|21. January 2000 - India - a love story?|
|Over 20,000 km since we left
Salzburg and we're now relaxing on a sandy beach just
south of Madras. The first part of the journey is over
and in just over a week Lucky Luke will be in a container
ready to start the long ocean voyage to New Zealand. Here
in Mamallapuram we aren't just relaxing physically but
also mentally. It's a great feeling knowing that we don't
have to drive on crazy Indian roads any more.
Before we arrived in India we'd heard there are only two types of travellers, those who love India and those who hate it. Which type would we be?
The landscape is beautiful and the temples, varied in style and impressive. Though don't look to closely or you'll see all the rubbish. The people are also beautiful, the turbaned men of Rajastahn and the women in their colourful sarees, but as 40 of them squash their noses against the front windscreen they don't look so beautiful afterall.
India is known for it's smells, the smell of incense lingers in every doorway, whilst on the streets herbs and spices mingle with the scent of the hundreds of flower garlands. But crouched by the gutter or standing facing a wall, the Indian men leave behind a different smell.
India is a loud country which isn't good or bad, it's just a fact. From every corner shop Hindi-pop is booming out at a level to drown out the constant hooting of the busses and rickshaws. A wedding or a funeral procession pass by with at least ten drummers and as many other instruments to make as much noise as possible. There's one sound though that I'm happy to leave in India. It's that sound that happens on a crowded street....As you're being pushed along, you hear the man behind you snort in an effort to clear his entire nose, throat, lungs and anything else that might have collected green slime. Then he spits, the sound was so close you can almost feel the spit running down your back. Not very nice.
But driving through India we discovered the strangest thing about the Indians, their desire to reach the next life as soon as possible. As we're driving down the road with a lorry thundering towards us (this time on his side of the road). The two men on the bicycle in front swerve without any warning across the road to pick up their friend. We narrowly miss a knee whilst the lorry skids onto our side of the road (avoiding the cow on his side at all costs). Looking back we realise the bicycle men, now shaking hands with their friend, didn't notice a thing. In this story we didn't even mention the three men on their vespa, the crowd of pedestrians, the potholes (schlagloecher) and the herd of water buffalo.
So do we love or hate India? Sitting her on a sandy beach, watching the stars and listening to the waves of the sea, it's impossible to hate, but is love the right word?