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Written by Peter Smith   
Saturday, 11 April 2009 11:13
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Day 35: Saturday 27th October - Amritsar to Delhi 

Getting out of Amritsar was just as farcical as getting in. We followed the unfinished flyover for a couple of miles before turning back on ourselves and then back again. I don't think even then we were sure that we were heading for Delhi until a sign appeared quite a few miles down the road. This was another expected long day and if the previous days experience was anything to go by then we needed to add another couple of hours for luck.

Sue keeps telling me that this is an amazing country with growth rates of 6 percent and the seventh largest economy in the world. This certainly isn't my observation; the whole journey to Delhi some 480 kilometres took from 7.00am until 8.00pm at an average speed of just under 37 miles per hour. This technological wonderland travels at the speed of the slowest rickshaw and when you take into account that those are powered by men who make me look like a spring chicken then I'd say commerce is certainly not running down the superhighway. I have to say they don't have beer guts though which is hardly surprising when you consider the loads they carry. All carry one, two or three people as standard but some carry loads that would kill a westerner of half their age. Bicycles pulling trailers piled high and bulging outwards with furnishings, metal pipes twenty feet long and fire wood and farm goods of all descriptions. I even saw one carrying what looked like the wooden case of a grand piano. When these champions of keeping the economy rolling are not trading they are cycling around pestering every pedestrian as they tout for business and in doing so hold up all the traffic. Of course it is not just the rickshaw that hold things up in the city. This is best done by the sacred oxen taking a snooze or slowly making its way down the middle of an arterial junction in the middle of rush hour Delhi. I've only been in the capital one evening and I've seen a horse, cows and an elephant all walking alongside four lanes of honking, fuming, not go going anywhere traffic so it must be common. I think economists are fooled by the shear volume of noise energy that India omits every minute of every day. Every bus, lorry, car, motor bike and motorized rickshaw toots its horn when coming up to another vehicle, overtaking, waiting behind or just parking. I swear the young driver of a jeep we were travelling in today in the Corbett Reserve tooted a fallen tree that was protruding into the road by a foot and no more. The noise pollution is horrendous and invades all aspects of life whether you're in a restaurant or a museum with the exception of religious sites such as the Golden Temple.

Last week in Lahore I was dragged through the bazaar kicking and screaming by Anne because the whole market consisted of clothes and mostly women's at that: no computer stuff, electrical, photographic or anything of interest. Here in India the high street is very different. Most of the towns we have passed through from Amritsar to Delhi and then on to the Corbett Tiger Reserve have consisted of second hand car, bike and rickshaw parts. It's amazing how one shop sells tyres, the next wheels and the one after that engines and so it goes on. All advertise Netwire or Vodaphone but no one sells them.

Last Updated on Sunday, 19 April 2009 20:05