules on American roads that are aggressively enforced and for plenty good reason too. The speeds are a lot higher, and the smallest mistake can be life threatening. And while ignoring blind spots, yacking on the cellphone and picking the wrong lane are annoying habits many people exhibit, their attention to detail tends to be rather surprising.

I always marvel at how well we manage to merge traffic from two highways, cars alternating turns. That maneuver wouldn't work in India for even half a second. I was driving from one intersection to the other when I realized I was 2 lanes off to the right and had to turn left next. I put my blinker on, and the car to the left of me stopped a few feet further into the intersection to let me pass.

Shiny-red (aka Lucy aka my bad-ass car) has enough torque to beat most cars off the line at an intersection, but I've never had to play the rev-engine-overtake-to-switch-lanes game. Unless I want to be a dick, and that's known to happen frequently.

And then there are days when I set the cruise to 5 under the limit, and watch the world roll by to my left. No honking, no angry gestures, only the occasional tailing. If you think driving 2 feet behind me will scare me into going faster, you have no idea what the drive from Banashankari II stage to Resthouse road via Vidyapeetha thru' Sajjan Rao circle is like.

And that's the difference. When I pull into the lot, wind the volume down and get out I'm ready for whatever's up next - an hour of gaming at home, 8 hours of work, or 4 hours of binge drinking - it's all good. Thinking back to Bangalore, I can distinctly remember sighs of relief that I reached my destination in one piece.

People wince when I say I travel 45 mins. one way to work, but I laugh - that's how long it takes my parents to get to the grocery store. Perspective, Denver, perspective.


Rassles said...

That last line was the kicker. It takes me half an hour to motivate myself to walk one block to get groceries. One block.

I am spoiled.

Perakath said...

Lucky bastard. Btw why not set cruise control to 5 above the limit? All speedometers have a positive error anyway.

Perakath said...

This is not a comment.

Australis said...

I live in a city where everything is 15 minutes or less away. But I miss the idea of a to me, 45 minutes of a smooth and nice drive to work doesn't really sound like a bad thing. :)

Pringle Man said...

Thantos. I do love your blog. I don't know if you remember El of thewildernessyears. I never quite got around to reading your earlier blog properly, but chanced upon this one through links and comments and what not. Completely my loss.

I've spent an extremely pleasant half hour going through the archives.

And I recognise The Kid : D Though her profile/blog is all blocked now. I always sensed something was up there. Oh these inscrutable internet waves.

ps - I'm at the I don't give a baloney, will blog mindlessly stage, which you mentioned you had passed through. Full permission to feel superior then.

Thanatos said...

@Rassles - I would drive. In fact, I drive to my mailbox.

@Perakath - Yeah, but I feel way more smug coasting 5 under

@Australis - Yeah it's great. Traffic jams can be nasty, but it's never too bad!

@Pringle Man - Why hello there! Long time no see! Missed your blog, will hop over soon!