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Traffic in India

Actually, I wanted to write a blog post about cultural differences between Germany and India. But the section on road traffic was so long that I now dedicate a whole blog post to this topic. 

Also, this was the first thing that attracted my attention while coming out of the Chennai airport: I am used to a well organized and regulated road traffic from Germany or rather from all over Europe. But on my first car ride, the steering wheel on the left side was the smallest problem. Everyone was honking, shouting and just driving how and where they wanted. Stepping out of the silent and gentle airport, I really was in shock for a second. Sitting in the car and experiencing how your driver almost strikes a Laster which is at least four times bigger than your car or watching how you suddenly just change to the side of the road without any sign is crazy. But at the same time, it is extremely fascinating that the traffic is still working out somehow and how the drivers are getting along without communication. I could watch the Indian roads for hours and not be bored. Nevertheless, now I can say, experiencing this “happening” as a pedestrian can be kind of overwhelming and intimidating. There are no traffic lights or something else that stops the traffic - they just drive. So as a pedestrian you should imitate this behaviour and just walk, no hesitation nor running - just confidently walk and maybe give the car, moped or “Auto” driver a little sign with your hand. But honestly, this is easier said than done. Especially because the streets are most likely four lanes. That is why Maggie and I still feel more safe when we cross the road by joining an Indian person :). In addition, I have made the observation that mostly men drive a car or motorcycle. Women at the wheel are rare.

Besides taking an “Auto” Magdalena and I also tried to take the bus to drive into the city. And I must say that a bus ride here feels very different from a one in Germany. There is loud music while driving, which is why you can hear the bus coming from far away. To get on the bus, the driver does not have to open the door because -surprise- there is no door. That means you can just get in and out like that. There are also not really bus stops, or they are not marked, which made it in the beginning difficult for the two of us to get out properly. And even if Google Maps doesn't know what to do, people try everything to be helpful. Another difference was not having to buy the tickets before the trip, but to get the ticket for around 10 rupees from a seller who is already on the bus. What I really like about the Indian buses is that extra seats for women are kept free at the front.

Compared to bus journeys, train travel in India does not feel so different than in Germany. There are four different classes that can be booked. Depending on the one, you share a compartment with several people or less. Since the distances in India to travel are unimaginably large, many people travel on the night train. After my experience in the second and third class, I can say that it is amazingly relaxed and comfortable. Everyone has their own bed, there is night rest and there is always the possibility to buy tea, coffee and even food from dealers who walk through the train at the stations. Further dishes can be ordered on the internet. At the next station, your food will be delivered right in front of your waggon. I think this concept is brilliant, and I do wonder why it has not yet been introduced in Germany, since it is so easy. 

After all, India and Germany are located on different continents, are 6.600km apart, they have different currencies and one country has with 1,426 billion people the country with the most inhabitants, while the other one is in comparison with its 84 million inhabitants nothing. It is no wonder that there is then a big cultural difference between these two countries. And I am looking forward to having more of these new experiences

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