I find it so amusing that in my first entry I wrote that the only traffic law I had not seen broken was driving on the wrong side of the road. I must remind everyone that I made that assumption after my 30 minute trip from the airport to my hotel. The only time you should stay to the left (as opposed to the right like the US) is when you pass someone on the stairs. Driving theory is still rather elusive for me. I am pretty sure that whoever can go faster gets the right of way. But then sometimes it is whoever is bigger. Pedestrians are always at the bottom of the totem pole, cows at the top. Busses, cars, auto rickshaws (autos), cycle rickshaws, motorcycles, scooters, and bicycles just fight it out. And I can not stress enough how often drivers use their horns. It is almost constant. I get irritated when I am walking on the side of the road and a car that is coming up beside me lays on the horn. Did he really think I was about to jump out into traffic? But I can't fault anyone. That's how they do things here and I'm the one that has to adjust. Crossing the street is a whole other story. I won't get into any details because my parents read this and they are already worried about me enough. Obviously crosswalks didn't catch on in India. The meaning of traffic signals is slightly different here as well. As far as I can tell. Green means yield to crossing traffic, yellow means go, and red means go faster (unless the car in front of you has stopped, then you stop).
My main means of conveyance is the auto. Imagine the front half of a motorcycle with two wheels in back and a 3 foot wide bench seat behind, all covered with a green and yellow bubble of steel. I will put up some pictures as well. One hails an auto much like a cab in New York. You wave at them and scream AUTO! It is important to know how much the trip usually costs because 90% of the time they ask for double. It really isn't too difficult to bargain during the day because they are everywhere, but at night the prices invariably go up. They know we aren't willing to walk away when its dark and there aren't any others around.
When it's raining I take a bicycle rickshaw to work. It is similar to an auto except it's a bicycle and there is no steel bubble. These are very nice for short distances but offer no protection from the monsoons. The first really heavy daytime rain was today. Even with my umbrella and the ride in the rickshaw I was soaking wet. I had to ring my skirt out in the sink. It was only the second rain of the season. Usually it is overcast and in the nineties and so humid. When everyone is sweating it is easier to not be self conscious about it.
Last weekend I went shopping with Rosie. We bought some lovely cashmere pashminas from Kashmir. Some are hand embroidered and took up to a year to make. I got a few other really beautiful things. Before I left home my mom told me to buy a few things and very nice things, instead of lots of cheap junk. Well, I listened to part of her advice. Three guesses which part. So no more shopping for me. My mission is now to take pictures of everything without drawing too much attention to myself.
I'm having a very nice time here now. Thank you all for your support during that rough first week. I love hearing from everyone and will do my best to reply whenever possible. This weekend a couple of us are going to Amritsar in Punjab. The Golden Temple is there. It really is made out of gold. There is also a border ceremony every evening on the Pakistan/India border that I'm told shouldn't be missed.
Hope all is well with you! Let me know if you need anything from India...I'll take any excuse to do more shopping.