Wednesday, March 18, 2009

India 2009 Report 1

Since some people asked, and since my neice found me an internet cafe, I thought that I'd try and keep people up to date with me in India. I left home at 04:00 on Monday morning and didn't get a proper sleep until about 36 hours later! I was expecting that when I got into New Delhi at 23:30, we would spend the night with relatives there, but when my dad picked me up, he said that we would drive straight to Punjab – a trip of about eight hours. I got a little sleep in the car, but not much, and by the time we got there, at ~08:00 the next day I thought it better to try and stay awake until the following night – something I didn't entirely succeed in.

It was lovely to see various family members that I haven't seen in about a decade, even if it did take some time to place some of them! In particular, I got somewhat confused by my neice Kavita and thought that she was her younger sister since she looks much younger than her years.

I've seen one girl so far and there's a few more to go over the next few days. After that, there's a religious ceremony similar to a Christening (but involving shaving the baby's head) for my elder cousin's young boy. This involves trips to two different temples, and will take up most of the day. Then next week is an all-night musical religious festival at the house. This involves both religion and me not getting any sleep, make up your own mind what state I'll be in by the end.

India has both changed an awful lot and stayed the same from when I was last here. Walking off the plane I was met by the same burnt, dry smell in the air and, if anything, the traffic has got worse. My personal theory is that modern motering technology has made Indians worse drivers, since the better brakes, power steering and the rest mean that they can get away with more dangerous things. In the drive down, I eventually had to stop looking forward and just looked out the sides. I swear, my blood pressure must have jumped by several points during that journey! I didn't see much of Delhi, but Phagwara seems pretty unchanged from the outside. Maybe a few more signs of wealth – there seem to be a lot more 4x4s around – but there are so many familiar things – the people, the smells, the cycle-rickshaws, the litter, the complete lack of anything resembling a functional traffic code. I've been told, however, that the electricity supply is now stable and no longer cuts out for hours of the day as it did a decade ago. The water supply is also more regular, although we still drink bottled water to be on the safe side.

I've had an awful lot of experiences in the past few days and I'm still processing a lot of it. Hopefully, I'll be able to update again before going home.

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