Traffic is insane in India. You would not believe it. It’s just a big mess. Horns constantly honking around every turn. Each street is like a big bowl of cheerios, each vehicle a cheerio. We all just narrowly squeeze by each other, miraculously getting inches close to each other, but never touching. Each cheerio has a forcefield around it so that other cheerios can only get a minimum of half an inch away. The roads are in not-the-best shape, and in the past couple days I have been sick (again). My second time in India. I don’t throw up or have diarrhea, but I am always so tired and nauseous. every five seconds we would hit a big ditch in the road, and the tuk tuk we took to Sarnath would jolt up and down and everyone, especially me, would let out a short moan.

This is what crossing a street was like:

We came face to face with a busy road in front of us. Cars don’t stop, and there are zero crosswalks or street lights. If it looked too dangerous to do by ourselves, we would kind of find a group of two or three locals who probably know how to cross an obstacle like an Indian street. You would kind of walk between the lanes. You wouldn’t wait for the cars to stop then walk past all four lanes in one stretch. You would find a way to get past one of the lanes, then stand on the white lines that separated the roads (the lines are more like places for pedestrians to stand than actual guidelines for the vehicles; I say vehicles because it is a big mix of cars, tuk tuks, bicycles, and motorcyc7les) and wait until the next lane is empty for the five seconds needed to cross it.

The traffic just applies to everywhere we’ve been in India. On our very first morning in Agra we woke up very, very early in the morning to head to the Taj Mahal. We hoped that early there wouldn’t be very many tourists and that we could peacefully watch the sunrise over the Taj Mahal. When I stepped out of the door, the streets were as crowded as any normal uptown street at the busy time of day in Seattle, and it was six in the morning! I could only imagine how crowded the roads would be with animals, people, and vehicles alike by noon. We were right about the tourists, there were only about fifty of them. We were wrong on the sunrise. We had woken up so early to get a huge fog storm in which we couldn’t even see the Taj Mahal from the viewing point, and we couldn’t see the big dome even from the base of the Mausoleum. We came back later in the afternoon to see it fully and without fog.

The cities are so crowded. Waking up to a dissapointingly foggy view of the Taj Mahal, I could still hear slight car horns sounding in the background. Oh what it will be like to visit a more peaceful country like Thailand or the Island of Bali!

I have to admit, the roads and cities of India were a little to busy to live in. I don’t dislike it, but it is just a little hard at times to deal with many factors of staying safe.

“Delhi takes Colombia to a whole new level. I was shocked at how when I visited Colombia, the vehicles would just weave between the lanes. In Delhi, not only are lanes just a suggestion, but you also have motorcycles going the other way on streets, trying to get around cars that are in their lane.”

-Janet Alviar

Animals are also abundant here. Sacred cows wander the streets (and sometimes take naps in them), and dogs are everywhere. There is always the constant sound of barking in the back of my mind. There are a wide variety of birds in the city, from small ones with oranges eyes to big falcon-looking things that have yellow fletches on their faces and catch fish out of the Ganges like an osprey. Of course there are also the cocky-eyed pigeons that Kieran cannot resist running after.

Monkeys climb on the buildings (we keep our distance because they are close enough related to us that they could share diseases), and we even saw a collection of little rat holes containing some fat, happy rats (so cute!). I saw my first chipmunk since leaving Seattle. It seems that where Seattle has squirrels and chipmunks, cities in India have cows and monkeys!

I find the cities fascinating and with amazing historical roots, but OMG they are busy!

Below: Sacred Cow

Below: Delhi Traffic (drawing by Julien)