Monday, April 2, 2012

Vino the Sexy Scooter

Most people who visit India or even those who haven't understand that the roads here are pretty crazy but once you have been driving on them for a few months it all seems rather normal, in fact after three years I find it as normal as Sydney streets. This means I have to be careful to make sure when I am back in Sydney I switch back from my Delhi driving style to Sydney style. Fortunately I am not a big horn user in Delhi, unlike most people.. don't get me wrong, I use it at least once per journey but I seem to be able to transition back into not using it when in Sydney. The thing I have to focus on when returning to Sydney is the roundabouts. In Sydney the rule is give way to your right or to traffic already in the roundabout, if I did this in Delhi I would never actually get into the roundabout. In Delhi if you see a small gap go for it… in fact forget looking for a gap just close your eyes and go!

The other thing about Delhi drivers is they never look in side mirrors or check blind-spots. In Delhi all that matters is what is going on in front of you. In fact most cars have had their side mirrors knocked off… probably because they didn't check their blind-spot.

Now Delhi roads are dead flat aside from the occasional rise leading onto a flyover. This means there are 20million people in Delhi who cannot hill start. Should you find yourself in an underground carpark never stop behind someone on a ramp… they will roll back into you. What  makes for even scarier driving is when Delhiites escape the summer heat and drive up to the mountains…words cannot convey.
Our car was the victim of a Delhi driver in the mountains. Last October Ray was supposed to drive Sam and his school friends back to Woodstock School in Mussoorie after quarter break but he was sick with chickungunya. So we arranged for one of the ashram drivers to drive them back in our car. In short he could not get the car up the mountain, so the driver resorted to paying a local driver to get the kids up the mountain but it was too late, the clutch and gearbox was destroyed. 
Back in Delhi we found ourselves without a car. For a few weeks we relied on the metro and rickshaws but we missed the convenience of our own transport so we hired a scooter from Uride. Now one would think that if driving a car in Delhi is often dangerous then a scooter must be 100x worse… not the case. In Delhi people are aware of bikes, in Syndey they are not. In Delhi the traffic rarely moves faster than 40km/hour, in Sydney it's much faster. So even with my healthy fear of gravel rash I feel much safer riding in Delhi than in Sydney. I wish I had a photo of three of us and a guitar on the scooter as proof that we have completely assimilated into Delhi life.

In February we got our car back but we missed the scooter. So when I came across an advertisement for a purple second-hand scooter for sale for $150 I was on it. We bought 'Vino the sexy scooter' (original owners description) from an Australian who was moving back to Sydney… a sign?… I think so.
Vino has taken a little getting used to. It's a manual with the gears on the left handle and it has a kick-start which I can only do when it is on its stand. So when I have stalled in traffic or outside Hunter's school I have to ask a friendly passerby to kick-start it for me :) good times.

Here is a photo of Vino

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