When traveling down a city street in the United States, the wildest thing you are liable to see is a pigeon or a squirrel. Contrast that with Ahmedabad, India and you’ll likely be quite surprised. Being the largest city in the State of Gujarat, and its former capital, you might expect at least a somewhat modern, urban setting. You’d be wrong.
First thing you’ll notice is the traffic – it’s wild. Vehicles run the gamut from horse and camel-powered carts, to bicycles of every shape and description, to the ubiquitous auto-rickshaw, a three-wheeled box capable of turning on a dime and sounding like your aged lawnmower.
Bicycles have been converted into specialized trucks of all sorts and it’s not unusual to see a bike with 10 bundles of 10 ft. long piping trying to weave its way through traffic.
The auto-rickshaw is something else that needs to be experienced in person to realize what a life-threatening feeling it represents. The driver sits up front on a single seat and two (maybe three) passengers crawl in the back taxicab fashion. The driver then pushes a button to fire up the engine before speeding off into traffic.
In Ahmedabad, you hang on for your life because traffic lights are rare, and the first person to the intersection gets the right-of-way. Also, whoever blows their horn first seems to feel they have the right-of-way. In addition, t’s not unusual for drivers to drive down the wrong side of the street if that’s most efficient.
So, as you are sitting in the back of this proverbial tin can, with no seatbelts and no roll bar, you are liable to see opposing traffic pass on both sides at once any given time or any given place. “Keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle” is the best advice you’ll get. Praying wouldn’t hurt either.