Last Days in Chennai: Wake up with TTK Road
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A walk to the Internet Cafe and a stroll down a waking TTK Road

It starts the same way each morning - about 6am I get up, take a shower and start making my way up TTK Road to the Internet Cafe (M.A.M. Computers). This morning was a bit of a departure from the usual routine. Initially there was no water for a shower. Seems the tanks were empty last night and somehow were not refilled. But soon, we had water, and hot water for a shower.

Its fun walking up TTK Road and watching Madras (Chennai) wake up. The streets are just starting to wake up and you see all sort of transport, merchants, folks sort of getting their act together and kids going to school. Here are a couple of wake up photos - kids off to school and the intersection near my internet haunt.

Merchants wake up just like everyone else - peddling buckets and sweets:

and vegetables (I like the vegetable man)

and his helper

The streets are quiet enough for a man to quietly read the morning paper while another man appears to be waiting for something. To the left of the waiting man is another man on a hand powered tricycle - used by folks with walking disabilities:

Then there are the sidewalk "shops" - the shoeman polishing shoes - in static and dynamic presentations:

the flower and grass ladies:

As the city wakes up, the roads fill with the usual array of transport

including trucks for hire and big lorries that liberally exercise the law of large noises

and a water truck and folks having fun riding in the back of a lorry

Traffic Order or Traffic Brownian Motion (real chaos) ?

But in addition to the city waking up, traffic develops - evolving from quiet empty streets to streets seemingly filled with some very impatient people, impatients displaying brownian-motion-like driving and liberal use of the horn ( see the earlier explorations of the molecular biology of autorickshaw horns ). So interesting is the chaos and brownian-motion driving trajectories associated with impatient driving (and creating horn noises) - that its good matrial for a humorous photo essay - started in brief here.

The following photos must be carefully studied with close attention made to proper identification of the painted lane markers. First a photo of what I call patient driving - a bus driver abiding to the lane marks that separate the opposing flows of traffic.

And now, what I call, impatient driving - displayed by another bus that has deviated significantly from the lane marker:

But not to be too harsh on the bus drivers - everyone, mostly, drives in a manner that I would call "impatient". In the next example, a small minivan passes a group of bicycle riders. This looks absolutely safe - but this impatience overrides all sorts of safety situations - as seen in the photo above this section - the impatient water truck about to collide with the red automobile.

When impatient driving abounds, then the 3 laws of Indian driving are invoked - note that the number of accidents arising from this type of impatient behavior is not very high - primarily because you continuously invoke rule #1 - don't hit what is in front of you (meaning do not consider who has the legal right-of-way). Rule #2 is essential and also is continuously invoked: do not become distracted by what is happening behind you. And finally, the law of Large Noises - always give way to the guy with the large noise - its probably a bus, water truck or big lorry.

I've come to enjoy watching and sometimes participating in driving under such conditions, because it gives me an opportunity to test what I call the "Law of Irrelevance". The basic idea is that no matter how impatient you are, you almost always arrive at the next traffic signal, independent of your speed and driving skill. Traffic in the US, Greece, Egypt, Hong Kong and India all seem in agreement with the law of irrelevance.

Thus endest our stay in Chennai :)

Off to Muscat

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C. Frank Starmer