Published: June 17th 2006May 13th 2006
Namaste (‘The God in me sees and honors the God in you’)
Incredible India indeed. Everything about this vast country is incredible, including the poverty. A recent UNICEF report calculated some 57 Million undernourished kids in India (Africa 41 Million, between the two they account for 2/3 of the 146 Million malnourished kids worldwide). There is no shortage of food on this planet, just the lack of will to distribute it properly. I hope and pray that the present round of world trade talks (WTO) will cut a fair deal for developing countries to enable them to trade their way out of poverty. A win / win solution is possible. Twenty years of sustained economic growth could do wonders in this country. We can all help by supporting ‘fairtrade’ products such as tea & sugar available from Tesco & Oxfam outlets. (www.fairtrade.ie)
There is so much spare labour & hunger here, which leads to desperate behaviour. A fight broke out between two auto-rickshaw drivers over my custom. In a more enlightened world this spare labour could be used for the benefit of all. Women often do the hard work on building sites as their wage rate is even less
Red Fort, Dehli
Gateway to India
than the men’s. A building site at Delhi airport was ‘manned’ mostly by women in the sweltering heat (mid 40’s)
Monkeys are as common as the dogs on the street. If you came across an escaped one in Dublin zoo you’d be scared of the cheeky buggers, but here they are just part of everyday life. Wild peacocks walk the fields, ‘Holy Cows’ go anywhere they want: motorways, main streets, busy markets…. you name it.
This one of the most sacred cities in Hindu India. The river Ganges is considered a living God, and 60,000 faithful wash their souls here everyday. I resisted the temptation as the pollution levels exceed EU safe bathing levels by a factor of 3000. But the locals seem unaffected by the holy water. It’s also an auspicious place to die and be cremated, so you can see lots of public cremations, with burning stacks of logs surrounding their beloved’s body.
I have always had a fascination for white marble and when I first glimpsed this magnificent structure my breath was taken away, quite literally. It truly is a wonder of the world, and no amount of pictures can
prepare you for your first sight. It's scale is surreal. Built as a testimony to a king’s love for his deceased queen, the architectural genius is out of this world.
The 1000 year old erotic Hindu temples at Khajuraho are quite the eye (& mind:) opener. If you were prudish, you might find these sacred temples sacrilegious. Sculptures of orgies and bestiality decorate the temples exterior.
McLeod Ganj, Dharamasla.
I am currenly in the cooler north (20's) 6000 ft up in the Himalayas. The town is the base for the Dala Lama and the Tibetan exile community. Went for a magnificent hike up the mountains today with some friends I met. Lovely atmosphere here.
Traffic is even more mad than it was in SE Asia (…..if that’s possible). At least there, they had one rule of the road (biggest vehicle has the right of way), here I’m not convinced there’s any rules. Each journey is a dance with death. I have seen numerous vehicles come headwords on the dual carriageways, all sorts of animals share the road space, no warning where significant roadwork’s begin, many vehicles without any form of illumination at night (some
use nailed compact discs as reflectors) and road surfaces that simply disappear for large stretches. On one occasion my taxi had a blow-out, and when I saw the tyre, not only was it threadbare, but in places rubber-bare too!
How good we have it:
We don’t appreciate how good we have it in the west. Our system of Education, Infrastructure, Hygiene, Housing, Security, Healthcare, Food Supply, Employment Opportunities and relatively little corruption make life seem ‘a walk in the park’ compared to life over here. Seeing how the other half live is quite the eye opener. My friend Sanjeev (at the Canadian High Commission) was telling me about how difficult it was to secure a hospital bed for his sick mum, and there’s no guarantee you don’t have to share a bed with other patients. Nursing care is very minimal, with much of the responsibility for feeding and caring, falling on the relatives.
I normally consider myself a relatively easygoing person, but believe you me, the touts over here have tested my patience to the limit. Taxi touts, accommodation touts, tourist site guides, etc will do your head in trying to get your custom in one direction
or another. You have to be so careful over here, especially when it comes to monetary transactions (there are many ‘Cowboys’ among the Indians).
I had the attentions of a sinister gang while in Varanasi, I managed to get myself out of it with no problems, but tourists do stick out and can get unwanted attention. My guardian angels must be working overtime these days J
I have a long time fascination for Gandhi, and I can feel his presence in the air since I got here. I will attach some famous quotes of his below to communicate some of the spirituality of this place.
India is the perfect environment to prepare me (culturally, physically, mentally, spiritually & emotionally) for my time in Africa. They say India can change you, so at the moment I must be in a state of metamorphosis J
I know my travel log has been quite heavy this week, but many of my photos are assured to lighted things up… J
“There is no way to peace. Peace is the way”
“Be the change you want to see
in the world” and my old favourite:
“Peace between nations must be built on the firm foundation of love between individuals.”
There are more photos below