Archive 05/04; Thoughts on India, one mother later

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So today marks one month in India and my birthday marked 5 months of traveling…so I thought I would share some of the things I’ve experienced that I haven’t had the time to explain (also the b-day grumpiness has worn off). This is definitely the most amazing place I’ve visited. My one friend said India is a country of extremes…and it is. My other friend explained to me 3 things about India. 1) everyone is a doctor; 2) everytime is chai(tea) time; 3)everywhere is a toilet. My eyes, ears & nose have proven to me that all of this is true! Yes, there are cows, goats, donkeys and dogs everywhere. Yes, there are beggars everywhere. By the way, there are things you need to know about the beggars. First, I believe that they intentionally make themselves look dirty and downtrodden. Some of them are 3rd and 4th generation beggars and it has become a way of life for them. Also, many of the women that come to you with their ‘babies’ begging to feed the children are actually carrying around hired babies for the day. many children will say don’t give me money, just buy me some milk, then they turn around and exchange the milk for rupees. i have never given money to any of them and if i did they would all come running from the hills and never leave me alone. also, everyone wants to be your friend. “hello madame…what is your good name…which country…what is your profession…are you married?”  which leads me to the next observation I’ve made while here…the whole role of women in society. at first i thought it unfair (being an independent, strong willed western woman) that women cannot go certain places or must remain hidden. but i found out while visitng one of the palaces in Udaipur that the reason women had to watch the court events from hidden shudders was that one of the princess’s was very beautiful and 2 princes from different regions bothe wanted to marry her and came to war and she hated war so much that she threw herself on a pyre so as to maintain peace. so they figured it was better for the womens saftey if their faces could not be seen. when you put it that way ti makes sense. also, i was out for drinks one night with 3 of my male indian friends. i couldn’t help notice that i was the only female in the place. i asked if women were not allowed and they told me that it just wasn’t safe. “there are many ‘frustrated’ men in India” my friend told me. after one month and some unsolicitated/unwelcomed events I find that to be true and understnad why the women stay covered up. However, I can’t help wandering if the constant covering up is what leads to the ‘frustration’. hard to tell, however, it makes me very grateful for the ladies only compartments as well as some very protective good friends. don’t worry mom, i’ve learned to stand up for myself. 

Delhi is an amazing city..old and new. both of which I’ve seen plenty of. The traffic is absolutley unbelievable! IT definitley helps me to understnad NYC cab drivers…who now seem so tame. India has had it’s main elections this year. India is the wrold’s largest democracry and has 38 states and don’t ask me why, but they don’t have all the elections at the same time. Funny, but the 3 states I’ve been in I was present for the elections. 4/26 in Bombay…5/5 in Rajashtan and here Monday. 
Yesterday the results came out and Sonia Gandhi is the new Prime Minister! This is quite shocking since she is Italian, which was a major point of contention. Today I went to visit the Indira Gandhi Memorial Museum which is in her former residence. This was something of particualr importance to me. In 1984 I was in the 7th grade in Mrs. Morris’s World History class and we were studying Indian History and culture…learing about the caste system and Hinduism and what not. The very next week Indirah was assassinated…so it had a bit of a “JFK, where we you when” memory with me. It was quite moving to stand before the point where she was gunned down by her body guards. So since Sonia just won, it was quite crowded with locals there to see all the pictures of her and Rajiv. 

Another thing I forgot to mention…even though it is INCREDIBLY hot…your clothes (and your body) dry in record time. 

OK, that’s your history lesson for today. Until next time.

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