Saturday, September 02, 2006

Driving like the locals

Yesterday was my first day at the lab. There isn't much to tell yet, as nothing of interest happened. I don't know yet what project I'll be working on; I won't until Monday. So I'll save the discussion of the lab until there is something legitimate to discuss.

I've now made the drive to the lab twice. The first was a trial run this past Monday. That was an adventure. I got lost both coming and going, which, if nothing else, ensured that I saw a bit more of Bangalore.

Driving here is a bit of an adventure. The best advice I can offer, after living in another country for three weeks, is that if you choose to drive, always drive like the locals. To a certain extent, I learned this lesson in Manhattan. If you behave like the locals, they can anticipate your movements and behave accordingly. It's usually the visitors who end up causing accidents, because their behavior is erratic, at least according to local custom.

Well, to drive like a Bangalorean, you have to be a bit daft. They use the horn to an obnoxious extent. At first, I thought it was out of rudeness, as in my life is more important, so get out of my way, punk! And while that is part of the it, it's also that the horn is used to notify other drivers of your relative location to them. If a driver is about to pass me, they'll honk on their horn, letting me know hey, I am...please don't enter my space...It's taken some time for me to get used to this, and I always feel as if I'm being criticized.

The problem with the horn, however, is how often it is used to try and get my attention. For instance, yesterday I was at a light and the gentlemen next to me noticed that there was a white woman on a scooter. The driver proceeded to lay on the horn while his companion yelled out the window at me. I did my best to stay focused on my iPod (playing The Last Kiss soundtrack...a must if you're a fan of indie rock), but it's really hard to ignore a blaring horn. I have to admit that it makes me a bit nervous when I get that much attention on the road. Someone else decided they wanted to talk to me, while we were doing 50 km/hr down the road. (A postcard will go to the first person who converts that from km -> m, both for the reader and the humble writer of this blog. I'm too lazy to do it myself.) He pulled up next to me and started yelling at me as we were going down the road. I did my best to ignore him, but it's just so damned hard to do that.

With all of that being said, I've had some fantastic adventures on my bike. When I was coming home from my practice drive, I came to a suspension bridge, and wasn't sure whether I should go over it or under it. I decided that it would be fun to see the view from the top, so I went over. Of course, this was the wrong choice, and I ended up sitting in a gas station, looking at a map to try and figure out where I wanted to go. Two gentlemen, seeing my dilemma, came over and pointed me in the right direction. Well, I drove down the road and followed the crowd around the side of the suspension bridge. About 100 yards down the road, everyone turned off onto a dirt road. That couldn't be the way I wanted to go, so I continued on and quickly hit a dead end. So I turned around, thought of Brad, and decided that I should just go ahead and take the dirt road. What was the worst that could happen, I thought. Well, the dirt road became very narrow, filled with bumpy rocks and divets. The course was going slightly downhill and I saw that it made a quick right hand turn at the end. This seemed to be the right direction for me to go in, so I just kept on going. As soon as I turned, I saw where traffic was going: through a small tunnel, that wouldn't have been tall enough for me to walk through. It was only wide enough for one bike to pass through at a time, and I was at the end of the line from my side. I bucked up and drove through. Geez, it was so much fun! :) Everyone should take the time to go offroading in Bangalore. I eventually found my way back to Outer Ring Road and all the way home, but I have to say, I'm so glad that I got lost. I don't think I'll ever intentionally go back that way, because who knows what may happen the next time. But it was a local experience. No tourist would find there way there. I feel initiated into the fold. I'll never be a true Indian, but that trip has got to count for something. The only thing that may pull me back is a desire to take pictures of it, so I'll forever remember the shortcut tunnel that I found by getting hopelessly lost in Bangalore.

Good times...


Mawhomsei & Pawhopumun said...

Now that's more like it! Give us a little more of the raw senses along with the adventures (exotic colors, fragrant tastes, tactile odors)and you'll have a Pulister Prize awarded to you when The Adventure draws to a close.

E(Liz)a(Beth) said...

Thanks, Mom. I hope I haven't gotten you all nervous!

Anonymous said...

HAHAHAHA! I have to get KEVIN to read this one! He would surely be proud.

Now I sing "Bangalore Besh," to the tune of George Harrison's "Bangladesh."

I want to send you mail.
You want some mail?

vortexshedding said...

50 km/hr = 31 mph

LauraLauraTra-la-la-la said...

Wow! Crazy stuff! I am loving your descriptions - keep them coming! I can't wait to see a picture of you on that bike. : )Miss you tons!

LauraLauraTra-la-la-la said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jen said...

Hey, thanks for sending me the link to this. I miss you guys and I have been so anxious to hear how things are going. I miss India, every time I smell Jasmine, Sandalwood or curry it takes me back.

Kathrin Biemann-Monfette said...

what is your street address? Isn't 50km about 30m? I want a postcard.