After posting my discomfort yesterday at motorcyclists using mobile phones while driving, I went to visit a family I knew well. When I arrived at their address the door was padlocked and neighbors told me that had shifted. They made a phone call and arrangements were made to take me to their new address on a motorcycle. As we took off, yes, you guessed it, my driver was talking on his mobile phone! After a while he used an ear plug (which answered something I had noticed but had not asked, why so many people were wearing ear buds). But on a couple of times during our ride through the traffic on a major highway he pulled the phone out of his pocket and either dialled a number or pressed answered to an incoming call and then held the phone to his ear while driving. On one of these occasions he had to put his hand back on the handle bar, so was holding the phone in the crook of his neck and shoulder! But we arrived safely and without incident.
Quite apart from the phone, I had forgotten how exposed and vulnerable one feels on a motorbike in traffic – surrounded by cars, buses, trucks, rickshaws, bicycles, four-wheel drives, other motorbikes, all travelling at pace, or manoeuvering for advantage when the flow of traffic was slowed for lights or intersections.
Among my fellow travellers it was not uncommon to see two adults and three children on a single motorbike (two children on the petrol tank [one almost on the handlebars] and one squeezed between the parents), or three adults and two children (one child on the petrol tank and another squeezed between two adults), or a mother riding side saddle holding an infant swathed in a blanket. I thought it was a far cry from the mandatory safety seats in which my infant great nephews and nieces travel!!! Perhaps the most striking fellow traveller was a pillion passenger on a motorbike holding up a door that was about half a meter wide and over two meters tall. Must have been some wind drag in that!!
I trust that the many salutations of “safe travels” I received before I set off are not platitudes but will continue to hold me in good stead! Onwards with more explorations!