Thoughts on Rails

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Free Bird

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Free BirdAnimals have their instinctive rules for survival. I experience a lot of this fury on the highways. Every driver thinks that the only vehicle on the road is his/her own. Only they want to reach home. Only they have the right of way. It’s only about them. All the time.

If you have not driven in India – more so in Maharashtra State, you probably have no idea of what I’m talking about.

People honk horns even if they can see there is another vehicle in front of you and you have nowhere to go. They don’t honk once, its a continuous riot till you get irritated and slam on the brakes to tell the guy behind you to shut up.

Many drivers won’t give you way – in a 4 lane highway, each direction of the traffic gets 2 lanes… among them one is for overtaking and fast vehicles and other is for slower traffic. They will drive their beat-down trashcans on the fast lane at half the usual speed and won’t budge. If you try to inform them with a short horn, they wave their hand at you to tell you to ‘go overtake from the slow lane if you want. I’m not moving’. Insulting others is normal here.

On the 2 lane highway, where oncoming traffic shares the road with you, people overtake larger/slower vehicles even if there is oncoming traffic. You have to get down on to the shoulders even if you were driving in your own lane because some SOB decided that he wanted to go immediately and he didn’t care if he swerved into your lane to do so.

These experiences are not once in a while… not once in a day… every minute that my tires are on the road, people piss me off.

I love driving, I totally enjoy driving. I’d love to drive all my life. I like to travel to different places. The journey means a lot more to me than the destination. The road is one of my best friends! I dream about traveling all the time. I save up money not for fancy clothes, but for fuel.

Yet, every time I drive, there are many people who are having a bad day and who make sure that they pass on their bad mood to every driver they meet.

I like the company of trucks when I’m on my bike – because they don’t try to kill me every time they see me.  The smaller vehicles though have no sense at all. When I drive a car, I give enough space to motorcyclists. I keep dipper/low beam light when there is oncoming traffic. I consider other driver’s situation before I take a quick turn or overtake. I don’t honk unnecessarily. I let faster vehicles pass even before they ask for side. I wait when pedestrians are crossing the road. I don’t get irritated if someone is learning how to drive and makes mistakes. I smile and wave at other drivers when the traffic is slow.

What do I get in return? Constant insult in the way of being snubbed by other drivers with bigger vehicles… I’ve recently started using same tactics on the other drivers. As soon as I see that they are going to overtake even when they can see me – I move my vehicle right in the middle of the road, flash lights and wave my fist at them, works every time. Guess, I should see if the Government allows me to keep rubber-bullet loaded guns too! Those will certainly be handy!

Heh, I can almost see myself becoming a lawless roadie some day. Its a tough job keeping my sanity and not giving in to scaring others shitless. Its not difficult to attack others… it is easy actually. I’ve found this out with experience. Most people will get on their knees if you raise your fist. Many will bow, if you make them.

That is not power. That is not respect. It is sheer intimidation. But it works like a charm on the highways – to keep yourself safe. But I don’t like it. I like to make friends… not enemies! What do I do?

I tried this for a full 100 kilometers – give the overtaking driver some space and move a bit towards the edge of the road. Each of the 30+ times in the nearly two hours of drive, the oncoming vehicle made me get down from the road, into the rubble and stop – because the bike would go out of control in  rubble. While coming back on the same stretch, I tried my flash-the-lights and wave-your-fist technique… none… yes NONE of the vehicles caused me any trouble.

Well, only one jeep-driver had the guts to still drive on, but since I stayed in my place, he had to swerve even more and go past the edge of my lane. I sure hope his passengers gave him some points to ponder. Three more cars had followed him and were already in my lane when this happened, they saw what happened and almost instantly got back in their lane.

I’m having a difficult time being good. It seems that the only way to stay alive on the highway is to scare the living daylight out of others. Can’t we Indians be sensible? Are we freaking animals that we have to attack others for the right of way? I’m not going to stop driving just because others have no sense nor responsibility of driving. I will not be scared into sitting at home or traveling in bus like many other people. Most importantly, I will not die on the highway.

I like to follow the rules. Please don’t make me lawless! Somebody help me!

Written by hiway

April 30, 2007 at 1:02 am

Posted in adventure, rant, travel

Visiting Allahabad

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I am leaving for Allahabad in a few hours. Shall be back in town by 26th March 2007.

Going for some work related stuff, but photography will not be left behind!

