"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Friday, March 11, 2011

India coming and going, video journal

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Here's  early rush hour outside SRM University, 30 kilometers from downtown Chennai, which has a population of 7 million in an area smaller than Oklahoma City--twice the total population of our entire state. The honking is not rude, nor telling people to move, but a warning to the driver ahead of you that some one is passing.
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On the way back to the university from downtown, in light traffic. My driver, a 20-year-old journalism student at the university, speaks five languages. This is light traffic...and yes, the driver's side is on the right, and the traffic direction is on the left.He asked me if I wanted to drive. I declined.

These people managed to walk this food cart across those busy lanes. Notice the motorcycles--more than you can count. Notice the wide shoulders...for a civilization where lanes don't mean much, where people still walk, and ride buses and trains and move carts by hand.
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Traffic affects us in ways we don't think. Downtown, rickshaws, buses, bikes, cars, trucks, carts
Motorcyles in a narrow downtown street area near a Hindu temple.
You learn a lot about a culture and place and people by watching the traffic, the roads, the vehicles, the adjacent buildings. Traffic reflects a civilization, but also affects every aspect of it. Traffic influences the pace and timing of life, how people live and think, their economy and religion, their leisure and learning.  Think about the American Interstates, for instance. Another case in point: In India,  you quickly learn that  there may be lanes painted  on the roads, but they don't really mean anything.

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