INDIA: Snapshots from a Naturalist Journey’s Nature Tour: ALTERNATE TRANSPORT

A Young Couple on the Road in India    photo by Peg Abbott

In this time of frugality, when we think we are challenged financially here in the USA, a visit to India is heartwarming, encouraging and promotes one’s sense of humor, along with endurance.

I open my Colors of India show with a long section of images under the theme of transportation.  I say LONG section, because you would marvel at the imagination they have for defining the word “vehicle” and you would marvel at what they can haul on a bicycle!  In India, there is almost no segregation of traffic modes. The only rule I surmised was that large semi-trucks could not pass through large urban areas in daylight hours, so you’d see long lines of colorfully decorated carriers waiting outside the cities. Other than that, the roads mix oxcarts, motorcycles, camels, bicycles, cars, pedestrians and a host of curious vehicles such as bicycles with platforms and extra tires geared for hauling. I have a photo of a man riding a bicycle with a full length ladder balanced, his head somewhere towards the top third. I have a bicycle hauling a couch, and another hauling a stack of olive oil cans that approached the size of a small pyramid. We watched a young couple leave the city just two on a motorcycle, but with their suitcase fastened behind. Most motorcycles, to us the size of dirt bikes, carried at least three or four, and Jean Bassett, with us from Tucson, scored a photo of five! 

 The word Taxi takes on new meaning in India. There are bicycle taxi’s, and small truck taxis, and then large long-haul taxis where people seem to pile in three deep.  When we pass they waive and smile. They are going somewhere, and never alone.  Our Indian guide says when in the US he feels lonely, not enough action or people around. 

I remember returning to the hotel, tired from a full and wonderful day of birding in wetlands where we watched Painted Storks. As we came to a halt, a camel pulling a heavy load came careening around the corner, and ended up with its chin next to my window. Somehow it never missed a stride and kept right on going. In the midst of New Delhi there are corners where horses can rest and feed, sort of a corral amid the chaos. January and February is a time of weddings, so its not unusual to see a horse all decorated with flowers, ready to carry the bride or groom. Everywhere women wear traditional dress, and their lovely shawls and skirts flow – like butterflies. They offer such beauty in between all the hustle and bustle. We could not figure out how they keep so clean!  Every outing is an adventure!  Join us in 2012, February 12-23.


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