What are your expectations? Were they met?


April 3rd, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe larger roads in northern India have lane markings. They appear to be indicative, as is the direction of traffic. Cars and motor bikes jostle with rickshaws, trucks (so many trucks!), buses, bicycles, camels, donkeys, cows and dogs. And people. Crossing a road, on foot or in any vehicle is a case of trusting the process.

The only thing I saw that was scary was a drunk driver in charge of a B-double truck. It was on a back road, he weaved from one side of the road to the other, seemingly oblivious to his erratic trajectory.

I’m sure there are many accidents, yet I didn’t see any. And a lot of vehicles, which should be a smorgasbord of dints, scratches, scrapes and bumps are remarkably free of any marks. And the horns! How anyone can make sense of all that noise is beyond me, yet they seem to manage. It’s not like Melbourne, which in many ways is scarier – certainly faster and a lot more aggressive.

Which got me thinking about expectations. Everyone talks about the traffic in India yet it’s not possible to really know what it’s like without actually being in it. We only have our own field of experience to draw on and if that doesn’t include the erratic, and seemingly chaotic, way traffic is in India, then it’s hard to imagine, and it’s hard to know what to expect.

In retrospect, I can talk about what I experienced, what surprised me, what scared me, and I can make comparisons with other traffic experiences. If I’m asked in advance what my expectations are I can only talk in generalities: I think it will be different, more chaotic, busier than I’m used to. Do I expect to be scared? Maybe.

And then there’s that oft-asked question: were my expectations met? That’s always hard for me to answer. Maybe if I was clearer about my expectations I could answer yes or no. Yet I’ve already explained why I can’t be clearer about my expectations.

So it’s a nonsense question – to ask before an experience, and afterwards.

Better to focus on the reality of experiences rather than obscure and abstract expectations.

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