I’m in my second to last city before I leave India. Here are some of my inconclusive thoughts on the country that is a living oxymoron. Here the heat knocks the wind out of you before you’re able to recover. You’re breathless like after a marathon but you’ve only walked three feet. It’s not humid but you’re sticky from your own sweat that accumulates in seconds from leaving the shelter of shade. Life here is hard, dirty and smelly. The streets run with murky sludge that started as water centuries ago. Streets breed trash along the side – not sidewalks so pedestrians must keep an open ear for whizzing taxis and motorcycles. Fortunately, everyone here is liberal with their horn.
In addition, the food here, while tempting, is hard to know when to eat. I’ve been super careful so far and haven’t been out for the count, but my stomach still feels awful. I normally eat like a horse but here I eat like a bird.
India is the hardest place I’ve traveled to you because so much of the natural environment is harsh and unsafe. Travelers must be constantly vigilant from the food they consume to the places they are allowed to go. There seems to be a large army presence in domestic India. This is a place I would highly suggest a guide.
I’ve never traveled like this, but its nice to go from the protection of one guide to the next.
India continually teaches me one lesson – You cant let the things you cant control, control you.
If you can’t let go then you’ll never be able to appreciate the country, and India has so much to offer. As a a traveler thats been to Mongolia, there was a lot of Indian history tied into the Mongolian empire. The UNESCO World Heritage sites hold so much history and are completely awe-inspiring. It’s unimaginable to me how people back in 1500s and older were able to build these structures without modern day machine. From the Agra Fort to the Taj Mahal, the buildings span miles and rise to soaring heights. The detail and care put into these edifices are breathtaking.
This is a family-oriented society and with school out, it common to see an entire family out together. Here the Hindus and Muslims live in relative peace and tolerance. For a diverse country, there does seem to be much religious tolerance even if there are still intolerance between different classes. There is even a large Christian presence in the country. It is common to see on any given day women in burkas, saris, and western clothes. It is a culture that also respects women albeit progress still need to be made. At airports and security checkpoints, women always have a separate line that takes them to an enclosed area where a female officer will pat you down. From the highest to the lowest level, everyone always addresses my boyfriend before they will speak to me – if they speak to me at all. He says if he catches people staring at me, they will immediately stop if caught by him.
Police officers check cars at security points to catch kidnappers and a child at the Buddha Smile School for slum children that a visited a few days ago was found dead recently because gang members had killed him since he witnessed one of their crimes. Their is so much injustice and rampant bribery in India, but these people are resilient and hard-workers. If slum children are willing to work morning to dusk to help their families earn 50 rupees which almost equates to one U.S. dollar, then I know these people have the will power and perseverance to move themselves out of poverty.
India is also one of the most colorful places I’ve witnessed. Saris here come in many colors but the most popular are the bright limes, yellows and reds. The saris pop out against their dark skins and red sandstone or molding stucco edifices. There is so much life under the Indian sun despite all odds.
The feats of human nature here are outstanding. From the beautiful remains of these ruins to how the natives manage to eek out a living in such a harsh place is nothing short of a miracle. Discrimination still thrives here with the socially acceptable caste-system though it is no longer legitimized by the government. Our driver yesterday was saying how the government does not work well. The era of British control, while not perfect, eased the life of natives with good order and leadership.
Now the country has too much corruption. I was told that the government won’t commission to fix the sewer systems because of fear of loosing jobs for the plumbers. There is so much construction site throughout India, but I’ve yet to see much work and progress. The government here is young and the partisan politics seem petty and illogical. Hopefully with time and good leadership, a system can be implemented to relieve the stress of a country with the second highest impoverished population.
Soon the monsoon season will begin here and the parched countryside will convert to a lush green. They grow everything from rice to tropical fruits. I’m surprised at the amount of vegetation under the blistering sun, but I forget that half they year they endure torrential rain.
Only a few days until I’m back in the U.S. and I have, literally, a thousand photos to edit. There was so much contrast and beauty here to capture. I can’t wait to share more of my experience and memories with you!