India 10: Reflections on India
The most significant thing that strikes me about India is the colours. England and the West looks positively drab by comparison. Everywhere you look, bold bright colours can be seen. Women dress in striking coloured sarees to go about their daily business - even the poorest women still look beautifully dressed.rangolis made from flower petals and pulses (and even more so at Diwali).
And it's not just colours, you find all your senses overwhelmed - smells of spices and freshly cooked curries mixed with incense and earthy farmyard type smells as well the occasional smell of bad drains. And vehicle horns mingle with traders and taxi drivers hollering each other along with occasional religious chants and calls to prayer from loudspeakers above temples. Even the temples are varied, a fusion of Islam and Hindu styles. And the taste too - The curries we have at home are not a patch on real Indian food. There is no "curry powder" here. Each dish is delicately crafted with the precise mix of chillies herbs and spices to complement its ingredients.
The thing that will stay with me most though is memories of the people here. Not are they incredibly warm and welcoming, they are more peaceful than any I've ever seen before. I saw no crime in India. Outside of tourist hotspots I saw minimal begging. What beggars you do see tend to put on an act and do it in tourist areas to earn a living, because they can earn more money that way, sadly. People wave as you pass by and greet you in the street. Everyone here just seems happy. And I literally mean everyone. We are glum by comparison.
It's a really noble thing in a way, and it really makes you think about how we live our lives in the West. In general, we spend our lives in pursuit of more wealth or better partners, or we worry about fear losing what we already have. We obsess over what-ifs and might-have-beens without ever stopping to just enjoy what life has given us. I know that is probably a great over-simplification but I hope you can see what I am getting at. There is something we can learn from India. It's no wonder they are an up and coming force in the world. It's a country that's going places and which by and large hasn't been sucked into Western capitalist and media ideals (yet - I did see a few disturbing adverts for "skin whitening moisturiser" on the TV, and Mumbai feels quite a lot like other Western cities). I hope that as India grows to join the bigger, more "developed" nations of the world, it retains its vibrancy and individuality.