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Hotelnet: Fri 19:35

I wouldn't be typing this right now but the hotel's wifi system operates with prepaid scratch'n'sniff cards (of which my last two have been pre-scratched) so now that I've received and forwarded the latest Bhutan payment instructions to the Support Team (hoping they've not found alternative uses for the cash in the meanwhile) I have a few minutes Internet usage that can't be wasted. It costs R55 per hour (just under EUR1)!

I thought I'd mention the driving here in India. Many people have reported it to be bad -- many of whom have actually driven in India so they might know whereof they speak. I have to say, though, it is not the worst driving. Iran stands up there on the bad driving front -- perhaps it is inversely proportional to the friendliness of the population?

India does take some of IR's worst habits: mentally unstable bus drivers, a cultural need to be in front etc. but it doesn't quite take them to the extremes the IRs do. It seems to be quite manageable.

That's not to say it's a walk in the park. Both the NH11 and NH3 appear to gradually shrink as they enter Agra, for example, into markets. Here, you might imagine an Oxford Street pavement on a busy day. Give 30% of the people (small) motorcycles, 30% bicycles, 10% tuk-tuks (the hideous three-wheelers that might be passenger or cargo bearers), 10% hand or animal drawn carts and, in India, 10% cycle-rickshaws. The remainder can continue walking.

And then let Oxford Street pavements continue as the main drag. Oh, yes, don't forget that in towns (so Oxford Street) wherever anyone has dug anything up then the road is not replaced. Not is anything swept up that is dropped.

So all that, I can cope with. You dodge about flashing lights (at night only -- otherwise they are off) and blaring the horn and weave your way through. That's all fine.

But some are such bad drivers and I think I mean inconsiderate. The right lane drivers mentioned previously are compounded by tuk-tuks (which should be autocided on principle) and cycle-rickshaws who struggle with the meagrest of slopes and ignore the queue behind to block the road while they overtake.

Hand signals are very prominent here. Or rather they're not. It turns out that everybody uses them. If you're hanging around the right side of a truck waiting to pass you won't see the passenger wave out the window to indicate they've turned or slowing. You rarely get any brake lights and I can't remember the last large vehicle that had any working indicators.

Similarly with buses except it is the customer-grabber (fare-wallah?) who does the signalling from the open side door of the bus. Again, you can't see it.

Motorbikes use hand signals too though it finally clicked that it's the passenger who often does the signalling. It's not safe to take your hands away from the brakes, clutch and most importantly, horn.

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