On a typical busy Indian road as well as the cars, trucks, buses, cyclists, motorbikes, mopeds and auto-rickshaws, it might not be uncommon to see an oxen pulling some kind of flatbed trailer, perhaps a cow or two, dogs, goats, monkeys, and even monks! This melee of speed, color, and smell, in breathless cotton wool heat is an experience that will almost certainly punctuate any Indian adventure. It will overwhelm and amaze you, but you’ll love it.

The blur of an India city street

The busy streets of every Indian city I’ve encountered are terrifying yet at the same time somehow strangely enthralling. At the cusp of chaos they rush like blood to your head, and throb like arteries pumping the very essence of life through your body.

On a rented moped weaving through traffic, people, and livestock feels something like playing a video game. The larger the vehicle the more right it has to charge on through the traffic. Road markings are merely guides and signs are more like suggestions. The constant use of your horn, on any vehicle, is a requirement and thus a constant chorus of horns fills the air and mingles with the dust and fumes from sunrise until well after the sunset.

Riding a bus is no less of an interesting experience. There seems little order to roadside bus stops, and sometimes the buses don’t really stop at all, they simply slow down allowing those who wish to disembark to do so while at the same time fighting with those who are hurriedly trying to get on the bus which is also being swarmed by hawkers holding their goods up to the glassless windows while shouting.

Auto-rickshaws are also an essential part of the transport infrastructure and a ‘must-do’ experience. As a tourist the driver will always attempt to inflate the price you’ll pay, which even then would still be dirt cheap, but there’s no fun in simply paying what they ask. An animated negotiation over the price before the ride is a must. If the driver tells you the ride will cost 70 Rupees ($1.64) you laugh and walk away, perhaps waving your arms for dramatic effect. The driver might then drive up beside you to offer a lower price, maybe fifty Rupees. “Fifty? Ha! No. I do this route all the time I never pay fifty. Thirty, no more.” Better yet, and if you can pull it off with some swagger, learn how to say “I am not a tourist” in their local language as you walk away in ‘disgust.’ It’s not a lie, it’s an enhanced negotiation technique.

The blur of an India city street

While on the road I ended up shooting some video clips using my digital camera. Initially I was simply going to post the clips on YouTube in a raw unedited format, but I ended compiling and producing a very short film (see below) in which I sped up the clips which I think goes some way to communicating the hectic and chaotic nature of the roads in India.

For those who might be interested in the technical aspect of this very short film it was shot entirely on my digital camera, a Canon Powershot S80 which I also use to take all my photographs. The film was compiled on a Mac using iMovie HD and various effects to increase the contrast and graininess of the clips. The music is a track called Ya Ali by Zubin.

Also available YouTube