Lane driving is sane driving

New Delhi Travel Blog

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breakfast on the patio

Every morning I’ve been having breakfast outside on the front patio of the guesthouse.  The guesthouse is right in the center of the city, not far from Connaught Place, but it’s situated on a small back lane and with the front patio and its tiny little garden it feels like a real oasis.  There’s a postage-stamp sized lawn and shrubs, birds squawk and chirp in the slender trees above, and though you can still hear the din of the traffic on the nearby main road, it is somewhat muted.  This morning’s breakfast respite was a total contrast to the rest of the day’s hectic tempo.

 

I had an interview set up in the satellite city of Gurgaon, and I set off right after breakfast.

brand building developments in Gurgaon
  The guesthouse kindly arranged a taxi to pick me up, take me there, wait for me, and then bring me back again.  Inside Delhi we moved through the traffic at the usual frenetic pace, and for the first time I actually looked ahead through the front windshield rather than sideways through my passenger side window.  In doing so I could finally appreciate other travelers’ blog posts about white-knuckle rides and seeing their lives passing before their eyes.  Driving in Delhi is literally a free-for-all, anything goes.  The lane markings are used as mere suggestions, and drivers can just create their own new lanes whenever they feel like it, or squeeze in between lanes of cars, or straddle lanes.  And don’t forget to press the heel of your hand down on your horn every 5 seconds.
billboards advertising luxury goods from the highway
  There are signs posted on the roads saying “Lane driving is sane driving,” in an effort to encourage people to drive differently, but they don’t seem to have much effect!

 

On the freeway entering Gurgaon traffic ground to a shuddering halt, and without the breeze from our movement coming in through the windows (it was a non-AC car) I dissolved into a salty, sweaty pool, as limp and grubby as an old dishrag.  I was literally sticking to the seat, with sweat soaking through my clothes.  Outside the landscape was all dust and choking exhaust, the sky so smoggy that I wouldn’t even call it “sky” – it just looked like an inverted bowl of yellow-white haze, totally impenetrable.  We were just a sea of idling cars, tuk-tuks, and motorcycles, with small groups of pedestrians weaving in between the cars and leaping over the barriers to get to the other side (yes, pedestrians crossing the motorway!)  On either side of the motorway giant construction sites of new glass and steel buildings were going up, and giant billboards were advertising luxury flats, luxury baths, luxury kitchens.

Lakshmi Narayan Mandir
  Their bright photographs of lush green gardens, turquoise blue skies, and ripe juicy fruit seemed totally ironic to me, trapped there in dreadful traffic in a bleak motorway landscape, with the worst air quality I think I’ve ever experienced in my life.  On a positive note, the interviews were very good, and the drive back went much faster.

 

In between appointments today I also visited a very large Hindu temple – the Laxshmi Narayan Mandir.  It had rising conical towers and was colored all in reds and golds.  It wasn’t busy at all, and it was very pleasant to walk barefoot across the cool marble floors inside the quiet, breezy interior, admiring the richly painted carvings of gods and goddesses, and the high ceilings with their elaborate chandeliers.

Lakshmi Narayan Mandir
  I liked the unrestrained colors (a particular emphasis on reds, yellows, oranges, no blues or greens), the garlands of bright yellow marigolds, the smiling pantheon of deities both male and female.  It certainly made other houses of worship that I’ve seen look quite staid in comparison.

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breakfast on the patio
breakfast on the patio
brand building developments in Gur…
brand building developments in Gu…
billboards advertising luxury good…
billboards advertising luxury goo…
Lakshmi Narayan Mandir
Lakshmi Narayan Mandir
Lakshmi Narayan Mandir
Lakshmi Narayan Mandir
New Delhi
photo by: peeyushmalhotra