When I first planned my currently ongoing trip to India, I thought of keeping a travel journal in the tradition of megasthenes, tavernier or nunez/paes. Unfortunately due to a combination of laziness and lack of time I havent been able to maintain one, but thought it might be a good idea to identify the main protagonists of my journey. The following entries are dedicated to them.
I had written europe off as an obscenely expensive place to travel, filled tourists who the locals doing particularly enjoy hosting (or maybe its just the french). On my way to india I had a stop over in milan for a few hours. The airport reminded me of the dysfunctional state transport bus terminals in India in all their glory.
During a bath room break in one of the stalls at the airport, I noticed it to be full of hateful writing against muslims (european and north african). There were a lot of reference towards nazism or neo nazism which has been gaining popularity in europe, and a lot of direct and indirect connections were made between the jews during the middle of the last century and their fate being repeated on the muslims.
Maybe the race riots in paris were not an insular event and europe might be internally in strife. But now europe is definitely a place to visit, if not for the sights but to analyze the growing disconnect amongst various race/religion groups.
This is something that I probably never noticed while growing up in India but I came across something which is distinctly observable during my last few trips around the country. If you are passing through a touristy area, a market place or any busy througfare you will come across a gentleman who will unabashly follow your every movement till you are of no further interest to him.
While passing through the ridge area of shimla (one of the most heavily visited tourist area), I happened to come across a person who kept following me stroll through the area. For some reason I seem to be a curiosity to him (possibly in a manner of how children look at jokers) and on making eye contact there seemed to be no change his nature or stare. After satisfying his curiousity, he settled on other more interesting subjects to monitor. I passed through the area a few times over the next few hours and our starer barely moved a few meters from his original position. This was quite intriguing as I wonder how he actually brings in the paycheck at the end of the month if all he does is stand at one location and watch people move around.
I put this down as maybe people of shimla dont really have anything to do in life and this is the best way to count down the days. This time around I came across a bunch of such people in busy market places and tourist places, so apparently this wasnt a one off incident. So apparently there are people out there who dont really have anything to do in life other than while away their entire life watching and observing the behaviour of others.
Bangladesh is a small country to the east of India and for most of their existence they seem to hate India. I havent yet found out the reason for their hate, especially since India is the reason for which the country of bangladesh exist instead of still being called east pakistan. Bangladesh also has another reason to be on India’s radar, the maximum number of illegal humans (as opposed to aliens) to come into India come from Bangladesh, so much so that bengali and islam has now become the majority in quite a few places which wasnt the case a few years ago.
Bombay receives quite a few of these illegals most of whom work either in construction or household maids (bai’s). One of them currently works as a household maid in my place and apparently her ignorance of hindi or any other local language does not stand in her way of securing or carrying out her job. Somehow my mother and her seem to communicate with each other quite fine, but my father has a real hard time communicating with her.
The other day I came across one such attempt at communication. Our bai really wanted to get something across to my father and she tried her best communicating in bengali. My father not understanding a word for some reason kept asking her to repeat herself which she dutifully did – in bengali. Maybe out of desperation, my dad finally resorted to answering her back in kannada. I guess my loud laughter didn’t really help the situation, but that might be the first and last conversation ever done in bengali and kannada.
India has become a wannabe nation which has its advantages and disadvantages. It looks favorable on the western world and is probably the only major nation on the world which has almost a 70+% approval rating of america and G.W. Bush (no idea why it cant just get on the ‘Hate America’ bandwagon like the rest of the world). Part of this wannabe culture has led to an outgrowth of sign advertisements in english, though comprehending them is becoming a task. I thought of listing the general signs and their actual meanings.
Side Sing : Site Seeing
Buty Parler : Beauty Parlour