2006
12.21

It is not fun traveling from one place to another anywhere in the world, but it is even less fun in India.

I am back from the workshop in Kanpur (which is worth a separate blog entry, sometime soon). My train was 7 hours late in arriving to Delhi. You might ask yourself how can a train traveling in a route of 9 hours can be 7 hours late?

Such a naive question. The train is of course 8767 hours late. Fortunately, the train people here realize that being late is a computation that is done module 24. The accumulation of delay is done as follows. The train goes from Delhi to Lucknow. Unfortunately, there is fog in Delhi, and the train can not see the rails so it refuses to travel before it gets warmer and the fog disposers. That accounts for three hours of delay. Now, the train lost its slots to travel on the rails, and as such it has to give way to trains which are on time (being on time just mean that they are late by an integer multiplicity of 24 hours). Giving way mean that the train hides on side tracks while other train passes by. This adds to the delay, but from the nature of the game, if you accumulate 24 hours of delay, then you are back on time, so once a train is late, its winning strategy is to be even more late.

Traveling in India can be a pain. Consider X that was in the streaming workshop. He got a car that drove 2.5 hours to Lucknow to get a flight to Delhi so that he can fly to somewhere in not India. His flight was canceled. He went quickly to the train stations, but missed the train by 20 minute. Thus he rented a car to drive to Delhi, which takes 9 hours, and supposedly is not that safe. Now, I did not get any update since then, but in my imagination, the car broke down, and X is now riding a donkey into the runway trying to catch his flight.

Which brings us to flights to and from Delhi. Because of the fogs during this time of the year, almost all flights get delayed from several hours to forever. Unlike the US, where such things happen but they are being overcome by the fact that even if ORD of SFO have bad weather, other airports are OK, and as such, the disturbance is only local to the traffic in the US. Here is the system is much smaller, and there are less airplanes in reserve. So, essentially once Delhi get fogged, flights all over India get delayed by the domino effect.

Which brings us to the main issue, which is that all traffic systems here seems to be on the brink of a nervous breakdown. Airport fill with upset people unable to get their flights. Traffic on the roads of India needs no introduction. And even the train system seems to have overloading problems. The problem for the government is clear – it does not matter how much money they throw on this problem it would not go away (especially travelling on the roads). There is a nice new Metro (i.e., subway) system being built in Delhi which is quite nice – it feels like any other subway in the world. But this things take forever to build.

Overall, traveling in India is just very tiring. It takes longer than you expect. And you find yourself arguing with taxi/auto drivers about the cost of each trip. Then there are all the touts that one has to ignore (the touts in Delhi train stations were horrible BTW – almost missed the train because of them). Which requires mental energies that one wish to spend on better things.

On the positive side. Mua & a friend had great time on the RAJDHANI train from Delhi to Kanpur. We were in a 3AC compartment (AC = air conditioning, 3 means that there are three sleeping bunks along the wall, the better class is 2AC), traveling during the day, and got excellent food/drinks/service/etc on the trip, which was way better than anything I had experienced in any flight. And it was on time. So, sometime things work here quite well.

Oh, and fog seems to be a universal problem. Something has to be done.

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