Best and worst things about living in India?

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#16 Dec 22nd, 2008, 01:27
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#16
like others have said: best: the people. worst: the people

During my last trip in January, 2008, I read a story before I left about a baby elephant that was rescued. A baby elephant had fallen into a pit in the forest and the mother and the rest of the herd tried to rescue him. After awhile the herd left, but the mother stayed there trying to rescue her baby, with "tears streaming down her face" the article said. The villagers saw this and called the Forestry Department who sent a working elephant and a vet. The mother elephant would not let anyone near her baby, who by this time was not moving, so the working elephant with her mahout kept the mother away while the baby was pulled out of the pit. When the vet treated the baby, it was discovered that the baby had also been stung by a scorpion, that's why he was not moving. The article said that after treatment the baby would be released back into the forest. Definitely a feel-good story.

Compare that story to the one I read about a Chennai hospital that was being investigated because they threw a patient, still connected to tubes and IV bags and a urine bag, out into the street. Imagine walking along and seeing an old person in hospital clothes still connected to tubes and bags just lying in the street outside a hospital. The article said that the patient was indigent, that no one claimed any responsibility for this person. In other words, the hospital was not going to be paid for treating this person, so they threw the patient literally onto the street. The article said the hospital was being investigated but I noticed there was no mention of what happened to the patient, whether he had been taken to another hospital or what.

Then I read another story about 13, 14, and 15 year old girls being raped by their husbands. In the Chennai area there are still tsunami camps, refugee camps where people still live despite the tsunami happening in December 2004. Mothers fear for their daughters in these camps so they think if they marry off their daughters, the new husbands will protect them from the unwanted advances of men. However, given that these young girls know almost nothing about sex, they refuse the advances of their new husbands, so their first experience with sex is rape. I read how one young girl was drugged into unconsciousness so her husband could have sex with her. These girls of course become pregnant and have babies at these ages, in a refugee camp. And the cycle continues. Lovely breakfast reading.

There are still people who think India is the land of yoga, incense, and spirituality, some romantic place where one only needs to travel to the Himalayas to find their guru and nirvana and all their problems will be solved. Let them read an Indian newspaper every day and I think their rose-colored view of India would change. I read a book called Children of Kali and the author said that India is very good at exporting spirituality and gurus, but doesn't have the guts to look at its own problems and fix them.

hey, the author says that, not me.

I have met the most wonderful kind-hearted people and also people who are so arrogant and rigid in their way of thinking that they couldn't think their way out of a paper bag.

and as Nick says, the total lack of any type of environmental awareness is appalling.

Yet there is something about India that cracks open my heart, and if I could get on a plane tomorrow, I would -- at least to escape the below 0 temperatures right now in Chicagoland!
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"When you are truly genuine there will invariably be people who do not accept you. And in that case, you must be your own badass self, without apology." -- Katie Goodman
Last edited by Sama; Dec 22nd, 2008 at 02:35..
#17 Dec 22nd, 2008, 01:46
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#17
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Originally Posted by AprilFlower View Post As Nick said, the thing I found and still find most shocking is the pure me, me, me mentality. Everyone is trying to get something for themselves money/food/power. There is no one else in the world. That ideology is so foreign to me and pisses me off a lot.
Oh well...not to bad, that isn't foreign to me.. I'm Italian..LOL!
holikarang
#18 Dec 31st, 2008, 14:19
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#18

every -ism possible, all in 3 seconds

There's a lot I can add to this, but let me just say I second Dian's, Sanna and other's posts.

Sexism ( extreme and in your face, deal with it), racism, classism, egotism ( and HOW)...all in a 5 minute encounter isn't uncommon.

I must add the disgusting habit of aggressively cheap bargaining by the "wisened" backpacker, who haggles for less than the sellers cost price at some places; the indignant accusations of lechery at innocent men by (SOME) western women who imagine slights where there was none. Oh yes, these things do happne: opne your eyes and see.

