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Himalaya

Day 31: Amritsar to Chandigarh

Michael Palin - HimalayaIndia is much concerned these days with behavioural improvement. Yesterday I noticed the road safety campaign (though I seemed to be the only one who did) and this morning I see that the government is tackling the vexed subject of 'night soil', or open-air defecation, which is such a feature of life here. A series of adverts in the morning papers appeals to people to stop 'easing themselves' in public places. 'Easing oneself' is a new euphemism to me, but I rather like it and will use it whenever possible.

Heading south from Amritsar on the main road to Chandigarh we pass an horrific accident. Two trucks have collided head-on with such force that one of them has burst, oozing a load of gravel from its ruptured sides. My driver says that truck-drivers not only don't have to take a test, they don't even have to be able to read.

The road we're on is a four-lane intercity highway, yet it's also a country road with farm vehicles, and indeed farm animals, crossing it whenever they feel like it.

At any given time we're sharing the NH-1 with cars, trucks, battered Tata buses (driven like the wind), auto-rickshaws, pedal rickshaws, scooters, horse-drawn carts, buffalo-drawn carts, tractors, dogs, bicycles, motorbikes, pedestrians and unattended cows, sheep and goats.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 31: Amritsar to Chandigarh
  • Country/sea: India
  • Place: Amritsar
  • Book page no: 69

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