Driving in India with Carl Jung

What would you do if you saw this in your path?

Two unassuming heaps of rubble loafing around

I thought nothing of the rubble and drove on, only to find an excavator around the bend of the road. I had to return 300 meters up the narrow road in the reverse gear, at a walking pace, which was convenient for the lady who decided to mock me as she walked beside the car.

“Can’t you understand that you can’t pass through?…there are even two heaps of stones at the start of the road!”

she said.
Either she thought everyone made mountains out of molehills as she did, or I was in the minority that didn’t understand this road-sign made with an archetypal theme.


How could we make a signboard that remains understandable for millennia? If all the written languages and symbols we know today die out, only communication that makes sense to humans on a primal level can stand the test of time.
Perhaps mountains signify thoughts like “hostile environment” or simply “You’re crazy if you want to cross this”.

Let’s move on to another common sight whenever a vehicle breaks down on the road in India. The driver rushes out of the car, reaches out to the nearest tree branch, breaks it off, and stuffs it in a gap on the back of his vehicle. If this happens on a bigger road like a highway, his next step would be to pour a heap of rubble a little distance behind him (mountains, remember?). If bricks or stones are available nearby, they would be stacked instead, to the same effect.
I associate the tree branches sign with a “the vehicle is being reclaimed by nature” train of thought. Think of a vehicle with branches on it the same way you’d think of a vehicle overgrown with foliage in the woods.
The location and quality of the foliage used need you to make an important distinction though -

  • Common branches at the back of the vehicle signify the vehicle won’t move until it’s towed away
  • Fresh garlands of flowers and banana stalks signify growth and prosperity.

The second point makes sense on an intuitive level, as over the course of human evolution, we’ve grown naturally attracted to greenery and flowering plants, they used to be our only sources of shelter and food not too long ago.