Chaos and Scooters

A man once said there is no order in the universe, it is really all just mad chaos. That man must have lived and driven in Madras! Actually, and surprisingly, there is some sort of order to India that I have no grasp of. We rode in a rickshaw today and once you ride in a Rickshaw on the streets of Madras during rush hour you learn the meaning of fate and faith.

People are flying down the streets in all sorts of vehicles: bicycles, rickshaws, taxis, cars, buses with people clinging to the sides, trucks, wagons, and tractors. The motorcycles amaze me because of their speed and ability to weave in and out of the chaos while maintaining speed.

On scooters men fly down the road with their elegant, calm looking wives, saris of all colours blowing in the breeze; they are amazingly balanced and don’t even hold on. Sometimes they are holding a child, sometimes they are holding two. Sometimes dad has one between his legs, there’s one on the handle bars, mom is holding on with a child on her lap and there’s one more clinging to her back. A family of six on a motor scooter! People are swerving in and out of both sides of traffic and there are cows, dogs, and goats crossing the road. People would rather die than hurt a cow so they swerve erratically to miss!

Yet, in the midst all of this chaos there is some semblance of order. The drivers follow some sort of driving etiquette that I don’t quite understand; it’s like they all communicate without uttering a peep. During one rickshaw drive I swear the driver didn’t look left, right or back once! When they beep they get let in and when they go everyone stops. They swerve with some sort of psychic precision and they seem to know where everyone is without looking behind or sideways. In retrospect perhaps everyone is really lucky and I’m probably really lucky to be alive.

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