It has never been so hard for me to write a blog; India is simply something really hard to be described. Really bad and good at the same time. In order to describe you at least a part of all kinds of feelings collapsing in my head for the last two weeks I should start from the beginning, but the problem is that India has neither beginning nor the end, it is absolute chaos each step of the way. This also must be a reason why they say for it, that it settles you down. In this chaos there isn’t any other option but to accept everything around you just as it is.
So forget about temples, incense sticks and their priests, making peace with Universe is coming from some other direction. It just forces you to find peace inside you. I haven’t seen a lot of India yet, so all this written here is based only on things I have seen so far. And they say it takes a lifetime to discover it whole. Before coming here I was of a strong belief that some traveling I did earlier, like hidden parts of Africa or almost whole Cambodia, had absolutely prepared me for India. I was sure nothing could surprise or shock me more than things I saw before. Oh how wrong I was. Nothing is like India so far.
For instance I don’t know how to explain you the way how many of them stare at me every single moment. All kinds of glances; from staring at me like if I was a wonder , or obviously a sex object, all the way to looking at me with sympathy or disgust. It is almost the same with all foreigners, but I get some extra bonus here since I’m blond and a girl. But I have found the solution I have started wearing scarf around my head, every time I go outside of my apartment. It really does help, besides I still haven’t seen any other blond girl, or they’re also hiding themselves. Still I don’t blame them. Most of them have probably never seen a blond girl before and there are so many of them living on the streets, meaning they hadn’t even had the opportunity of seeing one on TV.
WELCOME TO INDIA
Right after landing in Ahmedabad I had to find out what doing business in Indian way sometime means. Apartment which they should have had prepared for me long time ago, well they still don’t have it. Welcome to India! On the way to my temporarily accommodation there wasn’t too much light in the streets, but there were many cows and a lot of poverty. By poverty I mean people who sleep on the streets and the ones who have a “house” made out of old sheet, carton, maybe few old bricks. Either way something compared to what tent would be a penthouse. There are also many of them who just sleep on the streets, all together, thousands of them. Then there’s Indian traffic, I still don’t get it how it actually works. There are absolutely no rules, there are no forbidden directions, turnings when you are allowed to do it, there are some traffic lights, but nobody cares about them. They just drive however they feel like, directed by some force from above. And there’s horn, those millions of all types of vehicles use it every five seconds, each of them, it doesn’t matter if there’s reason for it or not. Horn is there so they can use it.
Temporarily accommodation..I have arrived to a some small house, which isn’t bad. There is some old Indian lady, her granddaughter and some other Indian girl in her early twenties. They’re sitting, not making any sound and just stare at me for few moments. One of the girls guides me to my room, seems like we’re sharing it, between our beds max 15 inches distance. Just when I was about to go outside of the house for few moments to feel Indian air on my skin, NO! Doors are locked after ten; you can’t go outside before morning. All right, I will at least take a shower, no again, no water; they often run out if it by the evening! But on the other hand they do have Wi-Fi that works flawless. That’s India!
With the sound of loud fan combined with high level of humidity and heat, me and my Indian roommate greeted the morning. Since officially I still didn’t have a place to stay, have decided to go to Bombay, while a friend of mine who I met last year while traveling is also coming there. That same people who picked me up from the airport the night before, are taking me to something that should be a bus station, while explaining that there is no need for me to take a plane considering the fact that bus is safe enough, besides it has sleeping compartments. Indeed it has, the whole buses like this one, are turned into some strange places for sleeping. With just some curtains between you and of course bus is older than me. That bus was all but good way to get to Bombay. Me, blond alien surrounded by 30 males and two females who left it on the way much before me. I will remember that journey for a long time, from a fear which maybe wasn’t justified since nothing bad happened to me, to indescribable discomfort, followed by endless sadness and sorrow on the way. Unfortunately I can’t even say that landscape has been great enough to make it worth it. It only made me wonder about so many things in life and world we live in. What if I was born in a place like this, under these circumstances? Some of the parts were too hard to say, big nothing, woods and mud, thousands of people living in houses made of materials we would refer to as trash and hundreds of cows. Places where people don’t seem to have any contact with the world we are all part of. If you were smart as Einstein, it wouldn’t help, seemed like something you could never move away from.
