India and all its Madness

I thought I was prepared for India.  I had researched for months and got tips from those who had already been, bought and packed everything we could possibly need; but I don’t think anything can really prepare you for this place.

It isn’t the culture shock of this country that is so different to England or anywhere else I’ve ever been.  I tend to thrive on culture shocks and like to go to places that are as different as possible to what I am used to, but India is on another level!

Arriving in Delhi, the first thing you notice are the people.  And I don’t mean a few people milling about here and there.  I mean people.  A lot of people.  Everywhere.  People spilling out of shop doors; people walking along the pavements and the roads; people setting up food and chai stalls or barber shops along the curb; people sitting in the street just watching the world go by.

Selling chai on the street

Selling chai on the street

And it’s not only the people – animals too. Dogs and cats dart in between people and vehicles; goats stand at the side of the road munching on a pile of vegetables; monkeys jump along the roofs occasionally throwing something down into the street; and the cows casually stroll along the street or take a nap in the middle of the road expecting everyone to move out of their way. Bumping into a person, animal or vehicle is inevitable! I thought London was busy with the constant rush of people going to and from work and tourists doing their daily sightseeing but now London seems sparse in comparision!

Cows chilling in the middle of the road

Cows chilling in the middle of the road

And the traffic.  I could write a whole blog post on the traffic alone!  It is safe to say that if you have ever driven in India you are one brave but very crazy person!  You’ll see entire families all packed onto one motorbike; bikes carrying stock big enough that it could squish someone if it toppled over; and rickhaws and tuk tuks squeezing as many people in as possible.

Vehicles of all shapes and sizes fill every single road.  And I don’t mean fill in the normal sense – I mean there is literally no space for anything else.  Bumper to bonnet, every vehicle will squeeze as close to the one in front as possible, all noisily honking their horns at each other even though there’s nowhere for them to go.

People and animals weave in and out of the traffic, climbing over bikes and wheels to get across the road, and I often found myself saying hello to children in the tuk tuk next to me they were so close!

Traffic in Delhi

Traffic in Delhi

Traffic in Varanasi

Traffic in Varanasi

At first we couldn’t quite believe it but that’s just the way things work here and after a few hours we were soon joining all these crazy people squeezing in between the vehicles.  You won’t get anywhere by standing at the side of the road waiting for a gap in the continual flow of traffic.

A beggar trying his luck in the middle of a busy road

A beggar trying his luck in the middle of a busy road

Surprisingly, there aren’t a lot of road accidents.  Not only is it difficult to actually gather any speed due to there being so much traffic in front of you, but everyone seems to know exactly what they’re doing.  You might think your tuk tuk driver is about to crash into another vehicle that’s driving in completely the wrong direction, but they’ll both swerve at the last minute and narrowly avoid each other.  And you might want to shout out to the person who is about to get run over by a car coming from one way and a bike from the other but, don’t worry, he will somehow manage to squeeze in between the two, just about avoiding getting his feet run over.  And if there is an accident, like when our driver knocked a boy off his bike, they just get back up, smile and carry on their way as if this is perfectly normal!

It might be chaos but it’s an organised chaos.  It just works.  And this chaos it what makes India the buzzing, noisy, chaotic and extremely crazy place that it is.

16 thoughts on “India and all its Madness

  1. Bemused Backpacker says:

    It doesn’t matter how much you prepare, research, read or whatever, nothing can really prepare you for the sensual assault that is India! The lack of accidents in the organised chaos that is the traffic always shocked me too! But as you say, it works!

    Hope you enjoy the rest of your trip.

    • Ayla says:

      Anywhere else in the world and everything would just be havoc but for some reason here it does work! Crazy but that’s just the way it is! Thanks!

  2. wisemonkeysabroad says:

    Oooh – was so excited to get notification of your post! Had to read it straight away!! It sounds like its organised chaos there – we are always astounded when we have been to countries where traffic is that chaotic but everyone just manages! That much mayhem in Australia would definitely cause road rage – lol!
    Have an amazing time – look forward to reading more about India!!

    • Ayla says:

      I know, that’s exactly what I said! If this happened in England there would be fights all over the place! But here they all just smile and get on with it! Thank you so much!

  3. Nita says:

    You’re absolutely right.. NOTHING can prepare you for India!! Loved your post. You captured the essence of the chaos very well. Cows chilling in the middle of nowhere and expecting others to get out of their way is just normal in India! Amazing isn’t it? 😉 I’m glad you’re having a good time and an open mind to enjoy all these little quirks that make India special. Looking forward to hear more stories from your trip!! 🙂

    • Ayla says:

      That’s what I love about different countries – that they’re so different to home and it’s one of the things I was looking forward to most about India. Thank you for your lovely comments Nita 🙂

  4. Madhu says:

    Perfectly described 😀 Hope you weren’t too put off by first appearances. I used to hate Delhi when I went on rushed day trips on work. Surprisingly our leisurely four day visit last September had us planning a return!

    • Ayla says:

      I wasn’t at all put off! It is a lot to take in but I love places with a huge culture shock so it was fantastic for me! I think 3 weeks was enough time out there though – I needed some peace and quiet away from the madness after that long!

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