Jaipur traffic: ‘No problem’

Shelly Le

Namaste from Jaipur! It’s been a little over a week since I’ve arrived in India but I couldn’t possibly sum up my experience in one blog post.

Jaipur architecture is breathtaking, traffic is chaotic, the food is delicious, and Indian mornings feel like a fantasy in comparison to the hot and humid afternoons. As I am slowly settling into my homestay and venturing into the most foreign city I’ve ever lived in, I am starting to learn to let go of what is familiar and embracing the new, no matter how chaotic it appears to me.

Jaipur driving is a prime example of this. According to a taxi-driver that I met a few days ago, to be able to drive in Jaipur and in India in general, you need three things: a good horn, good brakes, and good luck. His advice perfectly describes Jaipur traffic and drivers. Imagine the most erratic L.A. taxicab driver and triple the amount of traffic, swerving, honking, and knee-jerk braking.

For some reason though, traffic works. The best way I can describe it is “organized chaos” but even then I’m hesitant to call traffic “chaos” because it’s not really chaos to Indians. Pedestrians are so used to traffic that they can safely cross the street while three cars and an auto-rickshaw are barreling down a two-lane road. And if you were wondering, yes, there are cows that hang out on the road, but they tend to stick to the sides and not the middle of the lane.

A cow on a street in Jaipur
A cow on a street in Jaipur

For me, traffic jams and loud honks stress me to no end; in India, however, traffic is what locals say “no problem.” Honk if you’re going to cut in front of someone, honk if you’re passing through someone’s blind-spot, and honk if the person in front of you needs to move because you’re going much faster than them. Chaos to me is organization to Indians.

When in India, do as the Indians do. No matter how many lines of traffic are before me, no matter how many cars I think will hit me as I scramble across the street, and no matter how much honking will occur, I will get to my destination eventually.

For more posts and pictures of my semester abroad in India with the SIT program, check out my personal blog here.