Down the Mountain from Devprayag

May 22nd, 2008

Our driver during the Haridwar visit was extraordinarily skilled, and the clips below show why we came to trust him. The road back down the mountain from Devprayag seemed to us extremely challenging.

Driving in India, like driving anywhere, involves a complex language of negotiation. In passing, one sounds one’s horn and, if the other vehicle makes a tiny move to the left, one passes quickly on the right, sometimes using the horn to remind the passee of one’s presence. There is a fine gesture in the driving vocabulary here: the arm is extended, hand up, in the direction of another driver, almost in supplication, with an expression of deep disappointment. It seems to say, “Ah! That you could do a thing like that.” I like this much better than typical American gestures in such situations.

There are two clips below covering the same near-death experience, one short (30 sec) and one long (1:20). The longer one includes glimpses of the extensive terracing farmers use in the mountains.

Down the Mountain Short

Down the Mountain Long

2 Responses to “Down the Mountain from Devprayag”

  1. gcornwellon 24 May 2008 at 8:51 am

    Ahhh…driving in India. Are cultural differences anywhwere more pronounced or more profound? Skill, yes, but also spatial tolerance, concepts of order, speed, communcation. I admire the organic, negotiated understanding of lanes and traffic flow. I always wonder how many of these differences have their roots in metaphysical beliefs systems? How many American social norms, including ‘rules of the road” stem from a cultural history which is essentially logocentric and monotheistic? Driving as a way of being-in-the-world.

  2. Mark A. Wilsonon 03 Jun 2008 at 3:03 pm

    A note on how safe it is to drive in India:

    About as safe as it looks!

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