Sunday, January 9, 2011

On the Roads of India

Posted by Adrienne Miller, CHENNAI, INDIA -- There is a magical dance on the roads of India, where lines are painted but no one sees them.  Side mirrors are folded in to avoid breakage as vehicles slide by each other within a hair’s breadth, miraculously without a scratch. It is like choreographed chaos, with breath-taking beauty, spectacular color, abject poverty, and lots of dirt.
Two lanes easily fit five vehicles.  Honking is the rule for passing, as no one uses their mirrors.  No one blinks an eye at the sight of a camel herd pulling their cargo carts, nor does anyone object to driving around a cow sleeping in the road. We traveled through cities and villages and continually witnessed this dazzling dance created by people, cows, goats, camels, dogs, oxen, monkeys, three-wheeled bicycles, motorized taxis, cars, trucks, mopeds, motorcycles, scooters and busses. Hiring a local driver is highly recommended.
As a photographer, experiencing India’s highways and byways was like being a ‘kid in a candy store’.  The photo opportunities were constant and everywhere.  I took over 1000 pictures. In years past, this trip would have cost me more in film developing than the travel itself.
Each day, I marveled at the agility of the drivers of all types of vehicles, especially the ‘family scooter’.  Designed for two, these tiny vehicles frequently carried families of five.  The riders were always strategically placed for balance and the women passengers’ long, flowing attire was always carefully folded about their legs as they sat side-saddled.
We racked up many miles on the road -- from Chennai (formerly Madras) on the southeast coast, to Bangalore, the “silicon valley” of India in the center of the south, to the southern-most tip of Trivandrum where the Bay of Bengal to the east, the Indian Ocean to the south and the Arabian Sea to the west, all meet.  From there, we continued to Hyderabad followed by Kanpur in the northeast, then on to Agra and the Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri, Jaipur (the Pink City) and finally to New Delhi.   Every place we went had its own unique charm, challenges and personality. But all shared the one continuous theme of India: people, people, everywhere with their amazing methods of transportation.

Adrienne Miller has a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Georgia State University and works in Development at a nearby university. She’s traveled all over the world taking photographs of everyday life.  She was a freelance photographer before returning to college to complete her degree.  You can contact her at To view more ‘On the Roads of India’ photographs log on to our Facebook page.

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