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#19 Jan 1st, 2009, 15:15
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#19
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Originally Posted by Sama View Post There are still people who think India is the land of yoga, incense, and spirituality, some romantic place where one only needs to travel to the Himalayas to find their guru and nirvana and all their problems will be solved..... I think their rose-colored view of India would change.
Yep that includes me - 'La Vie en Rose' How does it go? 'One can complain because a rose has thorns, or rejoice because thorns have a rose'
#20 Jan 1st, 2009, 15:50
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#20
The worst thing about living here is not being able to walk down the street with that feeling of wide-eyed amazement that I used to have as a visitor to India. It is my normal now; I have to go to London to be amazed!
~
Life gets aadhar every day.
.
#21 Jan 1st, 2009, 16:15
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#21
I spent 2 months in India recently as a prelude to my 3/3/3/3 life plan - 3 months in the USA-CO, 3 months in India, 3 months in UK etc... - this visit has made me search my soul about India. All my prior visits, every 3 to 7 years, over 40 years, were as a visitor and so my tolerance and acceptance levels were high then. This time I've found myself incredibly critical of the sexism and of private cleanliness and public squalor ( and YESSS things HAVE improved but that there is still many strides to make here ), and most worrying to me was of the role-dilineated being of people.

My nephews, one of whom, in his 30s, works his butt off, 8am to 9pm, 6 days/week in a MNC and still finds time to pick me up at railway stations and on the Sunday to roam around Mumbai - but when I suggest, plead with him, to really, really take off Sunday - to tell him that he should just freakin' lie in bed till noon or more.. nope, the young man is up at 6 as ever. No flexibility.

My cousin, in a cushy bank manager job, but, man, deciding things, whether it was buying sugar cane juice or .. what a pullava - 'good question, lets think of what, where when how... GET IT ON MAN - its ONLY sugar cane juice - making an error is fine ! Granted, the sugar cane juice in Sangli, straight from the fields almost is quite different and substantially better than the the one in a suburb of Mumbai but for gawds sake, its ONLY sugar cane juice - let's just do it.

My 2 uncles and 3 older cousins, now in the late '60s to 80s - mannn, the "war story" angle to their lives is shocking. The huge harking back to the past and the style of "shooting the breeze"(गप्पा मारणे ) - jeez guys, get a life..

"No flexibility" is the theme here - I mean that in the ancient "INTEGRO" model of interpersonal communication and behavior sense.

The best bits of India are definitely the innocent, uncorrupted youngest nephews and nieces and grand-nephews and grand-nieces. Being in India with them is a joy !

But as a single sentence, I think Nick-H says it best - once the feeling is "I live here" and the exit door is barred, then everything is just IS...

I stood on the doorstep - the उम्बरटा - for a couple of months - didn't like what I saw in many ways.

But, perhaps that's a necessary consequence of where I stood - on the doorstep - not in, nor out

But I have definitely stalled my 3/3/3/3 plan. I'm not sure about India - not that it does( nor should ) care.

-skk
#22 Jan 1st, 2009, 18:25
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#22
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Originally Posted by Paleface View Post Yep that includes me - 'La Vie en Rose' How does it go? 'One can complain because a rose has thorns, or rejoice because thorns have a rose'
even though I agree here, we also have to think about the great amount of Westerner 'spiritual' travellers to India, that just want to see the side of India they pay for... I know a lot of rich people who come to India and only want to see the ashram, scared of the 'dirty street outside'.
#23 Jan 1st, 2009, 20:00
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#23
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Originally Posted by holikarang View Post even though I agree here,
Oh that’s awful, I’ll try to be more disagreeable - Hey ho up she rises!

