I guess I've been in the sun a bit. There is a lot of it here, and it is wonderfully high in the sky.
I wasn't planning on getting one. I've been pretty diligent about covering up and wearing the sunscreen. Then, I got caught up in my search for kites and the kite festivals. Also, I became a little obsessed with seeking images for my video project. Then I noticed that the sun had stopped hurting. Then I started thinking, "hey, I'm closer to the equator here, so there's lots more ozone keeping me from the bad ultraviolet rays that kill you slowly." Is it any wonder that I don't quit smoking? No. It's not. I can talk myself into all sorts of foolish behavior that looks good.
Take for instance the lady on the scooter. Somehow, the image of a woman wearing traditional clothes riding a shiny scooter seems like the quintessential image capture for this city that I am exploring. It is an easy image to capture. I only have to have a camera for ten minutes on the street and there she is. She is
riding the fastest form of transport here, as two wheeled vehicles can slip through the incredible traffic here. The following was shot from a tour bus that we rode in for a day. This is the slow traffic. It also gets faster at the same density on other streets. This just happened to be a busy day in the neighborhood.
The traffic here is the best demonstration of the way it is to be here. Sure, it's crowded. Sure, there seems to be few rules and few rule enforcers. It's not the law here though that governs. It's etiquette, and awareness. People navigate these streets everyday. I have seen fewer accidents here than anywhere in the US and more people traveling the streets, crossing the streets and riding in vehicles to capacity. There are no such things as street signs. There are a few traffic signals, but they mean nothing. When you need to cross the street, you negotiate the traffic. It's really a simple act once you bend your mind around it- you walk forward, if you can't keep going you stay still until you can, and you never walk in front of anything bigger than a passenger car. Right of way is dictated by size. Buses and trucks mean you stand still. Traffic is like water flowing down the streets. Two wheelers are like those little water skippers. horns don't mean "Danger!" They mean "Hi! Here I am, friend, here I am." Drving is a multi-sensory task, eyes forward, all ears. Mirrors? They are a formality- taking time looking in the mirror would most likely mean certain death. You'll hear about it if someone's in your blind spot or behind you.
There is also the subject of maps. Perhaps I have already talked about this, but maps mean nothing here. Space is an extension of personal experience here. To get somewhere new, you ask. Then you move in the direction given, and on approach you ask again and correct for the last reality that you tapped. That's how it works for everyone, not just tourists. I've watched taxi drivers, bus drivers and other people on the street do it. I've been escorted and chatted with to my destination more than once. It's wonderfully communal and social.
Of course, once your look like you've been here, and you're used to looking right before you cross the intersection, it may be time to get a set of small wheels and a helmet and join the crowd. In the appropriate dress of course. I'm thinking this-