It's moments like these that keep me from completely hating the Bangalore commute. It's also these moments that are so ephemeral that there is never any time to find my camera and snap away (and, that, of course, would be assuming that I've grown confident enough with India motorbike travel to casually rifle through the bag slung over my shoulder, find the camera, remove the case, and frame a shot. Not. So not.)
Earlier in the commute, while still in Malleshwaram navigating down congested Sampige Road, we came up behind a cart with an enor of dry straw. I could hear a clop-clop, but the straw was too high and too wide to see what kind of animal was pulling the cart. All I knew was that it was a particularly slow-moving animal on a particularly busy Bangalore street and, typically enough, traveling down the exact center of the 3-lane (which means about 5 vehicles abreast) road. Cars, bikes and buses were slamming on brakes and swerving right and left to get by the cart without losing too much time. As we pulled between the cart and a city bus I peered at the old man driving the cart who could barely be seen given the amount of straw around him. He seemed completely at ease as did the large white ox with gloriously long horns who plodded confidently down the street. That's the Bangalore I like best.
Another seen-from-the-back-of-a-bike moment that I can't forget happened about a month ago. We were in the neighborhood near NIAS, in heavy traffic but beautifully tree-shaded roads. Ahead of us, an old man was toddling down the street on a scooter with a younger woman (20s or 30s) riding pillion. The guy looked really old. Skin-pulled-over-a-crooked-skeleton old. And the scooter was traveling at an amazingly slow rate. It brought to mind getting behind an old lady at the grocery store; you know, when you just want to pass her cart in the aisle because she's moving so slowly, but she weaves right as you try to pass on one side, then when you move for the open gap, she move into it as well. It's one of those things where you have to remind yourself that there's no need to move as fast as you are twitching to move, life isn't about speed and there's something so sweet about that person still doing their own shopping.
Well, it's one thing with grocery carts, but when you mix it with fast-moving cars?
I watched a near miss with a vehicle to his right, then watched, horrified, as he slowly motored in front of a fast-moving vehicle in the crossroads. Miraculously, both drivers managed to avoid him. After the first near-miss, the lady behind him leaned forward and could be seen talking to him animatedly. After the second near-miss, she apparently decided there was nothing to be done about it, tossed her head back and started to laugh. Her duppata (shawl) was bright red and trailing behind her, the scooter was inching down the road, vehicles all around, and there she was, arms held up in a shrug, laughing at the situation. It was a beautiful scene.