Last time Gavin and I were in India we visited the Taj Mahal, a place that everybody should see once in his life. Our hotel was just in front of this ‘monument to eternal love’ and the large pool nearly reflected its brightness during the full moon night. I still have the pleasure of swimming in the pool on my skin.
But if I go back with the memory to those days, my attention will immediately go to the chaos of Indian traffic. Taj Mahal is in Agra in the region of Uttar Pradesh – north India – which is not exactly the most developed region of India. The road to Agra is a large one, originally a four lanes express way with a small separation with cement blocks between the 2 different directions of travel.
The truth is that the human pressure on the border of the road has transformed this express-way into a local road and the two original directions of going have been lost in the habits of locals. People simply go on the road according to their need. In some part the road is dirty and small tents have been positioned on its edge.
We were in a taxi and I was very pleased to not have to manage the driving in this situation. As I am from Italy, I was proud to be able to drive in Naples and Palermo which are known to have more ‘local rules’ than ‘international’ and drivers are so fast that you have very short time to make a life-saving decision. But nothing compares to what I found in Agra – the situation in New Delhi or other big cities are only slightly different.
We were in a modern car but we were living a past human experience when people were not aware of technology and simply use things according to their present need and intuition.
I had an unusual feeling of freedom connected with the consciousness that the other side of freedom is the lack of the comfort zone created by rules.
Some days later we were in Hyderabad for some business meetings and we were often stacked in a traffic jam. Other cars were so close to our taxi that I could feel the warmth of their engines – not just the environment. The competition in gaining one more centimeter was so strong that many cars had broken parts in their bodies.
The car was continuously stopping and then moving a few more centimeters. One of the taxi drivers could feel our worry and turned gently his head towards us and reinsured us with his words:
“The secret to move in Indian traffic is very easy- just three things: Good Brake, Good Horn and … Good Luck!”