A Yankee friend of mine was taking a small group of ultra rich whites around, at one point Mrs. Dupont said to my friend, ‘I know poverty and dust exists in India but is it necessary that we have to drive past and see it’

Like her we are highly privileged to be able to jet around at will, enjoy leisure, have money in our pockets, drink bottled water and pontificate online about the state of things in the realm of the mundane; but Privilege begets duty. One either remains in the herd or one becomes a shepherd. Sure garbage, water quality and environmental degradation are in one’s face, out in the open here, yet out of sight in the West - where the scale of pollution is far greater than India’s, the usage of resources a hundred times or more and the quantum of corruption makes India’s insignificant. It’s all nicely packaged in the West, out of sight and out of mind. Then looking at India’s openness we gasp, as if sexism, racism, classism, egotism doesn’t exist elsewhere? But we know it does, and the conscience has been pricked, so we are inspired to get our hand’s dirty and lead, or like Mrs Dupont return and stick our heads back in the soil.

Vivekanada wrote something relevant ... 'I will try to present you the secret of India, what India means. If those whose eyes have been blinded by the glamour of material things, whose whole dedication to life is to eating and drinking and enjoying, whose ideal of possession is lands and gold, whose God is money, and whose goal is a life of ease and comfort in this world and death after that, whose mind never looks forward, and who rarely think of anything higher than the sense-objects in the midst of which they live – if such as these go to India, what do they see? Poverty, squalor, superstition, darkness, hideousness everywhere, Why?'

Quote:
Originally Posted by skk View Post jeez guys, get a life..
friendly like – appears to me your cousin banker and the old boys seem contented enough with their lot, whereas my friend you are tiddly bit confused on this 3333 thing –
#24 Jan 1st, 2009, 20:52
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#24
Indiamike: the lighthearted threads get serious, the serious threads end up in the sink. Love it!

...I'm just off to pick a fight with someone in the Joke for the Day thread
#25 Jan 2nd, 2009, 00:00
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#25
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Originally Posted by Paleface View Post friendly like – appears to me your cousin banker and the old boys seem contented enough with their lot, whereas my friend you are tiddly bit confused on this 3333 thing –
Contented ? You should have heard one set of them go off on the भैया (bhaiyyas/Biharis,latest whipping boy of the शिव सेना (Shiv Shena), another set going off on ....

Confused ? Surprised more like - in the pre-planning it was just axiomatic that I was going to enjoy it thoroughly, massively - as I have in the past 3 decades - that I was only going thru the motions of a trial run, a "pilot project", just because that's what I, versed in uncertainty by academic bent and by intellectual conviction, ALWAYS do - I always do "pilot" projects .. but I completely expected that my 2 months there was going to be about nailing down the details and logistics for a pattern of a more regular stay. It didn't turn out that way - for me. Other people's mileage is going to vary.

But as I brought in the New Year last night with phone calls to family and friends in India and talked again to my nephews and cousins and uncles and brother and sister I was suddenly struck by the thought that they sounded a little frustrated with life and that my longish trip to India meant I'd joined their club, that this time, unlike my past 3/4 week vacations over decades, I'd really felt India the way she really is - its not a holiday ! Life in India IS frustrating ! And I was a little frustrated - whereas my semi-retired life in Boulder, CO is NOT frustrating - I can get stuff done pretty optimally, people relationships are low key, there's little shouting and harrumphing - at a day to day level ( not the stock market level), at the level of the medical lab, the doctor, the supermarket, the roads, the painter, the trash collection, the restaurants, the zoo, the Christmas lights, calling an ambulance for a neighbor even, at a traffic accident, everyone does the expected things in an expected manner at and its all pretty predictable and, for me, optimised.

Whereas the checkout lady here, in Boulder CO, deals with ME exclusively when its my turn, and that's my experience and expectation here ( and in Greece, Turkey, France, Italy, Spain, and UK of course ), so, imagine my surprise when at a similarly patterned new-fashioned supermarket in Pune, while she's dealing with me, the transaction is suddenly interrupted because she's now got enough change and that man who's been standing by the side wasn't just loitering - he was waiting for change ! And during THAT interruption, a buddy of hers jumps in with his 2 items and she starts dealing with him ! and when I squawk at this they look at me as if I'm the a*hole !

