April 5, 2017 Vol. 14 No. 07

Bucket-list item ticked: I finally got to India. In fact I’ve just returned from spending two weeks in that astonishing country, where I couldn’t keep up with anything that was going on here in the world of trucking, so this edition of my report will borrow heavily from work my colleagues have been doing in the last while.

India… I don’t really know where to start in describing the place, and those of you who’ve been there — or hail from there — will understand exactly what I mean. It’s a huge, chaotic country, teeming with life. Wildly colorful, full of contrasts, it defies simple description. But this isn’t a travel column so I’ll just cut to the bits that might interest you.

Much as I wanted to, I wasn’t able to look into Indian trucking. I was there for my eldest daughter’s wedding, followed by a few days of touring for 50 or so of us in the wedding party. The Taj Mahal, etc. I simply had no time.

Common sight in India: a Tata straight truckAt one highway fuel station where we stopped for a bathroom break I saw a typical, somewhat crude Ashok-Leyland straight truck parked nearby and went over to have a closer look. As I snapped a few pics the angry-looking driver came over and, presumably in Hindi, told me to bugger off. I think. I obliged him and that was pretty much the full extent of my connection to Indian trucking.

But I had lots of contact with Indian traffic, which is simply crazy, especially in Delhi where cars and single-pot motorbikes and bicycles and rickshaws engage in what sometimes looks like a game (trucks aren’t allowed in the city except at night). They rush about, routinely turning two lanes into five, while incessantly — and I do mean incessantly — beeping their little horns to warn others that they’ve going for that gap come hell or high water. They drive mere inches apart yet they don’t whack one another. I saw very little evidence of sideswipe incidents, which seemed miraculous given the aggression on display.

It was almost ballet. When the car to your left shifts right because he got squeezed out of his ‘lane’ for some reason — which could well be because he faced somebody going the wrong way — you shift right too. It’s all so automatic, seemingly choreographed. Yet there are no discernible rules. Nor any road rage to speak of.