Walking on “Pavements” in India

The ultimate obstacle course®

On Sunday, my friends and I headed out for lunch to celebrate a peer’s birthday. We followed the usual routine: starting by walking a few hundred meters, followed by trying not to get mowed down as we crossed roads — all while haggling with every autorickshaw driver we bumped into.

Down here, we call them “autorickshaws” not “tuk tuks”. (Source)

Now, I guess the important idea to keep in mind is that the majority of Indian cities aren’t really planned. Cities grew and expanded erratically as people immigrated to them. That left older Indian cities with little “structure”, as opposed to cities in the west (Chicago, maybe?) which have some evidence of planning.

Bengaluru, India (left) versus Chicago, USA (right). Screenshots from Google Maps. (Please don’t sue me)

There are new cities being planned and built around India at the moment though, so that’s a relief.

Of course, it’s important to remember that cities in the USA/the rest of the west aren’t perfect either, and that every region has problems of its own. Traffic, particularly, consumes every city as its victim.

Thus, the lack of planning of Indian cities has left most roads winding about like snakes, advertisement billboards spreading like mold on stale bread, and buildings popping up in the narrowest of crevices.

Do you see the pavement? Me neither. (Source)

You would think that “pavements” would be better off. However, “pavements” in India probably qualify as the world’s longest obstacle courses. Home to mopeds, dog poop, bird poop, monkey poop, optical fibre cables, parked cars, sand, craters, and more poop, they pose menacingly to those who wish to trudge on them.

That’s why, this Sunday while walking down the “pavement”, I was reminded of the Dino game on Google Chrome. Maybe Mario is a better analogy. I don’t know.

A Guide to Navigating the “Pavements”

Poop on the “pavement”? Jump. You cannot go around because that’s how narrow the “pavement” is.

Random road sign/advertisement billboard too low? Bend down till your spine cries for help.

Open drain? Take the leap of faith.

Mexican stand-off with a cow? Just turn around or cross the street. 
Do NOT pet it. Do not “moo” either, that’s offensive.

Of course, the same “problems” I cite have their own charm too. I doubt I’ll ever see as many hand-painted multi-coloured trucks and buses elsewhere. The incessant honking, however, is something I’d be glad to leave behind.

One of the many makeshift forms of transportation on Indian roads. (Source)