Or at the ticket counters for Mumbai local trains, its actually in the rules that when the 1st class Ticket Counters are shut, which seemed to be the case at every station I went to, if you want a first class ticket, you can just go to the front of the line of any open counter - jump the queue so to speak - so I do that - but not only does the absurdity of it all strike me this time but, twice, people down the line complained along the lines of "Just because you are travelling FC, you cut in line and delay us !" And so I stopped and discussed/argued this with the ladies in Marathi ( it was women in their mid-40s both times who complained ), about differential pricing and resultant perks being good for EVERYBODY including her, for a good 5 minutes or so, the conversation volume gets deafening ! Guys, you don't have to shout ! and not a single point I'm making is heard. Later my brother points out my own stupidity - they just wanted to vent ! but for decades I haven't lived with just talking for the sake of it, of talking past each other.

So I rethink things - and to come back to the base title of this topic - The WORST and BEST thing about India - its frustrating, for everyone ! even the richer living style doesn't give you the luxury of insulating yourself - the infrastructure and the human interaction rhythms that, perhaps, are a response to the (lack of ) infrastructure, mean that "it" gets under your skin - eventually.

So, the worst thing about India for me was that even in simple, mundane rote transactions, I was getting surprised - and after it happened a few times, I was on edge, readying myself for the unexpected, at all interactions - I couldn't be on auto-pilot !

But perhaps that's the BEST thing about India.

-skk
#26 Jan 2nd, 2009, 01:31
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#26
Nice post, and I recognise a lot of what you are saying.

Surprises me that you got there in three months; it took me over a year. Perhaps your Indian family and background makes you less immune to it than my non-Indian.
#27 Jan 2nd, 2009, 19:01
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#27
SKK
Quote:
I was on edge, readying myself for the unexpected, at all interactions - I couldn't be on auto-pilot !
You finally got it expecting the unexpected is what India is all about.
Sometimes the unexpected turns out to be exquisite too. It is not always terrible!
#28 Jan 2nd, 2009, 23:58
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Yes thanks for the perspectives – offering up a few in return. I suppose I must be honest and admit that I remember a life, that seems aeons ago in Blighty, when ordinary things worked that were meant to, and work could be moreorless guaranteed to get done – but on the rare occasions that I go west that same predictability is I find, a bit dull.

Anyway I’m used to it now, the sort of daily things you mention, and I have to lie in the bed I have made (BTW a new phoren electric blanket has transformed our winters up here) !! I get all irritated when folks whinge, whether it’s about India or anything really, Yours are not whinges I hasten to add because I think I can hear between the lines the inner dialogue of how best to work out the 3333 thing, which is a privileged conundrum to be contemplating. Still I couldn’t live in a city ever again as the static of cities anywhere, is overwhelming.

I reckon you want to step up to the challenge because you need challenges, we both know that
Quote:
Originally Posted by skk View Post semi-retired life in Boulder, CO is NOT frustrating - and its all pretty predictable and, for me, optimised.
and the old brain needs the challenge. Perhaps...... She is offering you a challenge, she’s under the skin as you say, where it always has been for you, now she’s questioning, can you live without her, can’t live with her? Maybe she’s saying change this lifetime of piloting, jump into the abyss, see where I take can you, soar with me above this clutter of the mundane to look down upon it with Garuda’s eyes, and see what it really is!
#29 Jan 3rd, 2009, 00:16
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#29
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Originally Posted by livinhimalayas View Post You finally got it expecting the unexpected is what India is all about.
On a really bad day, the worst thing about India is that the expected isn't going to change!
#30 Jan 3rd, 2009, 00:22
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#30
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Originally Posted by Nick-H View Post On a really bad day, the worst thing about India is that the expected isn't going to change!
Yeah but even the worst thing here is better than being over there...
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