Sunday, 13 January 2008


If a lack of sanitation and a propensity for tropical diseases were not enough, India’s roads must rank among the most dangerous on the planet. Apparently 8% of the world’s vehicle fatalities occur there with 250 people killed very day. Although, like the UK, they drive on the left hand side of the road, no sane foreigner would ever venture behind the wheel of a motor car in India. Safety standards are far below those of the west, both in the construction of the vehicles and of the roads themselves. There seems to be little adherence to such rules of the road as may exist; 3 lanes of traffic where only 1 is intended; a plethora of tuktuks (autorickshaws), motorbikes, buses, lorries and cars, their drivers weaving in and out between slower transport; the odd cow, goat or even elephant in the middle of it all. I trust you are beginning to visualise the picture. Throw in a cacophony of honking and screeching brakes and you can hear it too.

Fortunately we saw the aftermath of only 1 accident a few vehicles ahead of us as we wound our way up the hairpin bends of the foothills of the Western Ghats. We were unsure what had happened but it was apparent that most of the men in the nearby village came to the scene to render assistance and move the vehicles to the side of the road and the injured into transport, presumably to take them to hospital.

As we edged past, a car had lost its roof completely in the impact and nearby there were puddles of blood and abandoned flip-flops.

It was no wonder that our driver, a Christian by the name of John, regularly stopped outside of Churches, to offer candles and gifts of flowers. That and making the sign of the cross before he turned the ignition were obviously designed to assist in ensuring our safe conveyance.

Faith, if you have it and whatever the religion or belief, can be of great comfort in delivering us through all kinds of situations. However, in India there could just be a caveat on the religious front for which see this entry in
Family Lore.

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