... in traffic

Please do take luggage from strangers

16 Dec 2005 | 367 words | airtravel traffic india security

One of the most remarkable things about India is the way traffic flows. traffic adjusts itself to conditions around it in a very organic way and in general there are very little rules that are actually followed (or enforced).

The rule that vehicles (and this includes busses, trucks, rickshaws, motorcycles, cycles, push-carts, donkey-carts, and various species of animals) drive on the left side of the road only applies in a relative fashion: one drives left of the right most vehicle traveling in the opposite direction. This enables traffic to find an equilibrium (although it looks far from that) that distributes the total available width of the road according to the traffic volume in both directions (except when there are dividers in the middle of the road like in most of New Delhi). The whole thing works rather smoothly, is a pleasure to observe and a joy to participate in…

Now today i am about to take my first low-budget flight in India (from Delhi to Bombay) and while checking in i noticed the same sort of collective balancing taking place. Low-cost airlines have opened up the possibility of air travel for less prosperous people and you see a lot of families traveling on these airlines. On my flight about one quarter of the passengers seem to be families and the rest individuals traveling for business.

Now if traveling with family Indians must take along excessive amounts of luggage and of course this does not vibe at all with the 15 kg baggage allowment of Air Deccan. As a result the check-in queues at the airport becomes one big distribution mechanism where travelers with over-baggage pair up with travelers that only travel with carry-on baggage in order to check-in their baggage in their name. This creates quite an amount of chaos at check-in as people constantly jump the queue in order to assemble their baggage sharing party, but in the end it seems to work out really well and almost nobody pays for overweight. This process of applied solidarity is even more remarkable if one remembers the constant reminders not to accept luggage from strangers that one is subject to at airports in the rest of the world.

Having fun in Shivaji Nager

13 Nov 2005 | 91 words | traffic india bangalore travel cycling

Check out this video [mp4 file – 20mb] of me and my bike having fun in Shivaji Nager / Russel Market in central Bangalore. Traffic has gotten worse every time i have come here. cycling is actually the fastest (and probably most dangerous) way to get around town even though one cannot run red lights like at home. In fact most of the time you do not even get to the red light as even cycles can’t navigate through the snarls of vehicles that pile up in front of traffic lights…

Helipads (!!!)

I have mentioned it before, but the thing that impressed me the most so far is the facts that people actually travel by helicopter within the city. There are lots of heli-pads on buildings in the city and if you find yourself placed high enough to oversee a bit of the city you actually see helicopters taking of somewhere and landing elsewhere on a heli-pad. Of course this is kind of sick (someone told me that you can actually commute by helicopter from the north-zone to downtown for R$ 5000 per month (the minimum income is something like R$ 500)) but it is also poetic in al its shabby futuristic-scenarions-have-come-true glory.

Heli-pad on Avenida Paulista

Heli-pad in downtown area (with helicopter landing)

The small shabby helicopter from the last image in mid-flight

Heli-pad on Avenida Paulista

Heli-pad in downtown area

Calculating travel time

27 Oct 2005 | 158 words | traffic sao paulo time

Both time & distance seem to have rather flexible meanings over here. Now after 5 days i think i have found the formular for calculating the total length of a trip

T(total) = T(waiting) + (T(travel) x 3) + T(travel) + T(stay)


T(waiting) => 20min AND = T(travel) = the actual travel time on the shortest route from A to B

T(stay) = the time spend at the destination

of course the most intresting thing is the ‘(T(travel) x 3) + T(travel)‘ part of the equation. this is based on corroborating evidence gathered while going with Alexandre from the hotel to the Berlin bar and back (way out 30min way back 10min both in light traffic) and with felipe to the metareciclagem center in Santo Andre (way out 90min way back 30min both in medium traffic). somehow the city seems to be extremely difficult to navigate outward bound while inbound traffic is virtually sucked towarads the center.

Welcome to the 21st century

14 Oct 2005 | 102 words | berlin technology traffic

I cycled past the tiergartentunnel in Berlin today. This road tunnel crosses under the tiergarten plus a bunch of government buildings in central Berlin. the construction of the tunnel has been completed several months ago, but the opening of the tunnel has just been delayed for another 3 months because the security software is malfunctioning. For me this pretty much sums up the 21st century so far: Paranoia and a tendency of making even the simplest things (i mean seriously: a tunnel! even moles can build them and they are almost blind!) so complex that the software engineers can fuck them up.

Infantry road, Bangalore

04 Jan 2005 | 11 words | india traffic cities bangalore

Transporting mirrors South-Indian-style (see here for the backside view):

Moped mirror

meanwhile... is the personal weblog of Paul Keller. I am currently policy director at Open Future and President of the COMMUNIA Association for the Public Domain. This weblog is largely inactive but contains an archive of posts (mixing both work and personal) going back to 2005.

I also maintain a collection of cards from African mediums (which is the reason for the domain name), a collection of photos on flickr and a website collecting my professional writings and appearances.

Other things that i have made online: