Travel, Food, and Slices of Life

Leave a comment

Wanting Something Better

The alarm goes off way too early, but you force yourself up. You’re warm and dry, but you grump no one has handed you a cup of coffee in bed.  You stumble into the kitchen where your brew is ready, waiting for you. You then settle down with your favorite tool to read your email, your newspaper, watch the morning show.

You fuss with the kids, the spouse, maybe the parentals. Put the dog out, give the cat fresh water. You shower, shave (perhaps, it is no shave November), dress and head out to the car. Drive yourself to work, by yourself, complaining about the traffic but ain’t no way you would take a bus. rat-race-cage

You put in your eight hours. The boss is a pain in the butt.  He asked you to get some information for him. The work assignment means having to actually talk to other people to get the information. You send an email instead.  You didn’t bring lunch so you go grab some fast food. In about a half hour your gut is bothering you; you never make the connection.  You check your email to see if the person ever got back to you and since they didn’t, you check your personal email as well. An hour later you notice the work email had dropped in one minute after you got sidetracked. You write a 100-word memo to your boss and check the time again and see you only have 10 minutes to kill. You chat with a co-worker and decide her idea for supper sounds good. same old shit

You head home, sitting in traffic for 40 minutes and get so annoyed you decide not to stop at the grocery store. Everyone is fussing at home. You order a pizza. Everyone stuffs their face in ten minutes. No conversation. The television is on. You hear more about what happened in Ferguson overnight.I want more

Your reaction?

You righteously decide those people are making bad choices.  Everyone in the household agrees but you still yell and get agitated. It’s time for bed but you are pretty steamed so it takes several hours to relax. The alarm goes off way too early….

Things can be different but YOU have to make it so.earth has music



Driving Miss Daisy

India is a large country and although we visited cities in pretty close proximity, they were about 150-200 miles apart. With our Interstate highway system and posted speeds of 65, that would take 2 to 3, maybe 4 hours. Our experience in India was a bit different.triangle

A new highway between Delhi and Agra took us about 4 hours. It was a new  four-lane divided highway with tolls, and truck traffic was not allowed. There was very light traffic and yet the bus was restricted to drive about 40mph. There was a high concern about the tires overheating and bursting, and we stopped for a half hour to let them cool about halfway along the route.  There were several toll plazas and a rest area located just beyond each. We enjoyed the use of some “clean toilets”, as Arvind assured us, and the snack bar offered some light food. Lisa and I bought some packaged ice cream. I was told my  flavor was pistachio; it wasn’t.rest stop food

That was the best road we traveled. The other main highways were also toll roads but had heavy traffic of all kinds going through the center of towns and sometimes the roadway was not paved. But they all were toll roads. DSCF6283It was not unusual for the bus driver to have to move along at 25mph to navigate not only the trucks and jeeps loaded with people hanging on,DSCF6286 but also occasional hand pushed carts, a camel or an elephant.  People seem to use the roadway as a walking path as well.


And cows. More about cows later.traffic

Because of the British occupation of India, traffic moves on the left side of the roadway. I have driven in the United Kingdom, and it took a lot of constant concentration to stay to the left, especially in round-abouts and for turns.  I have driven in many of the major cities in the United States. I remember my great satisfaction after driving in Manhattan at age 20 and being able to be as aggressive as required to maneuver. And yet, I would NEVER assume I could drive in India.traffice

There seem to be few rules. There seem to be more cars spread across the roadway than the number of lanes.  Red lights were ignored often by our driver; other times he stopped. Cars on the right often made left turns and similar cross movements occurred from the left side of the roadway. Yet, we saw few accidents. Arvend said automobile insurance is required and at the time of an accident there is a lot yelling and handwaving and then everyone goes their own way without any sharing of information.  It sounded like the system operates as “no fault”.trafficc

DSCF6543Drivers’ licenses are purchased.  There is some discussion now that driving tests will be given but no written test to prove knowledge of the rules of the road is part of the process.  Cars are pretty expensive and gasoline runs about $1.50 a liter. Most people ride motorcycles and it was not unusual to see a family of 4 or even 5 on the back of a bike, the woman riding sideways because of her sari.DSCF6485

One rule that does seem to apply is the request for honking. Some car and truck bumpers even have the “Please Honk” or “Sound Horn” sign painted on the back of the vehicle. This system helps them know when someone is approaching to pass; the assumption is no one looks in the rear view mirror.DSCF6488

At the end of our tour we tipped Arvend, his assistant (who cleaned the bus at least three times each day, moved our baggage and made sure there was plenty of ice cold water for sale for us) and the driver. I gladly gave the driver his tip, telling him despite the traffic conditions, I never felt uncomfortable with the safety of his driving.   


