Poverty and the quality of life
09.05.2010 - 11.05.2010 47 °C
I am now settling in to life in India, I must admit it does take some getting used to. After speaking with some other back packers it is now clear to see there is a distinction between an annoyance and danger in India. Being hassled around markets is obviously just an annoyance, but I was finding it very hard adjusting to being followed and constantly being stared at. I have however now come to the conclusion that this is also just an annoyance when in day light hours. There are simply not used to seeing white people, and especially a single female. Infact a couple of days ago I found my self staring at a black couple- simply because it is so unusual here. Now that this has clicked I am starting to love the people and their culture.
After joining the tour group on Saturday, we traveled very early morning to the train station to catch the train to Jaipore, (a city in the state of Ragestan, east of Delhi). Driving along at 4am I was astonished to see such quantities of people sleeping rough, especially tiny children huddled together under some stairs, which was heart breaking. The cycle-rickshaw drivers that I had been bartering with hours earlier were treating those vehicles not only as their job but also their homes. On the train we passed many slums on the outskirts of Delhi. I felt awful looking out onto so much poverty. Once you pass the horror of the frailness of the individuals, their living space and the fact that privacy is simply not a part of the slum dwellers lives; you start to see some amazing things.
There is a real sense of community, shops existed, selling food and drink, I could see what looked like a launderette, and a mettle work shop. Women were sweeping outside their houses at 5.30am, and washing the walls to make it look presentable. In the tightly packed slums, several religions co-exist, Hindu, Muslim, and Sheikh. People share and compromise and I feel the country is richer for it. I have been to visit several Palaces and Temples whilst I've been here, and the thing I have found most amazing is how each of them incorporates all religions in its decor; tiles will have the Arabic patterns, but images of Hindu gods with the sheikh vibrant colours.
If you compare material wealth with us back home, it is undeniable that we rank however. However compare the quality of life, how much people smile on the street, how people sing, joke or play with one another- the Indians trump us! I went to see a Bollywood film last night, at this AMAZING 1920's art deco cinema. It was so much fun, the cinema (about 3 times the size of one of our screens) was packed, and everyone clapped and cheered when different movie stars entered a scene and people laughed in hysterics rather than grumble to one another about someone behind making too much noise.
I'm falling in love with this country even more every day!