I understand why you might not want to visit India …. It is a most confronting experience; the contrast is so evident between the rich and the poor who have literally nothing …. with little of no opportunity to improve their lives … India over time makes you question everything you thought was human, equitable and caring and truly makes you wonder about how this can be … but for me it also stripped away my own past and the connection to all that was there – all these learning experiences .. become integrated and distant from your present moment .. they make you more present and understanding, because we have to be, continual awareness of your surroundings is critical … the effect was that it felt like the past was being pushed further and further away from the present … so for that I am thankful – now those past difficult times are absent from my mind … any hurt no longer exists – it is but a past memory without emotive attachment.
There are no social programs to catch the poor … human life seems to have little value … strangely it was a surprise for me to remember after I arrived in India that it truly is a third world country, I guess I had little concept of what that actually meant …. It reminded me of another country when I was a child of about 10 when Dad moved us to the Solomon Islands … (the nature of roads, buildings and infrastructure) but the Polynesian peoples are a much more open and sharing culture, or at least they were then …. The reasons why India is a third world country were everywhere around us …. Workmen trying to cut thick rebar (reinforcing iron) with a chisel and a small sledge hammer rather than a grinder or saw – taking forever – bamboo scafolding reaching high on construction sites … wages are low and safety procedures seem lax … for instance power cables running along what passes for a footpath at waist height – unterminated power cables open on the street ,,,, no way was I going to find out if they were live, by touching them …Beggars … the real ones … (those who aren’t working for someone else in an enterprise) some will accost you as you come out of shops, restaurants and tut-tuts …. Then on the human side you have the lone mother with her baby … this visage breaks your heart … you can feel it … a beautiful child just starting out in life … and it hits you like a brick that this child, whose mother loves more than life itself most likely has little chance of living a long life …. You just give what you can – they will accept what you give them, as little as 10 rupees (about USD$0.15)… for that much will buy a meal in the street stalls … The medical system is poor, some say abysmal…. I have been told that people can collapse in the street and people will walk over them … but won’t help them. When I was ill I went to the local private hospital … where I was treated by a Western Educated specialist Doctor – blood was taken … the other tests — all appeared online via a private link later the same day. The whole experience, the visit to Doctor, Tests and pharmaceuticals cost less than USD$25.00.
So Yes I understand totally why you don’t want to go to India as a tourist …. I know I would not go again unless I went with someone … someone to have my back – I had thought that if I went again, I would go to Goa … the former Portuguese colony on the West coast, south on Mumbai …. Much more familiar and accepting to western eyes and values … I am told.
Many of these observations are from the aspect of a remote observer – a tourist if you will … but when you live in one place as a base for months … the Indian people reveal their caring side, and their humanity … it’s just different from mine … they are a different culture, hence have a different perspective on life. I still receive emails from people I met there …. They like us are living day to day and trying to live and make sense of the present moment .. unlike us … the biggest aspect of their culture is that lack of caring for others, relevant education and hence opportunity …. It seems for many to be their ambition is to have a full time job in the totally bloated Bureaucracy – But perhaps that will change over time … I hope for the sake of the 160 million “Untouchables” that something does … for they are condemned by their birth in the most part, to a life we could not even conceive of.
As I said on one of my blogs … if you go to India …. (1) Only drink bottled water … never drink tap water (2) Before you drink the bottled water, make sure that the cap seal is in place as some sellers will refill water bottles with tap water – don’t drink this, for you will get ill. (3) Take toilet paper with you everywhere … true!
E.M. Forster said “When you go to India, you come face to face with yourself” – I couldn’t agree more!