Monthly Archives: April 2013

Driving in India

I have never experienced anything like Indian driving. It’s chaotic!

Indian drivers are incredibly calm but at the same time they drive like maniacs. On the two-lane highway from Jodhpur to the Rajasthan desert, Ravi, our driver, would switch into the opposing lane because there was too much traffic on our side. He’d stay in that lane with traffic barreling towards us until the car or truck heading right for us was a millimeter away, and then he’d calmly yank the car back into the proper lane.

The horn is used as a tool of communication: I’m behind you, let me pass, get out of the way; headlights are not necessarily used to illuminate the road at night, but are used to warn: I’m overtaking, coming into your lane, let me in. Windshield washing fluid is shunned – better to flood the glass with water from a discarded plastic pop bottle and wipe with a greasy rag.

At any time you can be sharing the road with other cars, trucks, pedestrians, camels, elephants and meandering cows,  when all of a sudden a herd of goats will attempt to cross the highway – because for generations they have crossed at that spot!

Travelling at 100 kilometers per hour, out of nowhere, a speed bump will appear on the highway: this is to slow the traffic, but all it does is cause the car to temporarily halt until resuming top speed.

The newspaper refers to “this excessive over-speeding”. There are new signs on the highway:  Lane driving is safe driving I don’t think anyone notices them.

 

Jantar Mantar, Jaipur

The Jantar Mantar, in Jaipur, is an 18th century astronomical observation site. There are five Jantar (instrument)Mantars (calculation) in India, but this one is the best. Designed for the observation of astronomical positions with the naked eye, it is an enormous Dr. Seuss landscape (5000 fingers of Dr Tilwiliker).

Despite being so huge, the markings on the stone are quite detailed and precise. We had a great time finding our astrological symbols.

Jodhpur

Jodhpur is referred to as the “Blue City” due to the vivid blue-painted houses. The true reason for Jodhpur’s blue color is the area is blighted by termites. The insects damaged and destroyed the traditional building method of coating the exterior with lime wash. It was discovered that the termites were repelled by copper salt compounds that were added to the lime washes. Copper solutions under certain conditions produce blue compounds and this turned the exterior of Jodhpur’s houses blue. The Brahmin class could afford the copper sulphate lime washes. It is thought that the Brahmins painted their houses the blue color to emphasize their royal connection when in actual fact they were the ones only able to afford the specialist exterior paint.

We stayed at The Cosy Guest House in the heart of Jodhpur. It is a family run guest house in the oldest, bluest part of the Jodhpur, dating back 549 years – the building has been the home of the same Brahmin family for eight generations. It’s a bit tricky to find, but well worth it for the view and the hospitality.