India … mere jaan!

I’ve read and heard tons of stories of people setting foot in India and being totally mystified. Until I came here myself, I found it hard to believe. Now, I can’t imagine someone not feeling the mystical mist that is this country and everything it embodies.

 vegetarian thali

Like any other major country with a population it can barely support, India as well has it share of great problems. But at the end of the day, there is just something about this land, something that no one seems to be able to put a finger on. Perhaps its the fact that you are among thousands of years of history, or the warmth of strangers, or maybe it’s the delicious food that always puts a smile on peoples faces. Whatever it is, I know this was only my first visit to India and definitely not my last!

But like I said before, the good doesn’t come without the bad.
The caste system still seems to be in full swing. Students are still required to fill in the caste box on a school application and tallies are made to report to the government. The divide between rich and poor only seems to be widening and education is not easily accessible especially when the parents themselves fail to see the value of it.

India is run on money. The poor need it to survive, the rich want it to be become powerful as the western countries. But if you have money, then this IS the place to be! You can easily afford a driver, a maid and a cook on an average Canadian salary.

students piling into an auto

 And like all Asian countries, skin color will get you where you want to go! Of course they look up to the blue eyed blondes, but as an Indian you still need to make sure you are more fair (and lovelier) than your neighbour. Due to this prejudice the Tamils in South India can be classified as the Negroes of this land.  Even though Tamil Nadu is one of the more wealthiest and literate state most Indian fail to have much respect for the Tamils or their culture. This is easily observed through the Tamil film industry where the female leads are almost always from the north. Even though they lack the language skills, the skin color opens doors.

Another thing I’ve seen in the movies but never realized till I saw it with my own eyes is the traffic. It’s appalling that they haven’t figured out a better system that works. There is just way too many people on scooters for this place. At times it’s even scary to walk the street because of the crowds.
Mumbai sunset

The people of India are what makes the hearts of travellers melt. They are sincere and kind hearted (unless they are a tout!). Indians are always interested and asking questions. They even remember you the next day and will come up to you. It’s the type of kindness I thought had died with the past.
They are simple minded people yet smart. Most Indians have to go to university to get a simple clerical position. They are studious and determined which is why the future of this country is the talk of the world. But can India dominate with such a lack of infrastructure internally? The problem is that it really is too big to manage and if each state was made its own country, I’m sure things will be better for the people. But as a country, they hold more power due to their size. It makes me wonder how different India will be in 20 years, especially with the IT industry and Bollywood taking on the world.

Rameshwaram temple

The people lead simple lives because its all that they know. It’s about going to work to make money to eat and keep the family happy. Period.
Perhaps this is the key to happiness?!
The simplicity of the people is what makes them fall in love so easily, with no questions or expectations. Love is all they have. It’s what makes them wake up in the morning and what gives them a reason to endure the hardships of life. They also don’t question the government and have learned to make the most with whatever they are handed.
I wonder if the western culture was as simple at one point and if its merely a process of evolution to become more complex minded and desire more. If so, I believe this evolution is taking place among the wealthier Indians. Sooner or later the rest will catch on.

Dhanushkodi

While travelling I made a crude discovery – I’m BROWN!
I never really encountered another brown traveller from any of the western countries so after 2 months on my own and 2 weeks with a Spanish guy, I realized that people DO treat me differently. Even other travellers fail to acknowledge me because I’m easily mistaken for a local. I never expected my experience to be different simply because of my skin but it’s a rude awakening to see how the world really is.

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