Friday, March 13, 2009

aspiring filmmaker + urban planner = ?

Chennai is everything in its absolute and its opposite. I've been toying with the idea of getting a video camera for quite some time now. I don't know anything about operating one, nor do I know about editing, etc, but I'm really interested in filming parts of my life here. Maybe sometime in the next couple months if I'm really ambitious I will take to reading up on what's involved in filming and I will start purchasing equipment. Wish me luck!
I've been riding to work everyday with Suba, my colleague. Suba is the proud owner of a Scooty Pep, a brand of motorized scooter here that I completely adore (the name Scooty Pep, that is...too cute). I swear every single time I ride I contemplate that it could be my last. Last day of my life, that is. Apologies for the morbid nature of such a statement- but seriously! I sit behind Suba as we drive the 5 km to the office and can't help but keep my eyes wide open to everything around me. We weave in between cars, buses, auto-rickshaws, bicyclists, men pushing carts of watermelon, occasional cows, and just today- a man dancing in the middle of the road?! We had no alternative but to declare him legally insane.
One of the biggest problems that I find in Chennai in terms of traffic and road hazards is the absence of sidewalks. Sidewalks are few and far between here and consequently, people, animals and bicycles are all forced to share the "highway" with fast-moving vehicles. The majority of accidents I read about in the paper are due to vehicles trying to dodge a bicyclist, cart-pusher, what have you.
I suppose one of my biggest frustrations with the city is just that: there's really no such thing as going for a casual walk or bike ride. Unless of course I choose to go in the early morning or late night hours- neither of which would feel safe. Such a scenario is forcing me to realize how much I take advantage of rules of the road in New Hampshire, for example. Ha!! It makes me want to laugh at the ULTRA polite tendencies of New Hampshire drivers. Giving pedestrians the right of way. Always breaking for small children, etc. Such road courtesy does not exist in any form whatsoever here. It's not to say that auto-drivers will intentionally speed up when they see someone crossing the road, but they certainly will not slow down either. It's more like a quick diversion maneuver to weave in another direction. It's taken me awhile to get used to the fact that people will almost never slow down for you, and that getting nudged by a vehicle from behind when you're crossing the street is commonplace- it's just an indication that you need to move yo' ass faster!
During rush hour, the traffic makes you feel like you're in a slow-moving parking garage. From an aerial view, it would appear that all the cars are actually just parked in the middle of the road. At a closer glance, though, you can tell they're moving..barely. I've desperately tried to think clean thoughts on these rides- pretty hard to do when inhaling puffs of black smoke from the bus in front of me. I was coming to work everyday with my hair stinking like pollution. Now, as per Suba's recommendation, I wear a scarf. I don't mind that the red scarf I wear indicates to some people that I've recently been married, to others that I am Muslim. Between the scarf over my head and my Hollywood influenced, over-sized sunglasses, I am an incognito force not to be messed with.

1 comment:

Alex said...

I think you would be an excellent candidate for the Real World when you get back in the states. Just a thought HA!