Yes, it’s a long time since I’ve posted. Like a lot of bloggers, I find after a while the motivation flags. Also I’m being more cautious about posting my poetry. And like most people, I’m a bit lazy.
A poetic post of some sort will come quite soon. But I felt I should post about India.
I’ve known many people in the UK of Indian subcontinent origins and one in the US. I suppose because of the colonial link most British people have India in their consciousness somewhere and maybe not just consciousness: it was a shock to many to find that the Glaswegian comedian Billy Connolly was Anglo-Indian (European-Indian mixed race). I’d wanted to go to India for some time; after all, I’d been to Africa and North America, but not Asia at all though I’d seen it from Istanbul and Lesvos.
I was to travel with the nature tours group Naturetrek, but the tour was cancelled because the numbers weren’t enough. I booked on another tour nearly a year later…and the same thing happened, but an alternative tour just a bit later (February 2016 instead of November 2015) was OK.
(some Indian government building in the background there. Come on, I’m in that group, so which one?)
A few impressions:
Delhi’s fabled traffic is less disorganised than it first seems. The huge noise is partly because, in passing a slower vehicle, you’re supposed to sound your horn to warn the other driver. There are far fewer accidents than you’d expect and few cars show signs of damage. In India generally, there are few real driving rules and very few traffic lights, but drivers are not aggressive.
The contrasts are huge. Posh hotels with plenty of prosperous Indian guests are not far from people living in groups of old tents by huge expanses of rubbish (trash) and stagnant pools. Then again, Delhi International Airport is well-organised and well-provided and the trains are rather impressive with the latest technology on some telling you precisely where you are (not only the next station, but how far away it is) and we arrived at one station, among the people sleeping wrapped up in robes, to hear a cultured female voice over the intercom informing us that the train was four minutes late: “inconvenience caused is deeply regretted.”)
Advertising is everywhere. The most popular products, judging by the amount of advertising, are EDUCATION, CEMENT and BEAUTY PRODUCTS in that order. One company in the second category had the slogan “cementing relations”. Oh, and underwear adverts are rather different. Getting off a train, we were greeted by a picture advertising “Innerwear”: a filmstar heart-throb kind of guy sitting in his vest wearing dark glasses. What he was doing wearing vest and dark glasses was a matter for speculation. A soldier we chatted to as we waited for our bus thought that advert was funny too.
We visited Delhi, Agra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh – Ranthambore, Bharatpur and Chambal River reserves or wildlife areas.
The Taj Mahal? Everything you’ve heard is understated.
More on that, wildlife and even politics next time. I think this post is long enough.