India: The Driver
Shortly after climbing into the Amassador Classic--a ubiquitous car in Calcutta, a curvy diesel number that looks like it survived the 1950s, with big, round headlights--it became clear that our driver didn't have much experience. Driving.
Scraping panel to panel with a jeep in a roundabout, angry drivers shout at each other. He crosses five lanes of oncoming traffic only to tap a bike, leaving the front tire bent. Even though there is no space to move, he blows the horn. Constantly. He turns off the car when traffic stops. And turns it on only to creep six inches, and then turns it off again.
Night brought cyclone rains. Visibility falls. Trees bend in the wind. The lone wiper in front of the driver flapped. He switched on his dashboard Ganesh. Remover of obstacles. It flashed green. Red. Green. Red.
We turn into a market under a highway. It does not seem like a road meant for cars. We firmly lodge on something across the road. By the time I get out of the car, there's a strong smell of burning mixed with the stench of the open sewer.
On our way again, he shouts that he knows the roads. He knows what he's doing. But they're just words.