Controlled Chaos

Guest post by Graham Rankin

My two weeks in Sri Lanka kept me in the capital, Colombo, most of the time.  I traveled across town each day between my hotel to the building where I held my training class.  It always seemed to be rush hour both ways so I had an opportunity to observe the usual heavy traffic of a major city combined with some more unusual sights of a Southeast Asian country.  tuktukI  enjoyed being driven everywhere; in the mornings by a driver and car from the hotel and in the evenings taking a cab.  Automobiles are expensive and with gasoline equivalent to $4.86/gallon, it is too much for most workers.  Salaries are low compared to the US, so most Colombo citizens take mass transit in the form of buses or by tuk-tuk (3 wheeled vehicles imported from India) or motorcycles.going to work

Being a former British colony, driving is on the left and must negotiate numerous “round-abouts” or traffic circles.  It seems that whoever honks the loudest has the right of way and the white line down the middle of the road is only an “indication” of where one drives, rather than a hard rule. 

There are some traffic lights at some major intersections or traffic cops direct traffic. The large white gloves they wear have red reflectors on the palms. Several major intersections have no traffic control whatsoever so you just have to sit back, stay calm, and let your driver honk his way through. traffic
Road construction made matters even worse along with pedestrians, handcarts and things OSHA would definitely object to. Amazingly in my two weeks there, I saw no accidents.pedestrian in road

Cabs are relative inexpensive by American standards.  It cost 900 Rs (about $8) to ride across town, about 30-40 minutes.  From the airport (well outside the city), the trip costs $28.  Cabs like other cars there, are mostly Japenese or Korean subcompacts with the occasional hybrid like a Toyota Prius.  I highly recommend taking one, but metered cabs must be arranged well in advance or you need to negotiate the fare before leaving.  Also, I had been  forewarned that even with the address written down, your driver may need to stop and ask directions.  Fortunately most know the location of the major hotels so getting back is easier than going some place.  It took a few days for the hotel drivers to learn the way to the Government Analysts Building located on a small side street off a major street so could be hard to find, and understandably, not someplace most people would need to know.  I did tip the driver of the hotel car 100 Rs (less than a dollar) as well as the cab drivers.  It may not seem much to us, but wages are low there.

A common question cabbies asked was is traffic as bad in the US as in Colombo.  I said yes in the big cities like Colombo, but at least we don’t have tuk-tuks.  Everybody hates tuk-tuk drivers there so this always got a big laugh.  Tuk-tuk drivers in Colombo make New York cabbies seem like someone’s granny.  traffica

I did brave taking a tuk-tuk from the city market.  You sit in the back and hang on tightly to whatever looks most connected.  I probably was overcharged at 250 Rs ($2) for what should have been 150 Rs.  Another gullible American, but he didn’t get a tip!  However, upon finding out that I was an American (I was often assumed to be from Australia), he asked my opinion about the US pushing for the UN to investigate possible war crimes by the Sri Lankan government.  You probably are unaware of the issue here, but it was front page news there.  My response was “I don’t always agree with what our government does, just like you probably don’t agree with yours”.  I figured that was a good neutral response and certainly satisfied my driver.

Reminder to self: next time I travel, to be a better world citizen, read up on current events.

1 Comment

Stop and Go Go Go

I grew up in the New York metropolitan area so I understand about rush hour. When I moved to Nashville in 1975 I laughed at the local complaints. At that time the population was 500,000 and it took me maybe 30 minutes to drive the 15 miles from my house to where I worked downtown. When I returned to Nashville in 1989 the area had a population over 1 million and it typically took me about an hour to drive home in the afternoon, altho the morning commute was still reasonable.  I must have found a good window in the traffic flow.

When I took Sam and one of his buddies to Boston on a college road trip I added an hour to the travel time in order to make our scheduled tour at Boston University. We were late. The traffic was slow and bumper to bumper for 30 miles west of downtown Boston. No construction. No bad weather. That was normal.traffic 30 miles from Boston

After all these experiences, driving in Huntington was sweet. We experienced “rush minutes” when we were second in line at a traffic light. And so, when we considered where to move for this retirement life, we wanted rush minutes and McMinnville so far appears to be similar.car-traffic-light-stop-lg

However, Graham had a workshop to present at a regional meeting of one of the professional forensic organizations. The conference was being held in Vancouver, Washington, which is a northern suburb of Portland, and according to electronic mapping, only 1.5 hours away.I-5_entering_Washington,_Interstate_Bridge

We drove up early afternoon on Monday and sure enough, it only took 1.5 hours. Sweet. We now can estimate that time to the airport, which is about the same distance just east of Portland.

Today, I needed to pick him up. We had planned that I would leave around 8, hoping to miss most of any morning traffic, but we got a call that the new dishwasher will be installed today after noon and so, needed to be back in plenty of time. So, I left at 6:30.

I considered it an experiment to know how access to the airport might be if we ever need to go during peak traffic time. Well, although there was traffic the whole way. it moved well. I arrived at the Vancouver Hilton at 8:10, only 10 minutes more than the original drive in light traffic.  portland_focus_map

Today may have been an anomaly. I will trust my new local friends to provide warnings and advice. But if this is the way things get here, I think we can handle it!!


McMinnville is located about 35 miles southwest of Portland via State Route 99.