How to Die in India

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We rounded a corner and sped down the road, swerving between cabs and stray dogs, picking up speed as we entered a straight stretch. Raj and I squeezed together on a thin bench in the back of the auto rickshaw next to the driver’s cousin, ducking to avoid the tarpaulin roof. The cool Jaipur night rushed in at us through the vehicle’s open sides, whipping my hair across my face.

“Hey, don’t you think you should slow down a little?” I asked the driver.

We were going far too fast for India. I had been there a month and a half already and I knew the craziness of the roads in this country; the burned-out buses littering roadsides all smashed in with crumpled engines and wires protruding like veins; trucks overturned, their painted-on murals of Krishna and Ganesh grinning at me upside down, and the infamous “bus plunges” down cliffs into ravines. Just last month, news had spread through the travellers’ circuit of a sleeper bus on the popular tourist route from Goa to Bombay colliding with an oncoming truck as it retreated, too late, from the passing lane. The truck had ripped through the entire driver’s side of the bus, killing everyone who was sleeping there. Since then, I always made sure to sit on the left side of buses, not in superstition, but because it logically increased my chances of surviving India.

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