India: Colours of Transport
By Danielle S. Fuechtmann
– Photography by Javier Ortega
India is traced with an intricate lace-work pattern of roadways that cover 3,516,452 km (2009). Essential to the growth and survival of rural areas, these roadways provide a link between villages or small farming communities and booming metropolitan centres. However, despite the importance of roads and land transportation, India largely lacks consistent driving regulations and road upkeep. Without regulations and funding, roads are very rough and narrow, major highways are only two lanes, and a significant part of the rural population does not have access to all-weather roads. Even so, travelling around India can be a very enjoyable and exciting thing to do.
Public transportation, particularly India’s fast and efficient bus and train systems, is a very popular way to travel, especially through mountain regions inaccessible to car or motorcycle. Buses offer a fast and inexpensive way to travel, even taking regular stops for passengers to go to the washroom or get a snack. Some drivers do take riskier maneuvers though, particularly on quieter night routes, so it’s wise to travel during the day if possible. You can book tickets on state-run buses up to a month in advance, but it’s advised to nab a seat in between the axles to minimize bumping and shaking due to road conditions. India’s train system is an exciting way to travel, following extensive routes though the beautiful country. With approximately 17 million passengers travelling by train every day, in addition to freight, the Indian Railways is one of the world’s largest employers. The railways are always bustling, but the system is thoughtfully designed and quite efficient.
While renting cars and hiring drivers is quite common, particularly in metropolitan areas, more flexible forms of transportation are often more well-adapted to India’s roadways. Bicycles and motorcycles are very popular forms of independent transportation, as they are nimble enough to dart through the congested roads and avoid rough patches. It’s a common sight to see several members of a family riding together on a motorcycle, as well as tourists taking advantage of this flexible form of travel. In response to the popularity of cycles, bicycles and motorized, parts and other related services can be easily found throughout the country.
Although less common now because of the dominance of motorized vehicles, traditional rickshaws and other carts, sometimes pulled by animals, can still be found in quieter roadways and communities. Practical and simple, this long-standing way of travel makes up for speed with its endurance and the opportunity it gives to truly recognize the beauty and warmth of the country. Autorickshaws and their variations, the vikram or tempo, marry the traditional rickshaw with a motor, a hybrid able to carry more passengers and achieve greater speed.
India is a bustling country; whether you are riding a train, zipping through the streets, or chugging along on an autorickshaw, the vibrant web of transportation provides a lovely window into the daily life and customs of different regions. While moving from place to place can be made more calming with a book and earplugs, taking the time to observe can show little snapshots into the daily life of someone else.
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|Fringe Benefits | All Bases Covered|
|Music in Film|