I made it! I’ve officially moved to India – the land of beautiful temples, delicious food and terrible drivers. The only time I’ve felt the least bit unsafe was crossing the street. Any time you decide to cross the street you’ve pretty much decided to take your life in your hands. Even a normal two lane road can easily become an eight lane road if filled with motorcycles and rickshaws. I should also mention there are no “lanes” but instead there are masses of cars, rickshaws, motorcycles and busses squeezing past each other every opportunity they get. To cross the road you need to play Frogger- backwards, sideways, then run forward and hope no one is decides to drive the wrong way and delay your arrival to the sidewalk of safety. Some days on my walk to work, I get distracted waiting to cross the street by watching other more adventurous people cross at a time I’ve deemed too risky. I get so wrapped up in watching them weave and dart that I miss my opening and need to wait another 5 minutes until traffic slows. Certainly makes it interesting!
All of the public transportation drivers (busses and rickshaws) were on strike yesterday across India. The trade unions stood peacefully in solidarity and protested labor reform laws which are planned by the government and would make it easier to lay off workers and restrict unions. People who arrived at the airport yesterday were stuck without taxis and millions of dollars worth of goods were lost when ships delivered them to ports and no one picked them up. This took place the same day that courts in California decided to allow Uber employees in the state to join a class action lawsuit against the ride share company, claiming they were misclassified as independent contractors instead of employees. Under CA laws, labeling the drivers as employees means they would get reimbursed for gas, workman’s comp and other benefits.
In Bangalore, all of the rickshaws have meters in them which means there is no need to haggle over the price (which is pretty great, since I grossly overestimated the amount of English spoken here). Also, Uber came to town fairly recently, but here you are given the option to pay in cash after your trip if you don’t have a credit card to hook to your account. Pretty cool!