…from Haridwar by private car sounds rather glamorous, and by Indian standards, it kind of is. After reviewing our options (train, bus, and car) we decided to splurge on the private car because it seemed like it would be the fastest, at an estimated 4 hours. And the cost to hire a private car and driver to take us to Delhi was by our standards quite a good deal at about 50 bucks, so we decided to go for it. As for the 4 hour estimate, all I can say after the fact is Ha. Ha. HA. The journey took about 7.5 hours total, as there were a shit-ton of obstacles in our way. For much of the journey, there was a pea soup level fog surrounding us. There was also all manner of badly constructed road, missing pavement, potholes, piles of dirt and stray pieces of metal, wood, and what-have-you. On top of that, there was crazy traffic. At various times we were stuck behind people walking or auto rickshaws or families of 5 on a single scooter or tractors pulling giant bails of sugarcane to market or just run of the mill traffic jams. And of course, the occasional single cow or herds that were leisurely crossing the highway. And then there was the driving itself, which is quite interesting in this part of the world. Drivers here have a pathological need to be in front of the person in front of them, and will risk any amount of danger to get there. This usually involves crossing to the side of oncoming traffic to zoom ahead of whatever is in front of us. This results in a series of quite near misses in an epic game of chicken, since of course the drivers on the other side are all trying to do the exact same thing. You can imagine how the thick fog added an even greater element of delightful surprise to this little game, as sometimes headlights would emerge directly in front of you with only seconds to spare. Fortunately for me, I am used to the culture of driving in India, but I am afraid that for poor Ken (who was sitting in the front seat) it was a bit more harrowing. I tried to explain that while incredibly stressful at first, once you have made peace with the fact that any drive in India could be your last, you kind of just relax into it and hope for the best.
Once we arrived in Delhi and peeled Ken off the ceiling of the cab, we were warmly welcomed by Meeta and Digraj, and into their lovely home. And after a few stiff drinks in a local bar, Ken and I were much restored from the day’s travel. I am looking forward to spending a few days in Delhi, showing Ken around and getting caught up with my friends.