Monday, June 27, 2011

India: Part 1

I've split this into two blogs. I found myself talking forever. Come back tomorrow for part 2

Part 1: just how annoying are Indians?

I always say travelling India is like being punched in the head 300 times a day. I also say pick a superlative, pick a verb. It's the MOST beautiful, superbly interesting, massively annoying, incredibly irritating, tremendously awesome place you could ever go.

Everything is a challenge but it's also damn enjoyable. India has a single problem. Apart from lack of infrastructure, debilitating poverty, potholes the size of Belgium, non-existent healthcare etc etc. And that is the people. Indian would be the best place on the planet if not for the people. Quite simply they ruin the experience.

This might be a developing theme on my blog of me not liking the peoples of the world (one day ill blog my love of Germans) but it's so true.

Don't get me wrong: they can be lovely. They can be warm, open and charming. They're very nice but they're also very inquisitive. To the point of aggression.

Let's role play. You're stood looking Af an amazing monument. It's taken people years to build this thing and it's gorgeous. It deserves study. But every 30 seconds you get a tap on the shoulder:

What is your name? Where are you from?

Once they've found out they go away. You can ask the same and you won't get an answer.

In the intervening 30 seconds you'll get asked if someone else can have a photo with you. You'll get handed a random
baby. Surely I'm not the only white guy you've ever seen? There are other westerners here. Im not unique.

Do you want a tuktuk? No, I'm walking. Where are you going? Nowhere I'm staying here. But later? I don't know. I have tuktuk for 150 rupees. But you don't know where I'm going! Nor do i for that matter!

Do you want to buy this random piece of crap? The same piece of crap you see literally everywhere but they'll claim is unique? Why not? You're a rich westerner! Let's have a laugh and joke. Can I get back to seeing the temple now?

Tap on the shoulder. What is your name? Sigh.

Sometimes they go up to 5 questions:

What is your name?
Where are you from?
What is your job?
How much is a rupee in your currency?
Are you married?

All this is lovely and most amusing. For the first few days but then you start to feel that maybe you'd like to be left the fuck alone. This is infuriating as you're here to meet the locals, to immerse in the culture but it's so damn tiring.

I was once psychically mugged by a group of 30 schoolgirls in a park. I only wanted to sit quietly and read my book. It was one of the few quiet places I'd ever found in India. I wanted a rest and a break. I went down this entire line of girls answering the same damn two questions...except for one of them who's english was excellent. And she went on and on and on. I shook all their hands as their teacher herded them off. Then HE stood there and did it.

I was getting on a bus once. It was 8pm. I was tired, it had been a long day, and this was going to be a 12 hour overnight trip on a local bus. I wasn't going to be getting a lot of sleep but you have to do your best.

My plan was to have the 5 minute conversation I was anticipating, read for a couple of hours and try to sleep.

Dude sits next to me.

What is your name? Where are you from?

After a few minutes I get my book out.

Question. Answer. A few minutes of conversation. Book.

Tap on the shoulder. Question. Answer. A few minutes of conversation. Book.

Tap on the shoulder. Question. Answer. A few minutes of conversation. Book.

This goes on for an hour. I can't think straight. I'm Just giving one word answers. Please take the hint. I'm being rude, I know I am but I'm tired. He's having none of it.

I put my iPod on.

Tap on the shoulder. Question. Answer.

Now this bus is loud. Indian buses don't tend to have windows so you get the full force of the engine noise. And the wind. Again, I'm tired. I'm half deaf at the best of times let alone when I can't concentrate.

This goes on until midnight when he mercifully gets off the bus. I'm a wreck but it did help me get to sleep.

And there's the constant negotiating. And being ripped off. This happens with every single time you have to use money. Every damn time. Except bizarrely when you buy water. That's 15 rupees everywhere.

We were in Pondicherry 5 days and just using it as a base to get to the surrounding villages. Everyday we had to get to the bus station so needed a tuktuk. Every damn day we had to literally argue the price. With the same dude! Just tell us the real price! We know what we paid yesterday FFS! We're not paying 300 rupees to go 3km when it was 50 yesterday. We walk away and he shouts that 50 is OK. Grr.

One place said his prices were actual real prices so refused to negotiate. We didn't believe him and walked out! That's how crazy and fucked up the place is! You end up not believing a single word of what anybody says.

They don't care about their country. They're all out for #1 and will do anything for money. Alright, they're in desperate need. When you see what conditions the poor women picking tea work in, 12 hour days every day, just to get 150 rupees it's so shocking you might understand it. But then you go to places like Laos and Indonesia where they're at least just as poor if not more (more poor? Less poor? /: ) so but they care. That's why I have very little respect for Indians in India. But the country itself is superb.

I need to go back to do the north. I just need to psych myself down to it.

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