Logistics in India Not Always Logical

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Guest House in Bangalore
A Street in Bangalore
A Street in Bangalore

As first timers in India, some of our team members experienced very intriguing “cultural shock” with daily activities that we take for granted in the US. One such shock was the logistics of moving around.

All of us flew to Bangalore, India last weekend, but did so separately. The client kindly arranged multiple drivers to make multiple trips in order to take each one of us from the airport to the guest house where we were staying.

Dosa: Southern Indian Breakfast
Dosa: Southern Indian Breakfast

For most of the team members, this arrangement worked out fine. But for two of us, there were problems.

AJ Otey arrived in Bangalore about 1:30 in the morning. The driver was at the airport waiting, but obviously in a quite sleepy state. Several times, he dozed away and almost drove the car into a ditch. Fortunately, he found a tea stand, which still was operating that late at night/early in the morning, and with a quick cup, woke up.

But, that was not the end of AJ’s adventure. The driver had the address of the guesthouse on paper, but didn’t know the exact location. He had no means, such as GPS or smart phone, to get directions. So instead, he drove around he area, and asked whoever was available on the street for directions. Fortunately, the driver  eventually found the guesthouse after a 30-minute search.

Alex Minggang Li arrived at 4:30 in the morning. His driver overslept and didn’t show up at all. After about an hour of waiting, Alex decided to take a cab. However, none of the cab drivers at the airport recognized the address that was given by the caretaker of the guesthouse to team members. Fortunately, the client had emailed the team a brief description and the name of the district, which helped the cab driver understand the approximate location of the guest house. Yet, like the other driver, this cab driver had to drive around the neighborhood for almost an hour before finally finding the guest house.

The good thing is that all six team members arrived safely and relatively on schedule.

Later on, we found out that, even with GPS or Google Maps, a search of the guest house address yielded either a wrong location or nothing. Therefore, one can conclude that a very detailed street address will not necessarily mean that you will get to your destination without any hiccups!

In the eyes of people from the US, Indian logistics are not logical!

Many US visitors also can be amazed (or scared) by how traffic is managed in India. On the same street, one often finds pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles, motorized tricycle cabs, cars, trucks, buses and even animals such as goats and cows all trying to get somewhere. On first observation, this traffic seems chaotic and illogical: people often don’t follow the lane lines, don’t turn on blinkers, don’t observe right of way rules, and honk all the time. But astonishingly, everything seems to work out... really well! During our stay so far, we have not seen even one accident on the road. Traffic moves rather smoothly, even during rush hour. Everyone knows what they are doing, and seems to be happy about it, too. Perhaps there is a logic underneath this seemingly illogical pattern of logistics. We will need to learn more and hopefully figure it out during the next two and half weeks.

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