A day for reflection...
Today we woke up in Delhi. Instead of exploring more of Delhi and soaking up the last of India, we decided to rest. We had been in India for a long three weeks of constantly running around, train after train, town after town. Our funds were as exhausted as we were and we used the drab rainy day to relax and reflect on our weeks in India...
Three weeks, eight cities.
Eight train rides, one bus, a million rickshaw.
India chewed us up and spit us out.
It is true what they say: you don't visit India, you survive India! It was a beating.
It was definitely an experience and overall, a good one, despite the bad in between.
To make sure I end on a positive note, I'm going to start with the negative.
-The over population: up every tree, in every bush, under every table; there are people everywhere. It takes away all hope of serenity when there are hoards of people swarming around.
-The traffic: due to the over population, there is constant bumper to bumper congestion. Literal bumper to bumper.
-Their driving etiquette: The beeping. The awful unnecessary beeping. I will forever have nightmares about the beeping.
Also the playing chicken on the road. It's like an unspoken rule to avoid staying in your lane as much as possible. I wonder why they waste money painting the lines in the first place. Pedestrians Do NOT have the right away. The bigger you are determines your precedence over the road. The cows always win.
-The salesmen: because we were white we had a permanent targets on our backs and no matter when or where, someone was trying to sell us something. What's worse is the lack of respect they exude when trying to get you to buy something, they don't take no for an answer. You are forced to be rude: because of the former, you are constantly on guard ready to say "no" to anything. Because the sales people push you so hard, you finally have to be outright rude to them. This was perhaps my biggest problem with India. I was on vacation, trying to enjoy myself and learn about the culture but I was often in a bad mood because I had to be a bitch all the time. It's hard to have to yell at someone to stop bothering you and then be able to plaster a smile back on your face. After a while it really gets to you and brings you down. One time I was walking down an alley way and I heard someone trying to get my attention, I was sure that, like everyone else, the man was trying to sell me something and I walked on ignoring him, a practice I had gotten very good at. When he finally did catch up to me and tapped me on the shoulder, I turned around and snapped at him, "I don't want anything". I felt like an asshole when I realized that I had sat down my drink and forgotten about it and he was just bringing it back to me. I was pissed at myself. But I was also pissed because I realized that this is what India had turned me into. I'm never act like that and I don't treat people with that kind of attitude but after being harassed day after day, hour after hour, I automatically had my guard up. I was in constant fight mode and it made me sad to think that because of this, I felt like I was missing out.
-The lack of sanitation: Feces, garbage and flies.need I say more?
- I am a chronic nail-biter and I have been munching my nails down to ugly little stubs since I had teeth, that is until I came to India. It is so blatantly filthy I have completely stopped my nasty nail biting habit and I am pleased to say that I now have pretty girly fingers! Thank you India for being so nasty, you broke my 24 year old habit!
-The bathrooms: Most of the time there is no toilet paper. 9 times out of 10 there are no toilets. Sometimes there are stalls, sometimes they have a door. All the time you walk out feeling dirtier than when you went in.
The power outages: All around India their are random power outages, rain or shine, city or country, it is unpredictable and unexpected. In Varanasi our hotel held the record of 17 power outages in one day. You never know how long they will last but they are always inconvenient.
The humidity: dripping sweat, pit stains, body odor, frizzy hair, and stinging eyes. You do no come to India to win a beauty pageant.
Digestive issues: I thought I had a strong stomach. I thought wrong. American stomachs are no match for the spices of India. No amount of Imodium can mend the stomach lining torn apart by the claws of curry.
The dogs: I am 100% a dog person. Nothing can brighten my day like a tail wagging furry friend smiling up at me. So it killed me to look at the mangy canine carcasses scattered on every street corner. Dogs with patches of hair missing or no hair at all, three legs or less, horrible body scars, and the most dejected look in their eyes. They needed love, bad. I actually felt worse for them than I did for the street beggars and if they could have asked me for a dollar I would have given it to them.
Looking back on my blog entries, it may seem like I didn't have a great experience in India, but I did. I'm not going to lie, There are a lot of negatives about India but that just makes finding the positives that much sweeter.
The prices: the conversion rate of rupees to dollars is about 50 to one. Thats the kind of math i like to do. A lavish, five-course meal cost roughly around $10. I ate a lot.
The railway system:
India has a wonderful railway system! It is so easy to travel from point a to point b and relatively comfortable also (very comfortable if you don't get a seat next to children or families with children or people who talk on their phones, or people who snore, or people with vocal chords at all.) Deaf Mutes are the only acceptable bunk buddies.
Off the beaten path:
Every place that we went to, outside of the city, was beautiful. Goa, Khajuraho, Dharamsala were all amazing, peaceful and refreshing. India excelled in their diversity of terrain. From breaches, to jungles, mountains and plains, it was all beautiful and every train stop brought new geographical diversity.
The architecture: I really enjoyed the Hindu, Islamic, and Persian influences in all of the architecture. Probably because it is so alien to anything I see back in the states, but I thought a lot of the monuments we visited were some of the most beautiful in the world.
The sauces: I love sauces! I hate dry food. I will put sauce or dressing on anything I can. One of the things I was disappointed about in South America was the dryness of every meal. It was a completely different story in India. Every dish was saucy, savory, and scrumptious!
Free room service: almost every hotel we stayed in had a restaurant in it and every one had free room service! This is a great commodity when the humidity is hellish and all you want is to enjoy your food in some cool air conditioning.
The monkeys: besides the demon monkey who made me his bitch, I loved watching all the monkeys. There are monkeys everywhere and they are fun frolicking free entertainment.
India was definitely and eye-opening experience. I learned a lot about the world and the people in it. Big or small, poor or rich, light or dark, we are all the same. We are all people with hopes, dreams and desires. there is always more to a book than it's cover, the best parts are the inside, but you have to invest some of yourself to reap the benefits of the message or else it's just words on paper. A smile echoes a smile.
I am very lucky to be who I am, born in a developed country with a mother who always put me before herself and gave me the best life I could have asked for. I am also lucky to have experienced India, it has given me a whole new appreciation for my life and life in general and I will definitely be back.
- SIDENOTE: The show I was working on at AMS Pictures in Dallas TX, entitled "Ma's Roadhouse", premieres on September 15th at 9pm! http://www.trutv.com/shows/mas-roadhouse/index.html
From Executive Producer Andy Streitfeld and AMS Pictures, comes Ma's Roadhouse a new reality show on TrueTV!
Rick Fairless is the owner of Strokers Dallas, a Texas motorcycle shop, tattoo parlor and biker bar. His greatest asset is his 71-year-old mother, who's also his best, but most outspoken, employee. Can Rick keep his business afloat? And can Ma keep her hands off the bartender?
I wish I could be there to watch it with all the hardworking people at AMS but at least I will be back in the states by then and watching intently from my TV at home You guys rock!