Since I am a big fan of maps, I knew that the first time I encountered a GPS it would be fun. On our trip to San Fransisco, Savita offered to take us to Muir woods. As soon as she pulled up in her car, I noticed a small square object sticking out from her windscreen. She punched in the destination and the thing started speaking back to her.
In India a GPS device is often associated with security and surveillance. But a GPS is a real help when you are new to a city and do not know the roads well. A standard device offers real-time voice support for every road turn and informs the driver about the current location as well as locations to be arrived at. It could also give you nearby points of interest such as ATMs, petrol pumps or restaurants. It is like a knowledgeable grandfather - and it also scolds you when you take a wrong turn or overshoot your destination.
In the grid plan based cities of Amrika this works. In a city like Delhi it can be confusing since the route chosen by the GPS may not be the ideal one - there might be a traffic jam or the road may have been shut down for repairs. I do not know whether there are systems which are updated regularly, but most people in the US use a combination of GPS and Google maps to get to a new place. There is no question of getting off and asking someone - something we do here often.
It does provide with you with entertainment. On our return Savita ended up at Lombard Street which is a the crookedest street in the world. With hair pin bends and twists and turns many times over you can barely control the car. The funny thing was on the GPS it showed up as a straight road !
We had to drop Aditi off at a museum and then wanted to catch up sitting at a cafe. I asked her whether there was a place where we could get good chai. I had not had boiled tea in a long time. On our way we passed a Pakistani joint but Savita did not know the way back. Nor did she know the road. And the GPS did not have the name of the restaurant in its database.
So we used the device in an innovative way. We punched in a destination which would take us away from the museum but in the same direction we came from. Once we had driven long enough, we punched in the museum again. But this time it took us through a different route and we never spotted the restaurant. Driving through the city and looking around we kept laughing at this idea of being dependent on a machine but even the GPS not knowing what we are looking for. It was like being in a video game. We were about to give up when we spotted another franchise of the same restaurant. Now for some desi chai.
Maybe the product could become a hit in India if it was sold as a gaming device...