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More thoughts about India

As promised here is blog number two.

India, what does it mean to be in this country of contrast?

This is a country where nothing surprises me:

Not the smelly dirty river bed right next to a beautiful lake where I run in the mornings.

Not the rat in the five star hotel I stayed in the last time I was here

Not the colorful sari on the woman living in a tent beside the lake

Not the modern glass mall that would look at home in a posh area of the US, in the road next to a cheap market

Not the sidewalks (on those streets with sidewalks) that have partial covers over open sewage flow. You need to watch yor step!!

India is a country with a continuous noise in the streets of three wheelers and honking cars. The chaos in the streets is stupefying. it is a whole new paradigm in driving – you need to expect everything, someone driving in the opposite direction in your lane, a car coming out of a side road and expecting you to stop, overtaking on the left and right and a sea of motorbikes from all sides. The horn is just a sign that the ricksha behind you wants to squeeze into a space that exists only for a few seconds and he will enter it leaving millimeters between him and the car you are in.

Yet with all this chaos the drivers do not get angry, impatient or shout at each other, the chaos proceeds in its chaotic way with acceptance and understanding that this is the way things are. Pay attention, honk as much as possible, watch the road, avoid potholes, and expect the unexpected. Is there something we can learn from this?

And yet things are changing, albeit at an Indian pace but that is also acceptable.

Let’s take the caste system as an example: The Agastya organization, the one I am currently working for, helps to get underprivileged children an education starting from science. The organization makes no caste differentiation and all students get a chance for a better education. The villages are chosen by proximity and not by caste. I see this as a small step forward.

The change however is still in it’s early stages, I asked about marriage between castes and understand that the norm is still to marry within your caste. We also visited Villages of “untouchables” with no running water and no official recognition.

Any change will take time and may cause an upheaval in this overpopulated country.

Other changes that can be seen May only affect the rich. In the five years since I was last in this city, large modern malls have sprung up, some of which would be at home in any western cosmopolitan city. They have food, Clothing and jewellery from the whole world and are spotless. I would estimate that only about 5 percent of Bangalorians would have enough money to buy even the smallest object at these malls but they change the whole face of the city.  What effect does this have on the people who see these and know that they will never be able to enter? Do their beliefs conquer jealousy? Will this spark fires? Does the belief in the carma prevent someone from longing for something materialistic, shiny, new and expensive?

There are hundreds of questions that need answers. I haven’t found any satisfying answers yet and don’t expect to have them by the time I leave.

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