So then........India.


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Asia » India » Andhra Pradesh » Visakhapatnam
February 28th 2014
Published: February 28th 2014
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In Mysore I found a wee chap to take my trousers up, I am losing weight so they keep dropping.
Ello you lovely people, happy Friday! Time for another update on my adventures.

This post is simply going to be a brain dump, on previous posts, such as the one about Iran I spent many hours writing and rewriting, but this one is just going to come as it comes out of my mind.

So. Indian Cities.

I never thought in a million years I would find myself enjoying any big Indian city, but to my absolute surprise I have found that I have. In fact not only am I enjoying Indian Cities, I am enjoying India. Before I left I remember saying to many folk that I was dubious about India, but my fears have largely been unfounded.

I just cannot easily articulate why……….

Now, I am not going to lie, you arrive in a place like Bangalore and you will hit by the noise, the traffic, the chaos, the poverty, the smell. It is not an easy place to like. But after you acclimatize you start to see the continual paradox in these places. They are ugly and beautiful, chaotic yet structured, dirty but clean, poverty rubbing shoulders with wealth. None of it makes
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Here they burn all the rubbish on the side of the road. It just adds to the unbreathable air.
any sense and yet it makes perfect sense.

Does that make sense? Well if it doesn’t that is fine, because you will be just as confused as I am…..

I have taken zillions of pictures and I know that many of you are busy bees but I ask you to take the time to look at because I hope I have captured some of this. I have tried to be selective but I have failed, each picture captures something……

And, another surprise is my deepening affection for Indian people. I will be honest, I heard so many tales of relentless hassle and money grabbing I was dubious, but to date I have found Indians to be charming, friendly, warm and hospitable. I know in the past I have said this about many other places, but this time it is perhaps more significant because I wasn’t expecting it. I bloody love em.

This hospitality started with the offer of food on a train journey and ended with an invitation to a Hindu Wedding. I think in the few hours I was at the wedding I learned more about India and Hinduism then in the previous couple of
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But not before the cows take any organic (including cardboard) out.
months, and Hinduism is the main religion here.

Taking to the old Hindu chaps I started to understand how they approach life, and while it is complicated and I only had a glimmer of the ethos, I like it. Hinduism seems to be a very positive and peaceful religion, focusing of happiness and internal tranquility, and linking your happiness to that of others.

The Hindus have a nice approach to life. A small, but badly described, illustration of this was the attitude of the owner of the guesthouse I was staying in Hyderabad. He clocked the amount of visa stamps in my passport so we had a long chat about my travels. I went out for the day and when I returned he was discussing me with a few of the other staff. His exact words were “we think it wonderful that you are gaining all this knowledge through your travels”

No resentment, no jealously that I am rich Westerner who can afford to spend month after month traveling. Just a simple appreciation of the knowledge that I will gain. What a lovely way to look at the world. Even I had not viewed my long term
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The little Muslim suburb in Mysore. I really liked it. They were decent people.
jolly as gaining knowledge but, I suppose it is.

Millions of Westerners come to India to try and find some sort of spiritual enlightenment and I never understood this, but I think I am just starting to see why. I am not going start taking up meditation or yoga, but I can fully understand why others do. These Eastern religions have definitely got an appeal.

You must understand that in India, and many others I have visited, religion is everything. It is not an embarrassment or a source of contention. It makes the core of the society and everything is guided by it. I have asked quite a few people if there are tensions between the main religions here and I have been told several times that there is not. How true this is I am not sure, but it is certainly the impression you get.

Breaking away from the beach resorts has also done wonders for my confidence. I have finally got round to fathoming the hugely complex but utterly logical Indian railway system. I can now book a ticket online. Ok, I have not actually managed to book a
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This is classic example of the sort of thing I hardly notice but would a shock at home. Yes, that is a pane of glass.
ticket for when I want to go but that is not the point.

The other thing is that in the last three weeks I have only had one conversation with a fellow Westerner, and that was last night. Now don’t get me wrong, I like Westerners, some of my best friends are Westerners, but it is also lovely to be truly immersed in a place, and this is not possible if you are surrounded by people of a similar background. As always, it is about balance. .

And…….while my mind dump is still flowing, be under no illusions, India is connected. Mobile Communications, and IT, are a huge industry here. Everyone seems to be connected. Even the begging women, trailed by a thousand grubby children, are updating their Twitter feeds. To the readers who traveled a few years ago, the world has changed.

But, of course, this is India and it has its challenges and while it is my duty to describe some of them I don’t want them to detract from the positive thread of this post.

