India – Respect for the Chaos
Could you ever imagine that respect is the underlying factor in the “Law of the Jungle”? The obvious answer here is, “No Way! That’s impossible!” However as any traveller to India quickly realizes, India breaks all rules and logic that a Western is accustomed to.
Colourful signs painted on the back doors of nearly every bus, truck, rickshaw and moving vehicle warn other drivers to kindly “Sound Horn”. Logic might say that this signage is a direct invitation to a car crash, but here listening to the frequent 15-second horn blast is a welcome sound that is accepted and even welcomed by all bystanders. Everyone behind the wheel of a moving vehicle honks in a continuous fashion without exception! I wait and watch to see what happens, when someone gets fed up and rebels against this constant offensive behaviour. But nothing happens, not a single gesture, no middle fingers flying out the window, nor angry glares between drivers. Nothing! So I begin to wonder, “Do rude gestures even exist in India?” “Probably not,” I say to myself, “nothing that demonstrates aggression at least.”
Even by simply sitting back and watching the scene that takes place on a daily basis on every street and highway, I feel utterly frustrated, aggravated and disturbed. I have to turn away to calm down. I remember having read or heard the phrase “an orderly chaos” somewhere, but this is definitely not the right way to describe the scene that unfolds before my eyes. How could anyone call this “orderly chaos” when motorbikes, cars, cows, goats, trucks, rickshaws, buses, pedestrians and parades are all tempting fate by trying to cross the street at the same time!?!?
We may reason that the only politically correct solution to preventing accidents is to “Sound Horn” and under this premise, everyone accepts it calmly and reverently. Then, I witness a truck driving blaring his horn at a motorbike carrying a family of 4 including a mother sitting side-saddle carrying a small bundled up baby on the back, and everyone seems to act completely normal, as if they hadn’t heard the deafening noise in the first place. I picture myself in the same situation, reacting like Tom when Jerry woke him up with a trumpet in his ear, falling right off my bike into the chaos on the street, surely to be crushed by the next passing vehicle.
All of this leads me to reflect on the respect of chaos, and to add that here in India, nobody wants to prove how much bigger or better they are than anyone else. In the end, everything all comes back to the simple greeting “Namaste” which means “we are all one and we are all equal.” And that is the only way that respect for the chaos is possible.