Leaving India

posted Jan 18, 2011, 10:18 PM by Darren Cannell   [ updated Jan 21, 2011, 6:59 PM ]

In addition to the painting, I also left India with a terrible little infection in my elbow.  I accidentally scratched my elbow and it was a minuscule little nothing of a scratch, but then I made the mistake of having a bath in Indian bath water and voila I ended up with a dreadful infection.  Thank God I had some penicillinia from Mexico and I started taking that and the painful and ugly infection eventually went away within days but is still sore 11 days after.  Just another little something courtesy of India to take away with me.

We are currently driving back to Delhi and the traffic would be much better if people did not go down the wrong side of the road and especially on highways.  You will see tractors, trucks, cars and scooters, elephants and camels too coming towards you on the highway. Yup here comes a bus towards us; it is insane.  Lanes do not mean anything in this country.  If there is actually 3 lanes on the highway there will be anywhere between 5 to six lanes created by weaving Indian drivers.

Apparently our last guide was supposed to tell us to leave Jaipur at 2:30 pm at the latest preferably 2:00 pm.  This is the first we are hearing of it according to Raj our driver who told the guide 3 times that we needed to leave at this time to avoid the heaviest of traffic on the roads meaning the trucks which come out later in the afternoon.  Raj is nervous that we are not going to make it to the airport in time.  I am thinking that to cover 247 kms from Jaipur to Delhi and we have 8.5 hours should be enough; I am to find that Raj the professional is correct.

We were moving along and I did notice that the ratio of trucks to cars on the highway was about 10 to 1.  Now these are Indian trucks or Darren calls them Circus trucks.  They are hardly in good working condition and can only go about 40 kms per hour and they are overloaded by 200% and the drivers of the trucks often stop in the middle of the road for no apparent reason or off kind of to the side but not really.  It creates a very dangerous driving environment.  Add to this the non-stop road construction for 247 kms and the crazy Indian car drivers that will drive anywhere, the shoulder, the ditch in-between trucks without an extra lane or a side road and you have utter CHAOS

We were moving along at a good pace until the traffic came to a complete standstill.  Raj turned around and said “construction – very bad”.  I did not get worried until Raj actually turned the van off and got out and went and talked to other drivers.  We were in that gridlock of a snarl for over an hour – unbelievable, only in India.  We did not even move an inch.  Finally I said ‘I got to go to the bathroom’ and went to the closest restaurant to use their facilities.  Everything was going well until I heard the multitude of engines start up and I ran as fast as I could to catch our vehicle.  This was all for not because Raj only got about 20 feet and then total gridlock again.  This is when I got a bit disheartened.  We moved again about another 20 feet and Raj just turned off into the ditch and crossed over to a side road and went zooming down this along with other cars.  We were driving a couple of kms on this road and it was now dark and the locals were all out and about and flagging us down and Raj opened the window to be told that we should take this side road to the left so Raj turned onto a sort of road which a lane and a half wide.  This was going well until the traffic started coming from the opposite direction obviously to avoid the snarl from the other end.  You see in India there are no road detour signs; you are completely on your own.  Traffic on this road was getting intense with semis trying to drive by us with inches only as a safety net.  We were barely moving and then there was a lapse of traffic coming from the other way so Raj pulled out and passed about 15 trucks only to be stopped up ahead because the road ended in a drop off of the concrete road of about 2 feet.  That was it there was no more road and only miles and miles of endless traffic coming from the opposite direction.  We were doomed and I knew it.  Raj turned around and said to me “big problem” in his cute little accent.  It did look pretty hopeless.  Here we were stuck with absolutely nowhere to go, it was dark and the time was closing in very rapidly. 

We stayed in this spot for over an hour and I knew that we were not even half way to Delhi yet.  The trucks just kept coming down this lane often stopping for minutes at a time because it was not big enough for them and they had to finagle their way through the traffic.  I was starting to get really worried as the time ticked away and I looked at Darren and said that ‘we are going to miss our flight’.  Daxtin was happily playing with his DS in the back row of seats and he reached forward to show me a picture of my Dad that he had saved on our DS.  Dax often does this if I am upset or look sad. This often makes me very teary but not this time, this is when I started praying to my Dad to help us to get out of this jam.  Dad is my guardian angel now and I felt he may be able to intervene.  Just then literally one to two minutes later Raj came running back and started the engine up of our van and said that “help come”.  The locals for no apparent reason stopped the oncoming endless miles of trucks by moving onto the road (about 15 of them) maybe 50 yards up ahead of us.  This gave us enough time to move to the wrong side of the road and zoom past the area where the concrete ended and get past to a point where the road resumed again.  This seemed like a miracle to us but I know that it was my dad answering my prayer.

I would like to say that it was clear sailing from this point on but that would be a big fat lie.  We came to many bottleneck areas and gridlock due to concrete barriers being placed in the middle of the road for no apparent reason and other unsafe situations.  The worst being a semi load full of long rebar hanging out the back of the truck and the truck stalled on the road.  Raj was weaving in and out of traffic mostly trucks and there it was stalled right in front of us.  Raj cranked the steering wheel to the right to barely miss the rebar going right through our windshield and most likely impaling us all. .  There is no lighting along this highway, (I don’t want to glorify this road with the title highway – let’s call it death road).   After this incident I prayed to Dad that I did not care if we missed the plane just get us safely to our destination.  It worked.  We arrived to the Delhi airport with about 5 minutes to spare and checked in and through security and on to the plane before it took off.  I won’t mention the emergency pit stop that my husband needed to make or the cranky security officer that would not let us into the airport or the security line-up that had 5 stations open and then 4 decided to close for no apparent reason (only in India).  We were really glad to get out of India because it is dirty and massively overcrowded, overflowing with garbage and wondering animals and I had a painful infection in my elbow courtesy of India.  It would be safe to say that we hated India but that we also loved it.  There is much to love in India like the Indian food, the delicious Dal Bakhara,the World Heritage Sites, the people (not the sexist males though), the cute children, the Hindu culture and I could go on.  I would like to return some day I think........................