Sunday, October 5, 2008

"When all's said and done, all roads lead to the same end. So it's not so much which road you take, as how you take it.”

Post by: Beth

Our apartment is on the 4th floor of a very tall building. Tall buildings around the Bandra area in which we live are not too uncommon due to the number of business and condominiums present, but the number of elevated buildings is still largely inferior to the number of one and two story homes and buildings. This means that being even on the 4th floor gives us a bird’s eye view of the neighborhood and surrounding vicinity. Since we can look down on so many structures and roads, our balcony is a great spot for taking photos.

Tuesday morning was the first chance we got to see the area around our home in the daylight. It was surprising to me to see palm trees, coconuts, and so much greenery. If you look out from our balcony and keep your eyes focused directly ahead, it really looks like a resort town. I’m only used to palm trees and coconuts being this evident in vacation spots, so it’s a strange juxtaposition to see the tropical atmosphere, then to look down at the roads and homes below and see a life that seems very hard compared to the average middle-class life in America.

One of the first things that I noticed when I was able to see the area in the daylight was just how many forms of transportation there are here, and how greatly some of them differ from what we’ve become accustomed to in America. Everything looks different … most cars look different, taxis are unrecognizable to people that associate a large yellow vehicle with a taxicab, and there’s generally a lot more manual labor involved here when moving things around.

Here is what’s called an “auto rickshaw.” It’s a 3-wheeled automobile that runs on gas, and is a take-off from what used to be more common: the rickshaw, which is a cart that carries passengers and is pulled by a person. Rickshaws (I’m told) can still be spotted frequently in smaller cities and towns in India, but have mostly been replaced by the auto rickshaws in the larger cities, like Bombay. Auto rickshaws have a meter, much like a cab does, and we’ve been warned that expatriates and foreigners can be easily tricked by the meters, as they count in rupees and in a funny manner. We have not yet ridden in an auto rickshaw, mostly due to the fact that it’s an open vehicle, so there are no windows and locked doors that separate the passengers from the beggars in the streets. Not quite up for that one yet……
For the most part though, these automobiles are quick, small and very maneuverable, inexpensive, and a fine method for traveling small distances.

Next up… buses. There are LOTS of buses that come through the area, and they’re usually jam-packed with people. They are not air-conditioned, so all of the windows are always down. During rush hour (which is like 4 hours in the morning, and 4 hours in the evening), there are incredibly long lines of people waiting for buses when getting to and from work.

To finish, the most interesting mode of transportation (to me anyway) is people themselves. There are so many people here that single-handedly move items themselves. You see people pulling large carts of vegetables and fruits down the main streets, right alongside the cars, motorbikes, auto rickshaws, and cabs. They take their places in the lines of traffic and since traffic usually creeps along at a snail’s place, they have no trouble keeping up with the flow of vehicles. Also fascinating to me is the number of people that have mastered carrying baskets, buckets, and boxes on their hands... USING NO HANDS. They just walk along normally, like nothing is happening, and you’ll look at their heads and see a huge basket full of beans, peas, or any other number of goods. I haven’t really been whipping my camera out very much when traffic is moving so slowly, but I was able to capture these shots from our balcony.

And last but not least, I uploaded some videos we took of the streets around our apartment. It doesn't really give a great sense of how traffic is here on the main roads, but it's still interesting. I'll try to take some video of main road traffic soon and upload as well.



Fun, no? You really see it all here. When I see more interesting ways people get things from Point A to Point B, I’ll make sure I take pictures and post them so you can see.

We hope you're all doing well! :)


Rhonda Walker said...

Okay from your point of view the autorickshaw looks like a wind up toy. lol Keep those post coming.
I love you bunches!

Big Cuz said...

I love seeing all of the different transportation and even some in "action"... but tell me... do I hear lots of children nearby your apartment... or do people who speak the indian language just sound like a bunch of kids on the street? LOL!

Beth + Raja Gupta said...

casey --
yep, there are lots of children around here.. did you know half of the indian population is 25 and under?? isn't that crazy? random fact i know.
anyway, there are lots of children around here b/c there are several schools in the neighborhood. so we see children all day long, and they ALL wear uniforms too, even the ones that look like they're probably in high school. sort of interesting :)

Big Cuz said...

I am curious about the uniforms?... what do they look like? the only vision I have is the ones here that are white shirts and blue bottoms... but I wouldnt think that it would be the same in india... what do they look like? ;)

Beth + Raja Gupta said...

they actually DO look similar.. lots of plaid skirts, blue blazers, etc. it is kind of strange that they're so similar, now that i think about it.