Enter India

India is an absolute brainfuck.  I feel like no place could simply degrade to such a level of social disequilibrium by basis of negligence.  It seems more likely that it was a conscious effort of demographers and nation-builders, hell-bent on constructing a place with as many impediments as possible to see how people would come to survive, persevere under such difficult circumstances, like a sociological experiment gone wrong;  like a sociopathic teen-aged boy at the helms of a Simcity game.  The amazing part about this disorder is that persevere India does, and persevere she shall for years and years to come.  India ceases to quit.  India is a tenacious beast, and history can’t beat her down.

I can barely wrap my brain around it all, understand how bizarre this place is, but I’ll try to illuminate a few key observations;

According to WHO, Seventy percent of Indian people still defecate outdoors, a statistic which seems shocking considering India has 1.2 billion people.  I can believe it having lost count of the numbers of people I witnessed taking open-air shits on the tracks or nearby the railway stations or on the street side during my forty-plus hours of travel from the borderlands of Udder Pradesh to the Western state of Gujarat.  Where else on Earth do mangy and flee-bitten cows wander down the main city streets, bringing traffic to a standstill as they lazily munch away at burning piles of multi-coloured plastic and garbage?  No one asks the cows to leave.   No one shoos them away.  They are holy and they own the streets. Where else do obviously rabid dogs attack people in broad daylight, but no one, not even the woman who was attacked, raises an eyebrow or sounds an alarm or call of distress.  Where else do trains fill to such a capacity that every square meter of space is colonized by muttering people, and even the bathroom stalls are deemed as appropriate places to enjoy the 10-hour plus journey by six or seven men.   But the train-goers look at me as if I am foolish when I ask them to leave so I can take a piss in the only lavatory available?  Where else on Earth does an ancient religious hierarchy totally dictate one’s ultimate station in life, totally justifying a life of the lowest sort of servitude or conversely, the highest status of social esteem?  Everything is broken or in a perpetual state of disrepair, and no one seems to mind, like a nation of fatalists absolved to the fact their world is beyond repair.  Almost everything is rusty or soggy or stained or putrid or peeling or dilapidated or overgrown or overcrowded or overstressed.  Everyone seems to bear the burden of a half-century or more of misappropriation of funds from public coffers, and instead of worrying about things they can’t fix, most find a way to carve out an existence for themselves and their families in a world from which they’ve been exempt.   I’ve passed through to my fair share of countries, seen my fair share of squalor, but nothing in my twenty-five years has prepared me for that which is India.  It is a monstrously filthy and fascinating place, where linear history doesn’t exist, but instead, all of her human triumphs, toils and tears have continuously built on, in or around the crumbling narratives or cultures past, until history neither begins nor ends, but instead shimmers like dusty piles of broken glass shards.

This is where I’ll call home for the next couple months.  Then, depending on whether or no India has broken my spirits, I’ll venture elsewhere.  Perhaps Sri Lanka.  Bangladesh.  Myanmar.  Or maybe Pakistan and overland to Europe.  We’ll see which way the wind blows.

I have some stories left from Nepal, but I’ll save them for another time.

Merry early Christmas, everyone.  Have a glass of eggnog on my behalf.

 

Yours truly,

-Lucas

Categories: India, On the road