Kolkata, India

  • Date
  • 18 February 2001

Arrived in Kolkata (Calcutta) early evening yesterday after five long days and four nights on the road from Mumbai (Bombay), which is only 2000 kilometers away. We traveled via National Highway Six, which was built by the British and thus, an extremely narrow two-lane road since few cars were around a century ago. In 2001, thousands of slow moving, overloaded cars, buses, trucks, ox-drawn and hand-pushed carts, bicycles with wagons, cows, scooters and motorcycles take to this poorly-maintained highway everyday creating chaotic, maddening and excruciatingly slow traffic. A goods carrier driver told me it takes him seven to ten days to deliver his produce from Kolkata to Mumbai. He knows that’s inefficient, but in his words, “What can I do? Roads aren’t top priority for the politicians. I just keep driving the week-long trip over and over and hoping someday the road will be better.”