Saturday, January 31, 2009

Road Trip Log

Last weekend, we set out on a road trip to the ancient city of Hampi. This post is a summary of the road trip. Look out for more on Hampi in a future post. This was the first time I was driving on a highway in India - and a looong drive it was! The drive to Hampi from Bangalore took us over 9 hours. The return trip was a bit shorter.

For all of you who are might be contemplating a similar adventure, please bookmark this post as a reference. I have advice here about how to enjoy a long drive on a highway in India while ensuring safety. Here are some of the key highlights of the journey:

Entertainment and Education
Yes .. you heard right! A drive on an Indian highway is highly entertaining and educational. The backs of trucks (lorries as they are affectionately known here), have visuals and messages that entertain and educate you. Messages include the spiritual kind (God Bless You, Jai Mata Di etc), the advisory type (Small Family - Happy Family, Don't Drink and Drive, Keep Distance) to pure entertaining (Highly Infal mable). Messages encourage you to maintain a party atmosphere by honking your horn (Horn OK, Sound Horn, Blow Horn). Signs on the highway encourage safe driving by advising you to avoid killing yourself as your family awaits you.

Driving on an Indian highway is no different from navigating an obstacle course. Constant vigilance is required because you have no idea where the next obstacle will appear from. Obstacles include a 2-wheeler, a metal road block, a huge rock, a tractor driving towards you on a one-way road and of course human beings.

Nature Experience
Wild life peacefully coexists with humans in India (even in semi-urban areas). So it was no wonder that we saw a variety of animals including dogs, cows, buffalos, pigs etc. Animals can also serve as obstacles.

Highway fast food is not as widely available as in the US but a popular South Indian restaurant (Kamat) has started to open a chain of clean restaurants serving vegetarian food. Of course, you have the usual 'Dhabas' that are unique to Indian highways and serve rich and spicy food.


PartingGifts said...

I had an opportunity to experience a few road trips when I stayed in India. I'm glad I never got to drive, but the sights were amazing. Your truck picture reminded me of what I called the "diaper trucks." They held, hum, used products of some sort that were being returned to Delhi. They were like your truck, but wrapped in white and much higher. Some were pulled by trucks, but many were pulled by camels.

When we were coming back from Ooty on one trip we were re-routed because of a demonstration on the major roadway. We drove through a village for over two hours. For a moment I thought we were being directed to the closest cliff. That was because we found that a villager had been struck by a speeding car on the main highway. Luckily, my imagination was livelier than our drive.
Journeys in India are always a trip.


Radman said...

I love dhabas.