04 December, 2009

Modes of Travel and Transport

I have less than a week left in India and so much more to do. But now I will make a photo of some forms of transport here in India.

Gasoline in India is heavily subsidized by the government, because  they have no oil of their own and must import every drop. But the consumer pays now $2.66 a gallon. This is in a country where the average worker in the informal sector, which means not in government or a union, makes 80 rupees a day. The dollar exchanges at 46 rupees/$1.  Hundreds of cars this size crowd the streets.

Scooters are  the most common way for the middle class to travel. Families start with a small moped and then upgrade to a scooter this size when they have enough money. Whole families, mother, father and all the children travel on one of these. Only the father wears a helmut. After all, from the husband's point of view, wife and children can be replaced. I am being cynical, I'm afraid. But why else would you not have helmuts for your whole family?

So far everything looks pretty western.                                                                                                                 
I wish I understood html, then I could make this post a little more uniform, but you will have to bear with me.

Thousands of bikes travel the streets, even the major six lane highways. It is not uncommon to see bicyclists snaking through traffic. That more of them don't die is amazing. Though accidents are pretty common here, somehow the majority of bicycles make it through without incident.

This guy is taking his friend with him. It is actually a trailor hitched to a bicycle, so that the owner can deliver goods.

There are taxis that are  painted white and those that are black and yellow. Traveling in the vehicle pictured here is cheaper . This is called a three wheeler, because it is a scooter with three wheels. Three people can travel in this vehicle without too much trouble unless one or more is a bit fat.

However you have to understand how much it costs to go from one place to another. There is usually no meter and, if one exists, it is  usually broken. The price goes up when the driver sees a westerner coming. Haggling is necessary.

This is the side of the scooter. So much fun to travel in, like going to the fair and riding the roller coaster. Not as fast but much more dangerous. I have done it many times. Then I tend to be adventurous.

I often feel sorry for the fellow who has to bicycle these guys around. One would think that he would be big and muscular, but, alas, though the muscles must be there, the men are stick thin. And they make very little. A two mile transport costs about 10 rupees. However, I must keep in mind that at India's stage of development this may be the only job this man can do.

Last but not least is the bullock cart. Here we see the huge contrast between rich and poor. And yet the bullock is an inexpensive way to travel. No gasoline and the bullock eats grass from wherever he can find it.

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