there’s no need for GPS here

Delhi is a huge city, but drivers seem to only know certain areas of it. When it comes to finding other places, they actually have a pretty ingenious system: they ask people until they find it. No one gives complete directions and no one seems to expect them – rather, they’re given broad directions that get them close enough to find someone who knows better than they do.

Our driver, for instance, is based in Gurgaon, so he doesn’t know a thing about Delhi. So when we tell him we want to go to Building 6 in the India Habitat Center on Lodi road, the first thing he does is pull over at his taxi stand and ask his boss. “Do you know where Building 6 of the India Habitat Center is?” “No.” “Do you know where the India Habitat Center is?” “No.” “How about Lodi Road?” “No.” “How about New Delhi?”

“That way,” they tell him, gesturing towards Delhi. So he drives into Delhi until he comes to a major crossroads, and then he asks someone else. “Do you know where Building 6 of the India Habitat Center is?” “No.” “Do you know where the India Habitat Center is?” “No.” “How about Lodi Road?” “Oh, it’s that way.”

It’s the Delhi equivalent of Google Maps telling us to turn left on Mehrauli Road. And so we go, asking people at intervals until the knowledge of the immediate area is good enough to get us where we want to go. When we arrive at Lodhi Road: “Do you know where Building 6 of the India Habitat Center is?” “No.” “Do you know where the India Habitat Center is?” “Yes, it’s that way.” And so we get to where we’re going.

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7 responses to “there’s no need for GPS here

  1. this post of your shows the hassles you face while driving but there is solution for this problem just visit this site
    http://www.routeguru.com
    you will get complete directions for the place where you want to go.

  2. Someone I know calls them “live” google maps.

  3. One of the things I loved the most about India is how everything works through this sort of “functioning anarchy”, where no one person or organization or set of rules is telling people what to do, but somehow everything still functions, running on local interactions and knowledge and actions. Your municipal water supply sucks? Run a pipe up into the hills to a spring and get your own water! Rickshaw in your way? Just drive towards it and it’ll move!

  4. Ha Ha!!! Thats so true. I remember we used to reach obscure parts of Delhi by just asking people and then moving in a general direction :)

    though I seem to be losing that touch, living in Seattle with my GPS enabled SUV, i just drive looking at a screen rather than asking people. But then again, if i pull aside and ask someone, he would think I am crazy or worse call 911 :)

  5. Pingback: how to enjoy Delhi during the Commonwealth Games (despite what the media says) | Our Delhi Struggle

  6. (I know I’m replying to a 3-year old post, but hey…)

    The first time I started using GPS on my phone, I wondered why I’d even bother with that massive satellite hookup, when I could just pull over and ask someone (that’s what traffic signals and traffic jams are for, btw).

    I swear if ever I go abroad, I’m going to get lost!

  7. Pingback: Random notions | experimentindia

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