The Indians had at least attempted some road safety measures, albeit unsuccessfully.
The placing of speed bumps coming in to built up areas was well intentioned but they produced less of a jolt than the potholes either side so there is really no incentive to slow down.
They also tried to slow traffic using huge metal gates as chicanes which merely succeeded in forcing all the traffic in to the middle of the road, or off it completely if a bus was coming. Evidently it must be a sacking offence for a bus driver to give way.
Every few miles workers were “repairing” the road surface. There were no jack hammers, no steam rollers, just a couple of blokes smashing large rocks in to smaller rocks so they sort of fitted in to the hole. Then they moved on to the next one. Meanwhile, a lorry would drive over the first hole and scatter the rocks in all directions. You couldn’t help thinking that they just spent all day not repairing the same two holes.
Driving is not the only hazard though. Our previous Indian trip, Rickshaw Rampage, had produced some pretty epic bowel explosions and this trip was proving even more of an anal assassin. Probably not helped that we were almost constantly surrounded by flood waters that were a rich source of human turd.
Food stops were made all the more entertaining by playing the “How out of date is this?” game. Biscuits and crisps were usually at least three months past their best, but the outright winner was the “Super Fresh” mango juice in an internet café, which managed a full nine months out of date. There was also the moment we questioned the wisdom of buying ice creams from a shop in which the power had gone off several times just while we’d be queuing.
The great thing about these trips is you never know what is coming next. Sometimes getting lost is the best thing that can happen as you discover some great places by accident. The locals had a curious method for pointing us in the right direction – it was always straight on! We tested the theory by variously asking for directions to Milton Keynes, Venus and Never Never Land. Sure enough, we were assured with a smile and vigorous sideways nod that all destinations, however fictitious, were all straight ahead.
When the teams eventually met up in Mangalore many a tale was told at the bar. It seemed every team had an adventure of epic proportions to tell. And rightly so.