For the first time in two weeks I was able to comfortably lounge in the backseat of my dad's Honda Civic.
Whether they buy them out of necessity or as a social status symbol, more and more cars are being added to Lucknow's streets every day.
Compared to the mollusc, our cities have super speed records-Bangalore's peak traffic speed is 18 kmph, while Delhi's and Mumbai's are 16 kmph. Indian thoroughfares host over 48 modes of transport, with 40 per cent of commercial vehicles plying illegally. Forty-one percent of streets are taken up by parking. Most Indians drive 10 km on an average daily; one in four spending over 90 minutes every day; 32 percent of the country's vehicles move on urban roads. India has 50 million two-wheelers and rising. Despite this, national car sales have grown by 38 percent; 2009-10 was the pinnacle with 1.95 million cars sold. The cheapest car in India is about 12 times the annual per capita income of a citizen, while in the U.S. it is about one-third the average income. Urban India's love affair with the automobile is scandalous: the country's five mega metros have over 40 lakh cars out of a total vehicular population of 10 crore, its auto market growing by 26 percent last year. India is paralysed by its traffic.
I saw my parents' relatively calm composure in the midst of all this chaos. The car's engine was turned off, their necks were craned, they talked about daily "hassles" like these in subdued tones, and as soon as the rickshaw in front moved half a foot, they got excited at the prospect of reaching their destination.