There’s a good chance that I’ll be able to get online before I come back, so do watch this place for posts and the photos section for well, photos.

Cheers!
Harshad

Written by hiway

March 18, 2007 at 7:48 pm

Posted in travel

Photographs of Bagroja, The Unseen Ahmednagar

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Today I visited the tomb of Ahmed Shah Nizam, the founder of Ahmednagar with my friend and guide Mr. Crison Coutino.

Ok, so here’s a quick decoding of “Ahmednagar” — Ahmed + Nagar (Nagar = City). Alrighty, “Ahmed’s City”, is what the name means!
It took me 2 hours to travel and shoot and 20 minutes to transfer the photographs from the card to my computer – throw in another 15 minutes for conversion to DNG and copying to designated directories. Add another 3 hours tweaking the files in Picasa. (yes, picasa – not photoshop – that’s another story sometime soon)

There we have it! – A whole gigabyte of historical Ahmednagar!

Coming up soon, on a flickr photostream near you :)

P.S. I really should learn to remember that now I have a camera that remembers all settings – unlike the point and shoot that forgets everything the instant you turn it off. I clicked over half of today’s photos on ISO 1600!!! Thanks to this foolish mistake I have a lot of photos that came out grainy. And how I was wondering, “Today’s light seems so low – then how am I able to get good exposure reading even at high shutter speeds!?”. I should had guessed. sigh. Too late, I discovered that when the excitement of finding this beautiful monument had slightly worn off :P

Anyway, a lesson well learnt! My photography learning-through-experience train chugs along as thoughts ride on the maglev super high speed train :D I think I’m really going to need something wider than this 28mm! Architecture seems equally interesting as nature – and what a coincidence – where I have pure nature, architecture does not interfere and vice versa! (The only exceptions are what I love more – ruins)

Hmm… looks like the PS is getting bigger than the original post – so let us wind this thing up.

Written by hiway

August 9, 2006 at 2:53 am

Posted in photography, project, travel

Monsoon Wanderlust

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No doubt, the monsoon is here… and the atmosphere is filled with a fresh fragrance of wet earth and leaves. It’s a time to gather up buddies and go on a long tour or trek. And don’t we love to test out limits while climbing challenging mountains, crossing fast paced rivers and streams? Gruelling yet enjoyable!

I love to spend my time in Panchgani and Mahableshwar… close enough to home (6 hour journey) and far enough to forget everything else! Yet, every time I visit these beautiful places, I feel saddened by the constant deterioration of the landscapes and picnic spots – thanks to tourists!

I appreciate an article in “Yuva Sakal” (18 Jul 2006) that mentions a few points to remember when trekking… I am translating from Marathi, and adding a few points that can relate to general travelling.

  • While travelling in rainy season, preferably carry lightweight luggage.
  • Remember to wear strong shoes with a good grip. Sandals and chappals may cause trouble on slippery surfaces.
  • When crossing rivers and streams, make use of “human chain”. Hold each other’s hands to gain balance and support in strong currents.
  • Do not defer from a known route. It may be temping to take a more difficult route, but refrain from it as long as possible. Also, stay away from cliff edges.
  • Always carry necessary first aid and also carry extra stock of any prescribed medicines. Carry your own drinking water, even if it is available naturally and freely, just keep a backup.
  • Leeches are common near ponds, if they stick to you skin, apply tobacco or limestone on the spot. (That means, you might want to carry some of that too.)
  • While roaming around, do not kill any animals or insects, large or small… they are an important part of the ecosystem. We are the guests, not owners – always remember that.
  • If you are about to take a challenging route, inform the local people about it. You might want to chat with the tea vendor or the shopkeeper on the way… in case you are lost, these people are your backup when search and rescue begins.
  • Take care that you do not disturb the ecosystem. Do not light fire for cooking and leave it unattended. If you have to leave, make sure the fire is completely extinguished and that flammable objects are not lying nearby.
  • Do not throw away any plastic bags or bottles. Bring them back and dispose them in garbage bins; even little things like chocolate wrappers.
  • If you cannot live without beer and alcohol, at least do not leave the bottles behind. It is disgusting to see broken glass lying all around… and dangerous for other travellers.
  • Just once again, you are not the owner of nature… when you go out into the wild… you are a guest. Behave like one.

That’s all for now! Enjoy the monsoons and make sure you don’t hurt mother nature!

Written by hiway

July 18, 2006 at 7:04 pm

Posted in adventure, travel

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