buckle your seatbelts… oh wait, there aren’t any

For a few days now I’ve been wondering what to write–a blogging writers block of sorts. Then, tonight, as our auto rickshaw was sitting dead in the middle of a busy street, and I was praying like mad, it occurred to me that I could write about that. Genius.

Usually, the process is easy. Find an auto rickshaw, negotiate a price, cling to the children as we careen down the crowded streets, dodging a few people (maybe a cow or two) and ultimately to this point, arriving safely, albeit windblown, to our destination. Tonight, we left the mall and found an auto after the Hubs shrewdly negotiated a fair price. Our driver had an argument with some other drivers right before we took off, then he jumped in and we peeled out onto the highway.

We don’t usually like to tell them how to get to places, but the Hubs did try this time to no avail. The driver totally went the wrong way and ended up circling us all the way back to the mall. Let’s try this again. So we start in the right direction now after a fifteen minute detour. The Boodler has now fallen asleep. How, you might ask? With music blaring (the kind with a crooning man and a woman with an excessively high pitched voice accompanied by a barrage of flutes and drums), he was passed out totally and missed all the fun.

Our driver was a little more uninhibited than most we’ve had. And by that I mean he drove like a madman. There were a couple of close calls with motorcycles and pedestrians, but thankfully no buses. We were at a stop, in the middle of three lanes of traffic when our rickshaw quits running.

Crank, crank, sputter, sputter. Nothing.

The same continued for a while as cars and buses whirled past our headlight-less ride. The Hubs was praying. Bud, our oldest, was praying and I was praying. It seemed like we sat there forever, though it was only a few minutes I’m sure. Music still blaring, Boodler still sleeping, and I’m wondering if a bus is going to not see us there and crush our entire family. I clung to my little Princess, who is bobbing her head to the music.

I know what some of you are thinking… that just doesn’t sound safe. Well, it’s probably not by American standards. By any standards, really. There are no five-point car-seats for kids. No airbags. And I’m sure in a crash test, the auto rickshaw would be reduced to rubble. But this is South Asia and this is how we travel. Even the taxis we rent don’t have seat belts for those in the backseat for reasons I do not know.

Finally, the rickshaw starts and after a few feet stops again. He starts it back up and lays on the gas and for the rest of the way home our driver tries to keep us from going dead. After a very long ride and a variety of sights and smells along the way, we reach our apartment and I am finally able to breathe again.

So this concluded my harrowing tale of how we get around until we get a car (oh please let it be soon!)– in a three-wheeled go-cart made of aluminum. Jealous?

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