I have posted pictures of idyllic Indian scenes, whilst there are indeed very many to see in the interest of balance perhaps I should also mention some of the less pleasant, there are plenty of those to. First of all I have to mention mosquitos, the little fuckers. India may have a billion people, but for for each one of those people there are a billion bloody mosquitos, an inordinate number of the shitty little things have a particular taste for my blood. Perhaps I am a delicacy, a culinary change from the every day diet of indian blood, whatever the reason I am being eaten alive.
A few months ago staying in Dharmasala I remember berating my friend for killing mosquitos, I now formally apologise for that. I think it was the combination of the altitude and being surrounded by Buddhists, but back then I had this idea that life, all of it was prescious, that everything that had life deserved to live and that to kill anything even a mosquito was wrong. Well I’ve changed my mind. Mosquitos are nasty little fuckers and any that come near me are done for if I have my way.
In India whilst English is commonly spoken you cannot guarantee that having had a conversation with someone and believed you have understood and likewise been understood that this is indeed what has occured.
The problem is that whilst English is spoken, the words used don’t necessarily mean the same thing. Take a simple thing like time for instance, in India the same phrase relating to time means something entirely different:-
Indian Time conversion table
INDIA – European/ North American equivalent
five minutes – Equates to roughly an hour
Right Away – Later, much later on.
one hour – usually a half day, (morning or afternoon equivalent)
Today – means tomorrow
Tomorrow – a mythical time in the future, no specific time frame.
One week – typically two to three weeks
One month – at least a year
Urgent – something that can be done at a time in the future unspecified, and only when all other possibilities have been exhausted.
There are of course many other things that no guide book on India will explain, here are a few:-
It is compulsory in India for all citizens over the age of eleven to start fires on a regular basis, burn plastic and create noxious fumes and smoke plumes, it is also necessary to do this in the vicinity of natural beauty spots, crowded areas and most necessarily in areas frequented by tourists.
On religious grounds good Hindus are required to sweep, not to clean up, but to simply sweep dust debris and detritus from one place to another. This practice is designed to bring the sweeper a deep understanding of the futility of human struggle, and the knowledge that though re-birth and re-incarnation they may reach a life free of futility ( and sweeping ). When sweeping adherents must use a short brush which means they have to lean over and back bend, thus giving them the extra sense of backache.
Queues operate throughout India, railway ticket offices are particularly good examples. Here whilst many queue others are entitled by a complicated and age old system dating back five thousand years to go straight to the front. The codicils for this are only known to those who may queue jump and therefore nobody complains.
In India whilst all things are possible most of them are just very complicated. Filling out forms is a way of creating employment and wealth. It is no coincidence that the worlds richest men made their fortunes in India manufacturing duplicate & triplicate books.
There are Snakes, not just on land, but in the rivers & sea. Tigers in the Jungles, Leopards, Lions, the occasional rogue Elephant, crocodiles, poisonous Lizards, Scorpions. The roads are seriously scary, people drive like nowhere else. The weather can be scorchingly hot, the food too spicy, the people confusing, the toilets sparse and outrageously stinky, but it’s still a rather special place.