Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Horn Please

It's time for my favorite time of the day. My commute.

Most people would say I'm crazy. In fact, I read that one of the most common things that diminishes happiness is commuting. And most of the time I don't look forward to my commute with such anticipation. But in Gurgaon, south of Delhi, the commute is an all new experience. I've found it's a global past time to complain about your commute. And people who live in Delhi have clearly earned the right to complain. No lanes, no rules, just anarchy. But for me, it's the one time of the day when I'm out in India, watching from a distance what life is like for the billion people who live here.

It's a bubble of tranquility inside the car. I get to sit back, relax, and observe. The car is air conditioned. The driver turns on the radio, today it's the Bee Gees. Staying Alive. Little Hindu bells jangle from the rear view mirror. And out on the street there are cows, hatchbacks, dogs, bikes, children, Mercedes, men in long pants and long shirts despite the 102 degree heat, tuk tuks, women in saris, wart hogs, motor bikes, young professionals, trucks.

I see a small boy in blue shorts pedaling a bike too large for him with his younger brother in the cart behind. I see a man lifting garlands of brilliant orange marigolds off a table in a dusty market. I see ubiquitous Key Man carts, with rows of keys and locks on display. Amongst the mayhem, discordant traces of the western world emerge. Global company logos top a glossy, glass building with a pale gray cow grazing out front. A young man wearing a long-sleeved Georgetown University t-shirt sells "bottled" water at a makeshift stand under a tarp.

And despite the pandemonium, I can just watch the world thrive around me for up to 45 minutes, depending on traffic. And I always hope for traffic.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

In Preparation

Pop Quiz

Is this trash along the Potomac River in Washington DC? Or a third-world country?