As I boarded yet another bus for an overnight journey last week, I found it fitting that Spotify chose to play “Let It Go” by Demi Lovato, as it is the sentiment that reflects my experience in India.
I was initially a little annoyed at this song (and yes I know I’m going to upset quite a few people here when I say this but I didn’t like ‘Frozen’ and I just don’t see what the fuss is about but that’s a discussion for another day) and I went to press shuffle but then I smiled and realised I needed to “Let It Go” and let it play.
So for those that know me I like to plan/know what’s going on (perhaps I’ve got some control issues…) however since coming to India I’ve had had to let this go and go with the flow.
There is no rushing in the unpredictable, disorganised and noisy traffic of Bangalore.
There is nothing you can do when the power suddenly cuts out for a couple of seconds or over an hour.
There is no reason why public urination is a regular sight.
Despite and perhaps in spite of my questions more times than not I won’t get a clear answer or the answers I’m seeking and maybe this is to do with a language barrier but I’ve found in many instances I will get a head bobble in response.
Now the head bobble, wobble or head shake can actually mean yes, no or maybe and one needs to determine which one this is through intuition (or sometimes as simply as an auto driver racing off without equals a definite no!) As we all do unconsciously to mirror body language and build rapport, I’ve also sometimes adopted the head bobble which is perhaps a sign that I’m really assimilating.
I suspect though I will get better at working out the bobble of locals, I will still be left confused more times than not, by the time I leave India. In any case I’ll just have to learn to let it go.
Given all time I’ve already spent in traffic/on a vehicle so far, I wanted to leave you all with my 10 Road Observations so far (in no particular order). At least for my time in India, I’ve had to let go of the reduced level of road safety than what I’m accustomed to.
1. Complete/enclosed vehicles are not needed to get you around (I was on neither of the below buses by the way)
2. Despite the signs, helmets are commonly used as an accessory and not worn on the heads of drivers or their passengers -they are instead held, perched on heads or stowed as cargo and more often than not the helmet wouldn’t save anyone especially when its just a hard hat and it’s not even strapped to their head.
3. There is no limit to the number of passengers in or in fact on a vehicle
4. Rearview mirrors are better used to display the next song or play a music videos with side mirrors optional
5. Traffic is organised chaos with rarely any lane markings.
6. Seat belts, well what seat belts?! I am more surprised when I am able to buckle myself in than when I cannot (My sister would be horrified particularly as she did a masters thesis on seat belt safety)
7. A working horn is a MUST and is to used constantly (A local remarked to me that a working horn is more important than brakes)
8. There is no need to turn off the engine when getting refuelled (and yes I was in a car when this happened and was still deciding whether to jump out when we headed off).
9. Watch the animals - cows rule and roam the streets, wild dogs wander and sleep there and you’ll also see rare sightings of goats and pigs on main roads in major cities
10. The lack of a road or a bulldozer in front of your store doesn’t stop business
Wherever you are and whatever you are up to everyone- stay safe and perhaps consider letting it go.