A thing I’ve avoided doing during my trip through India is taking the stereotypical pictures of cows, children and people on the streets – mostly because I feel these types of image portray India as needing help, but I know they can help themselves. Don’t get me wrong, they make great photos – but in my view once you get used to the noise and the chaos of India you can learn a lot from the people and their traditions. Some of these thoughts that I had are echoed in this post ‘we don’t need no othering: some thoughts on lena duham and racism’ by blogger A Curious Fancy.
With so much sensory input and noise and so much chaos in India, you can only follow your intuition. Indian people have an attuned sense of intuition, which I have come to admire a lot. With such a large population they have learned to find quiet and turn off from being part of the crowd – which is something that we all need to learn, to switch off now and then in order to see the world around us more clearly.
With no formal support structure in India for those who are out of work, it is really down to individuals to get things done themselves, and I found that their optimism and ability to turn problems into opportunities was really infectious. It’s not that there are no rules, but to Indians ‘No’ does not mean no and they are very creative at getting around the form systems and structures. If everyone stuck to the rules of ‘one line only’, cars would never get anywhere due to the amount of traffic. With this way of thinking, you really never know what will come from your day – and I found myself thinking more in the moment, instead of about the future.
It was really nice to see generations of families living in the same house, looking after each other. Also the range of religions in India, mean that nearly every week there was a festival, and no matter what background you come from you celebrate and are aware of each other’s cultures and values.
The feeling Indian people give you when you come into their home was so welcoming, I noticed that if they did not have anything to feed to visitors they would feel so bad. On my birthday we went to eat at a Rajasthan restaurant where the staff just kept on overfeeding you, the food was amazing but I’ve never been so full!
India is a place in transition, and Bangalore is a city that grew from a retirement military town to become the second Silicon Valley in the world within just 10 years. The government has provided regions for companies to have tax breaks, and all of the large corporations are located in and around the city – which has resulted in people moving out of the villages to the city, with some villages and the land around them becoming unworked. On trips through the villages, I saw the hard lives people had there, but I really admired the simplicity and practicality of things that they had made in order to get work done.
As people move to the city their aspirations changed, and I found people wanted more and more Western products. Even when I want down the back streets in a shopping area in Bangalore they had Primark clothes, which they perceived as having additional value as they were Western. In Bangalore what I found great was that you were respected for the person you are and not for what you are wearing, so it was a good chance to relax in what you wear. For example I was trying to find hairspray, I had to visit 5 shops to find it and when I did I was told that hairspray ‘is only for models’. However I felt this was not so true of the north of India, as I saw much more focus on appearance there with people wearing a lot more colourful and expensive clothing.
For me the above picture from my trip to Hampi really sums up India: it has all different shapes interacting, conveying people building their own structures, and you don’t really know how it all works. You would expect it to all fall apart – but somehow it works. That could be down to the Indian people’s communication skills, as well as their optimistic and intuitive mindset.
India is now moving forward at a rapid speed, with an increasing expansion of the middle class. While I know that in transitions sometimes you have to let go of things, I just hope some of what I admired in the Indian people does not get lost in it’s current transition, as it is a place where we can learn many things. I know that I only scratched the surface during my trip. But just want to say thank you India for helping me find and start seeing through my third eye and amazing people meet during the time!