by Josh Kimball
On the highways here in Delhi, the past and future share a lane. Creeping one way are shiny PR campaigns meant to thwart the raucous honking that accompanies any congregation of more than a couple of cars. Headed the other direction? The very audible, commonly agreed upon rules of the road, signified by armadas of old trucks, their tailgates painted with instructions begging for a sonic blast (“Honk please!”).
In China, recent traffic jams have lasted weeks. According to the Beijing Transportation Research Center, by 2015 the capital of the Bicycle Kingdom will have 7 million cars, and residents will spend six hours daily in traffic (Xinhuanet.com 8.24.10). In an August New Yorker article on Moscow’s traffic troubles, Keith Gessen laid out the city’s current snarls as a kind of history of the Big Village (8.2.10).
For most consumers, traffic’s an interminable, unavoidable, incidental cost of urban life. For the cities themselves, though, traffic is a perfect manifestation of the present. Outside Delhi, every morning jam is a horn-honking, engine-idling purgatory of acceptance and frustration. But it’s also a daily, ritual affirmation of aspiration. It’s an inherent part of a world that millions of consumers here in India’s biggest cities have chosen to participate in.
Right now, Iconoculture is launching our newest consumer advisory service — in and about India. It’s the culmination of years of groundwork we’ve labored very hard to lay, but it’s also a mere glimmer of what promises to be a fast-moving future. Hold on to your dippers.