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A breezy trip through Chennai

Photo credit: Michael Henninger/Post-Gazette

Field notes for the Pulitzer Center

​Telling the story of India's energy industry in two weeks requires a lot of travel — among major cities, within cities, out to small towns and villages. And getting anywhere on time is a challenge.

Lining the sidewalks of most cities are a variety of traditional cabs and auto-rickshaws ready to go, so long as the driver recognizes the destination address. Auto-rickshaws, cart-like vehicles that expertly weave through India's notoriously mired traffic, usually mean a quicker trip but aren't for the faint of heart.

For 200 rupees, or about $3, a 25-year-old driver jetted us through Chennai, improvising workarounds to the crawling vehicles, at times cruising onto the sidewalk or the opposite lane, deftly avoiding obstacles — at one point reaching out to casually drag a finger across the side of a bus.

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