for the Magic of India
...let the little irritants go and it all starts to become very very funny.
been to India once before and truly hated it: The noise, the oppressive
heat, the poverty, the swarming mass of mustachioed humanity that
engulfed me. Instead of facing up to the challenge, I hid pathetically
in the lieu of a luxury pad, country club and a chauffeur driven
car, horrified by the inhumanity that surrounded me. I had been
a coward. But as time passed, and the more and more I heard beauty
and magical associated with a place I considered a god-forsaken
hellhole, I became increasingly resolved to return to discover this
magic and confront what had once been an incapacitating
Jesus H Christ!! I thought to myself, while being mobbed by
polio-ridden beggars, street urchins and neurotic rickshaw drivers. I
was back in India and it was just how I remembered it. After being cheated
by my liar and charlatan of a rickshaw driver I threw the money at him
and walked , no, stormed towards my guesthouse. In my jet lagged oh
what have I done?! induced frustration, I shoved open the hotel
owners door with such might that I almost fractured the scull of
his sleeping body. After screaming at me in Tamil he gave me a room key
and while lying in bed that night, listening to the opium induced mantra
coming from outside, I thought to myself, Five months isnt
that long, is it?
The thing about India is that it really does get better. Once youve
seen out your first few days in Delhi, Mumbai or Madras you quickly begin
to get used to it; the hassle; the chaos; the beggars proffering their
various stumps and sores. You change. You have to. It certainly wont
change for you. So instead of turning the air blue with curses every time
you receive hot milk on your cornflakes or abusing a Kashmiri for following
you through a market, you begin to step back, relax and laugh. Instead
of pulling your hair out over the madness, you learn to let the little
irritants go and it all starts to become very very funny.
It was at this point that I fell in love with India. Dont get me
wrong it can be frustrating: The constant scams, the hassles, the endless
bureaucracy, the repetitive questions, Your good name? Your
native place?, punctuating every train journey. But with an open
mind and a sense of humour its an incredible and hilarious place.
There is just a madness that rivals nowhere else; sleeping cows causing
kilometer tailbacks; 40 minute traffic jams in bus stations; beach cleaners
who bury the rubbish under the sand and at the mercy of the next rainstorm,
the post offices without spare pens . . . the list goes on and on.
Dont get me wrong there is far more to India than chaos. It is as
culturally rich and diverse and fractured as anywhere in the world. The
beauty of Manali, the Keralan backwaters and the surreal Flintstone-like
terrain of Hampi rival anything that Ive ever seen. But, for me,
Indias real impact lies elsewhere: In its ability to change a person.
Dont get me wrong, I didnt return from India a hippy nor a
new -age Sadu for that matter. To this very day Ive never worn tie
dye nor blessed a chillum in my life. But I feel as though I left the
chaos more chilled out, more open minded and with a sharper sense of humour.
There cannot be many places that can have this impact. Maybe thats
the magic of India.
Star is Born in South-West China
...The beast was set loose. I, like I was told, ran for my life
© Mark McEvans September 2002
Even More World
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