On the road

We decided to travel by car from Varanasi to Khajuraho and later from Jaipur (in Rajahstan) to Delhi.  We didn't quite know what we were getting ourselves into but it gave us a glimpse of the countryside in that part of the world -- and also of the state of Indian highways.  The above picture is one example of what can be seen in towns along the way: the red or brown dust covers the roads, tree trunks, leaves and houses. It covers everything. There are sacred cows wandering unattended; the omnipresent temples to one god or several; the juxtaposition of old and new, with the pylon standing in the middle of the temple grounds.

Actually, in India you don't want to drive yourself. You are driven by a man, car and driver arranged by your hotel or by an agency. The price is set at the outset and it is not high. The big Toyota Qualus that took us from Jaipur to Delhi towards the end of our trip held the four of us plus our luggage very well. The car was not in very good shape, but it got us there. In both instances, the driver turned back immediately to return at night.  The drivers are usually quite skillful, but often speak no english. We also noticed that the outside rear-view mirrors are always folded tight against the car doors in order to facilitate passage in extremely narrow places! You pass on the right or on the left, wherever there is room enough to squeeze through.

A small town along the highway Town market

Vegetable seller Young ladies dressed in colorful salwar kameez

Every small town was similar.  It may have had one street (the highway, with trucks barreling through at high speeds) or several.  In either case, the street was lined with low buildings, ususally one room deep.  In front, in the dust, are animals, parked cars and markets selling fruit and vegetables, cookware, food and drink and much else.

Two other constant sights on the road were the flamboyantly decorated trucks (almost all of them Indian Tata trucks) and the persons carrying things on their head for the road works.

A typically decorated truck Dalit women (and two men, one a superviser?) doing road work, carrying stones on their heads

The road from Jaipur to Delhi was excellent, much better than the other, which was under construction for about half its length.

The open road -- a four-lane highway from Jaipur to Delhi. You still pass on the right or on the left, as it happens. Bougainvillea in the center strip

On the road from Jaipur to Delhi, we were amused by the other "objects" that we shared the road with.

An overladen tractor Two camel carts

Couple on Indian version of a vespa A religious procession

Along the road side, we saw interesting sites also. Brick factories don't seem to be centralized at all, as you see one every  10 or 20 kilometers.  Women still carry large, heavy loads on their heads.

Polluting brick factory Parked trucks and women porters

Gaudy trucks are a delight in India
Truck left over from WWI ?

Construction and apartment buildings
as we get close to Delhi
Transnational office construction on the outskirts of Delhi

Approaching Delhi from the south-east, we were surprised to see the amount of construction going on:  high-rise apartment buildings, superhighways and office blocks to house transnational corporate quarters.  There is even a subway in Delhi.  India is indeed an "emerging" economy.  Let's hope it emerges into something good!

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