Day 6 - Mon 09 Apr 07 - New Delhi
Got a good nights sleep! Up at about 09:00 and walked down to Conaught Place, the centre of New Delhi. I saw a street vendor selling cigarettes who had a no smoking sign on his cart - Then it was back to the hotel to where I purchased a rather expensive trip to Haridwar to see the Ganges and the foot hills of the Himalayas.
Most of the day was spent driving there, it's only 250Km, but it took five and a half hours to do it.
Through this experience I feel that I am now able to comment on India's roads and it's road users. First the users, in rough pecking order from the bottom up.
Getting past the 'thing' in front of you is important. I can't call it overtaking as any route will do. This is usually initiated by a toot on the horn, or just holding it down through the whole manoeuvre. This basically means 'Make a gap, I'm coming through.'
These are the daytime rules, and they are quite scary. City driving is okay, as speeds are kept to a minimum by the shear weight of everything else on the road. But country driving is more challenging on the nerves as closing speeds are much higher.
Now add to this mix darkness, and the fear factor jumps by an order of magnitude - pedestrians emerge from the gloom at all angles, bikes have no lights let alone reflectors. Most things that do have lights use every single (working) one, and main beam. Use of the horn as an overtaking marker is diminished at night (I assume this is because no-one knows what is honking as they are blinded by main beam, or cannot see it as it has no lights), and it is replaced by flashing of lights instead.
I've also seen the use of left indicator when drawing abreast of something you are overtaking, this seems to mean "please slow down so I can pull in in front of you otherwise I will end up on the radiator grill of the gravel truck heading right towards me". Here endeth the lesson.
On the way to Hadiwar my driver was cut up by a peddle rickshaw, a few "words" are exchanged, and then we pulled over and my driver got out and started to push the poor bloke. Discretion is the better part of Valour, and I stayed in the car, but a crowd soon gathered. After a few more words the driver got back in and off we went again.
Arrived way too late to see the evening ceremony at the river, but I took a wander around town, and dipped my hand in the Ganges. My plan is to get up early tomorrow morning and walk up the hill to the Monastery.