Ok. In presenting the unvarnished India, I’ve scared you to death, I know, at least some of you. And if you said I was being all negative, well, that’s a fair criticism.
The thing is, India’s a country of vast contrasts. There are the beautiful, five-star hotels, former palaces floating in lakes.
Taj Rambagh Hotel, one of my favorites
And then there are the millions of rag-clad people living in dirt. Literally.
This tent was up a few notches from other housing I saw.
It’s hard to come to terms with those extremes.
We spent no time at all in modern India, not really. But still, we saw a lot of beauty. The temples–fantastic. Inside and out.
If I remember correctly, from the 14th or 15th century.
We strolled through beautiful ancient palaces that show architectural and construction technology well ahead of their time, and ancient art that was evocative, beautiful and instructive.
The Taj Mahal glows pink at sunset.
There’s the beyond beautiful Taj Mahal. Seeing it was like I dream I never get tired of.
Blog posts are coming on Gandhi’s home and the place where he was cremated. On the nightly gratitude celebration Ganga-ji, the Ganges River. There’s a lot of fascinating and inspirational stuff to come. But I couldn’t write about it until I came to terms with all the stuff that shocked me.
As for what we didn’t see, well, we didn’t see today’s India. There are modern condo buildings and offices and yes, even big companies. Delhi, at least the new part of it, comes closest to what we know of big, modern cities.
But for me, born in America with every advantage and a bottle of Purell in my hand, it was the other side that struck me and stuck with me every step of the trip. And it’s important that we know this exists in parts of the bigger world.
The irony. And this was just a tiny bit of garbage. I saw far worse piles. Far worse.
The piles of garbage everywhere. India has banned plastic bags but has yet to get a handle on garbage overall and the buildup of plastic trash from the past. As well as every other kind of trash. They’re trying, but the problem is overwhelming; the government super-corrupt.
Then there is the dirt, dust and horribly smoggy air. People living in squalor. The lack of sanitation and fresh water. Being there was like stepping back 1,000 years. Taking it all in, my head nearly swiveled 360 degrees.
“How do people live this way?”
I have no answer. Because my frame of reference is entirely different than theirs. Entirely. I can not even begin to understand it. I can only observe it and report it.
It’s easy to be disgusted by this stuff. Sanitary conditions, clean water, a home—these are things we take for granted in the West. It’s harder for someone with my life to put it in any reasonable perspective.
I wonder, how do native Indians now living in the U.S. or another first world country view conditions in their own country? Many go back regularly. How do they cope? I’d love to hear from some.