Jump on any hurtling hunk of metal and your bound to experience the ride of a lifetime – India…a place where anything capable of being pushed, pulled or propelled is a mode of transport.
Advice on how to travel on buses in India:
Imagine being a sardine jammed in a tin that is strapped to the muscular backside of a bucking bull. Riding a bus in kolkata is as jerky, jolting and organ rearranging as the image suggests.
Avoid being killed by darting traffic of all forms as you stand precariously on the road – watching and listening to the beckoning calls of the ticket men as the buses they straddle swoop in towards your position.
Rarely do they stop – thus you must hastily identify the correct bus, in the next millisecond begin running, then undertake a leap of faith in the direction of the bus doorway, arms outreached to grab onto anything metal.
Finding a seat is usually an impossibility. Having a railing to hold to stop being flung around within the metal tin of a bus, equally improbable.
Exiting an India bus requires similar athletic prowess to boarding!
Firstly you must whack some piece of metal to signal to the ticket man and driver that you wish to exit, weave like a snake between densely packed, sweaty bodies and once again leap into the air, legs swinging back and forth, evolving into a running action.
While in mid-air, glance left, right, below and above you to ensure that you will not be converted into a fesh but bloody naan bread.
If you are lucky your hastily moving legs will enable a relatively smooth reconnection with the pothole laden asphalt road.
Take the next 10-15 minutes to let the adrenaline dissipate, for you to regain a regular heart beat, and for the streaming beads of sweat to disappear from you entire body.
Every journey in India is unique, adrenaline packed and death defying. The efficiency of the hybrid transport system is highly efficient and inexpensive. No road, path or lane is too narrow for some mode of transport to enter. Although appearing to be chaotic, which it is, the system works beautifully in its madness.
The transport system in India’s cities, particularly kolkata’s is a model that should be studied by first world cities the globe over!
Reflections on a confronting first afternoon in Shenzhen.
Wednesday 24th April 2013
A thin layer of silt covered all that I could see, a thick slightly unpleasant smell sat in the air, my heavily perspired brow adding to the discomfort and ill-ease I felt…my first impression of Shenzhen, well more specifically the Louhu district, the first stop across the border from HK was not a good one.
The sun appeared brown through the thick haze, making the faces of the people and the facades of the buildings look terribly weathered and downtrodden.
Not a single building appeared to be unblemished by the effects of time and neglect…..crumbling render, snaking cracks, dust-covered and smashed windows, rusted cages that enclosed balconies….where was the city of the future I had read so much about?
As time passed and the shock subsided, the Louhu district began to reveal itself to me…although not the place I had envisaged, there was a zest that lifted my spirits…in this urbanized concrete jungle people forged a life…maybe even a life of happiness?
‘A taste of things to come’
Time poor, compromised lives, lived in match box homes stacked as high as the abrupt peaks that engulf them.
The collection of islands that constitute HK and her greater districts resemble pin cushions, her towers needles that dart upwards from a narrow base, piercing the clouds that hover low in the sky.
These concrete fingers or needles accommodate a broad spectrum of functions, sprouting as high as gravity and the steep topography will allow. I believe it would require a unique dweller to reside in a home among the clouds.
The colour blur and bustle of HK’s multi-modes of transport were captivating! Everything is times 2 of its counterpart in oz. Double-decker buses and trams appeared to ride a swell of pedestrians that occupied all but a few square centimeters of the concrete covered earth.
A never ending series of escalators rose up from the Harbour to the peak. A diverse storyboard of life transformed as I ascended. Glass monuments to capitalism where white collars plied all hours merged into a multicultural mix of cafes and bars that occupied burrows in the sides of towers at ground level.
This hive of social hype quickly ceased as the residential zone began. Now high in the escarpment the air moistened and densified, the light dimmed and a silent peace grew with each ascended metre.
Although the same building form remained, the towers’ facades diversified. Windows acted as portholes to life inside the concrete mountains while cabling and piping of all shapes and sizes adorned the otherwise blank concrete or tiled walls.
This unveiling journey of ascention was polarized by the hasty descent. Hailing a taxi I jumped in, the automatic door making take off hasty. We travelled on swirling and rolling roads that floated above the ground on slender piloti, skirting the towers, allowing a complex but quick trip back to ground level.
Hong Kong, a city of man made mountains, of glitz and glamour, high altitude claustrophobic living and progressive capitalism. An extraordinary two days punctuated by the symphony of lights spectacular on the HK skyline that filled Victoria Harbour with colour.
Next installment, the beginning of my diverse encounters with the many faces of Shenzhen, China.
Hello, my name is Matthew James Kelly and I am a graduate of the Bachelor of Design (Architecture) program at the University of Newcastle, Australia.
In 2012 I was honoured to receive the Parker fellowship, a unique travelling scholarship that will enable me to fulfill my architectural passion, to investigate the impact of urbanisation on the myriad of ways people live, breath and are housed in cities without limits.
I will be travelling to the swelling metropolis of Shenzhen China, the kaleidoscoping and chaotic slums of Mumbai, the majestic and vibrant Istanbul, the historic but deceptive Paris and the swanky London in order to investigate, observe and partake in the myriad of ways that humanity exits within an environment plied by man.
I wish to extract all that is weird and wonderful, while learning of failures and faults in order to develop a holistic and valid ‘house for humanity’ design and a ‘prosperous path for future life’, that not only responds to the needs of people and the earth today, but also the world of tomorrow.
So strap yourself in for a voyage of sensory
overload, of limitless possibilities & extraordinary lessons.
The ride departs Sunday 21st April 2013 at 9:40 pm.
Special thanks must go to The Architecture Foundation, The University of Newcastle and all sponsors that enable this rare privilege of being a Parker Fellow to be in existence.