To hug my friend and have a familiar face next to me, after 12 hours in that bus was…just as it looks like on the photo.
CHILDREN ON THE STREETS
Since everybody keeps on talking about Bombay as the best place in India, I was expecting something really good. And it is good for certain part of the population, which we belong to, it is also the best reflection of life in India. On one side you will find luxurious apartments, beautiful palaces, nice restaurants, but on the other hand I have never seen a place with so many people sleeping on the sidewalk, here it seemed like millions of them. That’s what makes life in India hard. There isn’t any other place where you will find thousands of homeless people right next to Porsche saloon or something like that. The worst thing for me was to see so many babies sleeping on the sidewalk. They’re not alone, whole families are there, but as most of the people I am more sensitive to children than adults. There is so many of them that at one point my friend almost step on a child, it was dark and there are on the sidewalk. That was the situation where crybaby girl like me simply isn’t able to hold the tears. So how could I see only the good parts of Bombay in situations like this? How to accept that as part of someone’s culture? I wasn’t long enough in Bombay to write good travel writing about it, but will come back and face it again to do so.
A blond girl can also be looked at in this way. For girls I was like a white queen, because I have let them have my coke. But crybaby feels like crying again. Yeah I will burn out in India unless I start accepting things around me. Probably this is coming to peace with destiny, what many keep on talking about. Still too big of a problem for me. That also might be the peace; many people seem to get here.I hope to find those places in India, for which many people claim that they give you all of the answers. And trash, yeah there’s too much of it as well, but obviously it doesn’t stand in the way to all of us sitting on the beach and enjoying the view.
POSITIVE SIDES OF INDIA
Coming back to Ahmedabad… Airplane this time and there it goes more positive things in India. Since I still don’t have a place to live, get used to it, when they say you’ll have it by tomorrow it often means in few weeks, my boss gives me his apartment to stay in. He actually moved out till I get a place, man drives to work every day for an hour instead 10 minutes. Here I must say that he didn’t have to it at all, since this isn’t my companies’ responsibility, but organization’s I came here through. It’s hard for me to imagine that any other boss I had so far in my country would do such thing. Now I live in a great place even for western European terms, gym and pool in the building, something I won’t have for sure when they finally find a place for me. But the view through my window is again some other India.
Yet this is far better than living on the streets, at least they have water and a house to stay.
Already first day at work revealed their nice personality; of course here I am not a blond alien. Girls accept me if I was here since always and hug me all the time, we became friends instantly. Far better environment for work than ones I sometimes had. I find out that I’m here to be their supervisor; I will be checking what they are writing along with my writings. Nice change for me in life, I am far away from my country where these kinds of position often get people who don’t know what Art Deco means or what Mensa represents, but they are someones sons. In India works starts at 10, you are not in a rush, it’s India. But still we work till 19:00. Time for lunch is a special feeling, our office turns into a restaurant and I get a chance to try something local from their homes, they share everything they bring. I sometimes get a feeling they really want me to like their food, who wouldn’t love them?
Going out form the building and on that muddy road, with many holes, brand new shining Porsche, I’m really not able to restrain myself.. Seriously Dude? And keep on walking, if I could only know how it feels like to drive it on these roads.. India,..home of biggest contradictions.
In next few days, my new friends took me to some festival held in the city at the moment and showed me how normal it is if there’s three of us sharing a motorcycle. I got used to this already when traveling in south east Asia, that it’s totally normal to put whole family on it, just I didn’t have the chance to try it, so far. I don’t even have to mention that nobody uses helmets here.
Including all good and bad sides of my staying here so far, I would still recommend to everyone to put themselves in a situation where you need to adopt yourself to totally different world and culture at least once in a lifetime. Maybe you don’t have to take potentially dangerous bus, there are other ways and places, but staying forever in your comfort zone, can’t teach you too much about life and values in it nor about the world we are all part of. Even less about the fact how insignificant as individuals are we. Namaste! India is huge country and there are many places to be seen, so I don’t want to think that it is hard to find beauty here. And since I will be here for some time I hope to bring you as many travel writings as I can.