The distances are epic, there is no quick or simple journey, every journey is 12 hours or more
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This is Mysore. I got friendly with this chap after he gave me some oil for my hair clippers, so I would sit behind the counter and drink endless Chai with him.
by train or bus. And every possible mode of transport is packed to capacity.

And there is my personal issue surrounding the noise levels and crowds which are inevitable in a country of 1.3 billion. I have concluded that Indians are born in a noisy crowd, they live in noisy crowd and they will die in a noisy crowd.

At home, sleep is something that is something to be cherished, we are prescribed 8 hours of gentle, continuous sleep. We are told to introduce mood lighting and put on pan pipe whale song an hour before sleeping on our memory foam mattresses with our chamomile infused pillows. It seems to me that most Indians view sleep as an essential inconvenience. You just need to get it done, doesn’t really matter where or when, you just get it done.

Privacy is also an alien concept. As is personal space. There are two people looking over my shoulder as I write this. Just standing there. Staring. And they will walk in to your room unannounced unless you lock the door from the inside. I understand that this is simply cultural, I do, but sometimes it can grate.

But
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Cardboard milk being milked on the side of a busy highway. Tastes amazing in Chai and Buttermilk drinks. Both drinks revive you.
you know what? All these issues are simply what make India….India. You can’t change them and neither would you want too. It is all part of the experience and besides I firmly believe travel should be challenging. It should challenge and push you. There should be inconvenience and difficulty. Or it gets boring and meaningless.

And, experience has told me that it is precisely the inconvenience and difficulty that you miss when you return home, so instead of letting these things annoy me I am trying to embrace them.

So anywooo, next steps.

Well as I write this I am in the Akaru Valley. I needed the coolness and relative peace of a small town. All I can hear right now is the croaking of crickets.

I am staying in a little tribal Community. The area is certainly on the Indian tourist trail but not really on the Westerner tourist trail. It is a nice little place and I have had some interesting experiences (see pics).

After here, I am not sure. I am heading back down to Visakhapatnam and a flying to New Delhi. This will be followed by a 17 hour train ride
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Farewell Mysore. Goodbye to the comfiest bed in India, I will miss you.
to Jaisalmer to the Camel people in the Thar Desert. It will be nice to have a home for a while, and a bit of purpose. I am not exactly sure what they have planned for me but I will do it to the best of my ability. Only concern is Jaisalmers fearsome reputation for traveler hassle….but after a week or so I am sure they will understand I am not interested in anything they have to sell.

To add to the picture my good friend Bryn is coming to Bangalore in the 16th of April to research the use of the Loris Monkey in the illegal wildlife network, voodoo and the like. He is that sort of chap. I would love to join him but we will see, I am sure we will meet, but the extent of my involvement is still unsure.

I am conscious that Visa time is ticking, I have to leave India by the 3rd of May so I need to think carefully about the NE States and the Andaman Islands. I can visit both but it will take a bit of planning.

Right, my fingers are tired of this typing business
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Give an Indian man a uniform and he is happy. Give an Indian man a uniform and a whistle and he will be happy forever.
so I am going to wrap it up.

All my continuing love to all of you. Hope no one has drowned.

Love

John


Additional photos below
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If you ever wondered what I would look like as a Tiger now you know.
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To someone, this is home. Every time I get grumpy about crap a mattress or silly pillow I think of these places.
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In Bangalore they have underpasses but they stink and homeless folk live in them. I vomited on the way through this one.
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Leaving the residents to battle the traffic above ground.
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See, order in the chaos. I can't see how effective these roadside tests are, but at least they try to control pollution.
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Land grab is a big problem here. So the owners of the land put up big signs claiming ownership.
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But that doesn't stop the slums taking control. To some of my squatter supporters this would consider this a success though....
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A typical breakdown of Indian labour. The woman does the work by the man who oversees her work. He in turn is overseen by another man. Who is overseen by another man. And another etc etc. Labour is so cheap you can afford to employ eight people to do one job.
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The need for the outside world is so powerful. This park in Hyderabad is just like what Leigh Woods in has become in recent times. An opportunity for city folk to have just a tiny interaction with nature.
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You have no idea how my heart jumped when I saw this Peacock. After a few weeks of Indian City life seeing something so beautiful just stunned me, What a lovely thing.
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Apparently eating the seeds of this tree induce fertility in women's. Truth is most modern medicines have a basis in naturally occurring substances. So, who am I to argue.
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Like with the Peacock, these pure, alive, flowers were such a lovely thing. I actually told these flowers that I loved them. Aloud.


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