Friday, December 30, 2005

Thoughts on India in General

  • Roads and Traffic- absolutely insane! This is something they never show in Indian movies. There are no lanes or traffic lights that are taken seriously. Cars just go anywhere and everywhere! With traffic or against it—no difference. Speed limits are non-existent. And you have bikes, rickshaws, cars and everything in between all on the road at once. They honk so incessantly and unnecessarily and there is a sort of rudeness in the honking, too. I’ve never seen anything like this. And I fear for my life every time I’m in a car… And apparently, there isn’t any penalty for getting in accidents or even killing someone on the road! They just pay people off and move on. Surprisingly, I haven’t seen any accidents yet, so maybe this system works…
  • So much inequality! Distinctions between people are so prominent here! Just in terms of weight, it’s clear that the poorest people are skin and bones, while wealthier people are much more meaty.
    On the road, you notice it even more. You have bikes, scooters, motorbikes, rickshaws (really cheap versions of taxis), and cars all on the road together. The cars seem to dominate the road. Everyone has to move out of their way. The bikes get pushed to the edges of the road—it’s really a sight to be seen. I haven’t noticed any sort of public transportation, at least in Nagpur. In the U.S., we have different classes of cars, but I feel like they all are equal on the road. This is definitely not the case in India.
  • Smell- there are definitely some distinct (unattractive) smells that pervade the region. You acclimate to them in minutes, but that almost scares me. I have a fear that the smell will never go away.
  • Electricity and plumbing- definitely problems with both, especially electricity. The power goes out city-wide for three hours a day, which can be a huge drag. And the absence of toilet paper is a little disturbing.
  • Poverty- so much of it. people line the streets begging for money or asking you to buy dumb stuff. People showcase their deformities to earn money- you see tons of twisted limbs, burnt arms, and weirdly shaped people. My uncle says that some of them do these things to themselves to earn some cash. I really wish the Indian government would just employ all of these people to fix up the country! There is so much that needs to be done: roads fixed and expanded, fences fixed, cleaning, etc.
    But there also seems to be a sense that people have given up on the poor. My sister was giving my uncle a hard time about the really young servants that are employed in the house, and he was saying that there aren’t any other options for these sorts of people. They don’t care about education or improving themselves. I have no idea how true that is. But the number of kids employed and on the streets instead of in school is definitely sad. And people really don’t seem to care that much. I was giving my cousin a hard time about the trash he was throwing on the floor and he said that everyone did it and that it didn’t matter- him picking up after himself wouldn’t make a difference. And he defended himself by saying that he didn’t litter when he went to Japan…
  • Animals- so many random animals all over the place! There are stray cows and dogs and goats! I have no idea why they are there, but they are literally everywhere and they just eat trash and each other (when they die are are lying on the streets).
  • Servants- Everyone has them! And they’re so young! And they’re treated with such little respect. These people hire cooks and then criticize the food they prepare so openly…I feel so guilty and bad, but I guess this is just the culture…
  • Language- I feel like a total poser speaking in Hindi. I can understand most of what's being said and I can get by pretty well in speaking, I think, but it just doesn't sound natural. And my family teases me about how I sound, so it's a no-win situation. But I really wish I could speak the language with more ease and comfort...
  • Family- lots of emphasis on it. Joint families are pretty common, with multiple siblings and their families all living together. I really liked seeing all the family togetherness and warmth. I also felt like kids are being brought up really well-- they listen to their parents and seem to be focused on the right things.
  • Food and shopping- I actually haven’t gotten a chance to do much shopping, but I am hoping that our time in Bombay at the end of the trip will make up for that. And things are actually more expensive than I imagined them to be. I thought I’d be paying like $.50 or a $1 for everything, which is unfortunately not the case. Although I may just be getting really ripped off. People talk to me in English before I even open my mouth. They can tell I'm American from the way I dress and carry myself, apparently. Food, on the other hand, is amazing and ridiculously cheap. I really have yet to try bad food. And I haven’t gotten sick from anything, which is awesome!
  • General Hospitality- People are A LOT nicer and friendlier here. There is a certain sense of community that I don't think can be replicated in the U.S.

1 comment:

Soby said...

"People are A LOT nicer and friendlier here. There is a certain sense of community that I don't think can be replicated in the U.S." ..was relieved to read that we do have something nice, which can't be replicated in the U.S.There are far more problems than that can be seen superficially like dowry,superstitions ,castism, poverty.Still the country with a democratic strength of 100 billion wakes up everyday and buzzes with activity and the Mango Man (Aam Aadmi ) rushes every morning through the narrow smelly foot paths, bangs with hundreds of people catches a local, literally hangs out of the overly crowded local train ,catches another bus just to reach his office and start his day.Well thats life .......*shrugs kicks a stone and walks away....