Audio: Smog and Wild Driving

I am taking some audio clips as I travel. What I learned last time is that, though I name each clip in my iPhone, these labels do not carry over when I download them to the computer. Boo-hiss!

So I’m transcribing them daily and will share them here:

On the bus: “The pollution is beginning to clear. The sun is out. Maybe we will actually be able to see the world without the gray of the smog that covers Kathmandu these days.”

I sat in the front seat of the bus and so could experience once again the feeling of utter chaos on the roads. The idea, as far as I can tell, is that one has to overtake and pass everybody going slower than you are, and it doesn’t really matter whether there is a turn coming up, or, many times, someone actually coming at you from the opposite direction. The impression is one of urgent hurrying, but when Kerry suggested that, I said I wasn’t sure. “Maybe it’s just ‘driving.’”

What amazed me about it was how closely cut are the distances between vehicles coming and going. We routinely missed the other cars by inches. Motorcycles often passed between two cars going in opposite directions with just two or three inches on each side. It felt like a different concept of Space. As if the margins we consider “safety margins” of distances, because we believe and it does seem true, that we can’t accurately judge how far away the other vehicle is—is just another refutable belief. The oncoming motorcyclists didn’t even flinch when we came roaring at them seemingly head-on, only to miss them by swerving at the last millisecond.

There are no white lines that have to be respected. They are more suggestions than rules.

Now I’m sleepy and so I need to move—do some laundry and hang it out to dry. Then see if my buddy from the airplane has arrived and wants to meet for what I’ve heard is the best lemon meringue pie in Nepal.

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