On a Ride in India – part I

FUJIFILM X-T1 (14mm, f/5.6, 1/200 sec, ISO400)

Regarding photography India was always my favorite place. Even within Asia it stands out as the most colorful and exotic. Here are my car ride impressions from India.

There was also no country where I spent so much time in cars as I did in India. There is no efficient public transport and as a consequence the traffic is horrible. A lot of time to sit and take pictures. But while I took a lot of images through the side window I took only a few through the windscreen. In this blog posts I only included the ones where the car somehow framed the shot.

RICOH IMAGING COMPANY, LTD. GR (18.3mm, f/4, 1/125 sec, ISO1600)
FUJIFILM X-T1 (14mm, f/5.6, 1/200 sec, ISO400)
RICOH IMAGING COMPANY, LTD. GR (18.3mm, f/5.6, 1/250 sec, ISO6400)
RICOH IMAGING COMPANY, LTD. GR (18.3mm, f/4.5, 1/250 sec, ISO100)
RICOH IMAGING COMPANY, LTD. GR (18.3mm, f/5.6, 1/250 sec, ISO100)
RICOH IMAGING COMPANY, LTD. GR (18.3mm, f/5, 1/320 sec, ISO280)

In this blog post I won’t describe every single picture. They are all taken in India and in the following cities: Agra, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai and New Delhi. I mainly was a passenger in Toyota vans, hotel limousines from Audi, BMW and Mercedes or in a Suzuki Swift. I even took some three-wheelers but because of the mostly hot and humid conditions and the extreme air pollution I preferred cars.

I never managed to ride with an Hindustan Ambassador. The car that has been produced more of less unchanged from the 50s to 2014. You can see one in the image above taken from the hotel Mercedes in New Delhi.

RICOH IMAGING COMPANY, LTD. GR (18.3mm, f/5, 1/320 sec, ISO500)
RICOH IMAGING COMPANY, LTD. GR (18.3mm, f/5.6, 1/400 sec, ISO200)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (14mm, f/6.4, 1/400 sec, ISO640)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (14mm, f/8, 1/400 sec, ISO800)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (14mm, f/2.8, 1/200 sec, ISO640)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (23mm, f/2, 1/200 sec, ISO200)

In India you can see everything participating on the traffic. Straying dogs and cows are everywhere. I overtook coaches drawn by horses, cows or buffalos or even camels but I only saw an elephant once.

In the past there were many elephants in New Delhi but because of accidents the government reduced their number significantly. I was excited when I saw this big elephant bull that most likely was on the way to a wedding. But I was also a little nervous. And the fact that I was inside a Suzuki Swift didn’t help. If the elephant would run wild there would be a carnage. The people around us thought the same because nobody blew their horn. The elephant was elegantly “cruising” though the traffic in silence.

When you know India you know that there is one constant noise of hundreds of cars honking like crazy. Not here. Because of the elephant bull my ears got a short break from the usual road noise.

FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (23mm, f/8, 1/320 sec, ISO200)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (23mm, f/8, 1/500 sec, ISO400)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (23mm, f/5.6, 1/500 sec, ISO320)
RICOH IMAGING COMPANY, LTD. GR (18.3mm, f/5.6, 1/250 sec, ISO400)
RICOH IMAGING COMPANY, LTD. GR (18.3mm, f/4.5, 1/400 sec, ISO200)
RICOH IMAGING COMPANY, LTD. GR (18.3mm, f/4.5, 1/500 sec, ISO800)

As already mentioned above in India the street life is just amazing. Everybody and practically everything with wheels shares the road. Ox or manpowered vehicles, scooters, three-wheelers, cars, trucks and buses. There seem to be very little rules at all. I got the impression that just like in nature the strongest and biggest come first. In many other places in the world it is now the other way around. The strong and big take care of the weakest which usually are pedestrians and cyclist.

That’s definitely not the case here. I remember that my hotel driver stopped at a red light! to let the pedestrians cross the road. There was a lot of angry honking around us and cars where passing us by on both sides. The people rushed to the other side. It was in the middle of the night and the people were not safe on the zebra crossing even though there was a traffic light too. It was obvious that the concept to give way to a pedestrian when you are in a car is a very new concept in India.

FUJIFILM X-T1 (14mm, f/2.8, 1/250 sec, ISO400)
FUJIFILM X-T1 (14mm, f/4, 1/50 sec, ISO200)
RICOH IMAGING COMPANY, LTD. GR (18.3mm, f/5.6, 1/250 sec, ISO1250)
FUJIFILM X-T1 (14mm, f/5.6, 1/200 sec, ISO200)

I just wrote that there are no rules or little rules at all in Indian traffic. Big and strong wins here but there is one exception: Cows. Even though a cow is hardly the smartest animal on the planet, the cows in India figured out that they are special. They are not only special, they are holy. And the know it. The only other living creature that gets as much respect as the cows are the elephants for obvious reasons. Elephant are big and strong and could become very aggressive if they feel pushed around.

There are hardly any elephants on the streets anymore but they are cows everywhere. Usually feeding on the litter which is also everywhere. The image below is from one of my first trips to India when cows on a street were still something special for me. That’s the advantage when you are somewhere for the first time. Something similar happened to my colleague from India when he was visiting our head quarter in Germany. In the morning he went for a short walk and he told me that he saw almost empty buses. Buses with one or two passengers inside. It was an early morning in August so there was no school and for me it wasn’t something special at all. For him it was one of the craziest things he every saw.

Another example that we benefit from traveling. When we see different places in the world we get a different perspective on a lot of things. I can’t wait to get back on the road again.

RICOH IMAGING COMPANY, LTD. GR (18.3mm, f/5, 1/400 sec, ISO1600)