This is my husband Michael’s first contribution to my blog!!! He’s an electrician who can’t help but notice transformers in whatever country we travel!
Without further ado, Michael’s first blog……..enjoy!!! 🙂 <3
Six full weeks in India, but I wasn’t afraid. I wasn’t afraid of being bored or worried about what I might do to pass the time. Boredom can be satisfying. Nothing to do can feel liberating. But of course, I needn’t have worried about being satisfied or liberated. There would be ample time for that later… whenever that might be.
One can not in good conscience spend any time in a country like this and not rent a scooter. In my opinion, it is as important an experience as eating the local food or communicating with people who do not speak the same language. If our homestay accommodation didn’t have that one scooter available for rent, I’d have found one somewhere else close by.
I walked into the motor scooter rental office and filled out a rental form and insurance papers. They carefully examined my international drivers license for authenticity and currency and to verify that it included a scooter endorsement, then scanned it along and my passport. We then went out to the scooter to identify any dents and scrapes that I would not be responsible for and to check the fuel level. Finally, after leaving a twenty thousand rupee deposit, I was given the key and a helmet.
Wait a minute!! That’s not how it happened. I am obviously confusing this experience with how a vehicle rental process might have proceeded in Canada. The vehicle rental process on the southwestern shore of India is a shade or two less ordered and for some reason that I can’t put my finger on at the moment… a very welcome difference from what one might expect in Canada.
This is how it really happened. I casually mentioned to our homestay host on the morning of our second day, that I might like to rent a scooter to explore a bit of the area. He quoted a per day rental price, and handed me the key. It was that easy… and that quick. Within a couple of minutes (not an exaggeration), I was on my merry way, happily speeding down the the narrow coastal road.
Life happens alongside roads like these. Everything that one might expect to find in a small town is here, stretched out along the length of the road, in between what might be considered designated settlements. Fascinating interesting life… far more alien to my western eyes and ears than anything Captain Kirk might have encountered on the far side of the galaxy. There was absolutely no danger of being bored in a place like this.
I had to be careful to not fall into auto pilot mode. People drive on the wrong side of the road here, and I am not referring to right and left in saying this. If there is room to pass, then there is room, regardless of oncoming traffic. Us scooter pilots are often relegated to the far left shoulder to make room for oncoming buses and cars passing the slower tuk-tuks. Who would be at fault if there was a head on collision in a circumstance like this? There probably was some sort of right of way rule, but would it be applied if there was an incident… a death even. The mechanism of road safety in India, is hyper vigilance, and it is more than likely an effective enough strategy.
A little further on down the road and my curiosity got the best of me. I had already scooted right by a couple of power transformers, distracted by other things some might consider to be at least as interesting. But power transformers can be interesting things if one cares enough to pay attention. I walked across the road, my electrician’s mind having a difficult time accepting what my eyes were telling me.
Like the other two transformers I had already passed, this one was mounted a metre or so off the ground. I checked the grassy bushes at the side of the road to confirm that there was no exotic swamp creature responsible for making that transformer like hum. There wasn’t. A quarter of a metre directly in front of me, well within reach, was a series of exposed 440 Volt electrical connections. Three metres up, tantalyzingly and just barely out of reach, were the exposed high voltage connections… 11,000 Volts.
What I like about these distribution system transformers is the lack of physical safety barriers. There was nothing stopping anyone from walking right up to that transformer and grabbing an energized connection. Well, unless one considers a small and faded warning sign as a sufficient enough deterrent.
But I remain mildly puzzled at my reasons for liking the fact that a potentially dangerous electrical system was so accessible to anyone… to a child even. I wonder if it is something similar to the way I feel about being able to rent a potentially dangerous motorized driving machine without presenting a license or purchasing insurance.
Have I got a reckless heart? I don’t think so. A rebellious heart? Perhaps a little bit. Perhaps I rail against the western safety machine that is more a burden and hindrance than it is practical. I think the truth is that I just don’t really know my own mind. I don’t know why I feel the way I do about Indian scooters and transformers. But if I am honest with myself, there is something appealing about the carefree attitude and lack of rules. I’ll have to do a little more inner reflection to figure myself out it seems.